As the weather warms up and everyone is making their summer plans I thought I’d share the trip we went on last year. It was planned very last minute, we wanted to go somewhere just to relax. All of our vacations have been ‘on-the go,’ trips packing in as many stops as possible to see the most we could. We had thought about going to Florida, looking forward to seeing palm trees and being at the beach. We had it roughly planned and last minute changed our mind. On a whim we decided to do a road trip ‘out east.’ Canadians always talk about ‘driving out west,’ or ‘driving out east,’ as a rite of passage.
The maritime provinces all have beautiful ocean side towns with miles of sandy beaches. There are so many experiences we’ve already had in Canada’s east coast such as visiting Green Gables, Signal Hill, Elephants Rock and visiting family. It was different and refreshing to think of going east to have a beach vacation. We only planned our hotels (since it was high season we barely found availability) and were really free to explore as we felt and have some spontaneous adventures.
I have a love for century old resorts and ‘travel history.’ I love to imagine all the people that have stayed before me, those who met in these majestic places, the weddings that have taken place and those who came back year after year as a tradition. When travelling I love to stay in these places, if just to soak in all of the architectural details and practice my photography skills. Even years ago when it wasn’t a budget-friendly option we found ways to have the experience. A particular memory was one summer years ago when we did the driving ‘out west,’ trip. I wanted to stay at the famous Banff Springs Hotel. I had already walked through it with a girlfriend on a previous trip and wanted to fully experience staying there. It was high season so I waited until the night before we left and got a great deal. To offset the cost we stayed at a camp site in Drumheller, Alberta the night before. It offered an inexpensive stay in one of their permanent teepees. This would have been great had we had any camping equipment besides a sheet set! We spent the night freezing away with little sleep under the glow of a ridiculously dim solar light. It was worth it when we rolled up the next day, groggy and out of sorts, onto the magical property of the Banff Springs Hotel.
If you want to travel somewhere or do anything there is always a way. Staying in nicer hotels and resorts can be made possible by going off-season, staying on weekdays or staying more than 2 nights to get a better rate. If it is completely out of the question take the time to walk through some of these old establishments or have lunch to take in the atmosphere. Often they have gallery walls of all of the famous people who have stayed before and photos of the property from years ago. Its fun to imagine what travelling was like years ago. Staying at any of these century old resorts have been some of the most amazing travel experiences of my life.
We started by driving to New Brunswick to stay in at the Algonquin Resort in St-Andrews-by the-Sea. Let’s face it, the hotel alone is an attraction! The town is surrounded by the Bay of Fundy and was completely picture perfect. When I got there I fell madly in love with the place. I could write an entire post about this hotel and town, it was dripping with history and absolutely gorgeous. I’ll never forget pulling up to the entrance of The Algonquin late after a day of driving and looking up at the front entrance and terrace with rows of glowing, sparkling glass french doors. You could hear crickets, soft music, and the crackling of a nearby fire pit where a group had gathered for some after dinner s’mores. We opened our car doors and a bellmen dressed in a kilt made from the New Brunswick tartan and a crisp white dress shirt swooped in to help us with our luggage. I was pretty stunned by the beauty of it and remember the moment soon after I saw our room where I turned to my husband and said ‘three days won’t be long enough, I just love it here and worry I don’t have enough time to really experience it.’ The next morning I had even more respect for the experience that is The Algonquin when they turned us down to stay an extra night. Of course they were fully booked, I’d almost be disappointed if they weren’t, that was as it should be.
The room…whomever was in charge of the restoration of this hotel did an amazing job. The mix of old and traditional with modern conveniences was amazing.
The view from one of the lookout towers…
The Algonquin has amazing views of the Bay of Fundy but isn’t right on the water. Just around the corner we had an amazing afternoon at Katy’s Cove, known for being the warmest saltwater swimming spot in the area! It had a beautiful beach area, picnic tables and beach side hiking trail.
Next we headed to Nova Scotia’s south shore to go to the White Point Beach Resort for a few days. We were looking forward to the 1 km long private sandy beach and getting our toes dipped into the Atlantic! The amenities were amazing with the resort also having a freshwater lake just opposite the ocean, where you could rent canoes and paddle boats!
Walking the beach and taking in the stunning views of the Atlantic was relaxing. As well, there is so much to explore on the beach, which is located within the UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve.
Our last stop on the trip was a unique spot called ‘Oceanstone Resort,’ in Indian Harbor, Nova Scotia. It’s just minutes away from Peggy’s Cove and is unlike anywhere we’d ever stayed. It was a small resort with a series of tiny cottages and buildings on a hill, all with views of the harbor, some being right on the water.
It was fun just to walk around the property. Each cottage is uniquely decorated in its own way with cute hand-painted name signs such as ‘The Pines,’ ‘Dovekey,’ ‘Grey Owl,’ and ‘Periwinkle.’ Waiting beside each cottage is a stack of chopped wood to use in either indoor wood-burning stoves or outdoor fire pits. All the cottages have their own set of brightly painted Muskoka chairs to watch the sunset.
Swimming in Nova Scotia is much colder In August than it is where we are from in Ontario. It becomes refreshing, you just have to jump in quick and eventually you adjust!
This was the view from out cottage! We spent so much time on this porch and were steps away from the beach. The sunsets at night were stunning.
The little restaurant on site was always packed as it’s a popular local spot. They use fresh locally-sourced ingredients and have a nice patio with spectacular views. They also offer delivery to the cottages if you didn’t feel like cooking one night. I liked that they had a little local artisan gift shop inside!
Visiting Peggy’s Cove, only a few minutes drive from Indian Harbor was an unforgettable experience. I had been before but hadn’t had a chance to take in the surrounding areas. We went twice just to see the many spots you can explore and hike in and around the area. As you drive along look for parked cars on the side of the road, there are lots of trails to explore, at one point I came within 20 feet of a deer! The scenery and rocks are just the same as right in Peggy’s Cove but you can really wander with fewer tourists and get some amazing photos!
I had never associated Eastern Canada as a spot for this style of trip but have since changed my perspective from the amazing trip we had. Next I want to check out Prince Edward Island’s beaches! For now I need to start making some plans for this summer!