loading spinner
23038
Nova Scotia

The Best of Nova Scotia: Highlands, History and Halifax

Explore the seaside villages of Nova Scotia from Halifax to the Highlands to see whales, puffins and experience the Celtic and French roots of this spectacular region.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23038RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,949
Nova Scotia

The Best of Nova Scotia: Highlands, History and Halifax

Explore the seaside villages of Nova Scotia from Halifax to the Highlands to see whales, puffins and experience the Celtic and French roots of this spectacular region.
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,949
Program No. 23038 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 7 - Jul 16, 2022
Starting at
2,949
Aug 4 - Aug 13, 2022
Starting at
3,249
Sep 1 - Sep 10, 2022
Starting at
2,999
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 7 - Jul 16, 2022
Starting at
3,679
Aug 4 - Aug 13, 2022
Starting at
3,979
Sep 1 - Sep 10, 2022
Starting at
3,729

At a Glance

From the bustling harbor of Halifax to the colorful row of historic sea captains’ homes in Lunenburg—discover the best of Nova Scotia! Experience Peggy’s Cove, where a historic lighthouse balances on giant granite boulders and Cape Breton, where forested cliffs drop spectacularly to the ocean below. Explore the island’s fascinating Celtic influences and French roots as you savor culinary delights and learn about the local seafood industry, including Digby’s scallops and fresh lobster.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Boarding transportation and walking up to two miles on varied terrain.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Travel along the world-famous Cabot Trail as it skirts along the edges of the stunning Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and learn about the wildlife and history of Cape Breton Island.
  • Enjoy a study cruise with a chief naturalist to watch for whales and seabirds near Brier Island in the Bay of Fundy, where the local residents are outnumbered by seals and migrating birds.
  • Visit the Gaelic College to watch kilt-makers at work, learn a bit of the Gaelic language and try out some Celtic dancing!

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Shelley Lonergan
Whales have been Shelley Lonergan’s passion since she was young. It was this passion and her photography background that led her to the Bay of Fundy for her first whale watch. From the moment she saw her first whale fin, she was hooked! Shelley is the Chief Naturalist for Brier Island Whale & Seabird Cruises, a career obtained through volunteering. I enjoy the research and seeing the first humpback of the season best. Of the latter, it’s like seeing the first robin of spring.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Paul Hanna
Paul Hanna View biography
Paul is a retired Cape Breton University professor who served on the Board of Directors of CHIRE International Committee. He was also a member of Nova Scotia and Canada’s Human Resource boards for over 30 years. Paul volunteers with many organizations including the World Junior Hockey Championships. He is an avid hockey fan and coach, and his team won the Canadian Championship in 1978. With a love for travel and meeting new people, Paul can’t wait to share his knowledge with you in Nova Scotia!
Profile Image of Ralph Getson
Ralph Getson View biography
Ralph’s ancestors came to Canada in 1753 and became harvesters of the sea. He spent three decades on the Lunenburg waterfront delving into the province’s rich fishing history as curator of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Ralph’s keen interest in the early Canadian history is evident as he shares its storied past. A collector at heart, his passions include all things oxen, Lunenburg symbols, antiquing, fishermen's handicrafts and hearty German cooking.
Profile Image of James White
James White View biography
James (Jay) White is an expert in history, having earned his PhD in Canadian History from McMaster University in 1994. After a two-year stint at Western Washington University, Jay migrated home to Nova Scotia where he has lived ever since, teaching a variety of historical subjects. He even instructed members of the Canadian Armed Forces in military history. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and photography, is a Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Canadiens fan, and is of Loyalist and Acadian descent.
Profile Image of Shelley Lonergan
Shelley Lonergan View biography
Whales have been Shelley Lonergan’s passion since she was young. It was this passion and her photography background that led her to the Bay of Fundy for her first whale watch. From the moment she saw her first whale fin, she was hooked! Shelley is the Chief Naturalist for Brier Island Whale & Seabird Cruises, a career obtained through volunteering. I enjoy the research and seeing the first humpback of the season best. Of the latter, it’s like seeing the first robin of spring.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Island, The Complete Stories
by Alistair MacLeod
Raised in Cape Breton, Alistair MacLeod writes of family, the pull of old Gaelic traditions, love and the landscape and folkways of Nova Scotia in this collection of 16 stories. Winner of the Pen/Malamud Award.
The Atlantic Coast, A Natural History
by Harry Thurston
Thurston illuminates the geology, plant and animal life and nature of the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland and Labrador through the Maritime Provinces and the Northeastern United States south to Cape Hatteras in this illustrated, engaging survey.
Bradt Guide Nova Scotia
by David Orkin
A comprehensive guide in the growing series by Bradt, noteworthy for its focus on culture, nature and responsible travel, with plenty of practical travel details.
No Great Mischief
by Alistair MacLeod
A novel covering 200 years in the history of a family of Scottish immigrants living in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. MacLeod creates a modern saga of the immigrant experience, familial bonds and life in coastal Canada.
The Grey Seas Under
by Farley Mowat
Mowat captures the drama and courage of the men of the famous Foundation Franklin, an ocean-going tug involved in dozens of rescues at sea between 1930 and 1948.
The Ice Bridge
by D. R. Macdonald
MacDonald sets this lyrical romance on a on isolated Cape Breton island in the 1990
Burden of Desire
by Robert MacNeil
An intricate, suspenseful novel of love and war set against the backdrop of the 1917 explosion that destroyed the north end of Halifax. Written by the noted newsman Robert MacNeil.
The Whale
by Philip Hoare
A deeply engaging meditation on all things whale. Hoare saves his special love and attention for the sperm whale -- not only via a beautiful literary analysis of Moby Dick -- but also by indulging in a childhood fantasy and actually swimming with whales in the Azores.
Lonely Planet Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island
by Karla Zimmerman
This handy, compact guide to Atlantic Canada covers Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island in detail and includes a chapter on Newfoundland and Labrador. With maps, travel information and short essays on culture, attractions and nature.
Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg
New York Times journalist Paul Greenberg interviewed producers, fisherman and conservationists from across the globe for this eyewitness report on the past and future of wild fish, offering sensible alternatives to our current unsustainable interest in eating mostly sea bass, cod, salmon and tuna.
Atlantic
by Simon Winchester
The subtitle tells it all -- Winchester squeezes "Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories" into the covers of this latest entertaining and digressive tale.
The Sea Captain's Wife
by Beth Powning
Azuba Galloway, daughter of a shipwright, sees ships leaving for foreign ports from her bustling town on the Bay of Fundy and dreams of seeing the world. When she marries Nathaniel Bradstock, a veteran sea captain, she believes she will sail at his side. But when she becomes pregnant she is forced to stay behind. Her father has built the couple a gabled house overlooking the bay, but the gift cannot shelter her from the loneliness of living without her husband. When Azuba becomes embroiled in scandal, Nathaniel is forced to take her and their daughter, Carrie, aboard his ship. They set sail for London with bitter hearts. Their voyage is ill-fated, beset with ferocious storms and unforeseen obstacles that test Azuba's compassion, courage and love. Alone in a male world, surrounded by the splendour and the terror of the open seas, she must face her fears and fight to keep her family together.
Fodor's Nova Scotia & Atlantic Canada, With New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador
by Inc. (EDT) Fodor's Travel Publications (Editor)
With its many photographs, great introductory chapters and practical travel information, this book is an excellent overview of northeast Canada and its attractions for visitors. Featuring separate sections on suggested places to visit, recommended walks, practical information, descriptions of restaurants and hotels, ratings of sights and a chronology of historic events.
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
by Jon Dunn
This guide is the veteran's choice for birding anywhere in the United States. Practical to use in the field, it has maps, illustrations and descriptions of the birds on facing pages.
A Field Guide to North Atlantic Wildlife
by Noble S. Proctor, Patrick J. Lynch (Illustrator)
A comprehensive pocket guide to commonly encountered marine mammals, seabirds and other marine life of Northeastern North America, from North Carolina to Newfoundland and the Canadian Maritimes.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
10 days
9 nights
23 meals
9 B 7 L 7 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Halifax, Nova Scotia
D
Hotel Halifax

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby, to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: Buffet dinner at the hotel.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Nova Scotia History, Coach Exploration, Maritime Museum
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B,L
Hotel Halifax

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; riding approximately 2.5 hours throughout the day. Walking up to 2 miles; pavement, indoor surfaces, some standing.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local historian for a presentation on the history of Nova Scotia and the city of Halifax. Next, board the motorcoach to see highlights of Halifax with a local expert. Learn the significance of important historic sites and landmarks, from Citadel Hill to Fort George and the “Titanic” cemetery.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll head to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic for a field trip with local experts including a presentation on the maritime history of Atlantic Canada. The museum is Canada’s oldest and largest maritime museum, first created by a group of Royal Canadian Navy officers who envisioned a place where the nation’s naval past could be preserved. We’ll learn about the age of steamships, local small craft, the Royal Canadian and Merchant Navies, and World War II convoys. The museum also tells the story of famous historical events such as the Battle of the Atlantic, the Halifax explosion of 1917, Nova Scotia’s role in the aftermath of the “Titanic” disaster, various shipwrecks, and more

Dinner: On your own in Halifax or join the Group Leader at a local restaurant. Suggestions will be provided.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
South Shore, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Peggy's Cove
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B,D
Hotel Halifax

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach, driving approximately 3.5 hours, about 170 miles. Walking up to 2 miles; pavement, some rocky/slippery terrain and hills.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will transfer to Lunenburg for a walking field trip with a local expert to explore Lunenburg’s narrow streets, visit historic churches, and examine the Victorian architecture of the Old Town. The picture-postcard harbor, colorful waterfront, and unique architecture reflect its seafaring heritage. Many of these beautifully maintained homes were on the original town plan, established in 1753 as the first British colonial settlement in Nova Scotia outside Halifax. Later, a vibrant economy was built on farming, fishing, shipbuilding and trade, particularly with the West Indies. The renowned fishing and racing schooner Bluenose was built here in 1921, as was the replica Bluenose II in 1963. This beloved symbol of Canadian maritime history is on the Canadian dime.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in one of the many harborside restaurants in Lunenburg. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We’ll set out by motorcoach and pass through some of the small towns that dot Nova Scotia’s south shore on our way to Peggy's Cove. We’ll also find a spot along the historic harbourfront for one of the most photographed views in Canada: The Three Churches of Mahone Bay. Next, we arrive to Peggy’s Cove, one of the most picturesque, charming fishing villages on the East Coast with rustic, weathered wharves balanced on huge granite boulders. The best-known lighthouse in Canada, and one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, was built here in 1914. Positioned on a granite ledge, it served as the local post office until November 2009.

Dinner: Lobster dinner at Peggy's Cove.

Evening: Transfer back to Halifax. Prepare for check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
4
Transfer to Digby, Kejimkujik NP, Annapolis Royal Gardens
Digby, Nova Scotia
B,L,D
Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach, driving approximately 3.5 hours, about 165 miles. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; pavement, sidewalks, pathways. Today the group will be split into two groups for the garden visit.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Checking out of the hotel, we’ll begin our transfer to Digby with stops along the way. First will be Kejimkujik National Park where we'll spend time with a local Mi'kmaw interpreter and learn about the diverse and meaningful relationships that the Mi'kmaw people have with the Kejimkujik landscape.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: This afternoon, we’ll visit the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. Named the 2015 Canadian Garden of the Year, the gardens tell the story of Nova Scotian history in this area through its plants. We’ll learn about historical and botanical aspects of horticulture complementing the rich tapestry of heritage in one of the oldest European settlements in North America. The site showcases gardening methods, designs and materials representing more than 400 years of local history — from forests that would have covered the areas in the age of the Mi’kmaw First Nations to the time of the Acadians to the time of British rule to the modern gardens reflecting today. Resuming our transfer, we’ll arrive in Digby and check in to our hotel with time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restuarant.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a presentation on the Bay of Fundy.

DAY
5
Whale Watching Cruise, Beach Walk, Digby Scallops
Digby, Nova Scotia
B,L,D
Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach, driving approximately 2.5 hours, about 80 miles; ferry crossing to Brier Island is 24 minutes each way. Walking up to 2 miles; pavement, boardwalks, stairs, some uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll set off for Brier Island by coach. With the Fundy tides, this area is a wonderful place to spot seabirds of all kinds, including piping plover, gannets, warblers, nuthatches, hawks, and merlins. Digby Neck, known for its natural beauty, is a peninsula made of two ancient lava flows. Next, we’ll join our naturalist on an exploration in search of whales and seabirds in the Bay of Fundy. We’ll board a boat at Petit Passage.This passage is very deep in places and the tide can flow through at up to eight knots at times. As the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy funnel sea life into the bay, the waters surrounding this area become a haven for feeding Humpbacks, Right Whales and Minke, making for some of the best whale watching anywhere in North America.

Lunch: At Petit Passage Cafe.

Afternoon: We’ll return to the resort with some free time this afternoon to explore the activities on-site. Options include swimming, bicycling/hiking trails, croquet field, shuffleboard, 18-hole Stanley Thompson Golf Course and a giant-sized outdoor chess board.

Dinner: At the hotel, try Digby’s world-famous scallops as part of a plated meal. We’ll enjoy a presentation by a local expert about the scallop industry before our meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Grand Pré Historic Site, Transfer to Cape Breton Island
Baddeck, Nova Scotia
B,L,D
Auberge Gisele's Country Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach, driving 365 miles over 6 hours. Walking 1 mile over 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and set out for Baddeck on Cape Breton Island. En route, we’ll stop at Grand Pré, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated at the north east end of the Annapolis Valley, it borders on the Minas Basin and the tidal lands of the Bay of Fundy. The area was settled in the 1600s by French settlers from Port Royal who reclaimed the lands from the tides and made a fertile land. We’ll be joined by a local expert and learn about this exceptional living agricultural landscape. We’ll also hear the story of the Acadian deportation during the wars between the English and French, and the many villages in the area that were destroyed. We continue by coach towards Cape Breton.

Lunch: Masstown Market.

Afternoon: We continue our journey to the town of Baddeck on Cape Breton Island. Baddeck lies on the shore of Bras d’Or Lake and the Cabot Trail. The natural beauty and distinctive local culture of this area have made Baddeck one of Canada’s finest resort communities. We will check in to our hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Acadian Culture, Cape Breton Highlands Park, Chéticamp
Baddeck, Nova Scotia
B,L
Auberge Gisele's Country Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving today is about 165 miles, approximately is 3.5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles; groomed trails, some uneven ground and stairs. Option for shorter walk.

Breakfast: At the hotel, plated breakfast.

Morning: Today we head out on the world famous Cabot Trail. Aboard the coach, a local expert will discuss the Acadians of Cape Breton and provide expert commentary as we explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and the Cabot Trail. Beyond the natural beauty to be seen here, the Cabot Trail will immerse us in the still vibrant Gaelic and Acadian cultures of Cape Breton. We’ll stop in Chéticamp, a coastal town famous for its rug-hooking tradition and observe a demonstration. On the island’s gulf side, French-speaking towns such as Chéticamp still celebrate their Acadian heritage. There we’ll visit Les Trois Pignons, the town’s cultural centre and museum featuring historical Acadian exhibits and hooked rugs for which local artisans are known. We’ll learn about these “talking” rugs that speak volumes about a pioneer art that was grown from seed and quietly discloses the trials and tribulations of the women who challenged the wilderness with their families and settled in new frontiers.

Lunch: Boxed lunch on trail.

Afternoon: We’ll explore the park with our expert, looking out for wildlife along the way. The Trail makes a 185-mile loop around a sizeable chunk of the island, passing through Cape Breton Highlands National Park at its northernmost point. Mostly, the Cabot Trail skirts the edges of the park, at times clinging to steep oceanside cliffs with unforgettable ocean vistas. This dense wilderness is home to moose, black bears, and bald eagles, which we may be lucky enough to spot. We’ll go for a leisurely, expert led walk at on one of the trails in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, one of the most significant landscapes in Canada, covering nearly 367 square miles. With its salt-tanged fishing villages and mountainous interior cloaked in dense woods, Cape Breton is the prize of Nova Scotia.

Dinner: On own in Baddeck.

Evening: Enjoy the entertainment and music of the Baddeck Gathering Ceilidh, a local tradition.

DAY
8
Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Gaelic College Demos
Baddeck, Nova Scotia
B,L,D
Auberge Gisele's Country Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach, driving approximately 35 minutes, about 25 miles. Walking up to 2 miles; pavement, grass, hard surfaces, some standing.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: We’ll set out on a field trip to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, a National Historic Site. Bell visited Baddeck in 1885, fell in love with it, and the next year built a vacation home where he and his wife spent as much time as they could until his death. Most think of the telephone when they think of Bell, but the museum highlights his groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications, hydrofoils and aeronautics. He was also one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society and received numerous honorary degrees.

Lunch: At Gaelic College, we’ll enjoy a plated meal.

Afternoon: At Gaelic College, we’ll have a true Celtic experience. Celtic refers to a branch of the Indo-European family of languages, including Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Breton, but it also describes the culture. We’ll observe as skilled kilt-makers transform 26 feet of fabric it into a traditional Scottish garment right before our eyes. We’ll learn a bit of the Celtic language from a fluent Gaelic-speaker and take part in a community song session known as a “milling frolic” that features traditional Celtic song and dance. During a dance demonstration with one of the seasoned performers, we’ll be taught marches, strathspeys, jigs, and reels. Afterwards, we’ll have time independently to explore the Great Hall of the Clans Museum, also on campus, that features eight interactive displays, Gaelic films, and a history of the first Scottish settlers to this area.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
9
Highland Village, Transfer to Halifax.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B,L,D
Hotel Halifax

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving today is about 250 miles, approximately 5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles, grass, gravel pathways, some uneven ground.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. Check-out and depart for Halifax after breakfast.

Morning: Today we will experience Scottish Gaelic culture first-hand at the Highland Village. Explore this 40-acre site dotted with historic buildings and gain an understanding of the daily lives of Scottish settlers from the mid 1700’s to the early 1900’s. Learn about their history, settlement and unique heritage. Hear Gaelic dialects and interact with costumed staff who will provide background on the site and the Gaels. Make a connection to our Gaelic ancestors through visits to some the many artisans specializing in weaving, quilting, blacksmithing and more.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our transfer back to Halifax with some stops along the way; arriving in time for dinner.

Dinner: Dinner buffet at the hotel, Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
10
Program Concludes
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet starts at 7:00 a.m. This concludes our program.

Morning: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Your Well-Being is Our #1 Priority

We’re committed to making your experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.

See Our Safety Roadmap
Enroll With Confidence
Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.