On a late spring day last year, I picked a friend up before sunrise and we hit the road for Wolfville. We wanted to watch the sun come up over the Bay of Fundy (at least I did, my friend is an incredibly good sport). The Annapolis Valley is just 45 minutes from Halifax, a great day-trip destination. It was cool and dewy when we arrived, but once the sun was up it turned into a hot, sunny, breathtakingly beautiful spring day.
We headed to Grand Pre National Historic Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that commemorates the story of Acadie and La Grande Derangement. They open for their regular season in late May, and while this can be a busy time due to school groups, we had much of the grounds to ourselves.
The gardens were already in bloom. We took some time to sit and read by the water in between exploring the story of the deportation of Acadians.
From Grand Pre, we headed a few minutes down the road to the Wolfville Farmers’ Market. It’s one of only a handful of year-round markets here in Nova Scotia. Around 60 vendors bring the market to life each Saturday selling everything from fresh produce and prepared foods to fine wines, spirits, handcrafted furniture, pottery, jewelry, and other fine wares.
It’s a real community hub. In fact, on Wednesday evenings from May 18 through December 21, the market hosts a weekly community dinner for just $10 per person. You can also shop the market Wednesday evenings during these months. Around 30 vendors keep the community and visitors stocked with beautiful gifts and food!
We stocked up on blueberry smoothies and macarons, and browsed heirloom seeds and local preserves.
If trains are your thing, pop across the street to the library. It’s housed in the former train station, and they keep a full history of the site inside.
We headed a little further down the street for lemon tarts from Slow Dough*. Oh my yum!
We walked off our food with a stroll along an Acadian dyke. The entrance is located just past the Wolfville Farmers’ Market and makes for a beautiful walk along the water. You can still see part of the sluice, the wooden chute and flap that helped channel water and create the rich agricultural lands found in the valley today.
And since we were now on a bit of a garden kick, we circled back to Main Street and into the Acadia Campus to check out the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. The property explores native flora of the Acadian Forest Region. There is a large conservatory, four walled gardens, and a 1.5 km nature trail on-site. My favourite was the medicinal and food garden, where indigenous and non-indigenous plants are grown and labelled with their traditional medicinal use.
It’s a great place to relax, walk, read, think, draw, and it’s free to explore the gardens. We followed the nature trail that takes you alongside a brook, through trees and over bridges.
The Annapolis Valley is often called Nova Scotia wine country. It’s home to the majority of the province’s wineries, and is a great place to explore the growing wine scene. We stopped into one of Nova Scotia’s newer wineries, Planters Ridge. The tasting room is in a converted 150 year old barn. It has a lot of charm, and a picture-perfect view of the vineyard from large windows and a wrap around deck. It’s a perfect place for a wedding.
From there we stopped into Fox Hill Cheese House for freshly made gelato with a view.
Blomidon Winery is just a quick trip from Fox Hill. It’s is a great stop in itself, but it’s also an ideal pit stop if you are heading to Blomidon Provincial Park or to hike Cape Split. We explored the new tasting room and patio, then walked the vineyards, before heading to the Look Off.
The Look Off is less than a 10 minute drive from the winery, on the way to Blomidon Provincial Park. It offers some of the best views of the Annapolis Valley. Even in May, this stop was packed with visitors taking in the panoramic view.
If you keep going, you’ll get to Blomidon Provincial Park and Camp Ground. There are great hiking trails on-site, some of which will take you to some pretty epic water views, and the campground is one of my personal favourites. Even further along will take you to Cape Split, a very popular place to hike that I’ve yet to tackle.
We didn’t get to do either on this trip. We had limited time and wanted to stop into The Port Pub. I’ve written about The Port Pub a number of times on this blog before. I really love the setting, plus I’ve had some great food there, and there is a local brewery attached to the building that provides beer for the community-owned restaurant. We had lobster poutine and a salad (balance!).
Before heading home, we stopped at Just Us, a local coffee roaster and cafe that has put together an on-site coffee museum. It’s a great place to start or end a trip, and is located just off the highway.
That was the end of this particular spring adventure, but there is so much more to do in the area (and so many more towns that make up the Valley). I’ve included some of my favourite places along this route below. Now I want to hear yours. Leave a note in the comments with your favourite Valley adventures!
Take a walking winery tour of Wolfville
Stay at the historic Evangeline Inn, former home of Prime Minister Robert Borden
Indulge in Tapas and wine on a vine draped terrace at Le Caveau
Enjoy a flight and local pub fare at Paddy’s Pub
*The original post incorrectly said our Lemon Tarts came from The Rolled Oat. They were actually from Slow Dough, which is now reflected in the post.