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Museum of Industry – Stellarton

1 Aug

Sampson TrainOne of the first questions I always ask when we arrive in a new town is “What do people do here?”. The industry of a place has come to fascinate me.  Industry, afterall, is often a key factor that contributes to the character and culture of an area. Continue reading

Grand Pré National Historic Site

28 Jun

The Grand Pre National Historic Site is just off Exit 10 from Hwy 101, before you get to Wolfville.  For anyone familiar with Nova Scotian history (and if you attended school in Nova Scotia in grades 4-6 you better be or I’m going to have some serious words with your social studies teacher), this was the site of Le Grand Dérangement, or the Great Deportation, of the Acadiens in 1755.

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Evangeline Inn & Motel – Wolfville

23 Jun

The Evangeline Inn and Motel is located just off Exit 10 from Hwy 101 as you head in to Wolfville.  It is ideally located to be your base of operations as you explore the many attractions in the area.  Within a 10km radius you can reach the Just Us Coffeehouse and Museum, the Grand Pré National Historic Site (post coming soon) and five wineries, including Luckett Vineyards, L’Acadie Vineyards, Gaspereau Vineyards, Muir Murray Estate Winery and Domaine de Grand Pré Vineyards.

The rooms are comfortable and reasonably priced in the $100-$130 range.  The inn is a former home of Prime Minister Robert Borden and includes a bust of the former PM.  We stayed in the King-sized suite in the inn.  It’s a cozy room with antique furniture, a king-sized bed and claw-foot bathtub.  Basically, exactly what you’d want to find in an inn.

The pool area was on the small side but definitely decent for a motel.  One of the cool features is the fireplace next to the pool.  Note that it closes early at 9pm.  Your stay includes breakfast at the café.  We recommend the omelet.  It’s a good size and loaded with ham, peppers and mushrooms.

We also tried the café for dinner the night of our stay.  The selection is not huge, and it is mostly basic options such as sandwiches, but the food is good, the portions are big and the prices are low.  They also skip the flour in their fish cakes, making the female half of our duo one happy girl.

@DrewMooreNS

Bus Route #80 – Sackville

20 Jun

Welcome to the fourth installment of day trips and vacation spots in HRM accessible by bus (and bike!). Today we’ll take you on the #80, or what could be easily called ‘The Seafood Route”. The 80 starts at the Scotia Square terminal and takes you past some awesome spots in the downtown core, but for the purpose of this post we’re going to start the trip at the Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive. There are many excellent routes for downtown adventures (try the #1 for downtown and the #42 for Robie Street), and the #80’s best bits are further along.

Note for cyclists:  Cycling distances begin at the Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive.  Take care merging onto the Bedford Highway as there are many lanes and traffic tends to be heavy here.  Also, from Hatchery Park to Fultz House, follow the walking route rather than going on Hwy 101 (it’s prohibited for cyclists).  The #80 does not have a bike rack so if you’re cycling out, you’ll be cycling back.

Jim’s Family Seafood Restaurant  (2.9km)
There is a LOT of great food on the #80 route, starting with Jim’s. It offers home style cooking (if your hometown was made up of a group of fishermen, Greek, and Italian residents) for a good price and an even better view. They have awesome deals on seafood, with most entrees ringing in between $10 and $15. The patio overlooking the Bedford Basin isn’t open yet, but we’ve been assured that it won’t be much longer.  If you like fried fish, get the seafood platter.

Tomaso’s Pizza (2.9km)
Also in this area is Tomaso’s Pizza (@tomasospizza). Opened in 1969, Tomosa’s claims to be the oldest pizzaria in Halifax. The owner is originally from Italy, and while we didn’t have the chance to stop in for a slice, the pizza looks pretty good. We were especially interested in the Pesto Sopresa and the Spinaci and Galo Arrostito.

Nature’s Cove General Store (3.9km)
When I first discovered that I couldn’t eat wheat, I had a really hard time finding some decent bread. That is, until a kindly stranger heard my laments and suggested Nature’s Cove. Nature’s Cove is an awesome little shop chock full of local, organic, natural and all around good for you products. Over the weekend, we also learned that they are currently installing the means to offer fresh-scooped ice cream, and some cooking gear to be able to make more in-house creations.

Prince’s Lodge (The Rotunda) (5.7km)
I was really looking forward to covering this route specifically for the Rotunda. For years, I have driven by this funny little round building and wondered what on earth it could be. Thanks to @1_car_guy, @anthonymartinNS and @Steamwrksdesign, our questions were finally answered.

As it turns out, this whole area once played host to Prince Edward and his French mistress Julie St. Laurent. What was once a huge estate fell into disrepair in the late 1800’s, and was broken up and sold into lots. The circular building that can be seen from the road (the Rotunda) is an old music room. If you go into the park you will also see the ‘Heart Shaped Lake’, which Edward built for his mistress.

It seems that Hemlock Ravine was a bit of a lovers playground for the pair.  What all of this taught me is that being a king’s mistress is the way to go.

Hemlock Ravine (5.9km)
@aldelory suggested we check this one out, and we’re glad we did. You could easily spend the whole day here. The park is huge with a network of well-groomed trails (@halifaxtrails).  This is a great spot for couples to go for a walk (or for kids to pretend they’re Robin Hood).  We’ve added a few pictures but you really have to see this one for yourself.


Fisherman’s Market (5.8km)
From this point on, you really start to hit the seafood portion of this adventure. Fisherman’s Market (@fishermanshfx) is a great stop if you plan to bring some lobster home for dinner. When we were there, they also had some samples of their spicy smoked salmon. ☺

Clearwater (7km)
Down the road from the Fisherman’s Market is another fish market at Clearwater (@clearwatersea). As soon as you enter you are stopped short by their starfish display of live lobster. The proximity of the two markets makes it easy to compare options and prices so we suggest visiting both. One thing that we liked about Clearwater is that they have stocked the store with tons of seafood trimmings (butter, cornbread, spices, cream) making it a one-stop-shop for a lobster dinner.

Harvest Wines & Spirits (7km)
Another very nice feature about Clearwater is that it has a wine and spirits boutique for a next door neighbour. Harvest Wines & Spirits  (@harvestwines) has an impressive collection of Nova Scotian wines. We especially liked all of the artful displays of Benjamin Bridge.

They have a cozy room for hosting wine-tasting events, complete with dishware for food pairings. For bigger events, you can rent the whole store and have two bars going at once. This would make a very unique event space.

Battered Fish (7km)
Across the street from the Fisherman’s Market is a pop-up Battered Fish (@tbf09). We have had battered fish from the Waterfront and Scotia Square locations a few times now, and are big fans. The portions are big and well priced and the fries are a perfect mix between McDonalds and Homecut style fries. In addition to some great food options, they have an impressive array of vinegar options.

Esquire Restaurant (7km)
Since we are well versed in Battered Fish cuisine, we opted for a quick bite to eat at the Esquire Restaurant (@esquirebedford). This place is an old standard in HRM. It is everything you could want in a diner (except for local beers, which is unfortunate).

We tried the lobster chowder upon the recommendation of the two Coast ‘Best Of’ Chowder signs in the doorway (2008 and 2009). While it’s been a few years since they’ve made the best of list, we can see why the chowder has caused some commotion in the past. It is thick, creamy and loaded with lobster.

DeWolf Park (9.1km)
If you’ve ever been to Bedford Days, you’re familiar with DeWolf Park. The Bedford Basin park is named after Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, arguably Canada’s greatest naval officer. The park features a fair-sized green area, children’s playground, a boardwalk and signs that share historical facts that date back almost as far as the known beginning of the planet. One thing to take note of at DeWolf was the view of the infilling currently taking place in the Bedford Basin. The project is dumping pyritic slate into this unique ecosystem and has been making some pretty alarming changes. To read more about it check out here. You can also follow the citizens’ group on twitter @savebedfordreef

Thai Ivory Cuisine (8.9km)
Just past the street down to DeWolf Park is what may be the best Thai restaurant in HRM, Thai Ivory Cuisine. We have gone out of our way (i.e. to Bedford) to get their red and green curries. The best time to go is over the lunch hour to take advantage of their awesome lunch deals. Well worth the trip here.

Scott Manor House (10.8km)

I never thought that I was all that into old buildings, but Scott Manor House may have changed my sentiment. Built in 1767, it is the only full two and a half storey, gambrel-roofed colonial structure in Nova Scotia, and possibly in Canada. It also has two original mortarless, loose field stone chimney bases. This attraction is free to visit, but only open in July and August (we lucked into a visit during a special event). There is a tea room on-site that offers tea and assorted sweets between 2 pm and 4 pm.

Fish Hatchery Park (10.7km)
Just around the corner from Scott Manor is Fish Hatchery Park. As the name suggests, it was once the site of a large fish hatchery. Considering it’s right next to the main route, it’s a very peaceful little area that would be a great place for a picnic or to read a book. There is a 2 km walking route from here to Fultz House in Sackville. If you are not looking to shop in downtown Bedford, we suggest stopping at Manor House, heading to Fish Hatchery Park, and then taking a hike to Fultz house before bussing home.

Downtown Bedford (11.7km)
If you continue along on the bus, you will come to Downtown Bedford. This little shopping area has a lot to offer.  Most people are familiar with the original Pete’s location (Drew’s parents used to make pilgrimages all the way from New Glasgow to get hard to find British favourites) and the original Chicken Burger. You will also find the Sunnyside Restaurant (a great, deluxe greasy spoon) the Riverside Pub (a popular watering hole), the Freak Lunchbox candy shop and Uncommon Kids.

Fultz House (13.6km)
Fultz House is a small seasonal museum that pays tribute to more than 200 years of Sackville history. The museum wasn’t yet open on this trip (Open July-August), but we took the opportunity to wander the immaculately kept grounds. We had a great time exploring the property, which is filled with old-fashioned gardening tools, an original cooperage and a working replica of A.J. Smeltzer’s Lower Sackville blacksmith shop.

Even though this was our longest post to date, there are tons of cool things we have left out. If you take a #80 day trip, we’d love to hear what you liked the most.

Note: If you’ve been dreaming of an outdoor wedding, a few of these spots (Hemlock Ravine, DeWolf, and Fish Hatchery) can be booked with a Facilities Rental Contract through the city.

Be sure to check out our other #LocalTravelHRM posts on the #15 Purcell’s Cove, the #60 Eastern Passage and the #21 Lakeside!

@GillianWesleyNS & @DrewMooreNS

Mastodon Ridge – Stewiacke

19 Jun

I lived in Stewiacke East for almost two years, just down the road from Mastodon Ridge.  I passed by it regularly, and not once did I ever stop in to check it out.  I had always dismissed it as one of those silly roadside attractions that inspired the Tragically Hip tour.  I’m glad I stopped there to discover that there is so much more than a to-scale mastodon statue.

This is actually a pretty sweet road trip stop for the family.  They have a little something for everyone.  There’s an awesome mini-putt course, funny pictures cutout and ice cream for the kids (or for a date).  There’s even a replica Flintstones house and car for your inner kid.

A big emphasis has been placed on education. The outdoor exhibits have been set up to be something of a one-stop shop for things you’d want to learn about Nova Scotia.  Whether it’s info on Nova Scotian plant life, Bay of Fundy tides or Mi’kmaq creation stories, you’ll find some interesting tidbits here.  You’ll also be reminded, ad naseum, that you are standing at the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole.

Up close, the mastodon statue really is pretty cool. It is a life-size replica of a male Mastodon that was unearthed at the National Gypsum Quarry near Milford in 1991. The bones were studied by archeologists at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History (@ns_museum), and is believed to be about 79,000 years old!

In addition to the Mastodon statue, they also have a (somewhat unrelated) mascot to once again remind you that you are halfway between the Equator and the North pole. Since we are huge fans of polar bears, the last photo goes to this guy.

@DrewMooreNS

Bus Route #15 – Purcell’s Cove

20 May

Riding the Metro Transit one day, we noticed an HRM ad that pictured three walking trails that could be reached by bus.  We thought this was a brilliant idea (props to @hfxtransit) and have been inspired to take it one step further with a series of posts on all the cool HRM sites that can be seen by bus. With summer fast on the way, we hope you’ll use these posts to plan exciting, affordable local travel this summer.  Below you will find our first post with all of the wonderful sights and activities you can reach by taking Bus Route #15 to Purcell’s Cove.

From the Mumford Terminal on, almost every stop along the Purcell’s Cove Road has something to see or do.  All of it involves being outdoors so we suggest watching the weather reports and packing a picnic lunch. Prefer to bike? Distance from spot to spot is indicated in brackets for each location.

Regatta Point: (1.7km)
As soon as you turn off the Armdale Roundabout, your very first stop will take you to Regatta Point.  If the weather isn’t cooperating, you’re at the door to @HalifaxYoga (halifaxyoga.com) and across the street from the Chocolate Lake Community Centre (www.halifax.ca/rec/centreschocolatelake).

Chocolate Lake Beach. Once warm weather hits, this place is packed!

If you want to stay outside, you have a few options. If you veer right, you are only a 2 minute walk from Chocolate Lake (www.halifax.ca/rec/beachers.html) with its small, but very popular sand beach. Stay left and you’ll find some terrific walking trails along the Northwest Arm.  While in the area we recommend treating yourself to pie, for both supper and dessert, at Heppy’s (www.heppys.com).

Entrance to the trails along the North West Arm.

The North West Arm trails

Dead Man’s Island: (2.6km)
Just one more stop along the route will take you to Dead Man’s Island, a great spot for a picnic on the water.  It’s also a great spot for ghost stories after dark, considering the island’s history.  In the 1800’s, the island was a military training grounds, but later became the burial grounds for war prisoners.

View from Dead Man’s Island

The Dingle: (3.5 km)
A little further up the road, hop off the stop in front of J.W. MacLeod Elementary School.  Across the street is the entrance to Sandford Fleming Park (www.halifaxtrails.ca/index_files/FlemingPark), featuring the Dingle, picnic areas with tables, a children’s playground by the water and Pinky’s ice cream shop.  There is also a small beach. The water is very rocky in this area so if you plan to go in, bring water proof footwear.

The Dingle Tower has been closed for renovations but is set to re-open in August 2012.

Whimsical Lake: (3.8km)
One more stop and you’ll be at Whimsical Lake. This small beach is also home to a playground for the kids. In the winter, it is a great spot to go skating provided that the weather is cold enough.

Whimsical Lake

Frog Pond: (3.7km)
Next stop, Frog Pond (www.halifax.ca/rec/TrailsHalifax.html).  It’s about a 25 minute walk along the trail, unless you’re a duck-lover and are easily distracted.  If so, you might spend an afternoon here looking at the ducks and squirrels, or interacting with the many other walkers.

A mid-trail view of the Frog Pond

Williams Lake: (4.5km)
Frog Pond probably wouldn’t make for the best place to cool off with a swim, but if you cross the street you’ll find the main entrance to Williams Lake. If you hold out a little longer on the bus you’ll also find a few less crowded spots to go for a dip.

The main entrance to Williams Lake. There is a small beach here, too!

There is another swimming hole along this route, but the locals like to keep it to themselves so we’re going to sew our lips shut on that one.  If you know it, you know, but please keep in mind that camping is prohibited there.

Pond Playhouse:
In this area you will also find the Pond Playhouse, one of two theaters owned by the Theater Arts Guild (@TAGTheater1). They hold shows from September to July. Check out their schedule here: http://www.tagtheatre.com/html/season2011-12.html


York Redoubt: (9.8km)

That brings us to the York Redoubt, which is at the end of route #15.  Before you get there you will see plenty of evidence of the damage caused by the Spryfield fire from 2009.  York Redoubt is a national historic site.  It was part of the same network of forts to guard the harbour as the Citadel and today features the World War II Command Centre.  It offers much of the same sense of visiting an historical site as Citadel Hill, but it’s free!

On the grounds of York Redoubt – a great spot for a picnic or a game of capture the flag.

The Look-Off: (13.1km)
This may be the end of the road for the #15, but it doesn’t have to be for you.  This route features bike racks so throw your bike on and get ready for a relaxing ride.  There are no bike lanes this far out but the road is lightly traveled so it is very cycle-friendly, unless you get distracted by the incredible view from the Look-off in Herring Cove.  We recommend getting off your bike and sitting down to enjoy this panoramic vista of the ocean, or walking the trails.

Views from the Look-Off

The trails at the Look-Off

Click Route #15 to get the schedule.

Note for cyclists: we’ve added distances from Mumford Terminal. There is an outbound bike lane as far as Purcell’s Cove and a partial inbound lane from there. No bike lanes past there but the road is less heavily traveled. Watch out for speeders though. Terrain is pretty hilly and a little windy, nothing to scare off casual riders but enough to make an enjoyable ride for serious cyclists

 

Help us build our next route:
We’ve been inspired by the crowd-sourced Twitter account, @celebrateNS and would like to invite you to share your favourite places in HRM and the route you use to reach it.  Walking trails, community centres, watering holes, panoramic vistas, local shops are all welcome additions to preferred destinations.  Comment or email us at localtravelerns@gmail.com.