Looking for ideas on things to do in Nova Scotia in the summer? If you’re visiting this Canadian province this summer, here are 25 fun things to do.

Nova Scotia, Canada’s second smallest province, might be compact in size, but it offers plenty of fun summer adventures. From rugged coastlines to charming historic towns and gorgeous beaches to delicious seafood, Nova Scotia is a popular place to visit in the summer for a reason! 

There are so many amazing activities and events throughout the province in the summer months, you’re sure to have a great time visiting Nova Scotia, no matter your preferences. 

Here are 25 of the best things to do in Nova Scotia this summer, guaranteed to help you make the most of your time here!

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Why Visit Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is an amazing summer vacation destination.

With its stunning coastlines and abundance of outdoor activities, the province is perfect for anyone looking to have a fun and relaxing time. 

Nova Scotia is also home to numerous historical sites and cultural attractions, making it the perfect place to learn more about Canadian history and culture.

Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, get active in the great outdoors, or soak up some history, Nova Scotia has something for everyone.

25 Fun Things to Do in Nova Scotia in the Summer

Below, in no particular order, are 25 of the best activities, experiences and places to visit in Nova Scotia in summer. Use these suggestions to help you plan your time in this amazing province. 

1. Head to the Beach 

Known as Canada’s Ocean Playground, you would expect to find plenty of beaches in Nova Scotia. And you would be right! 

Nova Scotia has over 7000 kilometres of coastline, and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Canada.

sandy beach on nova scotia’s eastern shore

Whether you choose to visit the popular beaches of the south shore, the gorgeous beaches on the eastern shore, the warm waters of the Northumberland Strait on the northeastern shore or the beaches of Cape Breton, wherever you are in Nova Scotia, you’re never more than 60km from the ocean.

Relax on the sand, go for a swim, or walk along the shoreline and take in the stunning scenery. If you’re looking for a more active beach day, try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding or surfing.

Lawrencetown Beach and Martinique Beach on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore have some of the best waves on the East Coast of Canada, and it’s possible to rent surfboards in the summer months. 

If you’re in the Halifax area, here are 9 of the best beaches near Halifax

2. Go Whale Watching

Nova Scotia is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching.

With over 20 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, there’s plenty to see. And you don’t have to go far to find them!

The best time to see whales is from June to October.

While there are a few whale-watching tours departing from Halifax, you’ll find tours in other parts of Nova Scotia as well, such as Lunenburg and Cheticamp. 

3. See the Highest Tides at the Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world! Twice a day, the tides come in and the water level rises by over 16 metres.

It’s an amazing sight to see, and you can even go kayaking or canoeing when the tides are high. At low tide, you can walk on the ocean floor for a unique experience. Be sure to check the tide times before you head out though!

Although Nova Scotia isn’t as well known as some spots in neighbouring New Brunswick for the high tides, there are still some great spots to see this tidal phenomenon.

low tide at Burntcoat head park, red ocean floor and exposed rock with trees on top can be seen when the tide is low
Low tide at Burntcoat Head Park

Digby, Annapolis Royal, Parrsboro and the Five Islands are great places to see tidal change in the Bay of Fundy, and Burntcoat Head Park is home to the highest recorded tides in the world.

The Bay of Fundy is a great place to visit all year round – the icicles are stunning in the winter – but summer is the best time to go as the weather is the warmest!

4. Go Tidal Bore Rafting

If you’re looking for unique Nova Scotia things to do, you need to try tidal bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River.

Twice a day, the Bay of Fundy’s highest tides cause a rush of water to enter the Shubenacadie River, and the change in water direction causes a phenomenon called the Tidal Bore .

The wave can be up to 4 metres (13 feet) at times throughout the year.

Tidal bore rafting tours take you out on a zodiac boat and you ride the wave all the way upriver.

It’s a great adventure for those who love being on the water and it’s definitely one of the unique things to do in Nova Scotia. In fact, it’s an “only in Nova Scotia” experience! 

5. Visit Peggy’s Cove

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Nova Scotia is Peggy’s Cove – and for good reason!

The picturesque fishing village is a must-see in Nova Scotia. With its iconic lighthouse and stunning views, Peggy’s Cove is a great place to spend a summer day.

It’s the most photographed lighthouse in Canada, if not the world, so be sure to take your camera, as you’ll want to capture the beauty of this special place. 

Peggy’s cove lighthouse in Nova Scotia
The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia Canada.

After visiting the iconic lighthouse, wander through the charming village, which is still a working fishing community. There are several shops and cafes, as well as the William de Garthe Art Gallery. Nearby is Polly’s Cove, a fun 4km hike with stunning views of the coast. 

And while you can visit Peggy’s Cove all year round, summer is the best time to visit as you’ll have the nicest weather! 

6. Explore the Town of Lunenburg

Lunenburg is said to be one of the prettiest places in Nova Scotia.

While that’s a hard claim to make, as I think there are so many pretty places in the province, Lunenburg definitely makes the list as one of the prettiest!

The charming town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its shipbuilding history and brightly coloured houses.

bright red buildings on waterfront in Lunenburg Nova Scotia

It’s also home to the iconic Bluenose Schooner, which is featured on the Canadian dime.

Lunenburg is also a great place to enjoy some fresh seafood and be sure to check out the famous Bluenose II when it’s in town.

Sailing tours, as well as deep-sea fishing charters, are available, 

Nearby Mahone Bay is another charming town to visit, and combined with Lunenburg, makes for an easy day trip from Halifax

7. Celebrate Canada Day

One of the best ways to celebrate summer is by celebrating Canada’s birthday! And what better place to do that than in Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia?

There’s a huge celebration downtown with live music, food trucks, a parade and plenty of family-friendly activities. The party continues into the night with a huge fireworks display over the harbour.

It’s a great way to celebrate Canada’s birthday and kick off the summer!

8. Visit a Winery

Nova Scotia is home to some excellent wineries and vineyards. The province has over 40 wineries, many of which offer tours and tastings. 

vineyards in Nova Scotia - one of the best things to do in the summer is visit a winery

Head to the Annapolis Valley, where you can tour the wineries and sample some Tidal Bay wine, an appellation that is unique to Nova Scotia.

Avondale Sky Winery, Domaine de Grand Pre and Luckett Vineyards are just some of the great wineries in the Annapolis Valley. 

9. Experience a Festival

Nova Scotia is home to many great festivals throughout the summer. From music festivals to food festivals and everything in between, there’s something for everyone.

While Halifax is known for its many summer festivals, whether on the waterfront or in the downtown area, they’re not the only city to host summer festivals.

The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo and the Halifax Busker Festival are two of the most popular summer festivals in Nova Scotia.

You’ll also find lobster festivals, Digby Scallop Days, Beerfest and even the oldest Acadian Festival in the world, Festival Acadien de Clare.

For a full list of summer festivals in Nova Scotia, click here

10. Take a Hike

Nova Scotia is also home to some amazing hiking trails and summer is a fantastic time to get outside and go for a hike.

Explore the many parks and nature reserves, and take in the fresh air. For a challenge, hike up to one of the province’s many lookout points for breathtaking views. 

Whether you’re looking for a shorter, family-friendly hike or a longer, more challenging hike, you can find a spot to hike almost anywhere in Nova Scotia.

child hiking along a path in cape breton nova Scotia
Hiking the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton

Some of our favourite hikes are Duncan’s Cove near Halifax, Shubie Park in Dartmouth and the gorgeous trails in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, like the Skyline Trail and Franey Trail.

11. Visit the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

High on a hill overlooking the Halifax Harbour is the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, one of the most visited attractions in Nova Scotia. 

The fort has been guarding the harbour since 1749 and is a great place to learn about the history of Halifax.

In the summer, kids can dress up in period costumes and be a solider for the day.

And don’t miss the firing of the cannon, which happens every day at noon.

The Halifax Citadel is open year-round, but summer is the best time to visit to experience the guided tours and special events.

12. Walk the Halifax Boardwalk

And we couldn’t write this list of the best things to do in Nova Scotia in the summer without mentioning the Halifax boardwalk!

One of the longest boardwalks in North America, it’s the perfect place to take a stroll on a summer day.

The boardwalk is four kilometres long and runs along the waterfront, so you can enjoy views of the Halifax Harbour as you walk.

coloured chairs on the halifax boardwalk

There is plenty to do along the way, including some great restaurants and shops, so you can stop for a bite to eat or do some shopping. And there are plenty of other activities as well, from hammocks to a marked course on the pavement for kids to get active and have fun.

And if you’re visiting with young kids, the submarine playground along the boardwalk is one of the best playgrounds in Halifax.

The boardwalk is also where you’ll find the Halifax Buskerfest, held at the end of July each summer, and there are other events and activities happening throughout the summer months.

Honestly, the boardwalk is one of the best places to spend a summer afternoon!  

13. Pick Strawberries

One of the best things about summer in Nova Scotia is all the fresh, local fruit that is available.

Strawberries are one of the first fruits to be ready and they make for a perfect summer treat. There are many strawberry farms throughout Nova Scotia where you can pick your own strawberries or buy them already picked.

Head to the Annapolis Valley and you’ll find lots of U-pick places or even roadside stands offering fresh strawberries.

14. Go Camping

One of the best ways to experience Nova Scotia’s nature at its best is to go camping! And Nova Scotia has no shortage of great camping spots.

There’s over 100 privately-owned campgrounds, 20 provincial parks with camping and two National Parks, both with multiple campgrounds.

two children sitting at a picnic table at a campsite with camping chairs and a tent, and a view over the water in Nova Scotia in the summer
Camping at Graves Island Provincial Park

Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot in the woods or a more developed campsite with amenities, you can find it here.

Some of our favourite places to camp are Kejimkujik National Park, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Five Islands Provincial Park and Rissers Beach Provincial Park. Although we’re also partial to Graves Island Provincial Park, as that was the very first place we camped in Nova Scotia (the night before a hurricane….)!

15. Take a Ride on the Harbour Hopper

Looking for an interesting way to see Halifax?

Book a tour on the Harbour Hopper, an amphibious vehicle that takes you through the streets of Halifax, past the Public Gardens and Citadel Hill before heading down to the waterfront, where it continues the tour out through the harbour.

It’s a fun and unique way to see the sights of the city and one of the best things to do in Halifax with kids

16. Eat at a Nova Scotia Lobster Pound

Nova Scotia is famous for its lobster and there’s no better place to enjoy it than at a local seafood restaurant.

There are many great seafood restaurants in Nova Scotia, but one of the best ways to enjoy lobster is right at the source.

Lobster pounds are found all along the coast and they’re usually family-run businesses. You can buy live or cooked lobster right at the pound and they’ll usually have picnic tables set up so you can enjoy your meal right then and there.

Along the Bay of Fundy, Halls Harbour Lobster Pound is a great place to enjoy the seafood and harbour views or if you’re in the Halifax area, check out The Lobster Dive Inc in Eastern Passage. Be sure to bring cash as most lobster pounds don’t accept credit cards. 

17. Visit a Garden

While Nova Scotia is known more for its coastal scenery, there are also some gorgeous gardens in the province. 

The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens is one of the best, and among the prettiest things to see in Nova Scotia. The gardens are located in the town of Annapolis Royal and feature over five acres of beautiful gardens.  With over 400 varieties of flowers, the gardens are a great place to spend a summer day.

gazebo in the Halifax public gardens

Another fantastic garden to see in Nova Scotia is the Halifax Public Gardens, which is the oldest Victorian garden in North America. The gardens are open year-round, but summer is the best time to visit. During the summer, there are often free concerts at the bandstand at the Public Gardens. 

18. Go Clamming

Clamming is a popular activity in Nova Scotia and one that the whole family can enjoy. All you need is a bucket, a rake and a sense of adventure!

You’ll find clams all along the Nova Scotia coast. Many people like to go clamming in Mahone Bay, which is known for its large clams but you’ll find families out digging in the sand throughout the province.

Around the Halifax area, McCormacks Beach is a popular spot, as is the small beach as you exit Rainbow Haven Beach or other beaches along the Eastern Shore.

The best time to go clamming is low tide but be sure to check the tides before you head out. 

19. Go Fossil Hunting

While you might not think of fossils when you think of Nova Scotia, the province has a rich geological history.

At the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can walk on the ocean floor at low tide, explore the exposed layers of rock and possibly see footprints of creatures that lived over 300 million years ago.

Just remember, to protect the site and provide a great experience for everyone, it’s not permitted to collect or take fossils home. 

boy bent over searching for fossils on the ocean floor at low tide
Searching for fossils at low tide at Joggins Fossil Cliffs

20. Try Moon Mist

If you’re looking for a delicious treat to beat the summer heat, don’t miss the chance to try Moon Mist ice cream.

This unique flavour is one that you’ll only find in Nova Scotia and is a brightly coloured combination of grape, banana and bubblegum flavours.

ice cream cone with moon mist flavour

It’s a local favourite, and one you have to try while in Halifax! Look for it wherever Scotsburn or Farmers ice cream is sold. 

21. Get Out on the Water

Nova Scotia is surrounded by water and one of the best ways to enjoy the summer is to get out on it!

With over 7000 kilometres of coastline and over 1,000 lakes, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water.

Whether you prefer to fish, canoe, kayak, paddleboard or sail, there’s something for everyone. And if you don’t have your own boat, there are plenty of places throughout the province where you can rent one.

In Halifax, you can book a boat tour to sail through the harbour, and in Lunenburg, you can sail on the Bluenose II, a replica of the iconic racing schooner. 

22. Go for a Drive

There are so many spectacular places to see in Nova Scotia, why not head out for a road trip and see more of this gorgeous province?

Whether you’re heading out for a day trip or a week-long adventure, there’s plenty to see and do.

The TransCanada Highway passes through Nova Scotia, but the best way to explore more of the province is to get off the larger highways and take the Trunk Highways, which connect many smaller communities in Nova Scotia.

Tourism Nova Scotia has many routes throughout the province which highlight different areas. Some of our favourites are the Evangeline Trail, which explores the Minas Basin and the Annapolis Valley, and the Lighthouse Route, which follows the province’s South Shore from Halifax to Yarmouth. On Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail is a stunning drive along the coast and has been voted as one of the world’s most scenic drives. 

Cabot Trail scenic view (Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada)

23. Compete in a Sand Castle Building Competition

If you’re visiting Nova Scotia in the summer, be sure to check out the annual Clam Harbour Sandcastle Competition.

The competition is held every August and features some of the most incredible sandcastles you’ve ever seen.

Bring your sand-building tools and skills and get ready for a day of fun! It’s a great event for the whole family and definitely one of the most unique things to do in Nova Scotia. 

If you’re not up for competition, it’s still a fun event to watch and you can check out the sandcastles on display.

And Clam Harbour is one of the nicest beaches near Halifax , so it’s worth a visit even if you’re not competing!

24. Pick Blueberries

Nova Scotia is home to some of the best blueberries in the world! And Oxford, Nova Scotia is the blueberry capital of Canada but you can find blueberries growing wild all over the province.

Beginning in late July or early August, many farms open their fields to visitors for picking and the season runs until early to mid-September.

picking blueberries

You’ll find blueberries throughout the province, but many of the U-pick farms are found in the Annapolis Valley.

Kids will love picking (and tasting!) fresh blueberries and it’s one of the fun things to do in Nova Scotia with family. 

25. See the Stars at Keji

Kejimkujik National Park, or Keji to locals, is one of the best places in Nova Scotia to see the night sky. In fact, it’s the only Dark-Sky Preserve in Nova Scotia.

Without light pollution, it’s possible to see more stars than you’ve ever seen before.

You can rent self-discovery dark-sky kits, or join a guided program held at the Dark Sky Circle, where you’ll learn more about the stars and planets, and hear stories and legends about the constellations. 

(Photo of the moon because I haven’t mastered photographing the night sky yet!)

In addition to its Dark-Sky Preserve accreditation, Kejimkujik is also a national park, as well as a national historic site. 

Similar to Lake Superior Provincial Park in Ontario, Kejimkujik is one of a few places in Canada where you can see petroglyphs made by indigenous people over a thousand years ago.

It’s also a fantastic place to connect with nature, whether you hike or bike the trails, paddle on the water, spend some time at the beach or camp overnight. 

Getting to Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is located on Canada’s East Coast and is easily accessed from many places, both within Canada and abroad. 

By Car: The TransCanada Highway connects Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and further on to the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

From Ontario, it’s about an 18-hour drive from Toronto to Halifax, 10 hours from Quebec City and 4 hours from Fredericton, NB. 

By Plane: For those arriving by air, Halifax Stanfield International Airport is located just outside of Halifax. Major airlines connect Halifax to cities across Canada, as well as destinations in North America and Europe. 

Rental cars are available at the airport (we recommend checking rates on DiscoverCars), and make getting around Nova Scotia easy, or transport is also available directly to downtown Halifax. 

By ferry: There are several options to reach Halifax by ferry. The Northumberland Ferries run between Woods Island, PEI and Caribou, NS, offering a scenic journey across the Northumberland Strait. 

If you’re coming from New Brunswick, there is a ferry that sails between Saint John, NB and Digby, NS, taking you across the Bay of Fundy, famous for its tides. 

FAQs: Best Things to Do in Nova Scotia in the Summer

How warm is Nova Scotia in the summer? 

Daytime temperatures in July and August average between 20 – 25°C (70-80°F) although temperatures can reach into the low 30’s (high 80’s F) with humidity. However, keep in mind that temperatures can range throughout the day, and fluctuate depending on how close you are to the ocean.

Can you swim in Nova Scotia in the summer?

Yes, you can definitely swim in Nova Scotia in the summer! While the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean will be chillier than those on the Northumberland Shore or any of the inland lakes, it’s still possible to swim in the summer. My kids are usually in the Atlantic Ocean by mid-June but it’s a quick dip! 

When is the best time to visit Nova Scotia?

The best time to visit Nova Scotia is in the summer when the weather is warmest and most attractions are open. It’s also busiest during the summer months. However, Nova Scotia is an amazing place to visit all year round, and each season offers different experiences. If you’re visiting Nova Scotia in the fall, the changing colours are a highlight to see, and there are plenty of things to do in Nova Scotia in the winter as well. 

What time zone is Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotia is in the Atlantic Time Zone, which is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-4). 

Final Thoughts: Best Things to Do in Nova Scotia in the Summer

There are so many fun things to do in Nova Scotia in the summer. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or want to explore historic sites, there’s something for everyone.  And with so many great things to do, you’ll never be bored. So get out and explore all that Nova Scotia has to offer this summer!

Have a great summer and enjoy your time in Nova Scotia!

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