Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie in search of culinary adventures, Nova Scotia has something to offer for every type of traveller. And while there are many amazing hot spots to see like Grand Pre UNESCO World Heritage Site, Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, and Halifax’s waterfront (plus all the seafood you can eat!), there are some pretty surprising, and unique attractions in Nova Scotia to stop and visit.
After spending a week exploring the Annapolis Valley, Yarmouth and Acadian Shores, the South Shore, and Halifax, I stumbled across several attractions in the province worth adding to your bucket list.
READ MORE: Planning a Nova Scotia road trip? Here’s a one-week itinerary to help you on your way.
10 Unique Attractions in Nova Scotia
If you’re thinking of visiting or planning a trip to Nova Scotia, here are 10 quirky stops and things to see and eat along the way that you don’t want to miss out on. (In no particular order).
1. Mad Hatter Wine Bar, Annapolis Royal
Tucked away in the back of a bookstore and leather shop, this wine bar comes as a surprise to those thinking they’re just out on a shopping trip. Mad Hatter Wine Bar serves up a selection of Nova Scotian wine and charcuterie options in their cozy back room.
In 2023, they completed construction on a backyard patio that has spectacular sunset views over the Annapolis River. This was one of my favourite stops on our entire trip and the perfect place to spend an afternoon with good food, wine and company.
2. Buoy Wall, Yarmouth
I love a good Instagram photo-op. The Buoy Wall outside of Yarmouth is a delightful one. It’s perfect for colourful photos alongside old buoys rescued from the ocean and displayed on a wall at a roadside stop.
It’s a beautiful homage to Nova Scotia’s fishing heritage and a highlight en route to Cape Forchu lighthouse.
3. Xena’s Bread and Butter Cafe, Halifax
Xena’s Bread and Butter Cafe in Halifax is an artsy 2-D restaurant where every wall has a story to tell. They are covered in hand-drawn monochromatic art with popular attractions from both the Philippines and Canada. And that’s what you can also expect from the delicious food here – it’s a blend of Filipino and Canadian dishes. It’s a great spot to hang out, catch up with friends or bring your laptop and work remotely. I recommend anything with purple yam in it.
4. Blue Rocks, near Lunenburg
While everyone heads to Lunenburg for iconic photo opportunities with the Bluenose, the colourful houses and storefronts, and the harbour, the little village of Blue Rocks is just as cute to stop in for a visit. Located only a 6-minute drive from Lunenburg, the community is a real working fishing village with unique blue slate rocks along the shoreline and fishing shacks in the water. It’s also a top spot for photographers.
We hurried out here from Lunenburg for sunset and were rewarded with gorgeous lighting on the water. We then headed back to grab a bite to eat and had an epic lobster burger topped with a scallop at The Grand Banker.
5. The Lighthouse, Annapolis Royal Waterfront Boardwalk
The waterfront boardwalk in Annapolis Royal is a cute walk and a perfect sunset spot. You can’t miss the pepper-shaker lighthouse which was originally built in 1889 and restored in 2016. What makes this lighthouse unique is that it’s not situated on a point of land but is tucked in near the town’s business district.
The community has done an excellent job restoring and maintaining the area to make it a must-stop spot when visiting.
6. Maud Lewis Replica House, near Digby
The Maud Lewis House near Digby is a true-to-scale replica home where folk-artist Maud Lewis spent her days. It’s located in the yard of retired fisherman Murray Ross.
There’s a tiny shop featuring other local artists’ work that you can purchase on the honour system (leave cash or send an e-transfer). There’s also a third shack that has a variety of items to buy you’d typically find at a yard sale. If you’re lucky like we were, Murray was around to chat when we stopped in. Maud Lewis’ original home is in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax.
7. Moon Mist Ice Cream, Nova Scotia
You can’t visit Nova Scotia without stopping to try some Moon Mist ice cream. But you’re not alone if you haven’t heard of it before, because I was new to the flavour as well. The ice cream is an iconic Atlantic specialty and is a mix of banana, grape, and bubble gum. It’s as tasty as it is fun to look at. I enjoyed my double scoop from Sugah Confectionary & Ice Cream Emporium on an evening walk along the Halifax waterfront.
8. Shag Harbour Incident Society UFO Interpretive Centre, Shag Harbour
A destination I really wanted to visit was the Shag Harbour UFO Centre. Unfortunately, we drove through the area too late in the day and missed their opening hours. The centre shares about a sighting in 1967 where a UFO crashed in the harbour. Many locals saw it and still talk about the event to this day. There’s even a three-day symposium people can attend each year that brings UFO experts and eyewitnesses together from all over the world.
While I was sad to miss visiting the museum, we settled for picking up a couple of cans of Shag Harbour UFO Blonde Ale from Boxing Rock Brewery in Shelburne.
9. Tidal Bore Rafting, Bay of Fundy
One of the only places in the world to experience tidal bore rafting is in Nova Scotia. A tidal bore is a natural phenomenon where the incoming tide forms waves that move up a river (or narrow bay) against the current. Because of the dramatic tide changes on the Bay of Fundy (as much as 16 metres), you can ride over these waves a la white-water rafting style and it’s pretty epic.
10. Deep Fried Pepperoni, Halifax
These days you can deep fry pretty much everything – including pepperoni. Brothers-style pepperoni is a Halifax specialty. The Kielbratowski brothers opened two different companies in the 50s and 60s and today you can get Original Brothers, Chris Brothers, or 2 Boys pepperoni. They’re all the same style and come from the same family recipe. You can find this item on nearly any pub menu in the city, served up with a side of sweet honey mustard. It’s crispy and delicious and you won’t regret adding it to your meal.
Have a few other unique attractions in Nova Scotia? Feel free to share them in the comments below.
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This post was authentically created by me, brought to you thanks to Tourism Nova Scotia.