9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Annapolis Valley

The Annapolis Valley, in Nova Scotia's charming countryside, stretches northward from Digby and Annapolis Royal and runs parallel to the coastline of the Bay of Fundy. Sieur de Monts founded "Habitation Port-Royal" here in 1605. Though the British later destroyed Port-Royal, this Nova Scotia region is still rich in tourist attractions such as historic sites, forts, and gardens. The valley has fertile soil that is protected on both sides from cold and unfavorable winds by mountains. Being sheltered from the weather, fruits and vegetables flourish. In May, when the apple trees are in blossom, the valley is a wonderful sight.

1 Port-Royal National Historic Site

Port-Royal National Historic Site
Port-Royal National Historic Site Charles Hoffman / photo modified

Outside Annapolis Royal, about ten kilometers to the north, stands Port-Royal National Historic Site - the faithfully restored settlement of Sieur des Monts. The plain wooden buildings are in early 17th-century style. There is a Governor's Residence, a Priest's House, a smithy and a room in which First Nations people used to barter their furs for European goods. Most interesting is the house of the apothecary Louis Hébert, the first European farmer in North America who later settled in Québec.

In the "Habitation" in 1606, Samuel de Champlain founded "L'Ordre de Bon Temps," the first society in North America based on the doctrine of love for one's fellow man.

Address: 53 Historic Lane, Port Royal

2 Grand-Pré National Historic Site

Grand-Pré National Historic Site
Grand-Pré National Historic Site

Grand-Pré was one of the main Acadian settlements in the early 18th century. By means of an ingenious system of dams and canals, the Acadians reclaimed fertile land from the sea and laid out large and productive fields for some 200 farms. But in 1755, the English drove out the Acadians, destroying their homes, taking cattle and parceling the land out to colonists from New England.

The Grand Pré National Historic Site is in memory of the deported Acadian settlers. In the gardens stands a memorial to Henry Longfellow, who in 1847 immortalized the tragic fate of the Acadians in his poem "Evangéline." There is also a statue of his heroine Evangéline. Acadian artist Philippe Hébert sculpted both memorials.

3 Hall's Harbour

Hall's Harbour
Hall's Harbour

This tidal village is a favorite on the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy. At high tide the fishing vessels sit neatly alongside the village wharves. But when the tide lowers, the boats drop to the harbor floor. There's the popular Hall's Harbour Lobster Pound, a restaurant near the sandy beach and park. For an excellent hike, head northeast to Cape Split on the Blomidon Peninsula.

4 Fort Anne National Historic Site

Fort Anne National Historic Site
Fort Anne National Historic Site

Fort Anne, the scene of so many battles in the past, is today classified as Fort Anne National Historic Site. The old fortifications, the powder magazine, and the ramparts are all open to visitors. Tall chimneys mark the officers' quarters. There are memorials to Sieur de Monts; Samuel Vetch, Acadia's first governor; and Jean Paul Mascarene. On the fort flies a flag showing the English St. George's Cross and the Scottish St. Andrew's Cross.

5 The Lookoff

The Lookoff
The Lookoff

It sounds like an unofficial name, but even on Nova Scotia maps this roadside viewpoint atop North Mountain is simply called The Lookoff. The panoramic view takes in the sweeping fields, orchards and Bay of Fundy coastline. Blomidon Provincial Park lies to the northeast with Cape Split beyond.

Address: 3374 Hwy 358, Arlington

6 Fort Edward National Historic Site

Fort Edward National Historic Site
Fort Edward National Historic Site Dennis Jarvis / photo modified

Near the dyke in Windsor stands Fort Edward, built in the mid-18th century by the English to defend the Halifax to the Bay of Fundy route. It was here, too, that the sad deportation of the French-speaking Acadians was organized. This wooden fort is one of the oldest existing buildings of its kind in Canada.

From the earth-wall surrounding the fort there is a beautiful view of the Avon River valley and the Bay of Fundy.

Address: 67 Fort Edward Street, Windsor

7 Tidal Power Station

Tidal Power Station
Tidal Power Station Ctd 2005 / photo modified

Outside Annapolis Royal, about ten kilometers to the north, this tidal power station is the first of its kind in North America. It started up in 1984 and utilizes hydro-energy released by the tidal rise, which is the highest in the world. The station harnesses roughly 80 to 100 megawatt hours each day. It is also a pilot scheme for a much larger power station based on the same principle.

Address: 236 Prince Albert Rd, Annapolis Royal

8 Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens
Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens Robber Esq / photo modified

To the south of Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal lie some very well tended gardens and reconstructed historic buildings, including a 17th-century-style Acadian house. The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens are divided by theme to represent different eras. Plantings include the Governor's Garden from the early 18th century, a Victorian Garden, and a very pretty Rose Garden.

Address: 441 St. George St, Annapolis Royal

9 Digby

Digby Nicole Bratt / photo modified

The small, but busy fishing town of Digby, famous for its scallops, lies by the link road between the Annapolis Valley and the Bay of Fundy. From Digby, it is possible to take a ferry trip across the Bay of Fundy to Saint John in New Brunswick.

A scenic drive cuts along the narrow peninsula and islands of Digby Neck. Small ferries connect out to Brier Island, where there are whale watching tours, historic lighthouses, and coastal parks with hiking trails.

Where to Stay in the Annapolis Valley for Sightseeing

We recommend these charming guesthouses and hotels in the beautiful Annapolis Valley:

  • Queen Anne Inn: heritage bed-and-breakfast, 1865 Victorian mansion, wonderful hosts, delicious breakfast.
  • The Stella Rose B&B: affordable bed-and-breakfast, quaint decor, home away from home, wonderful hosts, four-poster beds.
  • Annapolis Royal Inn: mid-range pricing, breakfast included, saltwater pool, free parking.
  • Beach Breeze Motel: budget Grand pre hotel, beautiful setting, brightly-painted cottages, seasonal outdoor pool.

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