Our very first stop on this trip after landing at Halifax airport was nearby Shubenacadie. First, it was a place to eat lunch, and secondly they have the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park. The park has a pretty wide array of native Canadian animals on display and it's a great place to amuse the kid after a couple flights.
Ok, peacocks aren't the most iconic Canadian animals but they held still for the camera, the caribou did not. One can easily spend a couple hours at the wildlife park and there is an associated birding lagoon which can be visited as well.
Grand Pre is much less interesting from a kid point of view, even if he does have Acadian ancestry. The historic site here commemorates the Acadians before the diaspora and has some interesting exhibits in the museum. The visitor center has a still-in-progress sort of feel but the Canadian government has been investing heavily in it the past few years. For now, you'd probably have to have some specific interest in Acadian culture to visit.
Not too far away on the shoreline of the Bay of Fundy is the tiny little town of Halls Harbour. The Harbour itself is just big enough for a dozen or so fishing boats which may be suspended from their wharves if the tide is out. The highlight of Halls Harbour is the lobster pound which is just what it sounds like. Go into the building on the left, pick out a lobster and they cook it for you. You can eat in the building on the right with a nice view of the harbour. (editor's note: yes, we're spelling harbour the Canadian way on this page. Is it wrong? Maybe, either way we are aware and you people who are apparently out there spell-checking the web can stop alerting us to this fact.)
Inside is a whole lot of lobster fishing paraphernalia and all the lobster art you'd ever want to see. Plus an actual gift shop.
Further up the coastline but quite a long ways by car are the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. This is another site with a limited audience but if you have an interest in geology or paleontology it's a must-see. This is the view from the top of the cliff looking down. The tide is out here (at high tide it's right up to the cliffs). It's important to visit Joggins while the tides are out so that you can go down to the beach (their website has schedules).
Here's the view looking back up. These cliffs are rich in fossils and the powerful Fundy tides take away a little material every day. The result is that new remnants could be found at any time (many of them by visitors). Many of the fossils found here are of plant life rather than animals although the earliest known reptile (Sauropsid) was discovered here.
Here are a couple rocks we happened across. The beach is littered with fossils like these. If you discover something interesting, park staff is around to patiently tell you that it's not as exciting as you think. Actually, they've had a number of museum-worthy discoveries made by visitors who are free to roam up and down the beaches searching. They get free labor out of it and you the visitor get the miniscule hope of making a major discovery.
Oh yes, bring mosquito repellent. They were probably the limiting factor in the time we spent on the beach.
Here we are in Sackville. Technically, we've now crossed the line into New Brunswick and these pictures should be on a different web page but Sackville is much closer to Joggins than to Hopewell and Fundy National Park.
Why stop here? Well if you're coming from central Nova Scotia it's been a long time since you've seen much civilization. Also the Sackville Waterfowl Park is a great place to get out of the car for a bit.
There is the aforementioned waterfowl, in abundance. It's also a really nice set of walking trails and boardwalks surrounding a couple small lakes. Canada 1 passes just beyond the north edge of the area. You can park at the Sackville visitor center to access the trails.