There are special places we all visit. Our family has been so fortunate to visit some truly beautiful places. We enjoy them while we’re there. We make rich memories. But, sometimes I forget to tell the stories. Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia is one of those places for our family.
In case you couldn’t guess from my last name, I’m Italian. Despite deep roots to the New York area as immigrant Italians, a portion of my family moved to Canada many years ago. As a child, I would make trips up there with my family. Some 40 years ago is the first time I visited Peggy’s Cove.
Fast forward to 12 years ago, the first time I brought my own children to Halifax, Nova Scotia to visit family. We started a tradition then, even though we didn’t know it. It was a short, scenic drive down the coast to visit Peggy’s Cove. As soon as our daughter was old enough, she began walking the rocks at Peggy’s Cove on our annual trips. She showed her brother the ropes years later. Now, it’s one of their favorite places.
Visiting Peggy’s Cove
Peggy’s Cove is less than an hour car ride from downtown Halifax. If you’re arriving via cruise ship or don’t have a rental car, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to take a tour bus to Peggy’s Cove. If I have only one suggestion, it’s to resist that urge and hop in a rental car. Peggy’s Cove is meant to be seen at a slower pace.
Peggy’s Cove was and is a rural maritime community focus on the ocean. Originally a fishing and lobster community, tourism has become a much larger part of the area. It’s much busier now than when I was a child. It’s not quite at the point where tourists have overrun the area. There’s still much in the way of authenticity, a fishing village that turned to tourism.
Peggy’s Cove sits at the midpoint of a long loop road along a peninsula of sorts. As you pull into the village you’ll see a smattering of small shops. Most are centered around food though you can find plenty of souvenirs. Make your way up the hill to the main parking lot and your first view of the lighthouse. Long dormant, it’s a focal point amongst the rocks at Peggy’s Cove.
The further from the lighthouse you venture, the more you can enjoy the natural beauty of Peggy’s Cove without a throng of tourists. Our kids spend hours crawling in amongst the rocks and exploring makeshift caves.
As you make your way across the large rocks, be sure to stay away from any of the black, wet rocks. The current at Peggy’s Cove is responsible for many deaths.
One of the traditions our children participate in each year are building rock towers. You’ll find hundreds of individual creations, stretching almost as far as the eye can see. We’ve done our best to take pictures each year and find a previous year’s creation but have yet to be successful. Still, our kids pride themselves on leaving being a creation as opposed to taking from the natural beauty.
Shopping And Dining
The visitors center is crammed with souvenirs, some more genuine than others. You’ll also find a restaurant inside, the Sou’Wester. We’ve eaten our share of meals there over the years.
However, if you have the time, it’s worth walking down the hill to the small village for both souvenirs and food. The shop owners all appear to be locals and are all very engaging.
And, as tourism has expanded, so have the food options. A roadside lobster stand was the latest addition on our most recent trip. We paid less than $20 CAD for lobster, and the kids got to “participate”. They weren’t completely thrilled about the fact that they’re pets were turned into lunch, but they rolled with it.
Swissair Flight 111
In my opinion, no visit to Peggy’s Cove is complete without a brief stop to pay our respects to the lives lost in the crash of Swissair Flight 111. Located just about a mile north of Peggy’s Cove, you’ll find a small parking lot marked with signs for the memorial. A brief walk to a beautiful view overlooking the ocean brings you to a simple, meaningful memorial of the lives lost in this tragedy. Local residents were the first responders in the moments after the crash.
A Happier Note
End your trip to Peggy’s Cove on an upbeat note. Drive Northwest as you leave. 20 minutes later, right before you reach the highway, you’ll pass Acadian Maple Products. Take a quick detour and pick up some goods to take home. Their maple syrup has a permanent place in our cabinet.
The Final Two Pennies
It seems a bit silly that I’ve never taken the time to write about Peggy’s Cove. Our family has been to Nova Scotia more than just about any other destination in the world (Disney World, Hersheypark?). I write many of my posts as a way to chronicle our travels so our children can remember them when they get older. I don’t think I need a post to help them remember how much they enjoy it. We all have our special places. Peggy’s Cove will always be one of those for our family. I hope to cross paths with you there in the future.
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