Tips for Planning a FAMILY Trip to Cape Breton

Normally, our summers are packed with organized sports and a family trip to Prince Edward Island with our family from Ontario, but this year (with Covid 19 restrictions in place), we decided to plan some "staycations" closer to home. One of our recent adventures included a wonderful 4 day trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Today, I sharing some highlights from our Cabot Trail vacation, and some tips that you can use when planning your own trip.

First, let me share our four day itinerary...

Day 1 - We started our Cape Breton adventure by driving from our home in Antigonish. We made a short stop in Baddeck to check out the Red Barn and the waterfront. We didn't have time to tour the Alexander Graham Bell Museum (which I hear is great), but we did find a statue of him and his wife on the waterfront.

Baddeck, NS

Red Barn, Baddeck, NS
Alexander Graham Bell Statue, Baddeck, NS

Then, we started our Cabot Trail adventure and we made our way to Ingonish, enjoying the beautiful scenery as we drove. In Ingonish, we enjoyed: beautiful Ingonish beach, Salty Rose's and the Periwinkle Cafe, the Groovy Goat Farm (where the kids were able to pet goats and I was able to buy some wonderful goat milk soap), the Bean Barn Cafe (which I would highly recommend for good food at a good price for families), a safe beach for swimming (down the Wharf Road... just past the Groovy Goat), and a quick round of golf at Highland links (6 at 6 special). We spent the night at Skyline Cabins, and we hit the road again the next morning.

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, NS
Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, NS

Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton, NS
Salty Rose's and the Periwinkle Cafe, Ingonish, Cape Breton, NS
Groovy Goat Farm and Soap Company, Ingonish, Cape Breton, NS
Bean Barn Cafe, Ingonish, Cape Breton, NS
Beach (near the Groovy Goat), Ingonish, Cape Breton, NS
Highland Links golf course, Ingonish, Cape Breton, NS
SkyLine Cabins, Ingonish, Cape Breton, NS

Day 2 - On Day 2, we continued our drive around the Cabot Trail. We saw some great scenery along the way, stopped at Black Brook beach, and enjoyed a bowl of chowder in Meat Cove. Then, we stopped in Cheticamp to do the Skyline Trail (but it was too foggy so we opted to save the hike for another trip), we went for a swim at Gypsum Mines (a highlight for my boys), and hiked down to Egypt Falls (which was a really tough, steep hike... but totally gorgeous!). We made our way to Inverness, and stayed overnight at the Glenorra Distillery (which has a fantastic restaurant with live music).

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, 
Black Brook Beach, Cape Breton, NS
Meat Cove, Cape Breton, NS
Meat Cove Chowder Hut, Cape Breton, NS
Gypsum Mines, Cheticamp, Cape Breton, NS

Gypsum Mines, Cheticamp, Cape Breton, NS
Egypt Falls, Cape Breton, NS
Glenora Distillery, Inverness, Cape Breton, NS

Day 3 - We spent the day exploring the beautiful town of Inverness. We collected sea glass at Inverness Beach, went to see the horse races (which the kids loved), and visited Chimney Corner beach.
Inverness Beach, Cape Breton, NS
Sea glass collected at Inverness Beach, Cape Breton, NS
Inverness Race Track, Cape Breton, NS
A "win" at Inverness Race Track, Cape Breton, NS
Chimney Corner Beach, Cape Breton, NS
Chimney Corner Beach, Cape Breton, NS

Day 4 - It was time to head home, but we made a few stops along the way. We checked out, West Mabou beach, flew a kite at the beach in Port Hood, and stopped at Snow Queen Leisure World in Antigonish (for ice cream, mini golf, and a ride on the go carts).

West Mabou Beach, Cape Breton, NS
Port Hood Beach, Cape Breton, NS
Snow Queen Leisure World, Antigonish, NS

We had a fantastic vacation, and I would highly recommend a family trip to the beautiful island of Cape Breton. If you decide to take a similar road trip, here are some tips you might find helpful:

  • Have a plan. For our trip, we researched popular attractions, mapped out where we wanted to go and what we hoped to do (including travel time), and booked our accommodations. We weren’t afraid to deviate from our plan, but the framework we created kept us focussed and organized.
  • Make sure everyone is comfortable, hydrated, and well fed. We love stopping at popular local eateries, but we always have water bottles, snacks, and a well stocked cooler in our van. Healthy snacks and supplies to make sandwiches “on the go” are always accessible. 
  • Have entertainment for the passengers. Even beautiful scenery, like the Cabot Trail, only holds kids’ attention for short periods of time. Movies, music, podcasts, road trip scavenger hunts, and e-books/regular books are great options for passing the time. 
  • Stop often. Kids are not designed to spend endless hours trapped in a vehicle, so if the kids need a break, or you see something interesting on the side of the road, stop. The stops along the way really are what make a family road trip fun and memorable. 

Have you taken any fun road trips this year? Where did you go? I can't wait for our next one!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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