Thanksgiving weekend is up there among my favourite holidays. A weekend that celebrates food, family, and friends. It’s the true kick-off to fall in my books, a weekend where celebrating local food and the harvest is the highlight.
In order to have Thanksgiving dinner, there needs to be some shopping. Sure, you could just stop into the nearest grocery store or neighbourhood market, but there’s something to be said for making the purchase of your holiday trimmings part of a weekend adventure. If you are fortunate to have a bit of free time this Thanksgiving long weekend, here are three Harvest-inspired day trips perfect for a date or a family excursion.
1. Lunenburg Sampler:
Take the old road up the South Shore. This route is lined with beaches, and it’s a great time to dip your toes in the ocean before the water starts to cool. Stop into the Hubbards Farmers’ Market (Saturday AM), a beautiful and vibrant community market where you’ll find lots of fresh produce and baked goods for your thanksgiving meal.
Keep heading towards Lunenburg, and turn the selection of your dinner drink into a mini-tour. There’s lots of options here – the always charming blacksmith shop turned distillery, Ironworks, Petite Riviere winery (where you’ll find some of the oldest vines in the province), or Lunenburg’s resident coffee roaster Laughing Whale. You could also start your shopping a little earlier, at the new Salt Box Brewery in Mahone Bay.
Now that you’re ready for your dinner, add a few stories to tell around the table. Lunenburg Walking Tours offer a great “Essential Lunenburg Tour” where you can learn about the history, architecture, industry, and choice of colour pallet for the town. We loved learning about “The Lunenburg Bump”, a design made for people-watching (the so-called Facebook of architecture). They also have a haunted tour if you can stay a little later into the evening.
Visit the Fishermen’s Memorial on the Lunenburg waterfront, visit the aquarium at the Fisheries Museum, and don’t leave without a peek at the starlight fresco in Saint John’s Anglican Church. This fresco was originally painted in the early 1900s and, eerily enough, is an exact replica of the night sky from Lunenburg as it would have looked on the night Jesus was supposedly born if you were looking toward Bethlehem.
2. Tatamagouche Teaser:
If you haven’t yet been to Tatamagouche, now is the time. The charming storefronts and Saturday Farmers’ Market have made it one of our favourite places to spend the morning. Start at Creamery Square, the Saturday market and pick up everything you need (food-wise) from the many great local vendors. This is one of only two places in the province where you can buy Sugar Moon maple syrup and other maple treats, perfect for Thanksgiving.
While there, stop into the on-site museum and learn about Anna Swan. Anna Swan lived in Tatamagouche in the mid-to-late 1800’s, and was one of the tallest women in the world, a staggering 7’5. She travelled the world with a touring show where she met her husband, Martin Bates, who was also exceptionally tall at 7’11. The two gave birth to the world’s largest baby (23.5 lbs) who, unfortunately died shortly after birth.
From there, head down the street to Tatabrew to try and buy one of their local brews to impress your dinner guests. Ask them where you can see their mascot – the double-headed calf featured in their logo. Finally, keep heading to Malagash and stop into Jost. The whole tasting room and giftshop was re-done last year and is an impressive sight, plus, their extensive tasting bar makes it easy to find a favourite wine to pair with your meal. If Whiskey is more your thing, backtrack to River John. Caldera Distillery makes a beautiful 5 year old spiced whiskey, and the tasting room is a little trip back to prohibition.
3. Valley Views and Vineyards
Wolfville and Kentville are an essential stop in the fall. We are blessed with a large harvest here in Nova Scotia, and the valley is a mecca when it comes to the harvest. There is no shortage of places to source all your Thanksgiving goodies, and if you’re really eager, you can even hand-pick some of your dinner at the many u-picks.
Visit one (or more) of the local wineries in the area, or one of the three breweries for your holiday libations. We recommend taking the opportunity to check out one of Nova Scotia’s newest winery, Planters Ridge. It’s just down the road from Foxhill Farm, where you can get some locally made chocolate, vanilla, or (my personal favourite) peanut butter gelato to serve with dessert.
This is also a great time of year for a visit because the Pumpkin People are now out in full force. Drive through Kentville and stop for photos of this year’s pumpkins.
What are your long-weekend plans? What other great dinner menus have you found around Nova Scotia for this weekend? Let me know in the comments below!
For more day-trip ideas, check out our post “10 Fall Day-Trips Within Two Hours of Halifax“. There’s lots of great options for corn mazes and ghost walks and other fun fall activities for the whole family.