5 Family Favourites on Nova Scotia’s South Shore this February
By Helen Earley
The slow, cold period between Christmas and March Break is one of our family’s favourite times to jump in the car and explore Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Our motivation? to clear out the cobwebs, and embrace a new year. Our reward? Rosy cheeks, chilly fingers, and a sense of adventure totally unique from the thrill of summertime day-tripping.
If you’re feeling the winter blues, grab your mittens, a woolly hat, and an extra pair of warm socks (because you know you’re going to want to dip those toes!), and set your compass for the South Shore!
1. Peggy’s Cove
Plan to bring your extended family, old and young. The new viewing deck installed in 2021 means that Peggy’s Cove is now accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and anyone who might be a little unsteady on their feet. On the way to Peggy’s Cove, our family often stops at Delish! Fine Foods in Tantallon to buy fresh, hot Cornish Pasties (pronounced PASS-tees) to take out. By the time we arrive on the rocks, the delicious, meaty hand-held pies are still warm – the perfect winter picnic!
Other times, we stop into The Sou’Wester restaurant for a hot drink and our favourite sweet treat – soft homemade gingerbread cake with whipped cream, soft ice cream, or warm gooey lemon sauce. This iconic Peggy’s Cove dessert, along with their famous chowder, has been on the menu at The Sou’Wester for over 50 years, and we know why – it’s simply delicious.
February is the height of lobster season in this region, so it’s a shame to head back to the city without picking up some live lobsters from the friendly folks at Ryer Lobsters Ltd. in nearby Indian harbour.
2. Cozy Places to Munch and Brunch
Our family loves to eat, and the Peggy’s Cove region is only the tip of the iceberg – or should I say, the tip of the lobster tail? For us, South Shore dining begins with the charming Rosa Rugosa Seaside Market in Hubbards for homemade soup, hot chocolate, or a charcuterie plate… with a side of antique shopping! For breakfast, our favourite spot is the Kiwi Café in Chester for an indulgent stack of pancakes or the hearty Kiwi Breakfast. We also love the food, and friendly service at the Oak and Oar Eatery at Oak Island Resort and Conference Centre for dinner (you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy the restaurant).
Further down the coast, we have a passion for all things bubbly and delicious at the Boxing Rock Tap Room in Shelburne, with a special place in our hearts for their amazing grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread – a real hit with the kids.
And although we haven’t been yet, number one on our “to-do” list is a family meal at the Old Black Forest Restaurant in Lunenburg. I am literally obsessed with their Instagram page, and I know the kids will go crazy for their desserts when we visit. We’ve heard so many great things about this restaurant. (Have you been yet?)
3. A Resort Weekend
At least once a year, our family turns a winter day trip into an overnight stay at one of the three big resorts on the South Shore: White Point Beach, The Quarterdeck, or Oak Island Resort. Choosing a favourite is like having to choose your favourite child: each one has its merits, and none is better than the other.
We love the sense of privacy at the Quarterdeck beachside villas – roomy two-storey cottages which face the ocean and have ample self-catering kitchens and a dining table perfect for family gatherings. White Point Beach Resort offers all-inclusive packages that include meals in the dining room, children’s activities, pool time – and resident bunnies. Oak Island Resort and Conference Centre also has an indoor pool, as well as winter fat bike rentals.
4. Winter Beach-Hopping
And of course, there are hundreds of beaches on Nova Scotia’s South shore – all just as beautiful in February as in the summer months. Our go-to winter-walking beach has always been Cleveland Beach, which is located on Highway 3, not too far from Queensland, only a short drive from Halifax.
In the Bridgewater-Liverpool area, we like Sand Dollar Beach and Crescent Beach. One of the best parts about beach-hopping in this region is that you can make the La Have Ferry part of your journey – what a thrill to enjoy a boat ride in the middle of your winter road trip!
Near Liverpool, the long expanse of Beach Meadows makes for a great family walk, while in the Lockeport and Shelburne region, our favourite family beaches are Lockeport Crescent Beach and Sandy Point Lighthouse Beach. Don’t forget to check the tides before you travel!
5. Medway Head Lighthouse
A couple of winters ago, after a family getaway at the Quarterdeck Resort, we decided to take a detour on the way home and discovered the wild and wonderful Medway Head Lighthouse – not to be confused with Port Medway Lighthouse Park, a charming picnic park in the same community.
Medway Head Lighthouse, about 10 minutes further down Long Cove Road, is an exciting winter adventure, with granite rocks, fire-red wild blueberry bushes, interesting rock pools, and a vast, windy vista out to the Atlantic. There’s even a picnic table for your lunch! The lighthouse here is closed in the winter, but it makes for great photos.
If you look closely, there’s a special poem written on the lighthouse door. With its huge boulders, pretty lighthouse and stunning Atlantic views, Medway Head is like a mini-Peggy’s Cove!
There are so many places to visit on the South Shore during the winter. From our family to yours, happy travels!
Great thanks to Helen Earley for her fabulous feature “5 Family Favourites on Nova Scotia’s South Shore this February.” We love all of her suggestions and hope you’ll experience them all for yourself and when you do be sure to tag us on Instagram and Facebook so we can see all the great time you had!
Helen Earley is a Halifax-based travel writer and author of the first Nova Scotia guidebook for families: 25 Family Adventures in Nova Scotia: Making the Most of your Travels with Kids. Stay in touch with at www.helenearley.com