Friday, November 4, 2011

Places To Visit in The Annapolis Valley

It's hard to describe the town/village system of Nova Scotia except to say that it's like England prior to WWII. For example. If you come down the #1 Hwy into the valley you'll go through lots of towns and villages but they're fairly small and there aren't large open spaces between them. They're fairly close together, evidence of a time when the train and horse and buggy were the long distance transportation methods. In between are lots of smaller farms with homes close to the road so it can be difficult to tell when you've gone from say Wilmot to Middleton. The thing that usually distinguished the town from rural is that the houses are closer together and there are shops and the post office or banks. It's best described as quaint.

Here in the valley there are lots of festivals, steer BBQ's, and parades all summer long. It seems every settlement has it's own weekend to party so if you don't mind a little driving then you could keep your weekends full all summer. There's a zoo for the kids, vineyards, livestock exhibitions, fairs, the beach and ocean, lakes, whale watching, fishing, hiking to see the tides on the Bay of Fundy or Balanced Rock in St Mary's Bay, berry picking, an air force museum, apple picking, shopping, beautiful coastal villages and wild open hilltops, historic forts and dining. It depends what you like to do. As you come down the valley you'll find Kentville and New Minas right next to each other. Big stores like WalMart are here. There are several strip Malls and an indoor Mall too. There's a movie theatre here also. I think it's worth the drive to Wolfville too. Acadia University is beautiful and it looks like there are some interesting things to explore though I haven't yet. Kingston/Greenwood have the military base, a mall and a one screen theatre. Middleton has the banks and a small museum, Bridgetown has some nice history and Annapolis is a must visit. This was the original capital of Nova Scotia and it has a lovely fort to explore as well as numerous shops and cafes to explore. If you drive across the causeway (which used to be the long bridge) to Granville Ferry you can drive down to the Habitation at Port Royal and explore the original fort and it's history from British, French and Mik Maq peoples. It's really quite interesting and there are guides who can answer questions for you. Heading down from Annapolis you'll come to 'Little Switzerland' otherwise known as Bear River with it's hills and artisans who are happy to show their galleries. Digby is next and I'll confess I've not been yet but I know it's the local shopping area and more of a blue collar area compared to the retirement/artist area of Bear River. You'll be sheltered by north and south mountain as you come down the valley to Annapolis Royal. While the main road, 101 is fast and twinned in spots, I prefer to tale the more scenic roads and see the country sights. the #1 Hwy is the original road and passes through many towns and villages. It's also called the Evangeline Trail. Driving along the Bay of Fundy is also nice with it's hidden fishing villages and lighthouses. One suggestion though, spend $15 and get a good map or stop in at the local tourist info, they have lots of stuff and free detailed maps of the valley.

Nova Scotia tourism runs most of the info booths which open in May and close in October. A few remain open all year so I'll find out which ones and let you all know. There's lots of stuff listed on their website though so you can see what interests you. The thing is that if you're taking a slow trip then you'll have the time to stop and see what interests you. Plan to check out the many small country inns here and the great B&B's that abound. Your hosts will be happy to tell you what's special about their area including all sorts of hidden treasures that only the locals know about. It's this kind of off the beaten track exploring that I like.

Whether you are coming to relax, explore the history or sample the valley's fruits and wines, there's something for everyone here in the summer.

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