We’ve recently returned from our summer vacation… and that means it is time for an awards show post! This year’s vacation took us to Prince Edward Island to visit the Anne of Green Gables sites. I decided that I wasn’t going to get that close to Cape Breton without seeing it – and hearing some fiddle music! – so we also spent some time in Nova Scotia. And we broke up the flights by spending a night in Boston each way.
It was a wonderful vacation, made even more wonderful by the fact that my parents and my sister joined us for the Canadian portion of the trip. Here were our highlights:
Best Place to Stay
My nine-year-old and I both picked the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, because COME ON – the room was a train car! You can’t get much cooler than that. We also had dinner in the dining car, in two of the original booths, and relaxed after our travels in the lounge car. The grounds were well maintained, the location was delightful, and the room was quite comfortable. What’s not to love?
The others liked that hotel, too, but had other top picks. My husband chose our hotel in Mabou (the Mabou River Inn) because the breakfast was so wonderful. They had homemade porridge bread (made with oatmeal and molasses and very delicious), homemade cinnamon rolls and homemade biscuits. My twelve-year-old chose the house we rented in Rusticoville, Prince Edward Island, because we were all together in one house there. It was a nice spot, with a lovely view from the back patio.
There was no consensus in this category! I picked hearing some wonderful live fiddle music at The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou (Chrissy Crowley was playing with Jason Roach on piano the night we were there). My husband picked the Museum of Industry, in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, which is a wonderful museum full of machines and other artifacts of work done in the area. The staff at the museum really make the experience, though – I’ll write more about this stop later.
My twelve-year-old picked the Green Gables Heritage Place, her favorite of the Anne of Green Gables stops. Her love of the Anne books is what prompted this trip, so this wasn’t exactly a surprise pick. Her nine-year-old sister chose our one beach outing, to Dalvay Beach in PEI. She’s a beach lover, so this wasn’t a surprise pick, either! I’m just glad that they both really liked the activities I planned for them in PEI.
Another category with no consensus. I chose L’Abri, which we ate at our first night in Chéticamp. We had a picnic table outside with an unbeatable view, and while the food took awhile to arrive (the place was packed), it was all very good and lingering over dinner meant we got to watch the sunset from our table. My husband picked the dinner we had at Chives, in Halifax. He says his carpaccio was easily one of the five best dishes he’s eaten in his entire life.
The nine-year-old chose the dinner at the Train Station Inn, mostly for the cool location, but she also liked the sundae. The twelve-year-old picked the waffles she had for breakfast at the Panificio Bistro in Boston. She had been craving waffles and they were very good.
This was an ice cream-heavy vacation (the best kind!) so it is probably not surprising that three out of the four of us chose an ice cream treat. I liked the sea salt caramel ice cream I had at Neil’s Harbour in Cape Breton Highlands National Park – although I confess that I picked this particular sea salt caramel ice cream in part because of the location. It was served in a charming lighthouse and we ate our ice creams overlooking the ocean.
We all also enjoyed several delicious servings of Cows Ice Cream, but those did not make the “best of” list – the nine-year-old said the sundae at the Train Station Inn was the best and the twelve-year-old said the sundae she got after lunch at Dalvay by the Sea won out. That was a good sundae – the ice cream tasted like homemade vanilla.
And my husband didn’t choose an ice cream at all: He liked the deep-fried cheesecake he got at Wabo’s in Chéticamp. To each their own.
Best Unexpected Find
I ran out of time for research before this trip, so there were more things we either stumbled across or found via last minute hotel room reading. Some of those things were wonderful. My twelve-year-old and I both think the Museum of Industry was the best unexpected find. This wasn’t in my guidebook and hadn’t turned up in any searches. We learned about it because it was in my parents’ AAA guide and they’d considered visiting it on their way to Tatamagouche, but decided not to stop at. We needed a stop to break up the drive from Chéticamp to Halifax, and this was a great choice.
My nine-year-old picked the “rocks hike” in Cape Breton Highlands National Park as her favorite unexpected find. We had learned about a couple of other short hikes and the Neil’s Harbour stop before arriving at the park, but the Green Cove hike was done on the recommendation of the ranger at the visitor’s center and it was wonderful. It is more of a chance to scramble of rocks in a scenic location than a hike, and both kids loved it.
My husband thinks the best unexpected find was the Sober Island Brewing Company in Sheets Harbour. We read about it in one of the tourist guides in a hotel, and decided to stop in on our way to Halifax. It had good beer and a great view, and also provided him with a new favorite t-shirt.
We always ask the kids to pick their favorite playground of the trip. I’d thought maybe the twelve-year-old was aging out of it, but the playground on the harbourfront in Halifax had this really cool wave statue, which said “for your safety, do not climb” but which was absolutely swarming with kids. Both of our kids loved running up it and sliding down.
The nine-year-old preferred the Esplanade playground in Boston, though. It was definitely a cool playground, and there were no signs there saying not to climb on things!
If the kids get to pick a favorite playground, the adults should pick a favorite beer. My favorite was the Broadside APA (American Pale Ale – what the rest of the world seems to have decided to call a hoppy west coast-style pale ale) from the Copper Bottom Brewing Company in Montague, PEI. I really liked the beer (they had a nice Rabble Rouser Red, too) and the patio at their tasting room was delightful.
My husband grumbled about picking a favorite, but when pressed, he picked the Grapefruit Sour that was a limited batch at Copper Bottom.
That’s the awards show wrap up of the trip – I’ll come back and write some full itinerary posts soon. There were many other fun and cool things on the trip!