Cape Breton is our all-time favourite summer destination. We have been travelling to Cape Breton every summer for the last 10 years – ever since my sister and brother-in-law moved to the beautiful Margaree area.
It’s about an 19 hour drive from Toronto (not including stops), but there are so many wonderful stops along the way and driving is a fantastic is a way to see Eastern Canada.
This past year, our driving strategy was to get up really early on the first day (like 4 am early) and be on the road before 5am. This worked out well as the kids slept in the car for most of the morning. We made it through Montreal before lunch! And whenever we are driving through Quebec, our favourite lunch or dinner stop is always St. Hubert!
We put in a full day of driving and made it all the way to Fredericton, New Brunswick on day one. This was important so we could arrive in the Margaree area mid afternoon on day two. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Fredericton (as I mention in all my posts we almost always stay at Hilton properties to collect our Hilton Honors points. What’s great though, is that most of the Hampton Inns in the East have waterslides in their pool areas. This is a great way for kids to cool down and burn some energy after a long day spent in the car.
After stopping for the night, we had a short six hour drive the following day. If you have never been to Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail, the landscape is stunning. We spend most of our time on the west side of the Island – between Inverness, Margaree and Cheticamp. The drive along the Cabot Trail is breathtaking and a trip into the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a must-do.
There are a number of scenic hikes through the Park, the most popular and most breathtaking being the Skyline Trail. It’s about a 7km hike (easy walking – mostly boardwalk), and the reward is this spectacular view. There’s also a chance of seeing some pretty impressive wildlife – including moose and whales. Because the hike is so popular, it’s best to try and go early in the morning or later in the day for a better chance of spotting wildlife. However, you want to make sure it’s a clear day so the clouds don’t obstruct this gorgeous view!
Cape Breton is also famous for having beautiful beaches. We spend almost every sunny day at the beach. Our favourite place is Chimney Corner beach where the kids will spend hours swimming, playing in the sand, and catching (and releasing) lobsters in their sand pails. Margaree Harbour Beach and Whale Cove beach are also beautiful beaches to visit in the same area.
Cape Breton is also famous for the music. While visiting Cape Breton, be sure to check out a ceilidh or concert over the course of your stay. One of our favourite stops is the “The Barn” at the Normaway Inn on Wednesday nights. Here you can hear some amazing Cape Breton fiddlers. If you are lucky enough to be in Cape Breton the last Sunday in July, you can attend The Broad Cove Scottish Concert – the biggest outdoor Celtic music concert anywhere.
And… of course, with any trip to Nova Scotia there is the food. If you are a seafood lover, there are so many opportunities for delicious lobster, mussels and chowder. Because we love it so much we’ll write more about our favourite stops in future posts. The first pic below is at Baddeck Lobster Suppers and the second is the Lobster Pound at the Island Sunset Resort. Both were absolutely delicious!!!
We can’t say enough about how much we absolutely adore this beautiful island – a spectacular part of Canada!