by Christopher Gills & Craig Dauphinee

Annapolis Royal and the surrounding area is one of Nova Scotia’s oldest and most interesting regions. Neatly tucked away at the western end of the Annapolis Valley (one of Canada’s most important agricultural areas) the town itself is quaint, picturesque and serene; the perfect place for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. With a population of approximately 500, it is the smallest incorporated town in Nova Scotia, but with over 130 registered heritage properties, it is one of the largest National Historic Districts in Canada.

Annapolis Valley historic sites

Our home, St. Alban’s Vacation Home, is a converted wooden church, built in 1892, and is nestled into the side of a hill on a quiet country road in Annapolis Royal. We excitedly and anxiously make the drive as often as we can because we are so in love with what is waiting for us. Our vacation home remains a magical place for us each and every time we visit, as does the charm of Annapolis Royal and the surrounding area.

Each time we go we can’t wait to do some of our favourite activities, but most importantly, we are never at a loss to find new and interesting things to do. Whether it is taking in the “Paint the Town” festival in the middle of August, strolling along the waterfront boardwalk, or exploring one of the area’s many scenic drives there is always something to do.

Annapolis Valley nature

Some of our favourite things to do in the area are:

  • Visit Fort Anne – whether you’re up for a tour of the Officer’s Barracks, or would rather explore the grounds on your own this is one of our ‘must dos’. We never make a trip to Annapolis Royal without a visit

  • Have a picnic at Cottage Cove – take a drive over the North Mountain, to the edge of the Bay of Fundy, and you will find Cottage Cove picnic park. Here you can build a bonfire, go rock hunting, take an interesting walk along the rocky shore, and explore the area’s wildlife, including bird watching

  • Go to the Annapolis Royal Farmers & Traders Market – there’s no better place to see and be seen when you’re in town. While you’re there you can purchase local produce, antiques, handcrafts, baked goods, and have lunch all in the same place. It’s a hub of excitement and activity on market days

  • Eat at Vicki’s Restaurant - for an authentic home cooked meal you can’t find any place better than Vicki’s. Make sure you don’t leave without trying the haddock

  • Go antiquing - “Antique Alley” (the stretch of Highway 1 between Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown) has many a temptation for the Antique Hunter. Whether you’re buying, or just browsing, it’s easy to pass the afternoon away visiting some of the following shops (Summer House Antiques, Portobello Road, Mrs. Nicholson’s, The Green Barn, Treasures & Collectibles, and Langille Antiques)

Some other fantastic things to do in the area include:

  • Take a walking tour of Annapolis Royal - either one of the guided tours (try the Candlelit Graveyard tour!) or explore on your own

  • Visit some of the other many historical sites, museums, and national parks: Port Royal, Grand Pre, Kejimkujik, Melanson Settlement, North Hills Museum, O’Dell House Museum, and the list goes on

  • Wander around the Historic Gardens – it’s beautiful no matter what the time of the year

  • Explore one of the many vineyards throughout the Annapolis Valley (Luckett Vineyards close to Wolfville is one of our favourites)

Annapolis Valley sunflower

If you’ve ever been to Annapolis Royal you will know what we mean when we say there’s something magical and charming about this place. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to visit St. Alban’s yet this year but we are counting down the days until we can and we consider ourselves very lucky to be able to share our vacation home with you. If you are thinking of visiting the area we hope our suggestions help you decide what to do, where to visit, and of course, where to stay.

St Alban vacation home
St. Alban’s Vacation Home