Michelle Held stated it perfectly when she said
“Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you loved the beach”
My not-so-secret love affair with Nova Scotia is as old as I am. In case you’re keeping track that continues to be 29 years for the third year in a row. There’s nothing I don’t absolutely love about Nova Scotia. The scenery amazes me each time we’re there. My mind never gets used to it. Every time I see the waves cresting upon the pristine sand beaches it reminds me how blessed I am to have the opportunity to take it all in. Outside of Halifax, the roads are easy peasy to navigate. Halifax has a few roundabouts that still make my brain sizzle but we’ve managed to successfully get on and off of them in the right places. I could go on (and often do) about all of the reasons that I love Nova Scotia but at the top of the list of reasons to go are the people. Maritime kindness and hospitality aren’t just folk tales.
My true heart lives in the south shore, namely Lockeport. We had the opportunity to spend much of the summer there last year and again this year. I highly recommend making Lockeport a stop on your next trip East. It’s an authentic fishing village that is equal parts quirky and quaint.
Crescent Beach is a kilometre long, white sand and well maintained beach. Bonus: There is never a problem finding a great spot to sit and set up your beach shelter. The Beach Centre is equipped with showers, change rooms, washrooms and a canteen. There are beachfront cottages located at each end of the beach. Ocean Mist Cottages and Seaside Cottages. We’ve always stayed at Ocean Mist Cottages because they are open year-round and we’re often there in the early Spring. The owners, Bill and Sue, are very accommodating and knowledgeable about all things Lockeport. The cottages are very well equipped and you just can’t beat the view and location. I’m sure that falling asleep with the windows open hearing the waves crashing on shore is the very definition of calm. They are a short walk to all of the amenities in town. I can’t recommend them enough. They book up quickly however and have many guests returning year after year so you need to book early. I’m sure that the seaside cottages are also well appointed, I’ve just not personally had the opportunity to check them out first hand. Plus, they’re at Ginger Hill which is an interesting spot on its own. If everyone is booked you will likely have better luck travelling in the fringe or off-season, which are still beautiful. There’s nothing quite like watching a wild winter storm on the sea from the comfort of a warm cottage.
As with any small, seaside town most of the local restaurants are seasonal. I regularly dream about the fishcakes from Lockeport Landing. My daughter Maddie had her first, but far from last fishcake there. A girl after my own heart, right from the start. They also offer a surprising upscale menu with completely affordable prices. From homemade soups to delectable salads on offer, this is one spot not to miss. The White Gull is accessible by boat, as well as a short walk from anywhere in town. There is a dock with a ramp to take you right to the door. Out the back door is the patio which has a view of the wharf complete with fishing boats and often serene sailboats passing by. The Town Market has just about anything you could need as well as some of the friendliest staff. We stock up on the pepperoni from the deli every time. They stock grocery and produce items, toys for the kids and souveniers. For the last few years folks have had to travel out of town to get gas after the local gas station closed the doors. It was always a good excuse to head to Shelburne to Tim Hortons, pick up an order of to-die-for potato skins to go from the Seadog Saloon or hit the dairy treat for some soft serve. That said, it was a pain by times. But now, drumroll please… Lock, Stock and Barrel General Store has opened their doors. They are a new business in the old “Corner Store” and will offer ice cream, hardware supplies, grocery, automotive supplies and wait for it…wait for it…GAS! You get gas! You get gas! Everybody is getting gas! See, what I mean about the quirk and quaint?
There is a good hiking spot at Rood’s Head. There are some wild blueberries for picking too! You can ask anyone you find how to get there. You just park your car in the lot and strike out. There is another beach down there to discover as well, though I’m not 100% sure whether or not it’s private property so you may want to check into that. The “End of the Head” is an adventure in itself. Bird watchers find all kinds of species to photograph. We love seeing what “treasures” have washed up in the last storm. There are beaten paths to follow around the property. This is private property but they allow sightseers. “Leave only footprints, take only memories”.
There is also a beautiful, easily walked, even little kid friendly walking loop which we walked nearly every night that takes you along the boardwalk and across 2 tressle bridges. The area closer to the bridges is lined with the sweetest smelling wild roses. I strapped Maddie into her carrier and Isaac ran, ran, ran.
For the knitters among us the visit isn’t complete without a visit to Becky’s Knit and Yarn Shop. She has 3 (soon to 4) beautiful, custom colours inspired by the people and places in Lockeport along with every other kind and colour imaginable. Becky is one of a kind and you shouldn’t head back home without stopping in for a “knit and yarn”.
For a small town this place really has it going on thanks to a hard working group of volunteers. We love the Sea Derby. We used to go out by boat, the Cynthia and Boys, but now we fish from the many wharves. Isaac loves every second of it. He entered a colouring contest in which kids coloured on the wall by the Government Wharf and also received a brand new fishing pole at the awards ceremony! He was the happiest little fisherman that’s ever lived. Every child registered gets a great prize plus there are many, many fantastic draw prizes up for grabs for the adults and the only eligibility required to be entered is to register. It’s also a shark derby and the sharks are brought onto the wharf and you can go and see them. Isaac was amazed that he was seeing a real shark! This year a giant Mako shark was caught weighing in at over 1000 lbs. Isaac’s mind was blown! Then he found out that they had to use an excavator to lift it onto the wharf. Excitement overload. Kids and adults alike love this event and many people travel from far and wide to attend. We will definitely be back for it.
Harmony Bazaar is a “Women in Music” festival. I’ve never personally had the opportunity to attend but I believe some girlfriends are going to make the trip down this summer to join me! There are theatre productions, kids concerts and great acts lined up. This year the headliner was Heather Rankin. I’ve seen her once before and she has the voice of an angel.
On top of all of these are the July 1 celebrations which are so much fun, lobster fest and Founder’s Day activities in nearby Shelburne.
It’s also a quick drive to Lunenburg to visit the famous Bluenose II and the fisheries museum or to Port Mouton to visit Carter’s beach which is also a magnificent beach which shallow waters and sand dollars as far as you can see.
For even more information about upcoming festivals and what to do and see, take a minute to explore their tourism website.
I can’t wait to pack the car up and hit the 401 Eastbound every chance I get. One quick overnight in Edmundston and arrive the next day in my personal paradise. I’ve brought many friends here over the years and not only have they all made return trips, they all have the same thing to say-“It just feels like home”– If you are looking for a super family friendly East Coast vacation, you need to put Lockeport on the top of that list. It’s a pretty, 2.5 hour drive from Halifax. You can pack your beach bag, hit the sand and let the kids run, explore and enjoy the innocent freedom that comes along with a great childhood making unforgettable family memories.