My mother Georgi, Jim, and I packed our bags for a ten-day road trip we’d planned to Nova Scotia in Canada. The trip was a reunion of sorts.
My parents spent summers on Canada’s Northumberland Strait to escape the heat and stay connected to my father’s family heritage. Scenes filled with country life and ocean views spoke of a simpler time.
In this article, you’ll learn about some of the best places to stay along the way. They make a road trip to Nova Scota all the more enjoyable!
Editor’s Note: We updated this article in June 2022 to add new content and keep it up to date.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an affiliate, I earn a small commission every time you make a qualifying purchase through one of my affiliate links (if applicable).
CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn about the best places to stay when you take a road trip to Nova Scotia. This covers:
- 10-Day Itinerary from Boston to Nova Scotia
- Best Casual-Luxury Accommodations in NS, PEI, and Maine
- The Lucerne Inn
- Beach House at Seafoam Campground
- The Maritime Inn
- The Great George
- Cory Cottage at Pansy Place
- Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Nova Scotia
- Should You Get Travel Insurance for Nova Scotia?
- Frequently Asked Questions about Nova Scotia
- Next Steps in Planning Your NS Road Trip
A 10-Day Itinerary Between Boston and Nova Scotia
The drive to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, took eleven hours by car from our home south of Boston.
Of course, there are quicker ways to get there.
For instance, you can take the high-speed ferry (the CAT) from Portland Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Or, you can take the ferry from St. John, New Brunswick.
Alternatively, a flight from Boston to Halifax only takes about two hours.
However, driving offered an opportunity to more thoroughly enjoy the journey through two countries and four provinces. So many picturesque places materialized as stopping points along the way during our road trip to Nova Scotia and back.
Keep reading to hear about the highlights of our adventure, below.
Best Casual Luxury and Boutique Hotels in NS, PEI, and Maine
We covered Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick along the way to Nova Scotia. Our route also bordered both sides of the Northumberland Strait.
We didn‘t intend on “slow travel,” but managed something similar.
The five hotels and cottages that hosted us anchored our road trip to Nova Scotia. Their unique offerings and commitment to excellence made our excursion more memorable.
Stop #1: The Lucerne Inn (Dedham, Maine)
Our first day of travel involved a late start (my passport went missing!) followed by four hours of driving.
We hugged the New England coast northward along Route 95, making good time with an easy exit at Bangor, Maine. Our destination: The Lucerne Inn.
The Lucerne Inn is twenty minutes from the off-ramp in nearby Dedham, Maine. We considered motor inns closer to the highway, but I wanted this trip to be memorable.
The Lucerne Inn was unforgettable.
On approach, The Lucerne Inn provided a refreshing contrast to Bangor’s industry and storefronts.
Nestled in the foothills of Bald Mountain and overlooking Phillip Lake, it appeared like a scene from Switzerland.
The inn‘s pristine grounds abut Maine forest and featured two gazebos and a spotless pool.
Built in 1818, The Lucerne Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places, too.
No doubt, this timeless retreat has welcomed many weary travelers. If only walls could talk.
History Meets Comfort
Make no mistake, this 200-year-old inn wears its history well. It showcases period antiques and art throughout.
The three of us checked into two well-appointed suites with plenty of creature comforts, plus spectacular views of the lake and mountains.
After freshening up, Jim, Georgi, and I decided between our on-site dining options.
The Lucerne Inn Restaurant offered fine dining and a view to the rolling hills. Rian’s Pub reminded us of Colonial times with a center fireplace and oak bar.
Both on-site, we chose the cozier setting for a delicious dinner with tasty beverages on tap.
It was just what we needed before comfortably retiring for the evening.
After a great night’s sleep and a generous complimentary breakfast of pastry, fruit, cereals, sausage, and eggs, we strolled around The Lucerne Inn property for a last view of the magnificent setting.
White chairs surrounded one gazebo, and I imagined the idyllic nuptials to take place.
This is a great place to stay near Bangor. You can check out their availability and prices here.
We really loved staying overnight at The Lucerne Inn. Alas, we continued on to the next leg of our journey on the road trip to Nova Scotia.
Stop #2: The Beach House at Seafoam Campground
On the second day of our road trip to Nova Scotia, we traveled along 373 miles of the beautiful Maine coast. Then, we crossed into Canada at Calais/St. Stephen.
Canadian Law requires proof of citizenship and identity, so we had our U.S. passports at the ready. Short of a few questions related to our intentions and goods, and a quick review of our passports, it didn’t take long to clear customs.
You’ll want to check the latest entry requirements for Canada from the US. That way, you know you’ll be cleared without any problems.
Next, we continued toward the Seafoam Campground. Our destination was another five hours from the border.
Day two was a long day of driving and we’d lost an hour because of the time change. Nova Scotia is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) and one hour ahead of our Boston (EST) home.
But we arrived at a most darling place to stay. “Home” for the next five nights was a rustic Nova Scotia cottage overlooking the Northumberland Strait.
The open floor plan featured knotty pine cabinets, log walls, a spiral staircase, and airy ceilings.
This cottage slept seven in two bedrooms on the ground level and a third upstairs. This was more than plenty for the three of us to comfortably co-habitate!
A Location Close to Friends
Most importantly, the Beach House at Seafoam Campground was beside the RV Park where my parents camped out.
They’d forged deep and lasting friendships. Over the years, they watched friends’ children grow and begin their own families, a surrogate family complete with grandchildren.
Staying here provided nearness to dear friends and family, enabling us to visit and host guests. Plus, it was great for Jim and I to finally meet everyone!
While staying at Seafoam, we prepared simple home-cooked meals, relaxed together, and explored the northern coast of Nova Scotia. We meandered from River John to Cape George, taking in beautiful scenery.
We also visited the local Lavender Farm, Amish Bakery, artisan shops, and so much more.
I relished having my morning coffee on the elevated deck with a waterfront view and a short walk to the beach.
If this was a taste of the “slow travel” trend, I loved it.
Still, I felt lucky to have met my mother’s treasured friends and long-lost family. We’re planning a return trip in 2022!
Note that the cottage at this fantastic campground isn’t available, you could always try booking a stay at Emily’s Oceanside Cottages instead.
Fortunately, we didn’t have far to go to reach our next stop on our Nova Scotia Road Trip. That would be The Maritime Inn in Antigonish.
Stop #3: The Maritime Inn, Antigonish
Asters and other wildflowers flanked much of Route 6 from the Seafoam Campground to Antigonish.
It’s a picturesque drive, punctuated by farmland, modest tin-roofed homes, and coastal views.
The lifestyle of this region was particularly appealing, as it’s my ancestral home.
Andrew “Ban” (Aindra Ban) MacGillivray, my paternal great-great-great-great-grandfather (!), crossed the Atlantic from Scotland in 1791. He founded our homestead on Highfield mountain in Maryvale, a small settlement of Antigonish County.
On this visit, we trekked up the mountainside without my late father’s guidance in search of the homestead.
The ruins of our mountain home remained safely hidden amidst the modern-day wind turbines, logging trails, and mining threatening Highfield’s natural habitat.
The closest “city” to Maryvale is Antigonish.
So, that’s why we stayed two nights at The Maritime Inn. Even better, it’s a four-star, full-service hotel in Antigonish’s charming downtown.
Georgi’s “drive-up” guest room at The Maritime provided easy access from the ground level. This is a convenience that’s perfect for anyone in need of special accommodations.
Jim’s and my room was on the second floor.
Dressed in soothing, rich fabrics with soft bedding, both first-rate rooms of The Maritime Inn offered ample amenities. This included complimentary Wi-Fi and a morning newspaper.
A Delicious Dining Option
Off the swanky lobby of The Maritime Inn was the hotel’s Main St. Cafe.
It’s a favorite of locals and guests alike.
We continued family visits there while dining on “Taste of Nova Scotia” specialties, as fresh and tasty as advertised. This came as no surprise, given Nova Scotia’s booming seafood industry.
Time was flying, and we hadn’t yet decided on the best return route—west across Nova Scotia‘s mainland or via Prince Edward Island (PEI).
Then I received word that The Great George in PEI could host us.
That meant our point of embarkment from The Maritime Inn would be the Ferry to Pictou.
I was beyond delighted that we would catch a glimpse of PEI on our trip.
Stop #4: The Great George
We hitched a ride on Northumberland Ferry‘s route from Caribou N.S. to Wood Islands, PEI.
The 1.15-hour crossing of the Northumberland Strait was free, car, and all!
Here’s the catch: The return trip off PEI is not free. As of this writing, the fare is $78 for a vehicle under 7 feet high to leave PEI by ferry.
I always enjoy the open seas, but this was something special.
In addition to ocean views, this ferry ride included:
- Cafeteria-style dining on regional favorites
- Live entertainment
- An ice cream shop
- A gift shop
We had a grand old time, and before long we docked in Wood Islands!
Once on land, we drove forty-five minutes through the most vibrant landscape I’ve ever seen.
In fact, we stopped multiple times for photos on the way to The Great George Hotel.
But we were in no hurry, enjoying the journey.
The Great George is an award-winning boutique hotel in Prince Edward Island’s historic capital city of Charlottetown.
It’s composed of upscale rooms and suites in the main inn’s “Pavillion” and a cluster of nearby heritage buildings.
- Luxury condos
- Hideaway suites
The Great George has revitalized a historic district not always suited for tourism. They have done an amazing job elevating the area to ensure outstanding guest experiences.
Case in point, we indulged in ice-cold lemon water and took a few warm cookies to-go from the reception lobby before checking out our overnight digs.
The Cross Keys Condos
While The Great George did not have a room in the Historic Pavillion for us, their email had offered us lodging at The Cross Keys Condos. These accommodations are fit for executives and guests seeking a larger living space.
What an incredible upgrade!
Light spilled into the chic loft’s open floor plan with high ceilings and a stone-hearth gas fireplace.
The kitchen gleamed with stainless steel appliances and tumbled marble and glass tile decor.
Two stunning bedrooms occupied opposite ends of the condo, providing private living spaces.
Our bedroom attached to an en-suite bathroom with an expansive rain-showered marble shower and a separate large jet tub.
Georgi’s room glowed with natural light and a stylish brick accent wall. It could have been culled from the pages of a trendy architectural magazine!
In addition, our hosts welcomed us with a custom basket of local treats that included chocolate, wine, chips, and regional gifts.
I fell in love with The Great George’s executive condo. It was easy to envision myself retiring to a trendy condo in an artsy city like this!
The three of us settled in before taking in the hotel’s free historic walking tour, which was followed by a complimentary wine and cheese reception.
Both events are open to guests every weekday. Afterwards, we continued exploring on foot, then returned to the condo to relax with the delicious honey wine we’d purchased on the ferry.
To see about availability and current rates to stay at The Great George, click here.
Breakfast within Posh Surroundings
After a comfortable overnight rest, Georgi and I enjoyed an incredible complimentary breakfast in the main lobby of The Great George.
Comparable to a posh cocktail party, we mingled with guests and filled up.
We selected a delicious assortment from the hot breakfast buffet, pastry, muffins, fresh fruit, yogurt, fresh-squeezed juices, coffee, and tea.
My mom and I sat on rich leather couches across from a massive fireplace, surrounded by antiques and classical music.
Truly, this was an incredible luxury start to our day.
Before a late checkout, we toured St. Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral across the street, and visited the waterfront.
We were disappointed to learn that the Confederation Centre Art Gallery was closed for the day.
Our visit to Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, and The Great George Hotel called for a longer stay. However, it would have to wait until next time because of the long ride ahead of us back home.
We took a slow route west across the island to savor the scenery. Then, we crossed the 8-mile (12.9 km) Confederation Bridge connecting PEI to the mainland.
You’ll pay a fee on leaving the island, whether by ferry or bridge. We paid $47 to cross the bridge, which seemed a cost-effective and more adventurous departure than the ferry.
Our next stop would be St. Andrews By-The-Sea in New Brunswick.
Stop #5: Cory Cottage at the Pansy Patch
The fog rolled in as we crossed the Saint John Harbour Bridge in St. John. It thickened as we arrived in the seaside Town of Saint Andrews By-the-Sea.
We couldn’t see beyond three feet in front of us! This meant we missed the scenery almost entirely!
To make matters worse, we arrived later than we had planned.
It was a long ride, and we were fogged-in.
So, our spirits were falling as the trip was coming to an end. I had hoped to capture the essence of this renown coastal community.
Joseph, the innkeeper at Cory Cottage, awaited our arrival and immediately brightened our day.
He welcomed us with a grand tour and history of Cory Cottage at the Pansy Patch.
This two-story Greek Revival style house built in 1830 is a neighbor to the Algonquin Resort and the Pansy Patch. The Pansy Patch is a French Normandy style house that is the most photographed private home in New Brunswick.
Situated beside such a unique property, Cory Cottage’s charming exterior might seem underwhelming.
When we stepped through the center entrance, we recognized its magnificence.
Impeccable Interior Design and Hospitality
The professionally remodeled and decorated interior is magazine-worthy, to say the least.
Then again, how à propos for a property formerly owned by Canada’s first woman interior decorator, Kate Reed!
A bold color palette, comfortable, coordinated furniture, and period antiques are just a few of the design elements that made this space in Cory Cottage spectacular.
It is casual luxury at its best.
The cottage is deceivingly spacious.
It offers a living area, breakfast nook, dining room, and enviable front-to-back kitchen on the first floor.
In addition, two first-floor bedrooms have modern en-suite bathrooms.
The well-appointed second-floor guest rooms also feature modern en-suite bathrooms along with soaker tubs and custom showers.
An Unexpected Gem of our Road Trip to Nova Scotia
We couldn’t have asked for a better stay the last night of our road trip to Nova Scotia than Cory Cottage. If you’ll be in this area, you’ll want to see if they have rooms available and see their current rates..
We relaxed and unwound, still “oohing” and “aahing” over unexpected creature comforts.
These included things like complimentary Perrier and chocolates, and the private balcony with a view of the (foggy) coast.
Our room had the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in—no kidding!
I thoroughly enjoyed a long soak with most luxurious bath products, signature bathrobe, and slippers before retiring.
The next morning, the three of us and another guest awoke to a breakfast spread loaded with local and organic goodness.
- Freshly baked banana bread
- Icelandic yogurt
- Delectable runny cheese
- Fresh-squeezed juices
- Plenty of coffee
I’d already filled my blue Blue Willow china plate and when Joseph asked us how we preferred our eggs. (To liken it to my first Italian multi-course experience, I’d gorged myself on il primo pasta, not realizing the main course would come!)
Overstuffed, I declined, but I’m certain the eggs met Cory Cottage’s high standard of excellence.
Cory Cottage at the Pansy Patch was the unexpected gem of our whole trip.
Our only regret was leaving so soon!
After checking out, we briefly explored the coastal roads of St. Andrews. But the fog remained.
I suppose that made moving on easier.
We said goodbye to the charming seaside town that withheld its full allure.
Thanks to the outstanding hospitality of Joseph and Cory Cottage, we left satisfied and rejuvenated, nonetheless. This helped us feel ready for our 6.5-hour ride home.
In retrospect, I might have added another stop in Maine to break up the drive. But our experience at Cory Cottage would have been hard to top.
Final Thoughts – A Place to Call Home
These five lovely hotels and cottages formed the cornerstones of our ten-day road trip between Boston and Nova Scotia.
We enjoyed an amazing tour of the Maritimes filled with incredible scenery and seashores, made even more memorable by the places and people we met along the way.
It was a treasured opportunity to spend quality time with my mother and Jim in a place that generations before me called home.
On the return drive to our homes south of Boston, I was already envisioning a return road trip to Nova Scotia.
Perhaps next time, that might be with my college-age children so they could experience the depth of their own family roots.
Having seen it for myself, it’s no wonder my ancestors settled in this beautiful maritime land.
In my mind, Nova Scotia will always be “home.”
Before You Begin Your Road Trip to Nova Scotia, Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!
Even though you don’t want to think about anything bad happening during your road trip to Nova Scotia, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and purchase travel insurance before the start of any trip.
And while there are literally hundreds of different insurance companies for you to choose from, I personally love and use World Nomads travel insurance.
Not only can you buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home, but World Nomads travel insurance is available to people from over 130 countries.
It’s also designed for adventurous and slightly less adventurous travelers alike.
They will fully cover any overseas medical expenses you might incur, any emergency evacuations you might need, you compensate you for lost luggage, and so much more.
Additionally, World Nomads Travel Insurance is:
1. Backed by trusted and reliable underwriters
World Nomads. is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great coverage, 24-hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management.
Provides you with value for your money and gives you the Coverage you need.
By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive in the industry. This enables you to receive top-notch coverage at a fraction of the price that many other companies quote.
2. Flexibility when you need it most
Have a change of plans? Then don’t worry because you can still purchase extra courage, buy an entirely new World Nomads Policy. Or, you can file a claim online while you’re still traveling.
3. Coverage for a range of adventure activities
From skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, World Nomads provides coverage for an array of adventure-related activities you might want to enjoy.
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All policyholders and members of the World Nomads family have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
5. Commitment to exceptional customer service
World Nomads wants to make sure you get the most out of your travel insurance. So, if you have any questions about your travel insurance policy or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
All of the information provided about travel insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states, or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nova Scotia
What is the best month to visit Nova Scotia?
An ideal time to visit Nova Scotia is between May and October. The weather is pleasant, dry, and cooler than in New England if you’re looking to escape humidity in the summer. The fall offers many festivals, some with music. However, you’ll find that hotels and restaurants may be closed at that time.
How do I plan a road trip to Nova Scotia?
Planning a road trip to Nova Scotia is no different than planning a trip to other parts of the US or Canada. If you’re coming from the states, you’ll want to check the current entry requirements. Otherwise, go ahead and pick the attractions you’d like to see and then map out the driving plan and accommodations.
How many days do you need to see Nova Scotia?
You can plan a 10 day road trip to Nova Scotia which will include about 2-3 travel days. However, to experience all that Nova Scotia offers in depth, plan to spend10-14 exploring this beautiful Canadian province.
Is it easy to drive in Nova Scotia?
Yes, driving in Nova Scotia is easy. Plus, it’s scenic and the roads are well-maintained. Other drivers are also quite courteous, too!
Next Steps to Plan Your Nova Scotia Road Trip
Continue reading for additional help planning your road trip to Nova Scotia:
- How to plan the best food snacks for the trip
- Family road trip packing list
- Helpful tips for planning a road trip
- Planning the best outfit for a road trip
- The best tips for organizing your car for a road trip
- Most useful travel accessories for a road trip
- How to plan the perfect road trip
- Things to know before renting a VW Bus
Special thanks go to The Lucerne, The Maritime Inn Antigonish, The Great George, and Cory Cottage at The Pansy Patch for their generosity and outstanding hospitality. This article is part of their sponsored collaboration with Enjoy Travel Life. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following disclosure.
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