Fort Anne, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia by NSTAFort Anne National Historic site © Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

With a population of only 500, ‘Canada’s birthplace’ boasts picturesque gardens, fascinating history and a unique atmosphere.

It is hard not to like Annapolis Royal. Firstly, it has a delightful setting on the Annapolis Basin shore – and wonderful views across the water to the pretty village of Granville Ferry from a boardwalk with benches, picnic tables and a lighthouse. The town (with a population of approximately 500) has a tree-lined main street, one end of which is dotted with gracious mansions, many of which help make up what is the largest concentration of heritage buildings in Nova Scotia, with more than 120 municipally registered properties, 20 provincial heritage properties and five federally designated properties. Several of these house some of the province’s best inns and B&Bs.

You’ll find lovely gardens to stroll through and waterside trails to wander, and you can also visit North America’s first tidal power-generating plant. There are galleries and a theatre with a good year-round programme. You can visit a historical site dating back four centuries, take a candlelit graveyard tour, wander around a museum housed in a 300-year-old building, or amble through an early 18th-century cemetery. Although all of these can be reached easily on foot, a short drive will take you to the site of one of the earliest permanent European settlements in North America, a good golf course, a beautiful hiking trail to the Bay of Fundy shore, or Nova Scotia’s biggest theme park. Despite all this, Annapolis Royal only gets really busy during some of the bigger festivals (and on sunny summer Saturday mornings for the market).

Don’t come to ‘Canada’s birthplace’ for the nightlife (though there is a friendly little pub, the evening’s best entertainment is a candlelit graveyard walking tour), but do come to soak up the history and unique atmosphere. And note that the town doesn’t end at the junction of St George Street and Drury Lane: continue less than a hundred metres further on St George Street to see a couple of interesting shops (one with a café), a nice children’s playground, and the O’Dell Museum.

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