Cape Breton Island is at the eastern end of Nova Scotia and is most famous for the Cabot Trail roadway encircling the island. We spent a few days exploring the Cabot trail which included a hike at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Our home in Cape Breton was the lovely Inverary resort. Centrally located, it offers waterfront access to the Bras d’Or Lakes and has the unique position of sitting at the start and end of the world famous Cabot Trail. They offer four types of accommodations, we opted for a cottage so that we could have some quiet time and the kids could run around outside. Before we arrived, the manager at the hotel sent us a very detailed list of points of interest along the Cabot trail. These are some of the things that are good for families travelling with young children.
Lake-O-Law Provincial Park
The park features picnic areas and is a great location for swimming. The mountains surrounding these lakes are called “The Three Sister Mountains”. Go to the beach and look up, you won’t be disappointed. The kids loved swimming here and I loved that it wasn’t overly busy and had amazing views.
Dancing Goat Café
This was a favourite for the kids who loved the food here. They have scones, homemade soups and sandwiches. Everything is homemade, including the bread. It’s a great place to stop for lunch and refuel for a fun afternoon ahead.
Getting here is a little tricky; you have to turn left to Margaree Harbour and then make an immediate right. This drive takes you straight down the Margaree Harbour Beach. There are two light houses there that are still used today. The whole family loved the lighthouses – but really who doesn’t?
Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre
It might feel a bit odd when you first come upon it, but the kids enjoyed checking out the various masks and learning about Acadian Culture. Mi-Carême, or Mid-Lent, is a celebration involving masks and disguises. The Mi-Carême Centre, opened in May 2009 and explores and teaches visitors about this ancient celebration.
There are so many interesting spots along the Cabot Trail. One of our favourites was Cheticamp Island. To get there, you’ll take the second dirt road on your right after you pass the Mi-Carême Centre. It’s a cow pasture, so you will likely have to stop and let the cattle cross the road (like the chickens, we don’t know why they cross the road either). They are very friendly, and some of them will come right up to the car. Once you can safely cross, stay on the dirt road to the end where the lighthouse is. We stopped here for a snack and waited for some whales to come by. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any while we were there, but we’ve been told this is a great viewing point because the fisherman set their traps out there and it is a feeding ground for the whales.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
If you can only stop one place along the Cabot Trail, you must stop at Cape Breton Highlands National Park and take the skyline trail. It’s about 7 kilometres, but well-maintained trail and many parts have a boardwalk. At the end of the end of the trail there is a boardwalk to the bottom with the most amazing views you can imagine. Trust me when I say the pictures do not do justice to the beauty of this place. With the ocean on one side and the Cape Breton Highlands on the other, you have to go to experience it. La Bloc beach is part of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and I found the story of La Bloc fascinating. It is a short drive down a dirt road, right along the water. There are kiosks that contain the information about the village that had to be moved so that the park could be established. Drive in and take the time to get out of your car and walk the rocky shore. You won’t regret it.
A bit of a detour, and the last 6 kilometers are on a maintained dirt road, but it is worth every minute of the drive. Meat Cove is at the most northerly point of Cape Breton. A great spot to stop is Cabot’s Landing beach. Rumor has it this is where Giovanni Caboto (aka John Cabot) landed and discovered Cape Breton. It’s a great spot with a beautiful beach, picnic tables, and fire pits.
Alexander Graham Bell historic site
This was the first place with play area we had seen in a while and the kids were ecstatic to find it.I was quite happy to sit and watch them play. Hallelujah!!! After you have explored all the exhibits inside, be sure to go outside and explore the beautiful gardens. It was a nice place to stop on our way to North Sydney to get the Ferry for Newfoundland and a great piece of Canadian History to show the kids.