Many, who visit Nova Scotia, often head straight to Halifax and nearby environs, for the charm, cultural and historical aspects, music festivals and pub crawls. Or they head up to Cape Breton, for Acadian and Celtic music and to experience “the drive of a lifetime”, the Cabot Trail.

Few take time to visit the Annapolis Valley. They’re missing out. It doesn’t disappoint. Here, not only do you vacation at a relaxed pace, you’re have plenty to see and do.

Set your own schedule, nobody’s in a rush. Even a few days here will leave you with a desire to linger a bit longer, or return time and again. It is as inviting as it is beautiful.

From Halifax, it’s an hour’s drive on the main highway, to the town of Windsor, the valley’s easternmost end. If you’ve enough time, a more leisurely, although scenic route, through the valley, is via the Evangeline Trail, which runs virtually parallel to the main highway.

The valley runs along the Fundy coast, stretching all the way to Digby in the south-west. There is more than a hint of Old Acadia here, rich with 400 years of European history and culture, as well as the native peoples.

The Annapolis is well known as one of the important fruit growing regions of Canada, as people have farmed and fished here since settlers first established their lives in the New World.

As a result, the valley is dotted with small towns and villages. Many offer their own range of amenities, culinary delights, recreation, as well as history and cultural experiences. It’s easy to step back in time here. Numerous museums for lovers of history will attest to that fact.

There’s a variety of accommodations to choose from, elegant old inns, bed and breakfasts, select hotels cottage rentals and comfortable motels, even camping in high season. All are at various price points, so you’ll easily be able to find what suits your requirements as a base for the duration of your visit.

Of course, it’s a province renowned for lobster, served in every conceivable fashion you can imagine, but there’s a lot more to this province than crustacean dinners. An unknown fact about this area is that it’s a foodies’ delight.

In Wolfville, after an invigorating walk along the dykes, visiting the Irving Botanical Gardens or perusing the Saturday market for local bargains, you’ll be in need of refreshment and this university town offers up an inviting array of cafes, restaurants and watering holes, some with great, old world atmosphere.

If you’re in Digby, even for a short visit, you simply must stop for a bite to eat and enjoy the succulent scallops, a speciality the town is renowned for.
If visiting in spring, try the regional speciality, fiddleheads. Served with butter and lemon, they are mouth-watering greens. They also make a delicious, rich, thick and hearty soup, if you fancy some comfort food on a chilly spring evening.

In between, there are numerous places to stop and grab a bite to eat. Every price point and taste is catered to.

For oenophiles, Nova Scotia is a place to take a winery tour, or two, or three. It’s an industry that’s grown rapidly in recent years, with a couple dozen Nova Scotian wineries to choose from, most of them from the Annapolis Valley. Many of these also serve lunch and dinner, as well as tours and tastings.
Grape growing is not new to the province. Since the 1600’s, grapes were grown here and the climate has made for some unique vintages.

Recreationally minded aren’t forgotten. Though much of Nova Scotia is open seasonally, late spring through to autumn, for winter lovers, there is a ski hill, Martock, and Nordic trails in abundance. Snow shoeing is another way to enjoy the season and stay fit.

In summer, you can sail a boat, kayak, snorkel, fish for salmon, hike, explore the parks, beach trails, reserves, or forests to eagle watch. The one thing, everyone wants to do, is walk on the sea floor, when those high tides are out. One of the best locations is Medford beach and summer is probably the nicest time to give it a go!

One day, you could take a short drive, not far out of the Valley to the Shubenacadie River, and go on a wild, wet ride: tidal bore rafting for an entire afternoon! These are but a very few activities that the region offers for fun and outdoor experiences.
There are plenty of hiking trails, which come in handy, because the culinary fare offered in this province, can surely add pounds to your frame!

Golf is big here, owing to the Scottish influences. You’ll find many options for putting or practicing your swing.

Spend at least one evening watching the sun set over the Bay of Fundy. The light is exceptional. In the summer months, a moonlight concert and dinner is held there.

As it’s such a beautiful part of Nova Scotia, it serves as inspiration to artisans, who abound in this part of the province. Visiting them, in season, is a great way to spend a couple of days and bring something unique back home to remember your visit by.

There are a number of galleries, some located in towns, some in a more rural setting, so you can tour around the valley and see what you happen upon “by accident”.

Because Halifax has a vibrant music scene, which it readily shares with the rest of Nova Scotia, you can often find concerts and live band shows throughout the spring into early autumn.

Theatres, both stage and cinema, plus one of the last drive in’s in Canada, offer a wealth and variety of concerts, performances, the latest offerings from Hollywood.

After all the activities experienced, while on your ‘relaxed vacation’, there are several spa options for visitors, some of them are in locations on and off the beaten trail.

This article barely covers all that there is to see and do in the Annapolis Valley. For one small region of Canada, it certainly packs a lot in, and, I’ve no doubt, once visited, will be returned to, time and again.

There are numerous web sites to check for accommodation, events, culture, recreation, restaurants, travel and weather information prior to vacation.
Getting there: Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport is the province’s main entry point for domestic and international flights. It’s serviced by many commercial airlines.

Year-round ferry service runs between Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia. Ferries from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques in Newfoundland run regularly, depending on weather. Reservations recommended. Check websites for schedules, fares and weather reports. The CAT ferry runs seasonally from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. 

Weather facts: Nova Scotia has cold, snowy winters. The Valley is no exception, flanked by two mountains it isn’t affected as much by marine climate. Spring and autumn can be chilly and rainy, but autumn colours are a big draw. Summers are sometimes moderated by the prevailing ocean and Fundy wind currents. However, there are years when humidity from Ontario and Quebec rolls in and lingers. It’s best to check before you go and pack in preparedness. Weather here can be changeable, storms dramatic.