Celebrating the coastal communities of the South Shore
Named among the world’s top 10 coastal destinations by National Geographic Traveler, the three counties of Nova Scotia’s South Shore—Lunenburg, Queens and Shelburne—are famous for many things.
Visitors will discover 25 lighthouses, including the iconic light perched on wave-sculpted rocks at Peggys Cove, and the working wharves of Cape Sable Island, miles of white sand beaches, a National Park and its seaside adjunct, and excellent bird watching.
The natural beauty of the South Shore is truly exceptional, but it’s in the eight coastal towns that visitors can immerse themselves in its culture.
- Chester: Summer fun town
Colourful spinnakers adorn the water when summer breezes blow across the large, protected bay. Perfect sailing conditions make for a history of yachting and regattas. Take a 45-minute ferry ride to the Tancook Islands where a bicycle is the transportation mode of choice. Return to shop at galleries and take in a show at the charming Chester Playhouse.
Recommended—the Fo’c’sle, a very old pub straight out of the Age of Sail, for fish and chips and a game of pool.
- Mahone Bay: Town of festivals
This South Shore boutique-shopping mecca is fun to visit during one of the town’s many festivals. Whether it's pirates and sailing in summer, scarecrows and antiques in the fall or Father Christmas in winter, Mahone Bay knows how to have fun. Recommended—a cup of freshly brewed tea at the Tea Brewery.
- Lunenburg: UNESCO town
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the best example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America—one that served the fishing industry for 250 years—this is the quintessential Nova Scotia town. The many shops, galleries, restaurant and inns complement the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, home of the famous schooner, the Bluenose.
Recommended—chef Salvador’s Tuna Tartare at Fleur de Sel, one of Canada’s best restaurants.
- Bridgewater: Shopping town
The LaHave River runs right through the middle of Bridgewater, the South Shore’s home of contemporary culture with lots of big-box and independent shopping. Explore the many side streets where Victorian architecture is easy to find.
Recommended—the Folk Art Gallery at DesBrisay Museum.
- Liverpool: Town of museums
Liverpool on the Mersey has a rich cultural and natural history, and its museums tell the story. Under one roof at the Rossignol Cultural Centre you’ll find museums featuring folk art, outhouses, apothecary and wildlife, among others. The Sherman Hines Museum of Photography, featuring expanded galleries, contemporary and historical exhibits, is also located at the centre. The Hank Snow Home Town Museum in the old train station celebrates the life of the country music legend.
Recommended—pick up a six-pack of small batch English-style ales at Hell Bay Brewing.
- Lockeport: Seaside getaway town
Laid-back Lockeport is an island linked to the mainland by its signature silver-sand Crescent Beach, one so picturesque it was once featured on the $50 bill. Today, visitors can rent a beach cottage and watch the kids play in the sand.
Recommended—visit in July when Lockeport’s Canada Day celebrations and the weekend-long music festival, Harmony Bazaar, rock the island.
- Shelburne: Town of history
Shelburne’s walkable, photogenic 10-block waterfront heritage district with historic homes, museums, a working wooden barrel factory, an arts centre, a pub, a classy country inn and award-winning restaurant—the Charlotte Lane—could be the best kept secret in the province.
Recommended—the Dory Shop Museum where one man built 10,000 fishing dories.
- Clark’s Harbour: Fishing Town
Looking for real working wharves? Clark’s Harbour on Cape Sable Island is one of the busiest fishing port on the South Shore with lots of lobster boats to see and fishermen to talk to.
Recommended—the Stone Church, constructed of hand-chiselled granite and cobblestone from nearby islands, with a beautiful wood interior that resembles the hull of a ship.