Family travel tips for Nova Scotia with kids. Lisa Gleave lives in Nova Scotia with her
kid Solomon (6) where she is also General Manager of Mermaid Theatre. While the
productions of her company travel the world (The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites is
appearing in Singapore in March), Lisa is also passionate about the joys of her home area and wants to
share them with other parents. If you love the great outdoors, quiet beaches
and being on the water, she says, Nova Scotia is the perfect family holiday
destination. Here is her insider destination guide to travel with kids in Nova
Why should parents plan a family holiday in Nova Scotia with kids?
I think of Nova Scotia as the safe wild. It is very easy to drive for a short period of time and find yourself deep into nature – safe nature. We don’t have anything poisonous running around here and any larger wild animal would high tail it at the sound of humans approaching! It is uncrowded, unpretentious, inexpensive and easy to get around – if you rent a car.
The folks here are very friendly and love to welcome visitors from other parts of the world. Nova Scotians are proud of their native, Acadian and Celtic roots and it is easy to find the results of that blend of cultures in everything here – from food to music to the way we say the names of places.
Where is your favourite place to take kids in Nova Scotia?
My favourite place to take Solomon and his cousins is Green Bay. My mum and dad used to take my sister and I there when we were small and I try to make a trip at least once every summer. There is a string of small beaches complete with rocks for clamouring over, tide pools for poking around in and lots of shells and beach glass for treasure hunting and collecting. The sand is white and one family can often have one of the crescents of beaches there all to themselves.
Where is your kid’s favourite places in Nova Scotia to hang out?
For my son it is all about being near water and in Nova Scotia we have an abundance of accessible lakes, rivers and a seaside. A summer favourite is Aylesford Lake Beach. It is very clean and the water is lovely and clear and not very cold. There are always many other children to play with and a small canteen if you didn’t bring your own picnic. It has a lifeguard service and plenty of parking.
What is the best free activity to do in Nova Scotia with kids?
Again, I have to say head to the beach! Another great one is Rissers Beach Provincial Park. Solomon loves spending a day here body surfing in the gentle (but exciting!) waves and then having an ice cream cone before heading home. It is right down the road from Green Bay.
Where is the best place to take kids in Nova Scotia when the weather is bad?
To the movies. There are lots of cinema options both in Halifax and in the Valley.
A popular thing that families like to do in winter is to rent a hotel room for the night in a property with an indoor pool. We like the Delta Halifax. It is right downtown, has a nice pool and a great kids’ program. Kids receive a welcome package upon check in, eat free in the restaurant and are treated like kings and queens! The kids swim and play in the pool until they tire themselves out and then eat dinner in the restaurant and then watch a movie in the room and pass out.
What are some of the city secrets that tourists might not know about but shouldn’t miss on a family holiday in Nova Scotia with kids?
Point Pleasant Park – there are a host of spooky old batteries for playing hide and seek and imagining pirate ships in the harbour.
The Halifax Waterfront – see which ships are in port, including Theodore Tugboat! Go for a harbour cruise on the tall ship Silva – a real schooner.
What’s the best way for children to have an authentic Nova Scotia experience?
Go to a music festival. Nova Scotia has music festivals running all summer long in various locations. Many are very family friendly, like the Full Circle Festival, which takes place the summer solstice weekend. A love of music is woven deeply into the fabric of our culture and it is something that people of all ages can share and enjoy.
Eat a lobster. We are famous for our lobster and one of the best places to try it is at the Halls Harbour Lobster Pound & Restaurant in Halls Harbour.
Halls Harbour is located on the Bay of Fundy where we have the highest and lowest tides in the world. You can sit and feast at a picnic table on the wharf while you watch the tides roll in or out.
Once they are out you can walk on the ocean floor but keep an eye out because when they come back in, they come in fast!
Where are your top places for family-friendly restaurants for kids in Nova Scotia?
Near Green Bay is the LaHave Bakery. Casual and easy, laid back and friendly. There is a skateboard company in another part of the historic building the bakery is housed in.
Halifax Farmers Market. Pick up a bunch of snacks and head to the waterfront to watch the boats while you eat lunch.
What are your tips for kids' shops in Nova Scotia?
Woozles is the oldest children’s toy and bookstore in Canada full of wonderful stuff. It is run by some of the nicest folks ever.
Which is the best place to find family friendly accommodation in Nova Scotia with kids?
In Green Bay McLeod’s Cottages are perfect but book well in advance.
Airbnb properties are wonderful and plentiful and many are family friendly.
Nova Scotia Tourism’s website is very handy for finding family friendly accommodation as well.
When is the best time of year to visit Nova Scotia with kids?
Early September. The ocean has warmed up, we still have summer temperatures and harvest season has begun. The kids have gone back to school, many tourists have gone home and prices of accommodation often drop.
Or in February for a true taste of winter – Ski Martock has a Riglet Park for very young children to try out snowboarding. It is very cool.
What is the best way to move around Nova Scotia with kids?
Rent a car. Definitely.
What are your top 3 family travel tips for families travelling to Nova Scotia with kids?
1. Be outside no matter the weather. If you have the right clothes you can enjoy the wonderful, unspoiled outdoors any time of year.
2. Get ready to chat. People are friendly here and they are going to want to chat with you, so make sure you have snacks or games for the kids while you’re chatting with the locals.
3. Try all the food! From Solomon Gundy to Lunenberg pudding make sure you sample anything you don’t recognise.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites will perform in Singapore from March 5 to 13 2016 and is presented by ACT 3 International.
Images: Full Circle Festival, Wally Hayes, Lisa Gleave, Scott Munn, Nova Scotia Tourism