The Sunrise Trail stretches more than 300 KM between Auld Cove and Amherst. It’s an appropriate nickname for a highway that crosses through so many picturesque places, and an accurate one, too. Its North East waterside location means you’ll find no shortage of breathtaking sunrise spots year round. Its location along the Northumberland Straight also means you’ll find some of the warmest ocean waters in Canada along this stretch.
If the name isn’t enough to intrigue you, we’ve rounded up 25 adventures that will. Most of the activities mentioned in this itinerary are seasonal (May – October). Grab a friend and a camera and use the experiences below as a starting point to see what’s hiding along the enchanting Northumberland Straight.
This post is a round up of some of our favourite experiences in this area over the last three years. Thanks to Fox Harb’r Resort for hosting us on our most recent trip, making it easier to explore and check a few more adventures off our sunrise trail bucket list.
Stops are not in order, so be sure to map the best route if you plan to hit multiple stops.
1. Go oyster fishing: Jump in a dory and head out on the waters of Malagash Bay to tong for oysters. Along the way, learn all about oysters, sample a few, and learn to clean and shuck.
2. Try your hand at some real-life “Duck Hunt” at Fox Harb’r: The clay version, not the ducks. Take a lesson in how to hold and shoot a gun, then yell “pull” and try to knock the clays out of the sky. It’s a total kick-back to days spent in front of the Nintendo, but way more fun, and with expert instruction from the staff at the Fox Harb’r Sporting Lodge, you might just find you’re better at shooting clays in real life.
3. Dine in a vintage rail car: Sleep or eat in a century old rail car at the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche.
4. Ride Surrey bikes down the Trans Canada Trail: Grab a friend and rent a Surrey bike (a covered, four wheel, pedal powered bike) from Remember Adventures in Tatamagouche. The shop is just around the corner from the old Tatamagouche rail cut, which is now part of the Trans Canada Trail.
5. Or rent a bike and tour the Jost Vineyards: Nova Scotia’s longest running winery, Jost, now has on-site bike rentals perfect for exploring the vast vineyard or visiting the nearby Blue Sea Beach. Be sure to tour the winery and try a sample or two in the beautifully renovated tasting room post-cycle.
6. Sail through history: Board the Hector Heritage Quay, a recreation of the Hector, the first ship to transport passengers from Scotland to Nova Scotia. Its journey is said to mark the start of a wave of immigration that would help shape North America.
7. Explore the Samson Trail: This 4.5 KM trail will take you down a former rail road track, right along the river. Keep your eyes peeled for the old train station, statues, a green gym and interpretive signs detailing some of the mining history of the area. Learn more about it HERE.
8. Grab a growler: There are currently two local craft breweries along the Sunrise Trail, Uncle Leo’s and Tatabrew, and both are worth a visit. Be sure to try the Smoked Porter at Uncle Leo’s, a bacon-meets-chocolate treat of a beer, and ask TataBrew for the story behind their two-headed logo.
9. Pond to plate dining at Fox Harb’r Resort: This catch of the day is as fresh as it gets. Fish for your dinner at one of the on-site trout ponds.
10. To market, to market (to market): Creamery Square, New Glasgow Farmers Market, and the Antigonish Farmers Market each have their own unique charms, but all have one thing in common – great local food, fresh local produce, and beautiful local artisan goods. The only downfall is that they’re all held on Saturday morning, so you’ll have to make a choice as to which one you’ll visit.
11. Lismore Sheep Farm: More than 100 sheep call this working farm home. Staff at Lismore make colourful yarn from their sheep wool, along with cozy slippers, mitts, comforters and more. A fun stop, and essential shop to stock up for winter.
12. Farm-to-sea-to-table cooking with the Kilted Chef: Chef Allain Bosse, known as The Kilted Chef, offers full-day, unforgettable culinary workshops that take guests well beyond cooking skills. Visit local producers and fishermen, learn to identify fresh seafood and vegetables, brush up on your knife skills, and work together to create a gourmet dinner complete with wine pairings.
13. Visit the Steinhart Distillery: Organic vodka. Haskap Gin. Maple Vodka. Need I say more? The distillery is also home to some gorgeous cottages (seen in our header image), and this fall you can book two nights and a lesson in distilling.
14. Then grab hand-pumped cask ale: In addition to two breweries, the Sunrise Trail is home to a brewpub called The Townhouse in Antigonish. Inspired by english pubs, expect dark wood, pickles, darts, and crisps at the bar. They brew traditional English ale on-site, drawn from a hand-pump.
15. Indulge in a spa day: Whether you’re staying on-site at Fox Harb’r Spa, or just looking for a pampering day trip, Indulge in a sea stone massage or some marine mud therapy before relaxing in the mineral pool and steam room.
16. Transform yourself at Dorje Denma Ling: Visit Canada’s only Shambhala international residential program centre. They offer ongoing workshops in meditation and mindfulness, including full week meditation retreats.
17. Wander through a field of lavender: During the summer months, you can have the dreamy experience of walking through the fields of lavender blooms at Seafoam Lavender. Check their Facebook page for details on when the fields and lavender u-pick are open.
18. Or let your troubles wash into the sea: There are many great beaches in this area, but in our opinion, Melmerby Beach is the place to be.
19. Go Ziplining at Anchors Above: Face your fear of heights and fly down this 1100 foot zipline that’s 10 stories in the air. Learn more HERE.
20. Tee Off at Fox Harb’r: This golf course sits right on the Northumberland Strait, making for some seriously breathtaking views (and a bit of a water hazard for errant balls). Golf Digest has called it a top ranked golf resort, plus, the on-site pub has lobster nachos to fuel up post-game. Learn more HERE.
21. Learn the history of Industry: Visit the Museum of Industry in New Glasgow for a fun, hands-on history lesson all about the industries that shaped the province. Learn how to make a mill work, try block and tack lifting, caulk a boat, print your name using a printing press, experience a working steam engine and more! Learn more HERE.
22. Dine at the Dino Wagon: One of the best fish burgers in the province. Find this permanently parked food truck at 98 Main St. in Tatamagouche.
23. Do Maple Brunch: Head to Sugar Moon in Earltown and dine on maple everything (pancakes, bacon, baked beans, coffee), then work off brunch with a beauty of a hike to the on-site waterfall. Learn more HERE.
24. The Bistro: This tiny restaurant in downtown New Glasgow is one of the best in the province, serving fresh local food prepared in creative and satisfying ways. You’ll want to book in advance. Learn more HERE.
25. Grab a slice of Pictou County Pizza: It’s the best pizza in the world. Here’s why.
There are endless things to explore along this beautiful stretch of Nova Scotia, and we’ve only experienced a small percentage. If your favourite Sunrise Trail adventure is missing, we want to hear about it in the comments below.