Top 20 Maritime Outdoor Escapes 2019

I know I am late publishing this year’s countdown.  I truly struggled with choosing between places where the landscape in front of me is jaw-dropping, and cultural locations where the line between lore and history is so faint it is indiscernible.

I decided to compromise. This year is about centre locations and why you should visit. Enjoy.

20 Woodstock, New Brunswick 

Map

A picturesque town on the Saint John River.  Hikers shouldn’t miss the Maliseet Trail to the waterfalls, and Meduxnekeag Valley Nature Preserve. Waterfalls lovers can do Upham Brook Falls,  Jennings Falls, Jackson Falls, and Hayes Falls in one day.  If you are coming from southern New Brunswick, be sure to stop in Nackawic to see the world’s largest axe and have a pint at Bigaxe.ca. If you are coming from the north it is just 20 km from the world’s largest covered bridge in Hartland. If you prefer to avoid the summer tourist crowds, catch the harvest during fall at a pick-your-own apple farm. Winter provides a beautiful backdrop for snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

19 Margaree, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

The Margaree River, famed for salmon fishing, is also situated in  a fertile valley for farming so don’t be surprised if a herd of cattle takes over the road while you are driving. Artisan shops and antique stores are plentiful.  The uplands of the Highland National Park are just a stone’s throw away.

18 Pictou, Nova Scotia, The Hector

The Hector, Pictou. NS

Waves of immigrants arrived in Pictou to make a new life for themselves.  People with Scottish ancestry all over Canada and North America can trace their heritage to one famous ship, The Hector. (Photo is a replica ship)  If you plan to catching an early ferry across to Prince Edward Island, then Caribou and Munroe Island is a great provincial campground.

Beach-goers will love Waterside Beach Provincial Park, Melmerby Beach Provincial Park, and Rushton’s Beach Provincial Park, for some of the warmest water north of the Carolinas.

Pictou is located just two hours from the New Brunswick border and it’s 90 minutes from Cape Breton Island.

17 Salisbury, New Brunswick

Worlds largest Silver Fox
World’s largest silver fox

A unassuming place along the Trans-Canada Highway, nestled upon the Petitcodiac River.  Two lagoons provide birding enthusiasts with an impressive count of 160 species to identify.  Millennial Park has a playground, open picnic area, and a great view to the river with no crowds.  History buffs and those seeking their ancestry, make note of an industrious group from Yorkshire that settled here in 1774. A plaque commemorates these settlers by their names.

Historical buildings include Victor Beausoleil Broussard Village, Beck House, Masson Temple, and the Rose Horsemen House. Railway enthusiasts will like The Depot Railway Hotel.

The appeal of the silver fox pelt, known for its luxurious thickness, exquisite texture and appealing colour variation, carried the growth and prosperity of this town until the late twentieth century. The world’s largest silver fox statue stands sentry at the Irving station just off exit 433 from the Trans-Canada Highway.  Salisbury is the birthplace and burial site of Sir George Parkins, educator, author and great-grandfather of Michael Ignatieff, former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Caledonia Gorge is 30 minutes away.

16 Moncton, New Brunswick

worlds Largest Magnet

Moncton is your gateway to the Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park to the south, and to Shediac, Parlee Beach and Cape Jourmaine to the north.  Sackville and Nova Scotia are to the east. At some point in your traverse around New Brunswick, you will land in Moncton. Famous for its Magnetic Hill, an optical illusion where you can put your car in neutral and it will roll uphill. A fun and entertaining attraction for sure. If you time your visit right, you can see the tidal-bore wave forcing its way up the Petitcodiac River from the Bay of Fundy. Spend an afternoon wandering the wide trails of Irishtown Nature Park.  The Free Meeting House is a national historic site. Do some shopping  at CF Champlain, New Brunswick’s largest shopping mall. Plenty of good eating spots for the foodies in your group.

15 Summerside, PEI

Confederation Bridge from Cape Tormentine
Confederation Bridge from Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick

This former military airforce base town may not compete with Charlottetown for Confederation importance, but it is an excellent stopover for those wanting to explore the western portion of PEI. You can leave Cape Jourmaine National Wildlife area in New Brunswick and be in Summerside, PEI, 35 minutes later via the Confederation bridge.

Live open-air productions are presented by the Harbourfront Theatre and the College of Piping in the summer.  The boardwalk takes you along the old shipyard area towards Indian Head Lighthouse and of course the Confederation Trail cuts a swath across the city for your cycling adventure. Make sure to stop at Linkletter Provincial Park. Just over half hour to Green Gables.

Summerside is about 30 minutes away from the highest point in province. These are the coordinates for it if you are trying to bag a peak.

Latitude/Longitude (WGS84) 46° 19′ 52” N, 63° 25′ 8” W
46.331125, -63.419002 (Dec Deg)
467750 E 5130924 N, Zone 20 (UTM)

14 St George, New BrunswickSt George gorge and Falls

It is home to the world’s largest blueberry, and don’t miss the historic white pine, visible from the falls bridge.  Loyalists settled here in the eighteenth century, making it a great opportunity for tombstone tourists like myself who want to dust away the moss from 200-year-old headstones in the town’s founders’ cemetery. The canal’s covered bridge, built in 1917, is a must-see.  The New Brunswick Sculpture Trails will take you here. Geocaching is popular for treasure hunters. Ducks Unlimited Wetland Trails is great for connecting with nature and it links to several other trails in the area.

13 Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John from light house pier
Saint John from Lighthouse Pier

I love Saint John: modern-historic, artsy, outdoorsy, foodie – a true Maritime city.  Check out my blog for more posts on this great east-coast town.Irving Nature Park- Saint John, NB  

Saint John: The Rest of the Story

The Art of Saint John and more.

12 Bathurst, New Brunswickchickadee feeding from hand

You come to Bathurst for the wild coastline, the abundance of birdwatching and mammals, long hiking, and Acadian hospitality.  If you haven’t been up to New Brunswick’s north coast you are missing out. Jorge Gorge, Papineau Falls, and the Nepisiguit River; Mi’gmaq Trail, Bathurst.

11 Truro, Nova Scotia

First of two falls in Victoria Park, Truro
First of two falls in Victoria Park, Truro

The aptly named hub of Nova Scotia is the headwaters of the Fundy bay. Coming from New Brunswick, it is a crossroads – keep going straight for Cape Breton, or turn right for Halifax, the Annapolis Valley and the South Shore. Here you can see the tidal bore and mud flats with ease. Follow the walking trails along the estuary, it is lovely. Don’t miss Victoria Park, Truro, Nova Scotia  Just 24 minutes from Stewiacke, to see Mastodon Ridge and get your picture taken at the halfway point between the north pole and equator.

Follow the Glooscap Trail through Old Barns, Maitland and onward to Burntcoat Head Park, Nova Scotia for the world’s highest recorded tides.

10 Saint Martins, New Brunswick

St Martins sea caves at low tide
St Martins sea caves at low tide

A highlight of anyone’s New Brunswick vacation is to go walk to the caves at low tide. Have some craft brew and seafood in the village,  stop at the Quaco Historical and Library Society and hear the stories of shipbuilding and how the figurehead that was on the front of the ship The Prince Victor came back home to where it was crafted.  http://www.quaco.ca/museum/

9  Cavendish, PEICavendish PEI National Park

A hot tourist area in the summer so be prepared for crowds. The reason people come?  The beaches, the food, the music festival (July 5th to the 7th, 2019 ), the camping, Anne of Green Gables, golf, boat carters or fun with the family at Shiney Waters Amusement Park. This is the place for lighthouse hunters, bird watchers, Canadiana history lovers, and cyclists (PEI is relatively flat). Cavendish is just 40 minutes from Charlottetown, and 40 minutes north of the Confederation Bridge. There is a return fee on the bridge.https://www.confederationbridge.com/tolls-fees/tolls-fees.html

Saint Andrews, New Brunswick

St Andrew's blockhouse National Historic Site
St Andrew’s Blockhouse National Historic Site

Besides the haunted walks that take place at the Algonquin Resort, there are whale-watching tours,  national historic sites, and great little cafes and pubs. The Blockhouse Fortress is just one of several national historic sites in the area. Please see National Historic Sites and Monuments, NB and Ministers Island, St Andrews, NB

7 Sussex, New Brunswick

Sussex Bluff Look off
Sussex Bluff Look off

Not only great hiking to the bluffs,  this is the mural capital of Atlantic Canada,  it has the biggest concentration of covered bridges in New Brunswick, a balloon festival, and foodies will enjoy it for its exceptional selection of agro industry events that take place in and around the area.

Sussex New Brunswick- Don’t Just Pass Through

6 Halifax, Nova Scotia.  

Titanic_Grave_Markers_Halifax
Titanic Grave in Fairlawn Cemetery. Photo credit to William B. Grice – Own work,

Fairlawn Cemetery, at 3720 Windsor St., Halifax, is a must for Titanic enthusiasts as it holds the final resting place of more than 100 passengers of the RMS Titanic.  Be sure to follow it up with a tour of the Maritime Museum.  The waterfront has an excellent farmers market; stroll the Historic Properties; smile at Theodore Tugboat, and cross your fingers the Bluenose is in dock.

The Citadel Hill national historic site is worth the climb. Check out Fort Needham for the memorial to Halifax explosion, and the Hydrostone Home on same topic. Pier 21 for immigration info. Have a pint at the Split Crow at 1855 Granville Street, said to be North America’s oldest continuously run pub. Halifax is known for it food and entertainment so don’t miss Nova Scotia’s own Alexander Keith’s brewery at 1496 Lower Water St., The Lower Deck pub and impromptu ceilidhs at the old Triangle Tavern. Peggy’s Cove is a 50-minute drive away.

5 Parrsboro, Nova Scotia

Other side of Partridge Island. Tower look off
Other side of Partridge Island. Tower look off

I have been rockhounding in Parrsboro three times and I see something new every visit.  The geological museum,  Joggins UNESCO heritage site,  waterfalls,  artist shops.  The mystery of the Mary Celeste. Cap D’or Lighthouse and beaches for clam digging. Golfing. It is excellent vacation destination.  See these posts for more. Parrsboro, Nova Scotia  

Thomas Cove, Five Islands, Nova Scotia Or check out https://www.novascotia.com

4 Canso, Nova Scotia

Canso town Stan Fest
Canso Town Stan Fest

Besides being the oldest fishing port on mainland North America,(Canso Islands have been recognized as national historic sites)  its annual Stan Music Fest draws thousands of people for a weekend of camping and music. This year’s festival is July 25th to 28th.  One of the best times I have ever had at an outdoor concert series. Make sure to bring rain gear and warm clothing, for ocean breezes get cool at night.  http://www.stanfest.com/

3 Highlands National Park, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cabot land, Cape Breton, Highlands
Cabot landing look off.

I have been around the Highlands National Park probably 20 times in my life, I never get tired of it.  Plenty of look-offs,  hiking, stunning scenery, friendly people. Camping in the highlands is a great experience.

I was there when the capelin were beaching themself on the beach to spawn. These little fish attracted a lot of seabirds, porpoises and whales that come in to feed on them.  A true spectacle if you are lucky to see it.

2 Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Cape Split end of trail
Cape Split Trail, Nova Scotia

Acadian culture ground-zero is just six minutes away at Grand Pre National Historic Site. Twenty minutes to the look-off above Canning, where you can see the valley laid out before you. Camp in Blomidon Provincial Park before setting off on your morning hike to Cape Split Provincial Park.  A must for every visitor to Nova Scotia’s Fundy coastal drive.

1 Grand Manan, New Brunswick

Hole in the wall, Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick
Hole in the wall, Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s hidden gem and undoubtedly some of its best hiking.  Swallowtail Lighthouse is gorgeous, you can camp at North Head Campground (formerly Hole in the Wall) or Anchorage Provincial Park.  Take a boat tour to see the rare Atlantic puffins nesting on Machias Island.  Ferry leaves from Blacks Harbour New Brunswick.

Grand Manan;s Red Trail

Happy travels from Maritimemac.

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11 thoughts on “Top 20 Maritime Outdoor Escapes 2019

Add yours

  1. I had always wanted to visit Nova Scotia, thanks for taking me on your trip! Your pictures are terrific, as well as the descriptions you give – you gotta love those tall ships, eh?!! I had no idea so many of the Titantic passengers were ever buried in the same place.

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    1. Nova Scotia is a beautiful province and my birth home. I still have to do from Annapolis Royal to Shelburne to cover yet.
      I finally made it to Fairlawn cemetery a few years ago. It is a touching spot. Halifax was one of the closest ports to where the Titanic went down so most of the bodies that were recovered were shipped there. Those not repatriated or claimed where buried in Halifax. It is fascinating if you get a chance check it and the Maritime Museum out they have artifacts recovered and somethings that have washed a shore from the Titanic on display.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful. I do a lot of research before I got to a place. I find tourist bureaus give glossy brochures filled with attractions you can spend your money on and places to stay eat, but not the good stuff you need to know . Hope you visit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We’re heading up to the Bay of Fundy in a few weeks. I’m really looking forward to exploring the area. Saint John and Moncton are both on the list. I’ll have to check out some of your suggestions. PS – We did Machais Seal Island last summer. We took the boat from the Maine side. It was amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

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