Explore Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, the new Champagne region

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The Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia is a must-visit destination for its stunning natural beauty and rich history. Located in the western part of the peninsula, this region is known for its fertile farmlands, lush orchards and award-winning wineries.

A wooden boardwalk lined with rocks extends to a lake, with chairs at the end. The scene includes clear blue skies, calm water, and distant hills.
Annapolis Royal. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Visitors to the area can also explore the Bay of Fundy, boasting the highest tides in the world and offering a unique opportunity to walk on the ocean floor. Incredible seafood and produce complete the package. So whether you are road-tripping through the Canadian East Coast or looking for a unique spot to spend a foodie vacation, the Annapolis Valley just might have something to offer you.

But the valley is not just about picturesque landscapes; it has a deep historical significance, including Mi’kmaq legends and early European settlements. The area stretches from Digby and the Annapolis Basin to Wolfville and the Minas Basin, making it a diverse region full of attractions.

For those who love outdoor activities, the Annapolis Valley offers whale-watching opportunities where various species come to mate and play. The combination of history, culture and great food and wine makes this region a perfect spot for travelers looking to experience the best of Nova Scotia.

Geography and climate of Annapolis Valley

The Annapolis Valley is located in the western part of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is a valley formed by a trough between two parallel mountain ranges. These mountain ranges are along the shore of the Bay of Fundy.

The region benefits from a unique geographical setting. The valley’s fertile lands make it one of the most important agricultural regions in Canada, especially known for fruit-growing. Though surrounded by water, the climate in Annapolis Valley feels more continental than maritime. Temperature extremes are moderated by the ocean, providing a mild climate suitable for agriculture.

The combination of its geography and climate creates optimal conditions for diverse plant life and farming activities. As a result, the region’s natural beauty is showcased through its fields, orchards and vineyards, which can be explored in their prime during spring, summer and fall.

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For history buffs: Explore the history of Annapolis Valley

A curved gravel path leads to a white building with a small tower under a clear blue sky. To the right, an old cannon sits on a grassy mound.
Annapolis Royal Fort. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

The Annapolis Valley, and specifically Annapolis Royal, is rich in history. It boasts some of the earliest civilization records in the province, serving as a home to the Mi’kmaq people long before European settlers arrived. Their legends and stories are an integral part of the area.

In 1605, Sieur de Monts founded Habitation Port-Royal in Annapolis Valley. This site, although later destroyed by the British, offers a glimpse into the early French settlement period. The area also reflects a mixed Acadian and British past. Grand-Pré, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is key to understanding the Acadian expulsion in 1755 when British forces displaced Acadian settlers.

For some of the most important historic sites in the region, head to:

  • Port-Royal National Historic Site: Reconstruction of France’s first successful settlement.
  • Grand-Pré National Historic Site: Memorial to Acadian history and culture.
  • Fort Anne National Historic Site: Oldest national historic site in Canada.

Each can easily provide a couple of hours of leisurely walks and historical exploration. Walking through these sites, visitors can see artifacts, buildings and landscapes that tell tales of the early inhabitants and settlers.

For wine lovers: The wineries of Annapolis Valley

Four glasses of white wine are placed on a gray outdoor table under a sunny sky, with empty chairs and a green background visible.
Benjamin Bridge Wine. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Though lesser known than Niagara-on-the-Lake or the Okanagan Valley, the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts. This region is home to nearly half of Nova Scotia’s wineries, each offering unique experiences and flavors.

Domaine de Grand Pré is the first winery in the region, established in the late 1970s. It remains a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

Another notable winery is Lightfoot & Wolfville, which is known for its stunning views and biodynamic practices. Their on-site restaurant serves wood-fired pizzas, making it a delightful lunch stop.

Benjamin Bridge is celebrated for its sparkling wines. Its vineyards benefit from the valley’s distinctive terroir, contributing to the wine’s exceptional quality.

Here are a few more renowned wineries to explore:

  • Luckett Vineyards: Famous for its picturesque setting and unique phone booth.
  • Gaspereau Vineyards: Specializes in crafted white and red wines.
  • Blomidon Estate Winery: Offers award-winning selections with beautiful bay views.

The valley’s wineries not only offer tastings but also scenic outdoor lounges, perfect for a relaxing afternoon. This region is truly a paradise for anyone looking to explore Nova Scotia’s wine culture or Canadian wines in general.

For food lovers: The best places to eat in Annapolis Valley

The region around Annapolis offers a variety of dining experiences for food lovers. From seafood to farm-to-table cuisine and some of the best steaks, this region truly beats even some of the best food in Halifax, the province’s big city.

  • Founders House Dining and Drinks: Located in Annapolis Royal, this contemporary restaurant is known for its Atlantic salmon and beef dishes.
  • Le Caveau: This restaurant is praised for its elegant atmosphere and is a must-visit in Annapolis Valley. Go here for fine dining and globally inspired dishes.
  • Noodle Guy: This unique spot in the valley offers a range of flavorful noodle dishes, from pasta to Asian-inspired noodles.
  • The Crow’s Nest: With two locations in Digby and Hillsburn, it’s an ideal spot for seafood lovers. They serve fresh dishes with a view to match.
  • Halls Harbour Lobster Pound: A favorite for those who enjoy lobster and local seafood, Halls Harbour Lobster Pound offers a memorable dining experience with waterfront views.
  • Angie’s Family Restaurant: Popular among locals and visitors for its warm atmosphere and hearty meals.

For nature lovers: Outdoor activities and parks

A dirt path flanked by blooming trees and bushes under a clear blue sky in a park with green grass on both sides.
Annapolis Royal Botanical Gardens. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

The Nova Scotia Annapolis Valley is a paradise for nature lovers. It offers a wide array of outdoor activities across all four seasons.

Hiking and trails

Hiking enthusiasts can explore numerous trails. For a short and easy hike, check out Roxbury Falls. Mountain bikers can also use this trail to enjoy the scenic views and summer berries.

Water activities

Kayaking and canoeing on pristine rivers and lakes provide a peaceful experience. Check out Meguma Canoe for rentals. Whale watching can be enjoyed close by, offering a chance to see these majestic creatures up close.

Camping and parks

The area is home to some beautiful provincial parks, like Cape Split and Crystal Crescent Beach. Camping is available in beautiful parks throughout the valley, from Blomidon to Five Islands and Cape Chignecto. Enjoy the tranquility of nature while setting up camp in these scenic locations.

Winter activities

In winter, the Annapolis Valley transforms into a wonderland for skiing, skating and snowshoeing. These activities allow visitors to enjoy the snowy landscape and crisp air of the area’s parks and trails.

Unique experiences

For those seeking something different, hot-air ballooning offers a unique way to view the valley from above. Check out East Coast Balloon Adventures for pricing. Sightseeing and golfing are also popular, with beautiful courses and landmarks like the Fort Anne National Historic Site featuring panoramic views and historical narratives.

Final tips

Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is an experience the whole family will love. But before you set out, here are a few final points to remember. Regardless of the season, pack smartly for your visit by bringing layers and sturdy walking shoes, as the weather can change quickly. You’ll want to be prepared to explore orchards, vineyards and historic sites. Don’t miss out on trying local delicacies like fresh-baked apple strudel and pumpkin loaf from the bakeries, especially during fall. Many vineyards offer tastings and tours year-round, providing a chance to sample regional wines and learn about winemaking.

The Annapolis Valley is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and experiencing the world-famous tides of the Bay of Fundy. Be sure to visit historical sites like Fort Anne, a national historic site with a rich history. Plan ahead to find cozy local accommodations like inns or bed and breakfasts for a personalized experience. Throughout your visit, always respect the environment by following guidelines to preserve the natural beauty and historical integrity of the region.

Ksenia Prints is a food writer, blogger, photographer and recipe developer from Montreal, Canada. She blogs over At the Immigrant’s Table, a food blog showcasing healthy, beautiful international recipes for adventurous home cooks. She loves to highlight ethnic cuisines and immigrant cultures by working with chefs from relevant countries and adapting those recipes to gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, sugar-free and other dietary restrictions.

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