A Hot Day in Halifax

We visited Halifax during our 2 week road trip of New England and Canada. We rented a car in Boston, explored Maine, spent some fun days along the Bay of Fundy, and relaxed in Prince Edward Island (PEI) before heading to Halifax.

We knew that it was a bit out of our way and that it was a long way to go for a short visit, but we were still excited to get into Nova Scotia and to explore the harbor town of Halifax.

We arrived in town by around 1 pm and got set up in our room at Homewood Suites (booked for free with points earned from a Hilton credit card signup bonus). Then we headed out to explore. It was a very hot day!

What We Did

We grabbed a quick lunch in the food court of Scotia Square which was only a few blocks from our hotel. It was a big food court with lots of options. Eric got Indian food and Della a shawarma plate. We hadn’t brought our highchair so Kiddo had to sit in his stroller and consequently didn’t eat much. We were in a bit of a rush though, so it didn’t matter too much. 

We roughly used this self-guided walking tour to follow throughout our day. Our first stop was City Hall and St. Paul’s Church, the oldest still-standing Anglican church in Canada. We then headed down to the waterfront. Our first destination was the Maritime Museum…. err.. rather, the maritime themed playground outside of it. In an ideal trip, we would have spent some time poring over the 30,000 artifacts here, but we knew Kiddo was a bit too young and we were definitely pressed for time. As mentioned above, it was a HOT day and playing around the playground got us all a bit red-faced! So, we did the most natural thing – we got some icecream at Cows and relaxed in the shade while we ate it.

Our next stop was the Farmer’s Market. We had intended to do a quick stroll through and at least get to the Pier 21 Immigration Museum, but as soon as we saw the market was indoors, we decided we would spend a little more time there. By this point, we also knew for sure that, to our disappointment, we were likely not going to make it into the museum. Kiddo didn’t seem likely to relax or take a second nap. Unfortunately, while the Farmer’s Market was indoors – it did not have air conditioning! We also were arriving late in the day so many of the market stalls were closing up. However, we stopped a the Ursan Mead stand which was offering free tastings. We tasted several different kinds including spritzer-like fruity meads and, the most unique, a baklava flavored mead. This was a fun stop and we purchased a few bottles! (It was also a good short celebration because we had just found out that Della’s sister had gotten engaged!)

We walked by a couple more buildings on the tour we were following, but didn’t really stop until we reached the Public Gardens. Holy cow! These Victorian era gardens are beautiful! You can easily imagine people wearing lovely dresses and top hats strolling through them. We enjoyed a leisurely walk ourselves, stopping for a Kiddo snack.

Our final stop was the Citadel. Getting up this fortified hill was a bit of a hike, but it was, at least, on the way back towards our hotel. We were all hot and tired at this point and Kiddo actually did end up falling asleep in his stroller. For that reason, and because the Citadel itself was closing quite soon, we didn’t go in. Instead we just enjoyed the views of the city before heading back down.

We took advantage of the fact that Kiddo was still napping and stopped for a beer at a brewery called 2 Crows which was right next to the hotel. It was actually the most perfect timing. It had lovely air conditioning and Kiddo slept long enough for both his parents to enjoy a semi-leisurely pint.

Kiddo was a bit grumpy when we woke up so we decided to stay in for dinner. Eric headed out to grab a local specialty donair which was actually quite a bit like a gyro.

We really wish we had more time to spend in Halifax. While it was quite a drive ultimately out of our way, we are glad we went!

Traveling With Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

Most parents know that traveling with snacks and drinks is a must. We try to mostly keep Kiddo on a schedule where he eats regular snacks and meals, but sometimes a well-timed snack can save an afternoon! On this trip, we found one of the best snacks was little Clementine oranges. You can carry them un-refrigerated in your bag all day, they have a good amount of juice to keep you hydrated on really hot days, and Kiddo LOVES them.

We’ve mentioned in other posts how important the right stroller can be!

We’ve also mentioned how our baby tent helped us out quite a bit. In Halifax, we used cushions from the couch in the room to set him up in the kitchen area of our room. That meant we had a little more distance between us and him after he went down and we didn’t worry about our reading lights disturbing him nearly as much.

mde

Kindred Spirits in Prince Edward Island

We visited Prince Edward Island (PEI) during our 2 week road trip of New England and Canada. We rented a car in Boston, explored Maine, and then spend some fun days along the Bay of Fundy before arriving in PEI.

We arrived in PEI after a long day exploring Fundy National Park. We were all hungry and tired so as soon as we crossed the Confederation Bridge and arrived in the town of Borden-Carleton we pulled off to eat. We had been excited to try Cows Ice Cream because we had heard so much about it so we just ended up eating Subway because they were in the same building. We arrived in our accommodations in Summerside in the later evening and pretty much went right to bed.

What We Did

Explore Summerside

Summerside is a cute town! We drove to town center and headed into the visitor center which was right on the harbor. There was a harbor walk and a lot of shops, but it was pretty early and it was dead while we were there. We had seen online that there was a newly founded historic walk that went through town starting at the Lefurgey House. It was strange that the visitor center didn’t actually have the walking tour brochure, but once we made our way to the Lefurgy House we were able to get a brochure and some good information. The house belonged to John E. Lefurgey who was a leading Summerside shipbuilder, produce dealer and politician. It was sold by one of his sons, but then repurchased by his granddaughter Wanda Wyatt who helped turn it into a sort of cultural center. The tour brochure let us to several historic buildings and monuments in the town. It was a nice way to spend an hour and a half in the morning before Kiddo’s morning nap.

Charlottetown

We started our day in Charlottetown, the capital and largest city of PEI, at the Founder’s Court Visitor Center where we got some information on walking routes to see the best parts of the city.

We explored Charlottetown using a combination of a Heritage Walk and a scavenger hunt for Eckhart the Mouse. Sprinkled throughout town, there are 9 statues of Eckhart the mouse who is, apparently, a beloved storybook character. They are in historic or culturally significant places and the tour gives you a little info at each one. We enjoyed searching for the little statues and could see that Kiddo would have loved this way to see the city if he was a bit older. There was also another kid-friendly scavenger hunt type tour of the city where you find different animal statues that starts at the Visitor Center.

Our tour included Founders Hall which is where the delegates of the Charlottetown Conference arrived in Charlottetown in 1864. The conference was pretty important in the history of Canada because it would eventually lead to the Confederation of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the Province of Canada (which contained what became Ontario and Quebec) into the Federation of Canada. We visited the Province House where many meetings of the delegates took place. We also visited St. Dunstan’s Basilica which is one of the largest buildings of its kind in Eastern Canada.

We did a brief break in the middle of the day for Kiddo to play in the park. He’s getting really good at climbing!

We ended the day walking along the waterfront where we stopped at another Cows to pick up ice cream and raspberry cordial!

Anne of Green Gables House

This was the reason we came to PEI! Della had been a fan of Anne of Green Gables as a child, both the books and the CBC TV movie. We’re a little embarrassed because we initially kind of misunderstood what the Green Gables House was. Della had thought it was the location where they did some of the filming for the movie and she was very pumped to see it. (Again, she has wanted to visit PEI since she was a kid specifically because of that film!) However, that it not really what the Green Gables house on PEI is at all.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, lived on PEI near the town of Cavendish. Her parents died/left when she was young, so she grew up with her grandparents. Her grandparents’ cousins lived in a house with green gables that inspired her to write the Anne of Green Gables series. There were other things there that inspired the locations in Anne’s adventures like the the Haunted Woods Trail and Lover’s Lane. There is also a real lake that becomes “The Lake of Shining Waters” in the stories. So, we figured this out – a little sheepishly – and then thoroughly enjoyed our time. The whole area is now a national historic site. When we entered there was a very short but enjoyable museum about Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life.

Then we toured the inside of “Green Gables.” They have set it up as if it were from the book so there is a room dedicated to Anne and then one for Matthew and one for Marilla.

After exploring there, and taking a picture with Anne herself, we headed off to walk the Haunted Woods Trail. We didn’t find it very scary, and Kiddo walked almost the whole thing himself. This, of course, made it go quite slowly.

We then eventually got him to calm down and take a bit of a nap in his stroller while we did the Lovers Lane trail and then watched another short video about the life of the author.

Near the Green Gables House, they have set up a representation of the fictional town of Avonlea (from the books) which was mostly a tourist trap.  We intended to visit later in the day, but ended up running out of time.

Cavendish Beach

After thoroughly exploring the Green Gables House, we decided to head to the coast near Cavendish which inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write many poems. We entered PEI National Park along the northern shore. We stopped briefly at an overlook where we could see the gorgeous red sand cliffs.

We had been planning on visiting Cavendish Beach and we saw that we could walk there from the overlook. It said it was a short walk and we knew it would be beautiful, so we set off. Upon reflection, we really wish we had better prepared for this. We didn’t bring the stroller OR the carrier, so we ended up just carrying Kiddo. It was too far for that to be comfortable. The walk was lovely- taking us through the dunes, near the coast, and across the Lake of Shining Waters.

We hadn’t expected Cavendish Beach to be so crowded! In our head, we thought, why would anyone swim? The water is so cold! However, we were sorely mistaken. We made our way down to the beach and sat for a little bit. Kiddo really enjoyed digging in the sand… and getting it ALL OVER himself- like into every nook and cranny. We also let him put his toes in the water. However, we weren’t really prepared to swim so we had to cut the trip short. We wanted to change him completely before the semi long drive back to Summerside and it was getting late. Eric ran back to get the car while Della tried to give Kiddo a shower and get him changed without getting too wet herself.

Scenic Drives

Throughout our 2 days in PEI, we ended up doing most of the Central Coastal Drive.  We did the southern Red Sands Shore on our way back from Charlottetown to Summerside and did some of the Green Gables Shore on our day exploring Cavendish. There are lots of scenic drives throughout the island because the entire place is gorgeous!

Where We Ate

Our best meal by far was near Cavendish. We went out to North Rustico for a late lunch at Blue Mussel.  We shared a seafood chowder poutine, Della got a lobster roll, and Eric got a bubbly seafood bake. The setting was lovely and the restaurant quite pleasant!

Traveling with Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

In one of our prior posts, we shared our strategy for eating out so much with a toddler. That strategy worked pretty well for *most* of the trip. However, at the halfway point, in PEI, he had started getting sick of it. There were one or two difficult meals where he was pretty antsy and grumpy. So, in PEI we made the choice to order in to our hotel a couple of times. This meant that Kiddo could run around the room and play with his books and toys while we ate.

Swimming with a toddler is a much more difficult proposition that we were anticipating. He doesn’t really understand the concept of “just putting your toes in.” If you’re swimming in the ocean with a toddler, ideally, you do not have to get there in the car and you have multiple people to help with the showering/cleaning up afterwards. The idea of putting a wet toddler in a car seat you need to use again soon with sand caking the inside of his diaper is very unappealing.

Kiddo was at a stage where he really wanted to do a lot of walking himself. However, that makes the hikes go very very slowly. We struggled to keep him moving forward and not stopping to check out every single rock and leaf. That was until we figured out that he was super excited about trying to run with help. He couldn’t really run by himself yet, but we we both held his hands and said “run run run” he would move forward at the quickest pace he could!

We have never visited so many playgrounds than we did on this trip. There were often times when Kiddo just needed a chance to run around and enjoy himself. We downloaded a playground app called Playground Buddy which seems to be a crowdsourced app to give information about playgrounds near you. It worked OK, but it needs more people! Join and give info about your playgrounds. (If you happen to know another app that you use for this purpose, please share!) We also just ended up googling to find the nearest places. Kiddo was much happier even if we just took a break to play for 15-20 min. We even found one near our hotel in Summerside so he could play before our long drive to Halifax.

 

Fun Days Exploring the Bay of Fundy

We explored the Bay of Fundy along the Canadian province of New Brunswick as part of our 2 week trip to New England and Canada. We rented a car in Boston and then traveled through parts of Maine.

The overland border crossing from Maine into New Brunswick was quite easy. We had no wait and were asked only very general questions about where we were going and coming from.

What We Did

Our first stop in Canada was St. Andrews by-the-Sea. We had rented a room at the Salty Towers on Airbnb. It was a large old house that felt a lot like a hostel (not a “party” hostel though, more for older travelers). Our room had a private bathroom and they had a pack n play for us!

As we were driving into town, we saw a lot of people wearing red and a lot of Canadian flags out, so we thought that it was either a very patriotic town or something special was going on. As it turns out, just by coincidence we had arrived on Canada Day! We walked the main drag in downtown and it was just alive with people strolling up and down in their patriotic gear. The energy was great! However, it was a bit hard to find a place to eat with a table available and a high chair. We eventually settled on Water St Diner. We shared a poutine for an appetizer – fun to be back in Canada! After finishing dinner (and exploring briefly a Canadian Dollar Store), we paused in the main square to listen to some music. They had several kids come up to Floss to the music which Della thought was hilarious.

Once we were back in our room, we got ready for bed, but then a fireworks display started. We had an excellent view from our bedroom window so watched for awhile. Unfortunately, it did mean that Kiddo had a little bit of trouble getting to sleep and stayed up quite late!

Trying to fall asleep post fireworks

From St. Andrew’s we took the 2.5 hour drive to Fundy National Park. The drive into the park was scenic, but before doing anything in the park itself, we continued on just past the park into Alma to eat lunch. We were a little disappointed with our lunch choice. The Octopus Garden had a very long wait for our food to arrive. We actually ended up having to take Kiddo outside for awhile because it took so long and he was getting antsy. It also, unfortunately, cut into our time for exploring the park.

After lunch we did a quick stop at the Visitor Center and decided that we only had time to do part of a hike. We ended up doing the first half of the Matthews Head hike which took us through dense forest out to a viewpoint over the bay. We took a few minutes to sit in the classic red Adirondack chairs to contemplate life. Then we headed back. Kiddo rode in a baby carrier for the way out and then did a bit of walking himself on the way back. Unfortunately, we only scratched the surface of Fundy National Park on a day that was a bit cloudy.

After spending a few days exploring Prince Edward Island and Halifax, we returned to the Bay of Fundy. The Bay is know for its extremely high tides, so we were excited to check out Hopewell Rocks. We rushed in, driving the approximately 3 hours from Halifax, hoping to arrive before high tide. Our timing was actually quite good. At lowest tide, you can apparently walk about 250 yards out on the sea floor. We arrived with about an hour left of access to the ocean floor. The Hopewell Rocks themselves are distinctive rock formations. We walked down to explore around them by foot. As the time passed, we enjoyed watching the water come closer and closer, until, eventually it got so high, we had to exit the sea floor and head up several flights of stairs to re-access the trail on the cliffs above.

Back at the main visitor area, there was a playground. We let Kiddo play for awhile and we all ate a picnic lunch before we headed off for our afternoon drive to Saint John.

We arrived to a heavy covering of fog. Right after we got checked in to our hotel, the skies opened up and it began to pour. We had been hoping to walk into downtown for dinner, but chose to drive to avoid getting soaked. It was a frustrating drive- while only a mile away, we made multiple wrong turns! And, due to the way the roads went and some construction, for every wrong turn, we had to essentially come all the way back to the hotel and try again! We were all getting quite frustrated and hangry!

Dinner was at St. John Ale House which we enjoyed OK, though it was a little slow for a frustrated family with a toddler. Della got a blueberry ale which was quite delicious and Eric enjoyed a taster tray of local ales. The food was tasty.

Even though it was almost dark at this point, we had checked the tide charts, and we had only one potential chance to see the famous Reversing Falls. Because the tides are so high, the river flowing into the bay actually reverses direction at high tide. We thought we arrived within 30 minutes of high tide, but the river still seemed to be flowing into the bay. We were too tired to stick around. We later read that the reversing might only happen at the very highest tide for a few minutes. We were bummed to miss it.

still appears to be flowing downstream…

The following day was lovely and sunny! We walked back into downtown for some sightseeing. We walked along the Harbour Passage trail into town from our hotel. It was a lovely walk along the Bay full of joggers and bikers. We particularly enjoyed walking next to the fragrant rose bushes planted all along the way. We decided to take a self-guided historic tour we found online here. We took the Prince William Walk which helped us explore the merchant heritage of Saint John. Some of the highlights were a Market Square, the old city hall, and several old banks. All the buildings were beautiful and we generally enjoyed the ambiance. We ended up at the “Three Sisters” light fixture where we took a jelfie before heading back up Germain St. Kiddo enjoyed doing a little bit of walking on his own. It was fun learning a bit of the history- apparently Saint John was essentially built by loyalists to Britain who escaped from the USA after the American Revolution.

We enjoyed our time along the Bay of Fundy – especially exploring St. Andrews and Saint John!

Traveling With Kiddo (Lessons Learned)

We had been planning on bringing a pack n play with us on this trip. We have a nice one that is quite light and packs into a bag that can carried on our backs – As far as pack n plays go- it’s a great one for travel. However, the more we thought about it, the more we knew we just didn’t want to carry it. It is another piece of luggage that would take up space on our backs getting to and from the airport, and in the our possibly compact car. Della had joined several Traveling Family facebook groups before the trip and she heard about a baby tent! We purchased a Kilofly Pop Up Portable Baby Travel Bed. There are many of these out there, but we chose this one because it came with a pad. Originally, we thought we would put this on the floor and it would contain Kiddo a little bit. As we went on, we ultimately decided that the pad wasn’t padded enough so throughout the trip we put the tent on cushions, a mattress on the floor, and a folded blanket. In several hotel rooms, we had 2 beds so we put it on the other bed. He rolls a lot in his sleep and could crawl out of the tent if he tried, so we often barricaded it on the bed with other luggage. This made us nervous a few nights, but ultimately, it worked really well! AND, it folds up so small, you can just pop it in your suitcase!

We bought and used a LOT of milk on this trip. Kiddo was at a stage where he was done with nursing/formula but still counting on milk for a lot of his calories. Because we were often driving all day, the milk would be in our hot car. We brought a folding cooler with us on the trip and were so glad that we at least had a way to try to keep the milk cold! We did purchase a small ice pack at one point, which would have been nice to have the whole time.

2 Week Itinerary: New England and Canada

This was our first international trip with Kiddo! It was also the first trip we were to embark upon with him where we were not completely visiting friends/family or taking family with us. We were a bit nervous, but ultimately, it worked out really well!

At this point in time, Kiddo was still taking two naps per day – though to be fair, he mostly didn’t need them both. We were holding on to the 2nd nap because we liked it for ourselves! However, it did give us an outline for how we would plan this trip. Initially, we decided to fly to Boston because there was a direct flight on Southwest. (We currently hold a companion pass!) We knew we had a few friends scattered throughout New England that it would be fun to see. We also each had a few states up there that we had not been to. In addition, we saw that you could easily drive up to Canada, and in particular, to Prince Edward Island (PEI). We were excited that Kiddo could cross an international border and Della has been a fan of Anne of Green Gables so has always wanted to get to PEI. We decided to plan around those locations. We knew that Kiddo would nap in the car in the morning but then need something to interest and excite him in the afternoon before he would sleep in the car again in the afternoon. So, our goal was to never drive more than about 3 hours at a time and to always pick somewhere interesting to be in the middle of the day.

The 2 week itinerary was as follows:

Day 1: Arrive Boston
Day 2-3: Explore Boston
Day 4: Boston to Portland, Maine. We spent the middle of the day visiting a friend who we had experienced the Nepal Earthquake with us in Kennebunk, ME.
Day 5: Portland to St. Andrews, New Brunswick (Canada). We spent the middle of the day in Bangor, ME.
Day 6: St. Andrews to Summerside, PEI. We spent the middle of the day exploring Fundy National Park.
Day 7-8: PEI: one day exploring Charlottetown and one day exploring Cavendish
Day 9: PEI to Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was only a 3 hour drive.
Day 10: Halifax to Saint John, NB. We spent the middle of the day exploring Hopewell Rocks along the Bay of Fundy.
Day 11: Saint John to Northport, ME where we met a good friend of Della’s. We stopped for lunch in Machias, ME and then we explored Wild Blueberry Land near Columbia Falls, ME.
Day 12: Northport, ME
Day 13: Explored Acadia National Park
Day 14: Northport, ME to North Conway, New Hampshire. We stopped for lunch and a playground in Bridgeport.
Day 15: North Conway back to Boston via the scenic Kancamagus Highway.
Day 16: Boston with an evening flight home!

We really enjoyed the trip and our strategy of having Kiddo nap twice a day in the car worked almost flawlessly!