Located on the southern shores of the Bay of Fundy, the Annapolis Valley is home to some of the highest tides in the world. This beautiful region, located in Eastern Canada, in the province of Nova Scotia, is famous for rocky, windswept cliffs, lush green hills, and an expansive ocean floor. Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is a coastal playground.
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The Annapolis Valley was one of our favourite destinations on a recent road trip through Nova Scotia. We basked in the beauty of the Valley while soaking in its history and nature and incredible food and wine offerings.
If you’re looking for a destination in Eastern Canada with great food and wine, charming towns, interesting history, and spectacular scenery, check out these things to do in the Annapolis Valley.
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Annapolis Valley At A Glance
What Is Considered Annapolis Valley?
The Annapolis Valley region spans from Digby and the Annapolis Basin in the west to Wolfville and the Minas Basin in the east. Two parallel mountain ridges, namely North Mountain and South Mountain, shelter the valley from the Atlantic Ocean, creating a microclimate and fertile glacial sedimentary soils ideal for farming. The Annapolis Valley is located across the bay from New Brunswick and boasts fantastic Annapolis Valley wineries and award-winning seafood.
What Cities Are In The Annapolis Valley?
The main towns that make up the Annapolis Valley are Digby, Annapolis Royal, Middleton, Greenwood, Kentville, and Wolfville.
Where Is The Annapolis Valley?
The Annapolis Valley is located in the western part of the Nova Scotia peninsula, along the shores of the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis River. It’s about 1-hour northwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The History of Annapolis Valley
Originally home to the Mi’kmaq nation, Annapolis Valley experienced French settlement early in the 17th century. French settlers soon established communities and farming areas along the Annapolis and Cornwallis Rivers. Eventually, the British expelled the Acadians and took over the valley. Later, with the arrival of the railway, large export markets were developed, and Annapolis Valley boomed.
How To Get To The Annapolis Valley, Canada
The Annapolis Valley is easily reached by car, ferry, or plane. You can drive to the Valley from New Brunswick following Highway 101, The Harvest Highway. This route makes up part of the scenic Evangeline Trail.
Another option is to take the Fundy Rose ferry from Saint John, NB, to Digby. The ferry operates year-round and takes about 2.5 hours. It’s a scenic crossing over the Bay of Fundy.
Lastly, you can fly into Halifax International Airport and make the 1-hour drive northwest to reach the town of Wolfville. As a transportation hub in Eastern Canada, Halifax is easy to get to from anywhere in Canada as well as from a few key destinations in the US, UK, and other parts of Europe.
How To Get Around The Annapolis Valley
The best way to explore Nova Scotia and the Annapolis Valley is by car. Since the communities are small and fairly spaced out, there is no public transport in the area. If you are not traveling to Nova Scotia with your own vehicle, we would highly suggest renting a car in Halifax.
When visiting towns like Digby, Annapolis Royal, or Wolfville, the areas can be explored on foot or by bicycle.
READ NEXT: Best Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Best Things To Do In Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
From wine tastings to whale watching, here are the top attractions in the Annapolis Valley.
Visit The Scallop Capital Of Digby, Nova Scotia
Located in the western part of the Annapolis Valley, Digby is famous for marine life—in the ocean and on a plate.
Try Local Scallops
You can’t visit Digby without sampling some delicious fresh scallops at one of the town’s great restaurants. Opt for grilled scallops over the fried variety when possible to get the true taste of this delicious specialty. Better yet, visit in August for the Digby Scallop Days Festival, which celebrates scallops and the folks that harvest them.
Visit Beautiful Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa
Perched on a grassy knoll above the Bay of Fundy, Digby Pines is a beautiful resort with loads of activities. You can stay at the hotel, play golf at the on-site 18-hole golf course, visit the spa, or dine on famous Digby scallops at their on-site restaurant. Just be sure to save time for a swim in the outdoor heated pool!
Downtown Digby waterfront is dotted with shops, restaurants, and colourful fishing boats. Take a stroll to the Digby Pier Lighthouse, and visit the Admiral Digby Museum before settling in for a meal at Churchill’s Restaurant in Digby Pines.
Go Whale Watching
Besides the scallops, whale watching is one of the most popular Digby attractions. Thanks to its location at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, the waters surrounding Digby are important feeding areas for whales. Whale-watching boat tours depart from Brier Island, just 40 mins southwest of Digby. This is one best places in Nova Scotia to see several species of whales and sea birds, so there are a number of tour operators offering whale-watching tours in season.
Explore Annapolis Royal
The historic town of Annapolis Royal abounds in seaside scenery and historic landmarks. There are a number of Historic Sites in Annapolis Royal itself and a few more across the bay near the town of Granville Ferry.
Explore National Historic Sites
Formerly known as Port Royal, Annapolis Royal was once the capital of Acadia and later Nova Scotia for 150 years. It was the site of many battles and raids and has been occupied by the English, Scottish, French, and First Nations people over the years.
Fort Anne National Historic Site is the oldest National Historic Site in Canada. The historic grounds feature a 17th-century Fortress, a history museum, and a number of interpretive signs that help educate visitors on the historical significance of the area. Guided tours are available.
Just east of Fort Anne National Historic Site is the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, which are known for beautiful roses and 17th-century homes.
The final site is across the bay and is a reconstruction of the Port-Royal National Historic Site. Here, costumed interpreters put on demonstrations to recreate one of North America’s earliest settlements. If you do venture across the bay, consider stopping by the North Hills Museum. This museum is located in an 18th-century farmhouse that has been beautifully restored.
Grab a Drink at Annapolis Brewing Company
After brushing up on Nova Scotia Annapolis Valley history, grab a tasting flight at Annapolis Brewing Company. You can try different locally made craft beers and ciders, from IPAs to pilsners, in the cosy wood-clad taproom.
Get a Bite to Eat at The Whiskey Teller
The Whiskey Teller is an awesome lunch spot located within walking distance of the brewery. The laid-back English pub vibe is the perfect backdrop for a creamy lobster dip or a plate of fish and chips.
Catch The Rising Tides At Halls Harbour
No visit to Nova Scotia is complete without an opportunity to witness the power of the Bay of Fundy Tides. Over 160 billion tons of water flow daily in and out of the Bay of Fundy, and in our opinion, there is no better way to experience this unique phenomenon than at Halls Harbour. This makes Halls Harbour one of the best places to visit in Annapolis, Nova Scotia.
The local restaurant, Halls Harbour Lobster Pound, is a great spot to see the power of the Bay of Fundy tides. The restaurant sits right in Hall’s Harbour, overlooking a small bay filled with fishing boats. The bay empties and fills with the tides roughly every 6 hours.
Grab a meal on the patio or inside their newly renovated dining room that overlooks the bay. Enjoy fresh lobster, lobster rolls, and other seafood dishes, and don’t forget to look out to the bay to see how quickly the water rises or falls with the tides. Plan to stay for 3 hours, and if you arrive about 2 hours after high tide, you can see the bay go from full to completely empty right before your eyes. Make sure to take photos from the same spot before and after. You won’t believe your eyes!
Halls Harbour Lobster Pound has its own lobster boats and a lobster processing plant and runs an incredible operation. Pop into the shop on site to grab some souvenirs and peek into the tanks to see live lobsters of varying sizes. A visit here was one of our favourite things to do in Annapolis Valley!
Eat And Drink Your Way Around Wolfville
Wolfville is the main city on the eastern end of the Annapolis Valley. It’s known for being the home of Acadia University and several amazing Nova Scotia Wineries. Eating and drinking are some of the best things to do in Wolfville!
Visit Grand-Pré National Historic Site
The Grand-Pré National Historic Site commemorates Acadian history and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The interpretive centre at Grand-Pré is surrounded by walkways and beautiful gardens. Visit the grounds to explore Acadian culture, including a church and statute of Evangeline, after whom the Evangeline Trail is named.
Explore the Cute Downtown
Wolfville’s Main Street is bustling with cafés, shops, and restaurants. It’s a lovely place to go for an afternoon stroll while popping into local boutiques. The buildings ooze historic charm, and the patios that line the streets are especially inviting on a sunny summer day.
Go Wine Tasting
Wolfville and the surrounding area are considered Nova Scotia’s wine country. Annapolis Valley vineyards make up Canada’s smallest and coolest climate wine region, producing crisp wines that pair well with seafood. The pride of Nova Scotia is the Tidal Bay wine variety, a white wine blend made strictly from Nova Scotia grapes.
Even if you’re spending just 3 days in the valley, Annapolis Valley wine tours are one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia. You can join a hop-on-hop-off winery tour aboard a British double-decker bus aptly named the Magic Winery Bus.
Here are our top recommendations for the best wineries in Annapolis Valley:
- Domaine de Grand Pré – The oldest farm winery in Atlantic Canada. Sample delicious reds and whites just down the street from The Tangled Garden.
- Luckett Vineyards – Visit the beautiful property for a wine tasting, cellar tour, or private barrel room dinner in the boutique winery.
- Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards – Certified organic and biodynamic vineyards offering German-style whites.
- Other Wolfville wineries worth checking out are Benjamin Bridge Winery, Blomidon Estate Winery, Gaspereau Vineyard, L’Acadie Vineyards, Sainte Famille Wines, Planter’s Ridge, 1365 Church Street Winery, and Avondale Sky Winery.
Visit Farmers Markets
The Annapolis Valley grows amazing fresh produce. With popular markets in Annapolis Royal, Wolfville, and Kentville, locally-grown produce is part of Annapolis Valley tourism in itself.
Fruits and vegetables like Annapolis Valley apples and sweet corn are staples, as are locally-made preserves and baked goods. The Tangled Garden is an amazing place to get jams, jellies, and preserves, all made in small batches in Grand Pré. There are also farm stands all over the area at places like Noggins Corner Farm Market and Stirlings Fruit Farm.
Though geographically speaking, it’s part of the Avon River Valley, Windsor also hosts an excellent community farmer’s market on Sundays.
Join A Valley Ghost Walk
For a different take on the historic towns of the Annapolis Valley, why not join a Valley Ghost Walk. These family-friendly walking tours explore the valley’s streets and cemeteries with the help of host Jerome the Gravekeeper. Tours last 2 hours and rotate between communities around the Annapolis Valley. Check the calendar of events, and be sure to bring your own chairs, umbrellas, blankets, and bug spray!
Hike The Cape Split Trail
If you’re looking to see the valley from a different perspective, a hike on the Cape Split Trail is the perfect location. The trailhead is located in Scots Bay, about 30 minutes north of Wolfville.
The trail is pleasant but challenging, spanning 12.1 km (7.5 miles) and opening up to panoramic views of the Minas Basin and Burntcoat Head Park. It’s an especially awesome hike to do if you’re spending fall in the Annapolis Valley.
Enjoy the Apple Blossom Festival
Every year since 1933, the tourist season is opened by the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival. Held at the end of May, this festival includes events in communities throughout the Annapolis Valley. You can watch parades, fireworks, and other organized events that bring people together.
Bike the Harvest Moon Trailway
This 110 km trail links Grand-Pre National Historic Site to Fort-Anne National Historic Site and is constructed along a historic route of the Dominion Atlantic Railway. You’ll pass by apple orchards, vineyards, local farm markets, and kilometres of natural areas. This scenic trail doesn’t have much elevation gain, so you can have a nice leisurely cycle and take everything in.
You can start from anywhere along the trail, and there are bike rentals available in Wolfville. The Harvest Moon Trailway is accessible through all seasons, even the winter, providing opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Where To Eat: Best Annapolis Valley Restaurants
Pair your Tidal Bay wine with local bites from right here in the Valley.
Troy Restaurant & Grill
Troy Restaurant is in Wolfville and serves up delicious Mediterranean food made from local ingredients. The setting is warm and cosy, with a menu filled with Mediterranean specialties, dips, kebabs, burgers, and of course, baklava.
Paddy’s Brewpub & Rosie’s Restaurant
Nova Scotia is no stranger to English-style pubs, and Paddy’s is one of the best. Their welcoming dining room and patio are located in downtown Wolfville just across the street from the waterfront. The restaurant features comfort food like hot sandwiches and freshly battered fish and chips.
The Church Brewing Co
Church Brewing Co topped the list of our all-time favourite restaurants in Annapolis Valley. They have great food, good beer, and a fun patio vibe in downtown Wolfville. The building is an old church, which gives this spot a lot of funky character and sass. The menu features a long list of craft beers and Asian fusion dishes, along with tasty classics. Eat inside the church or enjoy a sunny afternoon on their patio!
Located in a historic Nova Scotia property with gorgeous views, Founders House Dining and Drinks specializes in elevated dishes created with locally sourced ingredients. The wine, beer, and spirit menus are full of regionally produced drinks, and an extensive international wine menu is also available.
Tasting menus and prix fixe menus are available with wine pairings for dinner service, while Sunday Brunch offers an amazing a la carte menu. All menus are seasonal and showcase the best and freshest ingredients the region has to offer.
Where To Stay: Hotels In The Annapolis Valley
The Valley is home to several hotels, cottages, and quaint seaside inns.
470 Main Apartments
In the heart of downtown Wolfville, 470 Main is a boutique hotel that offers suites with views of the city. We loved our stay here! The spacious rooms have modern, luxurious finishes and all the comforts of home. Our favourite parts about staying here was the balcony set up, the spacious kitchen, and the in-unit laundry. Some suites overlook the city, and others even have a water view. Apartments at 470 Main start at CA $82 per night.
Digby Pines Golf Resort & Spa
For a resort hotel experience, we loved the look and feel of Digby Pines Fold Resort & Spa. They offer large, cozy rooms and multi-room cottages. The property is beautiful, and the grounds reminded us of a traditional English estate home. A beautiful spot in town, this is a great location to relax and unwind at the on-site spa or play a round of golf overlooking the ocean. You’ll definitely want to dine at Churchills Restaurant, where you can savour a plate of famous Digby scallops. Standard rooms at Digby Pines start at CA $160 per night.
The Inn At Grand Pré Winery
Set among vineyards and rolling hills, The Inn at Grand Pré Winery is an idyllic stay in Nova Scotia wine country. The rooms are built in historic heritage buildings that have been renovated to suit modern, luxurious comforts. Stay here to enjoy wine tastings, and meals at Le Caveau restaurant and other nearby Annapolis Valley attractions. Rooms at The Inn start at CA $195 per night.
Located in Grand Pre, The Evangeline offers both luxury private suites in Borden House and comfortable motel units at the Inn. All rooms are beautifully outfitted with modern amenities and a blend of local artisanal furniture and mid-century pieces. There is an indoor heated pool, infrared sauna, and outdoor hot tub available for guests, and onsite Longfellow Restaurant offers a great variety of dishes, including vegan and gluten-free options. Rooms at the Inn start at CA $220, and suites at Borden House start at CA $180.
Have you been to the Annapolis Valley or another part of the Bay of Fundy? What did you think about the changing tides?
Disclaimer: We visited Annapolis Valley as guests of the Nova Scotia Tourism Board, but as always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own.