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First Time to Cape Breton Island

Hanover...
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First Time to Cape Breton Island

My husband and are in the midst of planning our first trip to Nova Scotia in early September and especially want to spend time on Cape Breton Island. We have 12 - 13 days in which to do this. We will be driving from south of Boston and staying 2 nghts first in Saint John, NB before driving on to Halifax, where we plan to spend either 2 or 3 nights. Then we want to head for Cape Breton Island. We are planning to vist Louisburg Historic Site. Would it be better to spend 1 or 2 nights first in Sydney before going to Cape Breton National Park? We hope to drive the Cabot Trail leisurely and stay somewhere in the park for at least 2 - 3 nights. Does it matter whether you drive clockwise or counterclockwise on the Cabot Trail? Better to do Louisburg at the beginning of our Cape Breton Island trip or doesn't it matter? Any suggestions on where to stay in the park? Any helpful advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

Scunthorpe, United...
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1. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

Do allow yourselves plenty of time to visit Louisbourg. We spent the whole day there and even then didn't manage to do all of it.

We can heartedly recommend Oakwood Manor at North Cape which gets consistently good reviews on TA.

http://www.oakwoodmanorbedandbreakfast.com/

Cape Breton Island...
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2. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

if youare not ravelling on the start of september around the long weekend , you may want to go without reservations and base your trip on the weather forecast , september weather can vary from year to year

Cape Breton Island...
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3. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

You're going to hate me , but I really suggest you come to Cape Breton first as it is the farthest destination and then work your way back to Boston . The cabot trail is a loop unto itself, there are no shortcuts . The trip from the Route 105 to Sydney to louisburg is also a loop unto itself . Now, you can get around Cape Breton fairly easy , so to go from say Margaree to Louisburg and spend the day can be done, obviously staying in Sydney or Louisbourg ,

There is no right direction for the Cabot Trail as the views from both directions are so so different. My advice is to think of the sunsets on the water as on that West side you do see miles of horizon and get to see the sun really set . You can leap all the way from the entry/exit on Cape Breton to Halifax in 3 hours if you had to .

Now places to stay , well many B&B's in Sydney , Dingwall, Margaree Harbour , even cottages in September an option but have to base for 2-3 days .

ther

Sydney
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4. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

I want to caveat my response by saying that my wife and I operate a B&B in Sydney and for the past 11 years have helped people plan their Cape Breton vacations.

Now to answer some of your particular questions.

I would recommend 2 nights in the Sydney area. If you arrive the first day in the mid afternoon you will have enough time to visit the Cape Breton Miner's Museum in Glace bay (20 minutes away). Many of our guests find the Miner's Museum, particularly the underground tour with an old retired coal miner, one of the highlights of their visit to the province. The next day you would dedicate your time to the Fortress of Louisbourg (20 minutes away). Most of our guests spend the entire day there, have dinner in one of the restaurants in Louisbourg (lobster and snow crab are local delicacies) and cap off the night with the 2 hour show of cape Breton music at the Louisbourg Playhouse before returning home (www.louisbourgplayhouse.com).

It doesn't matter which you do first - the eastern part of the Island with the Fortress of Louisbourg and the Miner's Museum or the Cabot Trail and the cape Breton Highlands National Park. I would base my decision on what local music (ceilidhs) is available. On Thursday night there is a ceilidh in Inverness, on Tuesday there is one in Mabou, etc. If you tell me what dates/days you will be travelling in Cape Breton I would be happy to make some more definite recommendations.

It makes little or no difference which way you travel around the Cabot Trail. If you are leaving Halifax and going clockwise around the Trail I would recommend staying the first night somewhere like Mabou or Inverness (if you can tie into a local ceilidh). The next day start around the Cabot Trail taking in a hike (Skyline Trail between Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay is wonderful),and a whale watching tour out of Pleasant Bay and then staying the second night somewhere like Cape North or Dingwall (I too would recommend Oakwood manor in Cape north). The next day finish the cabot Trail and head to the Sydney area for the next 2 nights. If you have the time you could easily spend a third night somewhere on the Cabot Trail.

Hope this is of some help.

Cheers

Nova Scotia
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5. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

I agree with all the above, especially about going to Cape Breton first.

Do not forget to visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck and the Highland Village in Iona. These could be done from Sydney or you could stay somewhere else in the area. I love this driving route which goes from Sydney to Iona and back on another route. The Bras D'Or Lakes are beautiful.

http://goo.gl/maps/7CqJ

Hanover...
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6. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

Many thanks to all of you for your helpful advice. My reason for going to Halifax for our first stop is that we are afraid, once we arrive on Cape Breton Island, we will want to spend all our time there and never get to Halifax. My grandparents and other relatives came from the Margaree Forks and Cheticamp area so I have a special interest in visiting that part of Cape Breton.

Sydney
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7. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

Given your interest in the Margaree Forks/Cheticamp area, you may want to consider staying with the Sheehans at Ocean Haven B&B in Belle Cote about half way between Margaree Forks and Cheticamp. It's a lovely property on a hillside overlooking the ocean and would allow you easy access to both communities plus it is only a short drive down to Inverness or Mabou for a ceilidh and a short drive to either Cheticamp for whale watching or further along the Trail for hiking Skyline Trail.. Instead of staying 1 night in the Mabou area and another in the cape North area you could accomplish almost the same thing spending both nights at Ocean Haven.

Cheers

New England, USA
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8. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

PFound - I was very interested in reading your post. I will be arriving w/ friends July 1 through July 8. Staying in their family summer home somewhere in Mira Bay area. Would love to know if there will be any ceilidhs within a short drive of us. Also, will gladly accept restaurant recommendations, and quilt stores (to purchase quilts, not quilting supplies).

Thanks!

Louise

Sydney
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9. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

Louise,

You can find great Cape Breton music at the Louisbourg Playhouse in Louisbourg (www.louisbourgplayhouse.com) every night from 8-10. Every Thursday night Cape Breton musicians from all over the Island gather at "Rollie's Wharf" in North Sydney to jam. They aren't really there to play to an audience but just to enjoy themselves and the older musicians pass on a lot of the traditional music to the younger musicians. It usually starts around 8 and goes to about 11 or 12. Rollie's Wharf is a restaurant right on the water and a lot of people will go for supper and just stay for the music.

A good site to look at is www.cbchoices.com. There you can find out where there is music all around the Island.

As for quilts and other arts/crafts, you should visit the cape Breton Center for Craft and Design on Charlotte St in Sydney. They have a large gallery where artisans from around the Island have their things.They would also be able to tell you where to get quilts.You should take a look at www.kingrossquilts.com. Anne Morrell Robinson is likely the best quilter in Nova Scotia and her gallery is well worth a visit.

Have a great time on the Mira.

Edited: 29 June 2011, 03:05
Concord, New...
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10. Re: First Time to Cape Breton Island

Hi, neighbor - NH, here. We are doing the same, beginning Sept 7. Maybe we'll run into you!