Choose a road trip experience based on which highway you take to get to Cape Breton.
Highways 102, 104 and 106
Want a little royalty – King George V, Baseball Legend Babe Ruth and Leading Actor Cary Grant all stayed at the picturesque Pictou Lodge on its corner of the Island. Even Princess Juliana (Holland) stayed here to escape WWII during the war.
To get to the Lodge, take Highway 102 from Halifax to Truro, where it joins up with Highway 104, part of the Trans Canada Highway. Highway 104 is also known as the Miners Memorial Highway. It runs from Fort Lawrence in the west to an intersection with Trunk 4 west of St Peters. The turn off you want to Pictou is the intersection with Highway 106. This (106) is the main route into Pictou from the south.
Pictou Lodge is located on Lodge Road a few miles out of town. Off the beaten path, down a long tree and lobster trap designed road you come upon the pond and log cabin type homes built in the early 1900’s. The main entrance for registration has a fireside pub with nightly entertainment and exquisite food. There is both indoor and outdoor dining overlooking Grahams Pond.
Stop by the Fireside Pub – best playlist I have ever heard; the friendly staff will point you in the direction of Anthony Bourdain’s signature and design on wood. Or the telegraph Babe Ruth sent. There are pictures and stories of King George V as well as a recent stay by Condelissa Rice. A must see is the Titantic framed tribute to honor those lost at sea and to thank the brave men and women of Nova Scotia that helped with search and rescue, burial and recovery.
There are so many outdoor activities available at Pictou
that hark back to a time gone by, with the Eastern Seashore, local pond, forest
chairs scattered about, beach, fishing off the rocks, heated pool swimming and
a life sized outdoor chess board. Even
if you can’t sleep over, the trip to enjoy the property, food and music is
worthwhile. Say hi to the manager Wes
for me; he has some great stories!
Off Highway 106 is downtown Pictou and Hector Heritage Quay. There in the bellows of the ship the orator showed us one way to surmise if you have Viking heritage! You can walk the colorful dock area and visit the actual working Blacksmith, The Fisheries Museum, Lighthouse Museum and then, who wouldn’t want to adopt a lobster? Only $5 and a 2-5MM lobster is certified released by you and you get a certificate.
A trip to the knife factory of Grohmann Knives, where they do personal engravings on the spot, will confer greatness upon any culinary kitchen as well as making appreciated gifts to take back home (don’t forget to check them in your luggage or mail them home). The next street over hosts the Post Office as well as many antique and consigning stores to enjoy.
If you’re heading north out of Pictou on Highway 6 stop off at the Seafoam Lavender Farm. The lavender fields can be seen from the highway. Lavender signage points you to the free parking, free interactive experience and family run Lavender store with everything from lavender herbs, teas, lotions, shave creams, biscuits, lemonade, dried bouquets, and soap. Custom-made soap slicers are located in the store so you can see how the process works. For the young, and young at heart, ask owners Dave & Suzy Belt “where can I touch the lavender that smells like Pizza?” They even make homemade lavender lemonade and lavender syrup, which is amazing on ice cream.
REMEMBER THESE ARE COASTAL HIGHWAYS
Trenton Park is another not to be missed destination in Pictou! There are around 6 kilometres of walking and hiking trails throughout the 565 acres of picturesque park as well as a 6.5 km mountain bike trail. Many of the conifers you’ll see as you wander or ride around these trails are at least 100 years old! If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you’ll be delighted with the man-made ponds and their stocks of trout. Got the family with you? No problems – there is a playground, swimming pool and water splash pool, and picnic area complete with canteen.
From Pictou you can follow the Pictou Harbor coast along Highway 348 to Little Harbor and Melmerby Beach, a narrow sand bar that connects Roy Island to the rest of Nova Scotia. This is one of the most popular beaches in Nova Scotia, largely thanks to its warm waters over the summer months.
If you head back to New Glasgow along Highway 289, don’t forget to drop in to the New Glasgow Town Hall. Inside the Town Hall they have a wonderful collection of original artwork painted from historic photos of the town. Just a quick walk down the street and you will discover East Ave, a new restaurant on 200 Provost street has something for everyone on their menu, even gluten free. The Blackened Haddock Fish Tacos are made with a secret family recipe.
Right next door to New Glasgow is Stellarton, where the Holiday Inn Express Stellarton-New Glasgow is an excellent place to stay. Amongst other amenities, it has an indoor swimming pool complete with an epic flume slide. On the way there you’ll notice the new Dr. Hamm Trades & Innovation Centre at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) Pictou Campus.
Stellarton is also the location of Nova Scotia’s Museum of Industry. The museum is very conveniently situated just off Highway 104, making it a ‘not to be missed’ stop off along this route. Visit ‘Samson’ and ‘Albion’, two historically significant locomotives from Canada’s coal mining industry. Samson was built in 1838 and was the first locomotive to work in Canada. Albion is a few years younger, having been built between 1849 and 1854. You can also speak with the museum’s historical experts to hear true stories of the mines and see first hand the difference in water pressure with the water wheel to the combine.
Next stop Antigonish to the east but on the way there don’t forget to call in at Arisaig Beach and Knoydart Cheese, and do the Steinhart Distillery Tour. The rhubarb gin and haskat berry liqueur are two hot favorites with many distillery visitors! You should also take a quick stop at the Cape George Lighthouse, and Ballantyne’s Cove with its Tuna Interpretive Cenre
The Keppoch Mount Bike and Cross country skiing trails on the way to Antigonish are great for the athletically minded. It’s worth doing this side trip off Highway 104 just for its scenic value. There’s another southern route in and out of Keppoch Mountain off Nova Scotia Trunk Highway 7 as well.
If you leave the Trans Canadian Highway at East Antigonish and head south on Nova Scotia Trunk Highway 16, you’ll end up in Guysborough. Plan to get there around lunchtime so you can check into the Days Gone By Bakery on the Guysborough Harbor shore. From the bakery, it’s just a short hop and skip around to the Guyborough Historical Society museum. Highway 16 takes you right past it in fact.
Staying on Highway 16 after Guysborough, you’ll take a scenic coastal trip through Halfway Point and Queensport before turning south and intersecting with Route 316 (Marine Drive). Marine Drive continues your trip down to the southern coastline, where you’ll wind your way back along the coast to Charlos Cove.
Take Wharf Road of Marine Drive to get to the SeaWind Landing Country Inn, a place where you’ll not only feel off the grid, but at home with the Inn Keepers and the nature that abounds here. The food is amazing, the hospitality off the charts, and you can charter Get Kraken, a local lobster boat for a sunset cruise around the Sugar Islands whilst enjoying homemade smoked haddock cakes! There is also a quaint gift shop and restaurant with local fare.
Larrys River is close by and on your way to your next destination visit the 10 painted rocks that depict significant features and events in the town’s history, including the original 1603 French expedition that brought the first settlers to the area. Further down the way at Port Felix there is a new monument called Place Savalette that honors a meeting in 1607 at that spot between French explorer Samuel de Champlain, fisherman Captain Savalette, and a representative of the Mi’kmaq people.
Enjoy the trip.