Salty air, windswept coastlines, and friendly smiles wherever you go—Canada’s East Coast is truly unlike anywhere else on Earth. As Atlantic Canadians living here every day, it’s easy to forget how special our region is. From the national historic sites and parks of Newfoundland and Labrador to the renowned golf courses and wineries of Nova Scotia, it’s important to remember that sometimes you don’t have to go far to make the beautiful travel discoveries you’re craving.
This fall is the perfect time to experience the Atlantic Canadian activities and attractions that have enchanted visitors from around the world for decades. And of course, we know as locals that the hospitality can’t be beat! So, why not embark on some adventures close to home? Luckily, we’ve gathered a knock-out list of our favourite things to see, do, and eat across Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, so all you need to do is book your vacation time.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
See: Newfoundland and Labrador from Coast to Coast
Small towns bursting with charm, outport communities, and one of North America’s oldest cities—there’s a lot more to Newfoundland and Labrador than meets the eye. A perfect blend of forested wilderness and rocky coastlines, each region of this Atlantic province brings its own collection of experiences, views, and stories. From coast to coast, take the time to immerse yourself in the sights and places unique to our home.
- Be the first person on the continent to see the sun rise with a morning spent at Cape Spear, the most-easterly point in North America.
- For more off-the-beaten-path adventures, head to western Newfoundland’s Codroy Valley—a lush haven for birders, nature lovers, and travellers alike.
- Get your road trip started en route to or from Port aux Basques with a stop at the Rose Blanche Lighthouse. This unique granite structure attracts thousands of visitors annually and offers unequaled views of the Atlantic from Rose Blanche harbour.
- More stars than Hollywood. Set your hopes and sights high for light-pollution free stargazing at Newfoundland and Labrador’s first Dark Sky Preserve, Terra Nova National Park.
- Find a bit of old world charm—and ingenuity. Explore hobbit-like structures and puffin dotted coastlines in Elliston, the “Root Cellar Capital of the World”.
Stay hungry for more adventure and stay home. Rediscover Newfoundland and Labrador this year with the Stay Home 2020 guide.
Do: Live on the Edge
There’s a reason the Vikings decided to stay when they set foot here a thousand years ago: Our rugged shores are not for the faint of heart. A daredevil’s playground, Newfoundland and Labrador offers unlimited adventure for those looking to push themselves to the limit. From hiking along the craggy juts of deep fjords and wilderness camping to kayaking beneath the shadows of icebergs and watching the sunrise from Canada’s most easterly point, there are more than just a few ways we like to live on the edge here.
- Newfoundland and Labrador has some amazing hiking destinations for you to discover, complete with unbelievable views.
- Get in touch with nature’s grandeur. Experience the awe-inspiring behaviour of minke and orca whales (from a safe distance of course) with a sea-kayaking excursion in the North Atlantic.
- Connect to wild and wonderful terrain, flora, and fauna of Canada’s second-largest National Park on a Gros Morne camping trip or dig deep into the island’s geological past at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Rock on! Feel history rise up beneath your feet as you walk the barren, ancient crust of the Earth’s mantle at The Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park.
- Bend a knee (or wader) to the “King of Fish.” Cast your line along the Exploits River for the best salmon fishing on east of British Columbia.
Eat: Traditional Fare and New Favorites
It’s rare to find a place in North America where the cuisine is so clearly defined by its roots. An island unto itself for much of its existence, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have endured and prospered for years on the very land and waters they call home. What some foodies in more trendy circles may call “slow cuisine”, we simply think of it as “home cooking”. Foraged, fished, and farmed right here, discover the flavors of Newfoundland and Labrador with each lovingly prepared bite.
- Tantalize your tastebuds with a great overview of Newfoundland and Labrador’s famed food-culture scene, as well as food and dining offers and even tips on foraging for local ingredients.
- From toutons to a Jiggs’ Dinner with Figgy Duff, no culinary journey here is complete without trying these uniquely Newfoundland and Labrador foods.
- A new twist on tradition. Explore Nouveau Newfoundland and Labrador cuisine with dishes like moose carpaccio, seal sliders, and partridge berry sorbet.
- To get the inside scoop on some of the best dining in the capital city, The 17 Essential Restaurants of St. John’s, Newfoundland is essential reading.
- If you’re thirsting for a craft beer or two (or more), there are plenty of breweries and brew pubs that take great pride in tapping into local flavours and ingredients.
See: History Come Alive
We don’t just leave history to the books, we live it every day in Nova Scotia. Between historic villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites to locally crafted wooden schooners and daily cannon fire at noon, you’ll be hard-pressed to visit without learning a little bit more about the people, cultures, languages, and industries that have written their stories across every port and inland town in this history-making province.
- Ever wonder about that cute two-sail schooner on the back of the Canadian dime? Learn about the Bluenose and its legacy with a tour aboard the newly refurbished replica Bluenose II.
- Postcard perfect views. Famed for its colourful harbourfront, the entire town of Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Speaking of UNESCO sites, Nova Scotia has six of them, from geoparks and fossils to biosphere reserves and ancestral grounds.
- Thousands of kilometres of coast call for plenty of lighthouses. Check out Peggy’s Cove or head out further on the Lighthouse Trail to get your fill in Canada’s lighthouse capital.
- It wouldn’t be a trip to Nova Scotia without a visit to the Celtic Heart of North America. From Highlands to Historic Sites, see why Cape Breton is one of world’s top islands.
Do: Get Wet
Featuring over 13,300 kilometres of coastline, it’s no wonder it says “Canada’s Ocean Playground” on Nova Scotia license plates. With beaches of all sandy varieties and colours, lakes both fresh and still, hidden falls, rivers, and more, there really is “water, water everywhere”. So set sail for adventure, dive into fun, and simply soak up the province the way Nova Scotians have for centuries.
- Go for a rejuvenating and refreshing stroll (or possibly even a swim!) at one of the 43 wild and wonderful public beaches in the south, east and north of the province.
- Get on the water! There are hundreds of ways to get to know each nook and cranny of Nova Scotia’s coast and inland lakes by paddle and oar.
- The Fortress of Louisbourg has magical views of the Atlantic coastline. Visit during low season and take a self-guided tour using the free Parks Canada Guided Tour app for stories from the 1700s in Unama'ki (Mi'kmaw for Cape Breton).
- This activity is not actually in the water, but a lot of the courses are water adjacent. Golfing on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic? Now you’ve seen everything.
- Don’t let the name fool you, the Tidal Bore is anything but boring. Watch from the observation deck as the bore passes underneath you on the Shubenacadie River, powered by the world’s highest tides from the Bay of Fundy.
Eat: (and Stay Thirsty)
When travellers talk about drinking in the places they visit, they’re definitely talking about Nova Scotia. A haven for inspiring East Coast cuisine and drink, the unique coastal terroir and rum-running history of this seabound province have combined to birth some of the world’s most unique white wines, craft beers, and spirits. Of course, with thirst comes hunger, but don’t worry: You’ll find plenty of locally sourced ingredients and home-grown culinary superstars here, too.
- For a small city, Halifax boasts big flavours. In fact, the dining scene alone is definitely worth the trip.
- It may not feel like France, but the terroir is pretty close. Taste your way through the Annapolis Valley and sip Nova Scotia’s unique varietals with a weekend in the province's wine country.
- Farm to mouth. Meet the producers, growers, and crafter’s helping to put Nova Scotia on the culinary map at one of the province’s many farmer’s markets.
- With this much fresh Atlantic lobster, it would be shellfish not to share. Grab your own from the Lobster Capital of Canada in Barrington or tuck into a claw at any of the 40 restaurants on the Lobster Trail.
- More than just great wine. From Yarmouth to Sydney, raise a glass to a selection of locally-produced imbibe-ables with 80 stops along Canada’s first winery, craft brewery, cidery, and distillery trail, The Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail.