Nova Scotia is the perfect road trip destination for the fall. Lush and colorful foliage covers its gentle rolling hills and sweeping coastal cliffs. Its quaint tranquility, wild landscapes, and vivid culture will transport you to another world entirely. But there’s also something so endearingly familiar and welcoming about it that will make you feel right at home.
My husband and I decided to head north to Nova Scotia in October to celebrate our one year anniversary. It wasn’t our first visit to the province (check out our summer 10 Day Road Trip in Nova Scotia and PEI). But its charm immediately captured our hearts and had been beckoning us back ever since.
This one week Nova Scotia road trip itinerary makes a loop starting and ending in Halifax, a vibrant capital city with an international airport. We chose to focus our visit in the South Shore and Annapolis Valley regions, known for farm-to-table cuisine and award-winning wineries. The charming countryside comes alive during the fall harvest. It’s a great choice for couples looking for a romantic, fall getaway with a focus on food, wine, and fall foliage.
Follow along on our one week fall road trip in Nova Scotia, as we experience this vibrant Canadian Maritime province awash in autumn colors.
DAY 1: Halifax
After a quick, two hour flight from Boston to Halifax, we arrived in the evening and checked into the Prince George Hotel. It’s luxuriously comfortable and conveniently located in the heart of downtown – our main priority, since we packed a lot into this trip and didn’t have much time to waste.
We immediately headed back out to get a taste of the city’s nightlife. Noble is a speakeasy located in the basement of The Middle Spoon. Their website has a hidden link to sign up for the secret password. When we whispered it to the bartender behind the counter, he whisked us downstairs through a labyrinth of dark corridors to a hidden realm. An intimate atmosphere and delicious craft cocktails awaited.
DAY 2: Shelburne & Kemptville
The next morning, we grabbed coffee and croissants at The Old Apothecary, an adorable bakery that was run by a local mother-daughter duo. We sat at the counter and watched (and smelled) the delectable desserts made right before our eyes.
We then hit the road, making our way about two hours down the southern shore to Shelburne. Having already visited the popular detours of Peggy’s Cove and Lunenberg during our first visit to Nova Scotia, we skipped them this time around, but you could easily make these stops along the way!
Read more about Peggy’s Cove and Lunenberg in Best Day Trips from Halifax.
We put our name on the waiting list at the award-winning Charlotte Lane Cafe, then passed the time wandering the quaint streets of this coastal town. Once our table is ready, we dug into a hearty lunch al fresco on the patio. Wrapped in cozy, tartan blankets, we enjoyed a cool, salty breeze off the water and fought over the last crumb of dessert.
Our bellies full, we headed an hour inland, slowly winding along a dirt road that took us deeper into the remote Tobeatic Wilderness. Our destination, Trout Point Lodge, is nestled in a forest steeped in vibrant fall colors and situated alongside the scenic Tusket and Napier Rivers. It’s the perfect home base for a romantic getaway.
With only eleven suites, each of which boasts stunning water views, the lodge truly feels like home. The owners welcomed us with glasses of wine and gave us a tour of the property. Our suite was luxuriously well-appointed and the cozy common rooms enticing. But the outdoors are what make this property truly unique and special. Offering activities ranging from canoeing to forest bathing, it’s the perfect refuge to reconnect with nature and each other.
The cedar hot tub overlooking the river caught our eye first. Soaking and listening to the sound of the water rushing past was the perfect way to rejuvenate our travel-weary spirits and unwind before dinner.
Dinner was a four-course, rotating menu featuring fresh, local ingredients, an unforgettable dining experience. Ours was a little marred by the fact that it was a busy night for the kitchen. Despite having reservations and being hotel guests, we didn’t get seated until much later in the evening. But we happily occupied ourselves with a game of chess next to a crackling fire in the great room while we waited.
After dinner, we were in for a real treat: a guided stargazing tour. As part of the UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, Trout Point Lodge boasts some of North America’s darkest skies. We headed out into the pitch black to the stargazing platform. This raised structure in the middle of a meadow offers nearly unobstructed 360-degree views of the glittering night sky. We took turns peering through the telescope, which our guide trained on constellations and planets, and made a wish upon a shooting star before heading back inside.
Day 3: Kemptville
We woke up the next morning to the peaceful sound of the babbling river through our open windows. The surrounding Tobeatic Wilderness is an outdoor lover’s playground. At the convergence of the Tusket and Napier Rivers, the Lodge is tucked amid this completely untouched nature conservation in Nova Scotia. It’s your choice whether to explore it all via land or water. The Lodge provides complimentary canoes and kayaks, and the 100-acre estate offers plenty of hiking trails.
That afternoon, we met in the kitchen for a cooking class. The resort’s award-winning culinary team leads classes every other day. The executive chef gave us a tour of the gardens, where much of the produce is grown, and the forest to forage for mushrooms. We learned about local Acadian cuisine and got a hands-on demonstration of how to make mushroom ravioli with fresh pesto. Afterwards, we enjoyed the fruits of our efforts and great conversation with our fellow classmates.
Day 4: Digby Neck & Wolfville
Early the next morning, we hit the road once again to Digby Neck, a peninsula that extends far out into the Bay of Fundy. About a two hour’s drive, it’s the perfect launch point for our next adventure: a whale watching tour.
We passed fishing shacks clinging to the coastline and made two car ferry crossings before finally reaching Ocean Explorations, our guide for the day. A Zodiac boat took our small group out into the choppy waters in search of humpback whales. We had luck on our side: a group of six surrounded our boat and swam close enough alongside that I could reach out and touch them!
Still buzzing from the adrenaline rush, we returned to land and hit the road once again. It’s about another two hour drive to Wolfville, located on the eastern edge of Annapolis Valley.
We checked into Olde Lantern Inn, a charming bed and breakfast owned by the most welcoming retired South African expats. After getting settled into our cozy wine cellar suite, we walked through the adjacent vineyard to the Grand-Pré Historic Site. Grand-Pré, which translates literally to great meadow, was the heart of Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755. The site commemorates this community’s tragic deportation in the years after. Many Acadians from around the world make the trek here to honor their ancestors. It was a powerful scene to take in just as the sun set over the valley.
That night, we enjoyed a special anniversary dinner at Le Caveau, located in the Domaine de Grand Pré Vineyard. Afterwards, starlight and lanterns, set out by the inn’s owners, guided our romantic walk through the vineyard back to the inn.
Day 5: Wolfville & Halifax
The next morning, we fueled up with a delicious homemade breakfast at the inn. Then we headed out to Cape Split Provincial Park, about 45 minutes away. We followed a relatively flat trail through the forest without any views. Then suddenly, we emerged onto dramatic exposed cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy. It was an awe-inspiring place to take in the world’s highest tides swirling below.
This was not a long or terribly difficult hike. You can take the same trail back, but we detoured to a smaller unmarked trail down to a rocky beach to see the crashing waves up close. Overall it took us about four hours.
Having worked up an appetite, we stopped by Luckett Vineyards for lunch. Annapolis Valley is a robust, up-and-coming wine region. Close proximity to the Minas Basin, cool breezes, and excellent temperature moderation produce wines with great distinction. It’s home to the first wine appellation of Nova Scotia, Tidal Bay, a fresh and crisp white name named for the nearby Bay of Fundy.
We enjoyed a charcuterie board and wine tasting before exploring the vineyards. Luckett Vineyards is known for an iconic red phone booth sits in the middle of the vineyard. You won’t want to miss out on the novelty of making friends and family insanely jealous with “wish you were here” calls.
Next, we headed to Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyard. We enjoyed exploring the sprawling indoor space and beautiful outdoor space with an impressive view. I couldn’t leave without taking home a bottle of their sparkling rosé.
At last, it’s time to head back to Halifax. Along the way, we stopped at Howard Dill’s, the world champion giant pumpkin patch, in Windsor. Once in Halifax, we checked back into Prince George Hotel. We celebrated our final night of vacation over a hearty dinner at Press Gang.
Day 6: Halifax
We spet the morning of our final day exploring the Halifax Citadel National Site. Sitting high atop a hill overlooking the city and harbor, the Citadel is a great place to learn about Halifax’s rich history while taking in epic views of the city and waterfront.
We flew out on the afternoon of this sixth day. However, you could easily add a seventh day by spending more time in either Wolfville or Halifax.