On the road again

Summer family adventures are everywhere in Nova Scotia. We point you in the right direction

By Sarah Sawler

All parents look forward to summertime. After all, it’s a temporary reprieve from painful, everyday conversations such as this one: 

“Are you wearing your mittens?”
“They’re in my backpack.”
“It’s -20. Put on your mittens.”
“But no one else wears mittens. I want gloves.”

But unless your children are exceptionally good at entertaining themselves, summertime can quickly start sounding like this: 

“I’m bored.”
“Go outside.”
“But there’s no one to play with.”
“When I was your age, I played outside by myself all the time. Go build a fort or something.”  “Can I play on the iPad?”

Lucky for you, Our Children is here to help, with our handy-dandy list of kid-friendly summer activities and road trips, which you’ll enjoy, too.

Go back in time
Want to see blacksmiths, weavers, and candlemakers in action and in costume? That’s not a tough task in Nova Scotia. Spend a day at Sherbrooke Village (sherbrookevillage.novascotia.ca) or Ross Farm Museum (rossfarm.novascotia.ca), or make it a mini-vacation and check out the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site (pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/index.aspx). 

Hit the beach
There are lots of great beaches to explore and many of them have kid-friendly lifeguarded areas. For an exhaustive list of supervised beaches, check out Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service’s website nsls.ns.ca. 

But here are a few to get your started:

  Martinique Beach, East Petpeswick
  Rissers Beach, Crescent Beach
  Lawrencetown Beach, East Lawrencetown
  Bayswater Beach, Bayswater
  Rainbow Haven Beach, Cow Bay
  Queensland Beach, Queensland
  Clam Harbour Beach, Clam Harbour
  Dollar Lake Beach, Wyse’s Corner

Visit novascotia.com for a list of more beaches around the province.

Halifax International Busker Festival

Celebrate something
Summer is festival season in Nova Scotia. Whether your family likes music, art, food—or all of the above—there are plenty of festivals to explore. This is far from an exhaustive list, but just to get you started:

  KitchenFest, Cabot Trail
  Shelburne County Lobster Festival, Barrington
  Antigonish Highland Games, Antigonish
  Halifax Jazz Festival, Halifax
  Halifax Pride Festival, Halifax
  Halifax International Busker Festival, Halifax
  Festival de L’Escaouette, Chéticamp
  Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Lunenburg

Visit novascotia.com for more festivals around the province this summer. 

Tidal Bore Rafting

Go rafting
Looking for something different to do this year? Take the whole family rafting on the Shubenacadie River. Tidal Bore Rafting Resort offers a couple of different tours and has slightly lower rates for children under 12. Find out more here: raftingcanada.ca/river-rafting-adventures.

Mud Hero
You’ve probably heard about Mud Hero, the muddy, swampy, obstacle-course competition that happens at Ski Martock every summer. But did you know they have a special track just for kids? More here: mudhero.com.

Upper Clements Park

Visit an amusement park
Rollercoasters and waterslides never get old. If you’re looking for an amusement park to visit without having to leave the province, check out Upper Clements Park (upperclements.com) or Atlantic Playland (playland.ns.ca).

Join the Young Naturalists club
Go on field trips and learn about nature with other families by joining a chapter of the Young Naturalists Club. To learn more and find a chapter near you, visit yncns.ca.

Valley Drive-In

Go to the drive-in
Why sit in a theatre when you can watch a movie the old-fashioned way—from the front seat of your car at the Valley Drive-in? Find out more here: valleydrivein.com.

Shakespeare by the Sea

Take in some outdoor theatre
Every year, Shakespeare by the Sea presents a hilarious play aimed directly at kids (and people who are still kids at heart). This year’s play hasn’t been announced yet, but previous years have included quirky takes on Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella. shakespearebythesea.ca

Get your feet off the ground
If climbing trees is your thing, Ontree Park has what you’re looking for—and takes it about 20 steps farther. Head to Ski Martock for a day of ziplining and Tarzan ropes. ontreepark.com 

Visit a National Park
If there’s a National Park you’ve been meaning to visit, this is your year. First, visit commandesparcs-parksorders.ca for your free 2017 Discovery Pass. Then explore the natural beauty of Kejimkujik National Park or Cape Breton Highlands National Park. pc.gc.ca

Go whale watching
With so many different species of whales to watch, this is something every family should try and do at least once. There are plenty of tour providers, including (but not limited to) Brier Island Whale & Seabird Cruises, Murphy’s on the Cable Wharf, and Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours.

Explore McNab’s Island
McNab’s Island is more accessible than you thought. Take the McNab’s Island Ferry across the Halifax Harbour to tour the island. They offer:

  hiking, biking, history and nature tours
  wildlife tours
  family picnics

The Friends of Macnab’s Island Society is a volunteer, non-profit charity that promotes the preservation of the island. The society produces guidebooks and maps for families that want to explore the island. mcnabsisland.ca

See the spooky side of Nova Scotia
Ghost tours aren’t just for Halloween. Hear Nova Scotia’s best ghost stories with the Ghost Walk of Historic Halifax (tattletours.ca), Halifax Citadel Ghost Tour (halifaxcitadel.ca), or Valley Ghost Walks (valleyghostwalks.com).

Museum of Natural History

Go to a museum
Where do we start? If you like museums, Nova Scotia has something for everyone. Stay in Halifax and visit the Natural History Museum, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, or the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Or make it a day trip and visit one of these: museum.novascotia.ca/our-museums.

Discovery Centre

Discover science
The brand new Discovery Centre is the perfect way to spend a rainy day. Find out what’s new at thediscoverycentre.ca.

Read by the Sea

Read by the sea
You don’t have to wait until Word on the Street in September to enjoy some literary fun. Just visit River John for WordPlay 2017, a literary festival for kids hosted by Sheree Fitch’s Mabel Murple’s Dreamery and Book Shoppe and featuring such authors as Marie-Louise Gay and Alan Syliboy. readbythesea.ca

Check out the Western Nova Scotia Exhibition
If you like ox pulls, chili cook-offs, and band battles, don’t miss the Western NS Exhibition. This year, it’s from Aug. 2 to 6. wnse.ca

Go rock climbing
Rock climbing can be a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon. Looking for a close-to-home climbing wall? Try one of these:

  Ground Zero Climbing Gym (climbgroundzero.com)
  Dalplex (athletics.dal.ca)
  Seven Bays (sevenbaysbouldering.com)

Go to a skate park
Grab a skateboard and spend the day at your local skatepark.

Clam Harbour Sandcastle Competition

Build a sandcastle
Of course, you could do this at any of Nova Scotia’s beautiful beaches (See #2). But if you do it at the Clam Harbour Sandcastle Competition, you might win something, and there will be plenty of other sculptures around to inspire your creativity. halifax.ca/sandcastle


Go jump in the pool
A little too cold for the beach (after all, we are in Nova Scotia)? Try an indoor pool at one of these facilities instead: 

  Canada Games Centre (canadagamescentre.ca)
  Centennial Pool (centennialpool.ca)
  Cole Harbour Place (coleharbourplace.com)
  Dartmouth Sportsplex (dartmouthsportsplex.com)
  Sackville Sports Stadium (thestadium.ca)


Make some art
There are all kind of places to do family-friendly art workshops. Sign up for a full-day workshop at 4 CATS (4cats.com), attend one of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s (artgalleryofnovascotia.ca) Family Sundays, or go to a class at Patch Halifax (patchhalifax.com).

Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market

Go to a farmers’ market
Unlimited snacking and handmade toys? If you don’t mind constantly repeating “look with your eyes, not your hands,” farmers’ markets are the perfect family activity. Discover a new one by visiting the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia at farmersmarketsnovascotia.com.

Visit the library

Summer reading programs, puppet shows, reading clubs, crafts, movies, and video games—Halifax Public Libraries have it all. Check out current programming here: