If you’re not taking a road trip this summer, you’re not doing it right. So quit arguing and start packing.
Don’t even think about driving away without planning a few things to do and places to stay at–or even without getting a stash of hangry-fighting, high-protein snacks in the glove box. This year, all you need to deal with is the gear, because we’ve got the itinerary covered.
That is if you’re heading to the east coast. And why wouldn’t you? The Maritimes are bursting with summer goodness: fun festivals, delicious food, live music and plenty of natural beauty for everyone with a window seat to enjoy.
Here are three Maritimes road trips (or one really big one) all planned out for you by province. Since we’ve put together a whole itinerary for you, you just have to remember to pack the snacks.
Travel days: 10
Distance: 1,556 km
The ‘Fax is the perfect starting point if you’re flying in to Nova Scotia. Don’t just grab the rental and hit the road, though. Take a few days to check out the seaside culture of this capital city. From there, head along the South Shore through picturesque fishing villages, like Lunenburg, then go up through the province to the western shore of the Annapolis Basin, and across to the Cape Breton Highlands where you’ll tour the seriously jaw-dropping Cabot Trail. We’re confident that this 10-day itinerary will make you want to call your boss to extend your vacation. Or, ya know, just never come home.
Day 1: Halifax
Halifax is a city with plenty of affordable (and fam-friendly) fun. Tour the Citadel, the city’s historic fortification; gawk at the ultra-modern design Central Library; walk along the harbour waterfront, pop into the Maritime Museum and then check out the thriving Seaport Farmers’ Market for lunch.
Day 2: Halifax
Go out for dinner, order seafood, and stay for the band that’ll definitely be playing. Great places to visit include The Auction House, which auctions items that guests can bid on with paddles at the table; Chives, for something upscale or Lower Deck to be by the waterside. Then hole up at the Westin Nova Scotian–which has a stunning view and is wedged between a park and the farmers market–to explore the downtown core. Next Stop: Peggy’s Cove, 44 km
Day 3: Peggy’s Cove
Want that perfect postcard photo of your trip? Peggy’s Cove will deliver the quintessential Maritime charm you and your Instagram feed so badly need. If it’s raining, pop into The Sou’Wester for a bowl of steaming seafood chowder. Next Stop: Lunenburg, 101 km
Day 4: Lunenburg
Tucked on the South Shore of the province, Lunenburg’s hilly, picturesque town centre’s dotted with quirky art galleries, bookstores and restaurants. Enjoy local beer on the Old Fish Factory patio next to the wharf, and wander along the boardwalk to explore the historic Bluenose II boat. Next stop: Liverpool, 75 km
Day 5: Liverpool
White Point Inn is an oceanside resort that’s been in operation since 1928. It’s super kid-friendly, with a stunning, white-sand beach and has programs and parks for hours of play. Stay in a waterfront cabin, kayak the afternoon away and in the evening, enjoy a glass of Veuve Clicquot in the dining room. Next stop: Digby, 131 km
Day 6: Digby
Are you a scallop lover? Digby’s a must-visit fishing town on the western shore of the Annapolis Basin. Stop by in August (this year, from the 4-7) to checked out the Digby Scallop Days Festival and rest your head at the Admiral Inn overlooking the harbour. Next stop: Blomidon, 155 km
Day 7: Blomidon
One of the most stunning provincial campgrounds in Nova Scotia, Blomidon Provincial Park, boasts vast views of the red, craggy coastline. Seriously, it’s breathtaking. Hike the day away, and cozy up next to a campfire at sunset. Next stop: Antigonish, 305 km
Day 8: Antigonish
This university town has a lot to offer. It’s brimming with Gaelic history, especially from the annual Antigonish Highland Games (this year in its 153rd year, July 8-10), which include a wild weekend of traditional activities like tug-of-war, highland dancing competitions and all the live music you can handle. Next stop: Cabot Trail, 214 km
Day 9: Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail is kind of a big deal. Located in Cape Breton and touted as one of the most scenic drives in the world, the winding trail snakes along the coastline for 297 km, so plan accordingly. Also, bring binoculars.
Day 10: Cabot Trail
Stop in Pleasant Bay for whale watching, or visit some of the various towns’ festivals, like Oysterfest (August 13-14) in Cape North. Camp in Cape Breton Highlands National Park and check out all the hiking trails and beaches it has to offer. Next stop: Back to Halifax, 340 km
Travel days: 6
Distance: 365 km
New Brunswick is kind of like that cousin you always forget you have. They float in and out of your life, and usually, they don’t register in your brain until they go on a liking spree of your Facebook photos from three years back. But it’s New Brunswick, you guys! It’s seriously awesome, and not the kind of province you should just gloss over. From the quaint streets of Fredericton to the crashing waves and waterfalls galore at the Bay of Fundy, this province deserves your attention. And you can see it in just six days, with a bit of planning (which, we’ve already done for you, so stop with the excuses already).
Day 1: Fredericton
There’s no better way to get to know New Brunswick than a stay in its capital city, Fredericton (Fred to the locals). Its charming downtown has plenty of history, free parking and free WiFi. No kidding. Plus, there are some beautiful bridges, one of which is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists. Next stop: St. John, 110 km
Day 2: St. John
St. John was Canada’s first incorporated city in 1785, so as you might guess, there’s a whole lot of history. Catch a show at the Imperial Theatre, which was erected in 1912–it’s got all the old-world charm you could want. And then meander through the St. John City Market, the oldest running market in the country. Next stop: Bay of Fundy, 111 km
Day 3: Bay of Fundy
Walk on the ocean floor at the Hopewell Rocks, or, when the tide starts rolling in, hop in a kayak and explore the massive stone formations from the water. The world’s highest tides are located in the Bay of Fundy, so you’ll feel like a tiny speck on earth after this experience.
Day 4: Bay of Fundy
Stay in Fundy National Park (just 40 km from Hopewell Rocks), for endless adventures. Bring a tent or book a yurt, depending on your outdoorsiness. There are over 10 waterfalls in this park alone, but the Dickson Falls trail is a good hike for beginners and offers impressive views. Next stop: Shediac, 112 km
Day 5: Shediac
Touted as the lobster capital of the World, this sleepy seaside town has an annual Lobster Fest that’s worth checking out. And if you can’t make this year’s festival (July 6-10), there’s one really, really big clay lobster in the heart of the town for the kids (or you) to climb on, and get that photo op. Next stop: Moncton, 32 km
Day 6: Moncton
Catch the Tidal Bore, a sole wave that sends 25 feet of water in and out of Moncton twice a day And just as impressive is Magnetic Hill. Put your car in neutral, and this little phenomenon will pull your vehicle uphill. Got some time to spare? Make the 2 ½ hour drive to PEI–we’ve got ideas for it, too. Next stop: Home… or, PEI, 164 km
Prince Edward Island
Travel days: 5
Distance: 171 km
PEI is a legit island province with its own unique micro culture. It’s the birthplace of confederation, and is also rich with aboriginal history, like that of the Mi’kmaq. Explore it all as you drive along red sand beaches and gorge yourself on lobster and potatoes. You can blast off our 171 km itinerary in 5 days, and still have time to boot to the southeastern tip if you just can’t get enough of PEI.
Day 1: Charlottetown
Start this trek in Charlottetown (you can fly in or drive from Moncton, 164km, or Halifax, 325km), and get your Cows fix ASAP. Don’t know Cows? It’s the most delicious Canadian icecreamery! Already been? Go again and order a new flavour, like cowconut cream.
Day 2: Charlottetown
Wolf down your share of lobster–or whatever seafood you’re into–at Water Prince. This eatery’s bustling with locals and tourists alike, which is a sure sign of quality. Wash it down with a local craft pint at Upstreet Craft Brewing and stay at the historic Great George for a walkable homebase. Next stop: Cavendish, 37 km
Day 3: Cavendish
Relive your favourite childhood tales (or, let your kids make memories) at Green Gables, the white, wood homestead that inspired Anne of Green Gables. Also, it’s world class potato growin’ out here, so make sure to get your carb fix in whatever form suits you best. And after you’re satiated, hang out on the red sand beach. Next stop: Summerside, 37 km
Day 4: Summerside
Another great Acadian port, Summerside has done well to maintain their shipbuilding heritage. Be sure to check out the weekly farmers’ market and the Indian Head Lighthouse, or if it’s raining, the Acadian and Wyatt House museums. Next stop: North Cape, 97 km
Day 5: North Cape
The very northernmost point of the island is home to stunning hiking trails that weave along the coastline as well as the Atlantic Wind Test Site that was erected in the ’80s. With 300 degrees of wind to harvest up here, it’ll blow your socks off, along with everything else you’re wearing and not holding on to. Next stop: Home… or, back to Moncton for final goodbyes, 164 km
WATCH: Ready to hit the road? Check out these essential packing hacks before stuffing your suitcase.