Family vacations in Nova Scotia are typically defined by stunning outdoor scenery and charming communities packed full of things to do. It doesn't have the hustle and bustle of more populated provinces like Ontario and Quebec, but you'll still find plenty of excitement. If you want to make the most of your trip, you'll need to plan the most important factors of your trip in advance. Fortunately, creating family vacations to Nova Scotia is easy considering how much there is to see and do and the array of available accommodations. Learn how to play your Nova Scotia trip.

Traveling to Nova Scotia

1. Drive to your Nova Scotia family vacation

If you're looking to drive to Nova Scotia, you're way in is the Trans-Canada Highway. In fact, this is the only entrance on a major highway available from New Brunswick, which is the only province with roads that enter Nova Scotia. The province is located in the southeastern corner of the country. Nearby provinces like Prince Edward Island still have their roads entering New Brunswick briefly before entering Nova Scotia. The first city you'll hit driving in is Amherst, which in turn offers easy access to the rest of the province.

2. Fly to your Nova Scotia family vacation

Flying into Nova Scotia is one of the easiest ways to travel. Every major Canadian city offers flights to the province. You'll find 3 airports in total within Nova Scotia, but you'll likely be flying into the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. The JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport is also available, with services from Air Canada and WestJet. Yarmouth International Airport is available as well with its 2 runways and 2 taxiways.

3. Travel by sea

Given that Nova Scotia's roads only connect to New Brunswick, you may be in a better position travelling by sea depending on where you're coming from and where in Nova Scotia you're going. You'll find several ferry routes into the province from the surrounding areas. You can travel directly south from the Northumberland Ferries in Wood Islands across the Northumberland Strait if you're coming from Prince Edward Island. From this route, you'll arrive in Nova Scotia in Pictou. Travellers from Newfoundland can board the ferry at Channel-Port aux Basques or the ferry at Argentia on the far end of Placentia Bay. Either way, you'll arrive in Nova Scotia at North Sydney on Cape Breton Island.

Things to do on family vacations in Nova Scotia

4. See the historic splendor of Peggy's Point Lighthouse

Peggy's Point Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse and landmark in the quaint community of Peggy's Cove named after a fascinating and tragic tale. This lighthouse is set up among a scenic shore with smooth rocks dotting the landscape, creating a picturesque panorama. Several hiking trails are available nearby as well, so you can use the lighthouse to complement a more active adventure in the area with trails that are easy enough for kids to enjoy.

5. Take in the sights at Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk

If you and your family find yourselves in Halifax, you won't want to miss out on the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk. This destination offers various attractions in one convenient location, including shops, art installations, and restaurants. You'll even find a little train trolley that can get you to the boardwalk from the downtown area. Kids will especially enjoy the variety of ice cream available in the area. Plus, there's a museum on the boardwalk showcasing the history of migrants to Canada throughout the 20th century.

6. Cultivate curiosity at the Halifax Discovery Centre

The Halifax Discovery Centre is a fascinating museum designed for children to help foster an attitude of curiosity and learning. It covers a wide variety of topics, including the arts and various sciences. Its many exhibits are interactive, and you'll also find sections where kids can put together Lego creations. As an added benefit, the Lego section is located directly next to a cafe, so you can grab a refreshing drink and sit down for a bit while keeping your little one in sight.

7. Find historic and scenic fun in Lunenburg

The city of Lunenburg is known primarily for its candy-colored buildings that sport a historic colonial-style design. It's also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the historic wonder here, you'll find plenty to do, including delicious seafood restaurants, several lighthouses, and a bustling harbour. Whale watching tours also often embark from the harbour here, so you and your little ones can spot these massive creatures alongside seals, dolphins, and turtles.

8. Step back in time at the Halifax Citadel

The Halifax Citadel is a historic star-shaped military fort that now functions as a historic site offering stunning views of the city and surrounding waters. Additionally, you'll find soldiers here marching around in full regalia, performing exercises such as the noon gun firing. You can even put your kids as young as 6 years old into the soldier for the day activity where they get a little uniform and a little drum to play. Kids over 16 can even fire a rifle during the exercises.

9. Find fun in the Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is one of the most iconic destinations in the province. It has the highest tides in the world. Plus, you'll find an array of trails you can traverse that offer remarkable views you and your family won't want to miss. The trails are fairly easy to walk as well, so you don't have to worry about bringing your little ones along. Keep in mind that some attractions, like Burntcoat Head Park, are only available during low tides. For reference, some of the tide pools available during low tide will be 50 feet underwater during high tide.

10. Get a taste of the tropics at Carter's Beach

When you and your family visit Carter's Beach, it won't feel like you're in Nova Scotia anymore. With its crystal clear waters and powdery white sands, you'll feel as if you've been transported to the Caribbean. The waters here are fairly calm in a lot of spots, so you and your kids can swim around safely. Plus, the views here are spectacular, with some islands visible off in the distance, adding some variety to the horizon line.

11. Relax at Martinique Beach

When you're looking to take it easy on your family vacation to Nova Scotia, you may want to stop by Martinique Beach. While it's certainly a popular beach, you'll find plenty of room for your family to set up since the beach itself is about 3 miles long. On it, you'll find white sands and inviting waters. This beach is also a popular destination for a variety of migratory birds, specifically waterfowl. The piping plover is especially common throughout the area, so birdwatchers may want to add this beach to their itinerary.

Find the best rentals for family vacations in Nova Scotia

12. House rentals for a family vacation in Nova Scotia

One of the easiest ways to keep everyone comfortable during a family vacation to Nova Scotia is with a house rental. These accommodations can offer a home-away-from-home kind of experience. Everyone can sleep comfortably with all the privacy they need, and they tend to come with useful amenities like central heating and cooling and a full kitchen. Of course, you'll find more luxurious options as well if you want some extra amenities you may not get at home, like a private pool or hot tub. Given the popularity of houses, you'll find them virtually everywhere across the province, from the countryside to the cities.

13. Apartments for Nova Scotia vacations for families

If you plan to stay in one of the major cities like Halifax for the majority of your Nova Scotia family vacation, you may want to book your stay in an apartment. Many of the local apartment rentals offer plenty of space with 3 bedrooms or more, giving your family all the room they need to sleep comfortably. Plus, amenities like a full kitchen and integrated WiFi are fairly standard now. One of the best aspects of an apartment rental is that you can enjoy being located right in the middle of the action with some of the best attractions in the province just steps away. They also tend to be close to public transportation, which is useful if you don't have your own car.

14. Book a cottage for your Nova Scotia family vacation

If you're looking for the quintessential Nova Scotia family vacation experience, there's nothing quite like booking a cottage. Cottages are a good option to get your family close to the stunning sights that this province is known for. Many cottages are located by the coast among rocky cliffs and crashing waves. Of course, you don't have to book something by the coast, as there are plenty of cottages inland as well. Cottages can be quite spacious too, so don't hesitate to book one if you're bringing the whole family along.

15. Check out cabins for your Nova Scotia family vacation

Families who are interested in an outdoor-oriented Nova Scotia family vacation may want to book one of the many cabin rentals in the province. Cabins are useful if you're looking to get close to the breathtaking natural features of the province. These rentals tend to have large porch areas that let you take in the scenery along with cozy designs and plenty of space in many cases so that the whole family can sleep comfortably within. Plus, cabins are more likely to be pet-friendly than many other accommodation options, so you don't have to leave anyone in your family behind.