The perfect road trip?
Not a bad theme for a tourism campaign aimed at folks from eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. In this case, it’s the new marketing scheme put in place to lure folks to the lovely shores of Nova Scotia; an “aggressive emarketing campaign to increase first-time visitors and boost overall tourism.”
“The province’s new tourism direction and marketing campaign will allow us to compete as a top travel destination,” said Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Percy Paris.
The new campaign, “Take Yourself There,” portrays the province as a place where a "diverse, vibrant landscape and culture combines with friendly and engaging locals and accessible seacoast and communities to create the spirit of a perfect road trip."
I get the bit about the friendly locals. When I was in Halifax last year, on two occasions I was attempting to jaywalk and had drivers pull up and stop and wave me across the street. Try THAT on Yonge St. sometime.
Because first time visitors spend 42 per cent more and travel more extensively through the province, the campaign is aimed at bringing in more first-timers, said Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia tourism Agency.
“If we get them here once, our research shows that they come back again and again.”
The new ads will run in Ontario and also, for the first time in three years, in Quebec in both French and English. They’re also going after the mid-Atlantic and New England states, as well as the UK and Germany.
Our family took a road trip through Halifax and Cape Breton and the south shore of Mahone Bay and Chester many years ago, where we toured the waterfront in the city, drove the jaw-dropping Cabot Trail, spotted a moose and played the wonderful Highlands Links Golf Course. I seem to remember our first lobster boil, too, up in Ingonish at a small cottage.
I hadn’t been back for a while until my daughter enrolled in grad school at Dalhousie University in Halifax a couple years ago. That allowed me to go and do a quick story or two on the city, which is a real treat and feels a bit like Vancouver to me with its seaside heritage and slower pace of life. There are awesome walks and boat tours and fabulous restaurants and breweries and nearby lakes; a great place to visit or to raise a family, I’d think.
I also found time on that trip to dash up to Cabot Links, the new golf course in Inverness on Cape Breton Island. It’s the only true links course in Canada, with views of the ocean from every hole and a handful of holes directly along the sea. It’s also a beauty and a huge asset to the community, complete now with accommodations and a fine restaurant and more.
Last year I was able to take a trip in May and explore a bit more of the province, taking in more time in lovely Lunenburg, as well as Annapolis Royal and Wolfville. Lunenburg was great; with some of the best food of my life at the Salt Shaker Deli (killer scallops with pancetta and an award-winning chowder) and Fleur de Sel (a fabulous, inventive menu in a beautiful old home with some wonderfully tasty drinks). There’s also, of course, the lovingly resotred Bluenose II and lots of maritime heritage. Be sure to drive out of town a bit to check out the fishing village of Blue Rocks.
From there I drove up past the lakes and ponds and hills of Kejimkujik National Park, passing small villages and cute roadside stops as I wound pass rivers I imagine are teeming with fish and hardly a soul to be found.
I had a day and a bit in Annapolis Royal, which has fun, colourful shops due to the many artists in the community. Good food, too, and a great inn called HIllsdale House with (when I was there) the most marvellous blackberry-lemon muffins you can imagine.
The town of Bear River is nearby and has some some nice galleries and pretty wineries. The Bay of Fundy is only a short drive from Annapolis Royal, and the shore road that goes along the bay is a beauty; very gentle with lovely sea views and small villages and rocky bays. Just as striking is the Annapolis Valley, with its rolling hills and orchards and the Annapolis River running through it all. It feels like a kinder, gentler era in these parts, and it's a real tonic for the soul.
Wolfville features the oh-so-pretty Acadia University and some fun shops on the main street. Tempest, a restaurant in town, was serving up an incredible chowder when I was there, with chunks of smoked haddock (a common ingredient in chowder in these parts), local chorizo sausage and smoky paprika oil. The Blomidon Inn is a fabulous B and B with good food and lovely rooms and grounds and a great porch that's an excellent place to read a book or sip a local beer, or a glass of wine from one of the many wineries in the area. My personal favourite winery was Luckett Vineyards (see photo at right) but there are more opening up all the time.
And don't forget to check out Grand Pre, with its nice museum explaining the history of the Acadians and their expulsion from this part of North America. A pretty chapel, too, with a large statue of Evangeline, heroine of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem.
There's a ton more in this most lovely province, and I hope to get back sometime soon.
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