Driving the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: The Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary

Looking for one among the most lovely street journeys in the global? Consider riding the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. While that is one among the very best identified street journeys in Canada, I hadn’t heard of it till just lately — and I used to be surprised at simply how particular it used to be.

This summer season I’ve been spending numerous time in Atlantic Canada, which is one among the higher selections I’ve made in recent times. This is one among my new favourite portions of the global. But one among the largest highlights of Atlantic Canada has been riding the Cabot Trail and finding the Cape Breton area of Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia used to be in the works for awhile. Earlier this yr, I met representatives from Visit Nova Scotia and we made up our minds to do a marketing campaign in combination. I did my analysis on the province, attempting to determine the place to move, and landed on Cape Breton, the rural, stunning island in the northeast a part of the province, and riding the Cabot Trail. I’m all the time down for a street day trip. And I had nice corporate — my widespread go back and forth good friend Cailin, who herself is from Nova Scotia!

This used to be my first time in Nova Scotia (nicely, I additionally went when I used to be a fetus, my folks are fast to show), but it surely jogged my memory such a lot of the place I grew up. The Halifax house and its environment jogged my memory such a lot of Massachusetts — however if you get into Cape Breton, the whole thing spreads out and countrifies. It feels extra like New Hampshire or Maine!

I liked Nova Scotia as a result of its attractiveness, as a result of its friendliness, as a result of how comfortable it used to be. And on best of that, it had a top quality I’m having hassle defining. It used to be particular.

And in the event you’re from the New York City house or New England — and I do know many of my US-based readers are — Nova Scotia is an easy day trip. Hop on a brief nonstop flight to Halifax from New York or Boston. It’s a two-hour flight from both town!

What is the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is a scenic riding path on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. Cape Breton is the huge island in the northeast of Nova Scotia, house to 18% of the province’s land and 14% of the inhabitants. Cape Breton is understood for being a slow-paced and lovely nook of Nova Scotia.

The Cabot Trail is well-marked, simple to power, and stuffed with lots of points of interest. At 298 kilometers (185 miles), it’s ideally suited for a four-day street day trip.

A curvy road surrounded by forest in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Reasons to Travel the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

There are so many causes to go back and forth the Cabot Trail. Here are a few of my favorites:

The most lovely winding roads. Driving via Cape Breton Highlands National Park is like riding in a sketch. The roads are so windingly photogenic. I don’t suppose I’ve ever observed such stunning roads as I did in Cape Breton!

If you wish to have to get pictures like I did, have the particular person in the passenger seat flip their digicam to a super-fast shutter velocity and shoot as you power alongside. Be certain to periodically blank your windshield.

A pot full of bright red lobsters.

The hottest, maximum succulent, maximum scrumptious lobster. For years Cailin has been telling me that Nova Scotia has the very best lobster in the global (or, extra incessantly, yelling, “THAT’S NOT LOBSTER!” every time I devour lobster in the Caribbean). To be truthful, I rolled my eyes at her exultations — however then I attempted it and WOW. I’m used to Maine lobster, however Nova Scotia lobster is on some other stage. And it’s to be had in all places on the Cabot Trail.

A bright pink and purple sunset over purple mountains. Evergreen trees in the foreground.

Endless converting landscapes. At occasions, like in White Point, I felt like I used to be in Normandy. At different occasions, riding via the lusher portions of the highlands, I nearly felt like I used to be in Hawaii! And when the solar dipped at the back of the mountains, I used to be reminded of Colorado.

The Canadian, Nova Scotian, and Acadian flags set against a blue sky.

Three fascinating cultures in one position, shared proudly with guests. You can discover indigenous Mi’kmaq tradition, Acadian tradition, and Gaelic tradition all in this identical island. And they’re all revered as being crucial portions of Canadian tradition. It in point of fact hits you whilst you stroll into the guests’ middle at the nationwide park and it reads, “Welcome. Bienvenue. Pjila’si. Fáilte.”

A small cabin covered with wooden art and brightly painted signs, surrounded by a fence overgrown with grass.

A sluggish, nation tempo. When you are living in a town (particularly New York City), you understand how a lot slower it’s in the nation. Things transfer at a sluggish tempo. People take their time to experience themselves. It’s a pleasing damage on your mind.

The mountains and winding roads of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

One unbelievable nationwide park. Cape Breton Highlands National Park is the one nationwide park on the island, and the Cabot Trail drives during it. It’s a sensational park. The very best identified job on the Cabot Trail is the Skyline Trail, a hike in the park very best executed at sundown.

A small village next to the sea with several houses illuminated by the setting sun.

Wonderful and inviting folks. So many recollections from Cape Breton are tied up in the superb folks we met. The Acadian women who invited us to return again and keep in their houses for the Mi-Carême birthday party in wintry weather. The Mi’kmaq educator at Eskasoni Cultural Journeys who informed us about their herbal cancer-fighting treatments that Westerners is also on the verge of exploiting. The artist who fearful about the affect of Airbnb on younger Cape Bretoners being not able to come up with the money for houses. The sensible, considerate guides at Parks Canada who have been effervescent over with their love for the outdoor.

Kate and Cailin pose for a selfie on the Skyline Trail.

How Many Days Do You Need on the Cabot Trail?

I believe you’ll go back and forth the Cabot Trail in at least 3 days — however I might counsel stretching to 4 days if you’ll. You can go back and forth the Cabot Trail for longer in the event you’d like, having a extra leisurely day trip than we did, and touring for longer offers you a little bit of insurance coverage in case you’ve some wet days.

If you simplest have one or two days, I like to recommend staying in the Chéticamp house quite than seeking to do the entire path. Most of my favourite reports on the Cabot Trail have been in or round Chéticamp: climbing the Skyline Trail and the Learn to Lobster Boil revel in in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Mi-Carême Centre, Aucoin Bakery, and L’abri eating place.

It’s very best to hire your automobile in both Sydney or Halifax and power to the path. Sydney is the greatest town in Cape Breton and it has a small airport and several other automobile apartment places. It’s a few 45-minute power from the Cabot Trail and also you input at Englishtown, close to Baddeck.

Halifax is a larger town and main air hub and it’s on the mainland of Nova Scotia. It’s a few three.Five-hour power from the Cabot Trail and also you input at Hunters Point, additionally close to Baddeck. You can hire a automobile one-way from Sydney to Halifax, as we did, however one-way leases may also be very pricey in Nova Scotia.

A road leading straight ahead, surrounded by pine trees. Two cyclists are riding along the road.

Cape Breton Road Trip Four-Day Itinerary

Driving the Cabot Trail for 4 days provides you with sufficient time to experience the very best of this pretty a part of Nova Scotia. This itinerary offers you an additional day in what I believe is the nicest section — Chéticamp — however offers you sufficient time to experience a few of the different beautiful puts, like Ingonish, Baddeck, and naturally Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Numerous folks ask whether or not you will have to power the Cabot Trail clockwise or counterclockwise. Honestly, it doesn’t topic. It would topic in the event you simplest drove in one course and not backtracked in any way. Cailin and I stopped up riding from side to side a number of occasions in the maximum photogenic a part of the nationwide park as a result of the climate stored converting and we needed higher pictures!

We ended up riding the bulk of the path clockwise and we felt pleased with it. Here is our complete itinerary:

A rocky coastline falls into the sea. On the top is grass, two yellow cottages, benches, and picnic tables.

Day One on the Cabot Trail: Sydney to Chéticamp

Cailin and I started our Cape Breton street day trip instantly after our OneOcean cruise docked in Sydney. Sydney is with reference to the Cabot Trail at Englishtown, however I had sought after to discover indigenous tradition in Nova Scotia, so we headed south and began fairly off the path in Eskasoni.

Kate gets smoke "smudged" on her in a Mi'kmaq ceremony with a local man.

Eskasoni Cultural Experiences is the place you’ll know about Mi’kmaq indigenous tradition and traditions from Mi’kmaq folks. You participate in a smudging rite, know about looking and guns, be told some dancing, or even prepare dinner some bread over the hearth, Mi’kmaq-style.

A Mi'kmaq man plays a drum and sings.Bread dough wrapped around an iron poker and cooked over a fire.A traditional Mi'kmaq drum made from woven sinew, and a woman's hand on top.A long line of knives and weapons made from bone.

It is a little bit box trip-y — you’ll inform that teams of scholars are their bread and butter. But I liked finding out about Mi’kmaq tradition and I particularly liked finding out from such a lot of Mi’kmaq other folks without delay. Learning from exact indigenous folks is all too uncommon this present day, and it will have to be loved.

I liked how the guides weaved in traditions and the way they use them lately, like medicinal crops which are used to regard most cancers. One of the guides, Steve, even introduced to smudge my passport to offer me coverage on my travels.

Next, when you’ve got the time, consult with the Highland Village. Just off the path in Iona is a village that re-creates existence amongst Gaelic settlers in Cape Breton from centuries in the past, whole with costumes, set superbly on Bras d’Or lake. While we didn’t have time to try this because of a overdue get started, that is completely value the stunning environment by myself.

Giant letters reading L'abri in front of a one-story restaurant

Spend the afternoon riding to Chéticamp and get an early dinner. You are actually formally on the Cabot Trail! The power to Chéticamp is gorgeous, particularly if you hit the water. For an early dinner, I like to recommend L’abri — a quite new, very queer-friendly eating place that the locals can’t prevent raving about. They do an ideal lobster roll. Cailin and I liked L’abri such a lot that we went a couple of occasions!

Kate standing in front of the mountains wearing a "Canada 2019" tank top in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

In the night, hike the Skyline Trail, the most renowned hike in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is a straightforward, even hike with a stupendous view at the finish, even higher at sundown. I believe it’s the very best Instagram spot on the Cabot Trail. While you’ll do that hike by yourself, Parks Canada provides a guided sundown hike that takes about 3 hours altogether.

The Skyline Trail is the very best position on the Cabot Trail to look moose, so stay your eyes open! There is even a moose “exclosure” (first time I had ever heard that phrase) the place you’ve a moose-free zone and will climb a platform to look if you’ll spot them out of doors.

A staircase descending the hills at dusk in Cape Breton Highlands National ParkA mother and daughter walking along a forested path in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.A path through the woods underneath a cloudy purple sky at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.People walking down a staircase built into the hills at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The Skyline Trail turns out most commonly even, however you don’t notice till you flip round and head again that the trail have been slowly sloping downward the entire time. You can indubitably do that hike with youngsters but it surely is helping to carry a gentle supply for the stroll again, even though that mild supply is the flashlight in your telephone.

Keep in thoughts the hike begins two hours ahead of sundown, however you even have to select up your park move at the front and the get started of the hike is set a 20-minute power from the front. This is why you get an early dinner!

A one-story white motel underneath a blue and white spotted sky.

Where to Stay in Chéticamp: Silver Linings Inn

In Chéticamp we stayed at Silver Linings Inn, a midrange guesthouse and motel that I extremely counsel. We have been the first visitors to stick in a brand new suite above the primary guesthouse: a loft with two extremely at ease queen beds, lots of very good pillows, and an ensuite rest room. Rates from $149 CAD ($112 USD).

Two queen beds in white bedding with lots of pillows in Silver Linings Inn, Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.A counter with drawers filled with jams and several kinds of bread at Silver Linings Inn in Nova Scotia

The guesthouse additionally has the very best continental breakfast I’ve ever observed anyplace. Tons of truffles, bread from within sight Aucoin Bakery, cereals, fruit, drawers stuffed with peanut butter and a wide variety of jellies and jams, even a delegated gluten-free zone. They in point of fact take some time to do a easy breakfast nicely, and the breakfast room is ethereal and lovely.

The web wasn’t nice and simplest labored decently in the public spaces of the guesthouse, which have been closed at evening, however that is same old for Cape Breton. (See extra on web in Cape Breton in the “Cabot Trail Travel Tips” phase underneath.)

One qualm: there’s a doorstop proper in the heart of the rest room surface and it blends into the tiles, so Cailin and I stubbed our feet on it a couple of occasions. (I might yelp from the rest room and Cailin would yell, “Did you step on it again?”) However, we introduced it up with the supervisor and because we have been the first folks to stick there, that they had no concept and stated they’d glance into casting off it.

Check out extra inns in Chéticamp right here.

A red and blue Cheticamp sign shaped like a lighthouse.

Day Two on the Cabot Trail: In and Around Chéticamp

Chéticamp used to be my favourite a part of the Cabot Trail as a result of there are such a lot of cool issues to do within sight. It’s completely value spending an additional evening in Chéticamp to get the maximum out of this a part of Cape Breton. Start your day with breakfast, then plan to hit up numerous points of interest.

A recreation of an Acadian home at Les Trois Pignons with a china cabinet, wooden dining table, iron stove, and braided rug on the ground.

Learn about Acadian tradition at Les Trois Pignons. This museum and cultural middle is a brilliant position to be told about the Acadians who lived in Cape Breton centuries in the past. While you’ll see recreated residing quarters for Acadian households, the coolest section is seeing the hooked rugs.

A woman's hand hooks wool through the backing to make a rug.Three hooked rugs featuring Canadian landscapes. A hooked rug with a white Persian cat on it.

The hooked rugs have been so fascinating. Artist Elizabeth LeFort used to be one among the maximum proficient hooked rug artists, and she or he used to be in particular proficient with hooked rug portraiture. In the 1960s, she did portraits of all the Apollo astronauts — in addition to JFK, Jackie Kennedy and Pope John Paul II!

But for me and Cailin, our favourite portrait used to be of a white Persian cat. It in reality used lengthy mohair strings that have been pulled via, making an excessively fluffy cat — and had an excessively vital DO NOT TOUCH signal underneath it. So tempting.

Two wooden buildings side by side: an espresso bar and an art gallery. A man orders a coffee with his pit bull.

Stop for espresso at the Frog Pond Cafe and try folks artwork at Sunset Art Gallery. These two institutions are positioned aspect via aspect in Chéticamp. Artist William Roach has been carving and portray artistic endeavors for many years, and the gallery is now house to works via 15 Cape Breton folks artists. This is an excellent spot to prevent for a espresso and a browse.

Next, paint your personal mask at the Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre. When I noticed “paint traditional masks” on my itinerary, I wasn’t too excited — however this ended up being one among the highlights of the day trip. It used to be indubitably my favourite indoor job, too!

Mi-Carême is a standard French birthday party that brings pleasure to a depressing time — the title manner “middle of Lent” and it’s a jump of a laugh in the midst of a month of austerity. People get dressed up in elaborate costumes to hide their identities — severely, folks put on complete mask, gloves, wigs, and stilts to completely hide themselves — and pass round from position to position, having folks wager who they’re.

Mi-Carême used to be celebrated as early as the Middle Ages, however unfortunately it has died out in all places however a couple of communities in French Canada. It is similar to Mardi Gras in Louisiana (the place the Acadians migrated from Canada), Mummering in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Carnival in every single place the global.

Cailin paints a lobster on her mask at the Mi-Careme Centre Kate holds her painted Mi-Careme mask -- pink and purple stripes with a black and white checked design running diagonally across the side, with silvery glitter lips.Paintbrushes on a table at the Mi-Careme Centre.Costumed mannequins in full identify-concealing masks and hats at the Mi-Careme CentreKate wears a pink and black and white mask with a silver Egyptian-style head covering and black and white spotted top. Cailin wears her Nova Scotia seascape painted mask with a spiky light blue wig while wearing a red lobster costume.

This used to be SO MUCH FUN! Cailin and I selected mask and started portray. She painted a complete Nova Scotia seascape with a lighthouse and a lobster. I did a black and white and red design. The entire time we painted and chatted with resident artist Diane Bourgeois about Cape Breton and the way it’s modified over the remaining a number of years.

After that we in reality placed on costumes that matched our mask and took some pictures! There is a complete museum at the Mi-Carême Centre that stocks the historical past of the tournament.

“I so want to come back for Mi-Carême!” I exclaimed to the personnel. “We should do it next year.”

“Yes! You can stay at my house!” one among the ladies introduced. I OFFICIALLY LOVE CAPE BRETON.

Kate sits in a red chair and has her arms up giving double thumbs ups. In front of her are hills, winding roads, and the ocean at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It is dependent how a lot time you’ve at this level ahead of dinner, however it is a nice alternative to discover the western a part of the park and take numerous pictures!

Kate holds a live lobster by the claws and smiles nervously. Tents are behind her.

Get in a position for the very best meal of your day trip in the night — you’re going to Learn to Lobster Boil in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. You experience a lobster boil on the seaside with Parks Canada guides, together with Robert, who’s the authority on cooking and consuming lobster.

This is a brilliant job for people who find themselves lobster aficionados like me and particularly Cailin, but it surely’s additional particular for individuals who are living inland or do not know how you can devour an entire lobster. We have been joined via a circle of relatives of six from Alberta who had by no means eaten entire lobster ahead of and have been overjoyed. There’s no higher advent to consuming lobster than cooking your personal on the seaside and being suggested via knowledgeable!

Kate pulls the rubber bands off her lobster's claws and grimaces while her guide pulls them off more expertly.Parks Canada guide Robert holds a bowl of cooked lobsters in one hand and fishes them out of the pot with tongs.A pot full of bright red lobsters, steam rising up.

There have been a couple of variations in the lobster-cooking procedure right here: they just use a couple of inches of water as a substitute of filling the entire pot with water, and so they GENEROUSLY salt the water. It principally needs to be like cooking the lobster in the ocean.

And it paid off. This is the very best lobster I’ve ever had. It used to be so extremely recent and succulent. And sharing it with a fascinating staff of vacationers and Parks Canada guides made it even higher.

This is typically executed on the seaside, but it surely used to be a wet evening, in order that they moved our staff to an indoor/out of doors refuge. Don’t depression if rain is in the forecast!

Stay at Silver Linings Inn yet another evening.

Cars driving along a curvy road on tree-covered mountains.

Day Three on the Cabot Trail: Chéticamp to Dingwall

Before you hit the street, know that lately might be the maximum rural a part of your Cabot Trail street day trip. Phone carrier might be its weakest alongside this a part of the path, and there received’t be numerous eating choices. It’s very best to plot forward and double-check for opening days — don’t depart the rest till the remaining minute! You would possibly wish to make your dinner reservation in advance.

Red, white, and blue Aucoin Bakery with flags waving in the air above it.

In the morning, prevent at Aucoin Bakery. Aucoin Bakery is a large supply of native satisfaction for Chéticamp! Everyone raves about it. Silver Linings Inn makes use of Aucoin Bakery bread for his or her breakfast. Learn to Lobster Boil makes use of Aucoin Bakery rolls for his or her dinners. Nearly each native we met beneficial that we prevent right here.

Pastries in a basket in front of two bakers putting orders together at Aucoin Bakery.

We grabbed some cinnamon buns and oatcakes — each scrumptious. Cailin used to be sampling oatcakes, a Nova Scotian delicacy, all the way through Cape Breton, and we discovered that Aucoin Bakery had the greatest and softest oatcakes of all.

Aucoin Bakery is small — there’s nearly no seating. It’s a greater spot for selecting up pastries and taking again to anywhere you’re staying — and even on a picnic in the nationwide park!

Kate wears large sunglasses and takes a selfie in front of hills and oceans at Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Next, power via Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is a gorgeous day of riding, and the Cabot Trail will take you via maximum of the park. There are numerous viewpoints and climbing trails simply off the freeway, but it surely’s great only for riding via.

A wooden fisherman holds up lobster outside the Rusty Anchor restaurant in front of a sign that reads Fresh Local Mussels and Oysters.

Have lunch at the Rusty Anchor in Pleasant Bay. With its jaunty fisherman waving you in with a lobster, the Rusty Anchor is a quintessential street day trip prevent! They’re particularly identified for his or her mussels and oysters. I sampled each and so they have been terrific!

White limestone cliffs topped with grass plunging into the ocean in Cape Breton.

Drive round and discover the native house. We checked into our lodging at the Blue Bayou (see extra on that underneath) and had numerous time to discover. This is a brilliant house for buying off the Cabot Trail and exploring. If you’ve time, you’ll power all the strategy to hilariously named Meat Cove, close to the northern tip of Cape Breton. It’s a few 45-minute power each and every manner. We stayed shut via and looked at White Point, together with the Normandy-esque white cliffs above. There is a climbing path right here too.

A lobster placed on a plate head up, looking like he's going to eat YOU.

Have dinner at The Markland. The Markland is one among the extra upscale inns in the house. We have been at the beginning intended to devour at at eating place that used to be closed, and this used to be one among few choices in the house. They have been booked up and we needed to wait about an hour, but it surely used to be value it to have YET ANOTHER DELICIOUS WHOLE LOBSTER and a few beautiful strawberry rhubarb pie.

Kate poses hanging out the door in a Blue Bayou Geodesic Dome

Where to Stay in Dingwall: Blue Bayou Geodesic Domes

Ever sought after to sleep in a dome? Here’s your likelihood! The Blue Bayou Resort is a campground close to Dingwall on the jap shore of Cape Breton, proper on the ocean. Rather than tents, this campground is stuffed with geodesic domes (in addition to 3 tipis). Each dome has electrical energy, sizzling water, and a non-public rest room with a rest room, sink, and bathe. Each accommodates two queen beds or a king mattress. Domes from $180 CAD ($135 USD).

Two beds side by side in front of the triangular windows of the Blue Bayou Geodesic DomesTwo beds side by side with a wooden wall blinds them in the Blue Bayou Geodesic DomesKate's feet leaning off a bed in the Blue Bayou Geodesic Domes with the windows behind her feet and trees behind them.Kayaks at Blue Bayou Geodesic Domes

After I posted this, the most well liked query I were given requested used to be “Does it get hot?” During the day, it will get moderately heat within and scents a little bit of plastic — however opening the screened-in home windows makes a large distinction. At evening, it’s a lot cooler, and also you’ll be in a position to package deal beneath the covers. There is a variety of sizzling water, and you’ll simply get privateness via flattening the curtains.

Do word that this isn’t a luxurious glamping revel in — it’s cool-looking, however easy. As anyone who grew up tenting and took her first steps in a tent, I assumed it used to be a a laugh position to stick for an evening; in the event you require the next stage of luxurious, this position goes to be too fundamental for you. I liked waking as much as the sound of raindrops the subsequent day.

Check out extra inns close to Dingwall right here.

A Scottish-looking gray house in front of purple flowers in Cape Breton.

Day Four on the Cabot Trail: Dingwall to Baddeck

On at the moment, the whole thing adjustments. You’ve left the Acadian, French-flavored a part of Cape Breton and feature entered the Celtic a part of the island, whole with tartans and bagpipes and kilts. It feels so other from the place you’ve been, however that’s the magic of the Cabot Trail. On at the moment we handled numerous rain, however nonetheless controlled to have a good time.

Kate wears a pink coat and smiles while holding a cup of coffee at a table beneath a blackboard detailing the restaurant's specials.

Get breakfast at Danena’s Bakery and Bistro. Danena’s is a small diner that doubles as a thrift store. You may also devour amidst the piles of stuff on the market! We loved a hearty Canadian breakfast right here, very best on a wet day.

Several goats and a cow feeding on a bale of hay together in Cape Breton.

Explore the retail outlets, cafes, and points of interest alongside the Cabot Trail. Since it used to be a wet day, it gave the impression of a just right alternative to take a look at a few of the native companies! Luckily, the the city of Ingonish used to be stuffed with numerous puts to look, and we have been given tips from our new buddies in Cape Breton.

A bathtub filled with soaps made from goat milk in Cape Breton.

Groovy Goat is a goat farm and cleaning soap corporate. Their merchandise are constituted of goat milk, which makes them a just right possibility for delicate pores and skin. You should buy a wide variety of bathtub and skin care merchandise right here, and so they perform a petting zoo when the climate is nicer.

A light-filled room filled with local prints and jewelry in Cape Breton.

Salty Rose’s is a gorgeous store that includes paintings via Nova Scotia artists. If I have been in a souvenir-buying temper (or house-furnishing temper), I might have purchased the whole thing from right here. While you notice numerous folks artwork on the Cabot Trail, the variety this is extra delicate and trendy.

A latte topped with lavender seeds (which are not tasty).

Attached to Salty Rose’s is the Periwinkle Cafe. An excellent spot to calm down with a sizzling beverage. They in reality had lavender lattes and lavender London Fogs on the menu! I had a lavender latte, however be forewarned — they serve it with lavender seeds on best. I like to recommend casting off the seeds or requesting no seeds on best — they style too similar to cleaning soap to me.

White cottages on top of red-brown cliffs among green vegetation, looking mysterious in the mist.

Stop at Keltic Lodge for lunch. The Keltic Lodge is house to a few of the maximum high-end lodging in the area and the very best golfing direction in Cape Breton. It’s additionally one among the very best Instagram spots on the Cabot Trail.

The eating place options vintage Canadian and American dishes — not anything too culturally important, however a pleasing cast possibility.

Go whale staring at with Ingonish Whale Tours. We have been intended to move whale staring at, but it surely ended up being too wet. But in the event you’re keen to look whales, Ingonish is one among the very best spots for whale staring at in Nova Scotia.

Kate wears a hot pink coat and dances on a platform at Ingonish Beach, surrounded by rocks.

Check out Ingonish Beach. This seaside is rocky till you get to the coastline, the place it’s stuffed with comfortable sand. It’s nice on a lovely day, however a moody day gets you some airy pictures! What I in point of fact preferred used to be the sound the water made because it ran over the rocks — the sort of mild whisper. Time your consult with all the way through excessive tide if you wish to pay attention it.

A modern triangular church-shaped building with a Canadian flag flying in front.

Head to Baddeck and consult with the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. While I didn’t get to this museum on our day trip, I’ve heard such a lot of just right issues, together with from Cailin — and small, tightly targeted museums are my favorites!

A spruce tree-shaped beer tray holding four small glasses of different beers.

Try some beers at Big Spruce Brewing. Breweries are doping up in every single place Nova Scotia, and Big Spruce is a pleasing one to consult with in the event you’re in Baddeck. It’s a comfy environment and they have got board video games. My favourite, now not unusually, used to be the fruity strawberry beer…

Explore Baddeck. Or depart your exploring to the subsequent morning, in the event you’d like. It’s a small however very lovely the city.

Kate smiles and holds up two lobster claws while wearing a lobster bib.

Have dinner at Lobster Suppers Baddeck. This a laugh, pleasant, and informal eating place featured the very best deal of our day trip. You can choose from entire lobster (clearly), Atlantic salmon, Cape Breton snow crab, or strip loin steak, and also you get that, plus limitless mussels, plus limitless seafood chowder, plus a dessert, plus a nonalcoholic beverage, plus tea or espresso, for $50 CAD ($38 USD).

Hell yeah, I jumped in. Then I temporarily discovered that they come up with such a lot of mussels that you most likely received’t wish to order a 2nd serving!

A navy blue house with white trim, porches in front, and two red chairs sitting on the ground in front of the house.

Where to Stay in Baddeck: Inverary Resort

Our ultimate lodging, the Inverary Resort, used to be stunning to have a look at — all darkish wooden with white trim and pops of colour with Canada’s symbolic purple chairs out in the sitting spaces. We had a room with two queens for our ultimate evening. Rates from $159 CAD ($120 USD).

Two queen beds with plain blankets at the foot.Three red chairs sitting in front of a blue boat a lake on an overcast day in Nova Scotia.

We had a at ease sleep and a pleasing sizzling breakfast the subsequent morning. And the grounds are completely stunning — so non violent. I want I had extra time to calm down in a kind of chairs with a guide.

One caveat: at the beginning we got a room on the identical surface as the pool and sauna, and the room reeked of mildew and had a ground-floor window that didn’t shut or lock. The personnel moved us to some other room, however if you wish to keep right here, I might request a room now not on the surface with the pool and sauna.

Check out extra inns in Baddeck right here.

A yellow "Brake for Moose" sign with a moose in the middle of it, o the side road in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Tips for Driving the Cabot Trail

Brake for moose. Keep a watch out for flora and fauna continuously, and in the event you see a moose, hit the breaks. Hitting a moose will most probably kill you, as they’re tall, weigh a ton, and can fall onto your windshield and overwhelm you. It’s a lot more unhealthy than hitting a deer.

I grew up in Massachusetts and camped in New Hampshire each summer season, so “Brake for Moose” has been pushed into my head since start. (Even some guys at my theater camp have been in a band known as Brake for Moose.) This isn’t commonplace wisdom in the event you’re now not from a space with moose, so please take it severely. Moose generally tend to congregate round the Skyline Trail.

Keep a watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists. Especially be wary when going round the ones hairpin turns in the jap a part of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Cabot Trail is a highly regarded spot for motorcyclists particularly (and from what I spotted, French-speaking motorcyclists).

Get a Canadian SIM card. Having a telephone sign will make your Cape Breton street day trip a lot more uncomplicated, particularly whilst you’re navigating with Google Maps. I were given a SIM card and information plan from Lucky Mobile. Signal is just right in the better cities however incessantly drops out in extra rural spaces.

Internet is deficient in this a part of Nova Scotia. Phone sign is vulnerable and incessantly nonexistent, particularly in the nationwide park; some puts (and inns) have wifi with very restricted succeed in. Basically, in the event you’re now not inside of 20 toes of the router, the wifi most likely received’t succeed in you.

If you’re running from the street, I like to recommend taking break day from paintings when you’re in Cape Breton. If you will have to paintings, I like to recommend bringing a wifi extender.

Prepare for rain — and don’t let it spoil your day trip. You may success out and feature a wonderfully sunny Cabot Trail street day trip — or you want to get numerous rain. If you’re like us, you want to have a mixture of sunshine and rain.

But rain isn’t a deal-breaker. Cailin and I used rain as a possibility to take a look at cool native companies in the house — like the Salty Rose in Ingonish. You’ll all the time to find fascinating puts to discover.

Get go back and forth insurance coverage. Travel insurance coverage is essential for each day trip, even in a rustic that has nice healthcare like Canada. If you get injured whilst climbing, in the event you get robbed, or even though you need to be flown house, go back and forth insurance coverage will offer protection to you from monetary spoil. I exploit and counsel World Nomads for journeys to Canada.

Kate standing in front of the mountains wearing a "Canada 2019" tank top in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Best Instagram Spots on the Cabot Trail

So a lot of the Cabot Trail is gorgeous — there are loads if now not 1000’s of puts the place you’ll take stunning photographs. But in the event you’re searching for the VERY very best spots for Instagram pictures, listed below are my suggestions:

1. The Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. My pick out for the best possible Instagram spot on the Cabot Trail, if now not Cape Breton. There are such a lot of fascinating photographs you’ll get at the finish of the path, overlooking the mountains. Get the very best mild via going at sundown.

2. Curvy roads in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Most of the cartoon-like curvy roads are alongside the 30-minute power between the front at Chéticamp and the Skyline Trail. Don’t pull over except it’s in a delegated parking house the place you’ll pull over safely.

three. Keltic Lodge in Ingonish. The white cottages perched atop the red-brown cliffs are impressive, whether or not it’s sunny or wet. You can get them from some other perspective (albeit from a distance) at Ingonish Beach.

four. Between the rocks at Ingonish Beach. There is a boardwalk that ends up in the seaside via excessive piles of rocks. The symmetry makes for an ideal Moses-in-the-Red-Sea pose. The rocks make an ideal texture, too.

Five. The moose ears in Englishtown. Just for laughs! They’re proper out of doors The Clucking Hen Cafe and Bakery.

Kate poses in front of a diorama where you can pretend to have giant moose ears.

What to Pack for a Cape Breton Road Trip

If you’re touring to Nova Scotia all the way through the summer season, pack for hot days and funky nights, with additional layers like fleeces and leggings. The climate can trade incessantly, and nearly each day I wore some more or less cardigan, long-sleeved blouse or fleece on best.

Cape Breton is an excessively informal vacation spot. I wished precisely ZERO great items of clothes. While chances are you’ll wish to carry one thing great to wear down in Halifax, you received’t want the rest upscale right here.

A gentle hooded rain jacket. A easy windbreaker like this one is simple sufficient to stash in your backpack and throw on when you wish to have it. Much higher than sporting an umbrella.

Hiking equipment. I typically hike in exercise garments; in the event you want one thing extra specialised like zip-off pants, pack them. If you hike with poles, carry them. You’ll need the just right stuff in the event you’re doing difficult hikes.

Hiking footwear. If you’re doing the Skyline Trail, which is lovely stage, you’ll escape with footwear or athletic sandals; in the event you’re doing the rest extra intense, you’ll need climbing boots. I wore my Merrill Siren Edge Q2 Waterproof Trail Runners, that are an ideal hybrid between footwear and climbing boots.

Consider a Speakeasy Travel Supply shawl. These stunning scarves have a hidden pocket in them, which is excellent for containing onto valuables or money with out sporting a handbag. I like those scarves (I even designed my very own!) and so they come in quite a few weights that paintings for Cape Breton.

Bathing go well with. It could be somewhat too chilly to swim in Cape Breton — or now not! You by no means know whilst you’ll want it, and also you by no means know if there might be a jacuzzi someplace.

A conveyable secure. This is an effective way to fasten up your valuables in your lodging and I imagine it the maximum vital factor I pack.

A reusable water bottle. The water is secure to drink all the way through Cape Breton and this cuts down on waste.

Insect repellant. Some of the spaces get buggy, and also you’ll be satisfied to have the coverage.

A stone wall has a red wooden gate open. There is a yellow building in the background underneath a blue sky streaked with white clouds. Louisberg, Nova Scotia.

Where Else to Go in Nova Scotia?

Once you end your street day trip in Cape Breton, the place do you pass subsequent? There are a variety of choices!

Louisburg. Louisburg is house to a ancient village in the south of Cape Breton. Historic villages aren’t typically my factor, however I had a good time right here (don’t pass over the rum tasting!) and it’s indubitably value a prevent in the event you love historical past.

Peace via Chocolate in Antigonish. If you’re riding again to Halifax, Antigonish is a straightforward prevent proper off the freeway. You will have heard of Peace via Chocolate — it’s a chocolate store run via Syrian refugees who have been chocolatiers ahead of they have been compelled to escape their house nation. They’ve constructed a brand new trade in their new house of Canada. Justin Trudeau even brings their chocolate as presents to different global leaders.

I liked preventing in and getting to talk with the beautiful ladies. The Gold Bar in specific is SO decadently just right! I purchased a number of chocolate, thanked them in Arabic, and so they have been overjoyed and insisted on giving me much more chocolate.

Halifax and the surrounding house. Halifax is a a laugh town and price a complete day in its proper. Ride the ferry to Dartmouth, pattern ciders at Lake City Cider, and feature afternoon tea at Tartan Tea House (you’ll even borrow a complicated hat to put on!). The waterfront is an EXCELLENT position to hang around with a lager and a few poutine. And you will have to take a look at the notorious “donair” — a Halifax invention, a doner kebab with a candy white sauce.

I like to recommend spending an afternoon doing a loop round the Halifax house. In an afternoon you’ll consult with Peggys Cove, one among the maximum photographed lighthouses in the global and residential to a lovely village; Mahone Bay, a quintessential Nova Scotian village; and Lunenberg, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed the city that could be a beautiful position to discover.

A white lighthouse with a red top on a tiny island filled with pine trees in a calm bay. In the foreground is a sailboat.

The Takeaway

When I used to be more youthful, I felt like the simplest locations value visiting have been the maximum “exotic” ones. That’s why I at the beginning went off to Southeast Asia for 6 months and why I spent years racking up far-flung locations. Why would I waste my time going someplace like Canada?

I’m so satisfied I were given over that. The older I am getting, the extra I respect the wonderful thing about extra acquainted puts. Canada won’t have sizzling sizzling summers or boulevard meals foods for a buck, however Canada is gorgeous and entertaining and secure and filled with surprises. As for Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail, it jogged my memory such a lot of my New England upbringing, then dazzled me with the maximum impressive perspectives and lobster.

Nova Scotia is looking forward to you. It’s shut via. And it’s unbelievable.


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Essential Info: Visits at Eskasoni Cultural Journeys are Monday to Friday simplest and will have to be booked in advance. Sometimes particular preparations may also be made on weekends. $40 CAD ($30 USD) in step with grownup and $20 CAD ($15 USD) in step with kid underneath 10.

Admission to the Highland Village is $11 CAD ($eight USD) in step with grownup, $nine CAD ($7 USD) in step with senior and $Five CAD ($four USD) in step with kid.

Admission to Cape Breton Highlands National Park is $7.80 CAD ($6 USD) in step with grownup and $6.80 ($Five CAD) in step with senior in step with day, and loose for children. You too can get an annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass to all the parks for $67.70 CAD ($51 USD) in step with grownup,  $57.90 CAD ($44 USD) in step with senior, and $136.40 CAD ($103 USD) in step with circle of relatives.

In the park, the guided Skyline Trail sundown hike is $14.70 CAD ($11 USD) in step with player. The Learn to Lobster Boil is $58.70 CAD ($44) in step with particular person, $22 CAD ($17) for individuals who don’t wish to devour lobster.

Visiting Les Trois Pignons is freed from rate!

Entry to the Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre is $Five CAD ($four USD) in step with grownup and $four CAD ($three USD) in step with senior or pupil. Painting a masks is $25 CAD ($19 USD) for a preformed masks and $80 CAD ($60 USD) for a papier-mâché masks.

Ingonish Whale Watching has fishing boat excursions from $40 CAD ($30 USD) in step with particular person and zodiac excursions from $45 CAD ($34 USD) in step with particular person.

Admission to the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site is $7.80 CAD ($6 USD) in step with grownup, $6.55 CAD ($Five USD) in step with senior, and loose for teens.

Rates at Silver Linings Inn in Chéticamp get started at $149 CAD ($112 USD).

Rates for domes at the Blue Bayou Resort in Dingwall get started at $180 CAD ($135 USD)

Rates at Inverary Resort in Baddeck get started at $159 CAD ($120 USD).

Travel insurance coverage is essential for each day trip, even in a rustic that has nice healthcare like Canada. I exploit and counsel World Nomads for journeys to Canada.

This marketing campaign is delivered to you via Tourism Nova Scotia and Discover Cape Breton, who lined maximum of the prices all the way through my time in Cape Breton. All evaluations, as all the time, are my very own.

Have you been to Nova Scotia? Would you cherish to do this street day trip? Share away!

The put up Driving the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: The Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary gave the impression first on Adventurous Kate.




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