In early September of 2019, we spent five idyllic days in this historic, vibrant fishing town.
Exactly The Kind Of Place We Enjoy
Some of the places we’ve most enjoyed in our travels have been small towns with a rich maritime heritage. Even better is if they’re walkable, photogenic, and have good restaurants featuring local seafood. Big bonus points for cool coffee shops, breweries or distilleries, interesting museums, local artists, and biking opportunities.
Lunenburg has it all, wrapped up in a small, colorful package.
We happened to be in Lunenburg over the 2019 Labor Day/Labour Day weekend. Just like in the States, it’s the last big hurrah of the summer season. But the town was surprisingly—and wonderfully—mellow.
Just 58 miles from our previous stop in Halifax, Lunenburg is tucked into Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Famous for its historic architecture and picturesque waterfront, it’s the best preserved example of a British colonial settlement in North America. For that reason, the town was declared a World Heritage UNESCO site.
Many of the historic buildings in Lunenburg are painted in vivid jelly bean hues, including fire engine red, saffron, lime green, and magenta. These wild colors are authentic Victorian choices, particularly in seaside towns. Apparently, ship captains painted their homes the same color as their ships, which made the ships easier to identify as they sailed into their home port.
We loved staying at the little campground run by the Lunenburg Board of Trade. It’s perched high on a hill, and just a five-minute walk to town (or longer, depending on how many homes you stop to admire along the way).
We strolled down the steep hill every morning, with our first stop at Laughing Whale Coffee Roasters for very good coffee. We then spent our days wandering and exploring (including perusing menus for meals out). In our travels, we love culinary adventures. We have been stuck at home with our own cooking for a VERY long time now.
For larger images, click on photos
Lunenburg has a handful of excellent restaurants, with seafood as the star attraction. Our meals at the Beach Pea Kitchen and the Salt Shaker Deli were fantastic. They really know how to do seafood right in the Maritimes. And they know how to plate it, too! Why do my attempts at plating never look this good? I need to practice. I’ll add it to my pandemic hobby list.
In our town meanderings, we stopped by Ironworks Distillery to check out the offerings. Housed in an 1893 marine blacksmith’s shop, their delicious spirits are crafted from local fruits and herbs. We came away with an excellent gin (infused with local juniper berries and balsam fir tips) and an apple brandy. We’ve been a bit wary of buying brandy since our experience in Kentucky a couple of years ago, where we bought a bottle of brandy that we thought was delicious at the tasting, but almost set our hair on fire when we tried drinking it at home. This one stayed smooth and delicious. Too delicious, in fact. It was gone in two weeks. We should have bought more.
In writing this post and adding links, I’m happy to see that all of these businesses have survived the trying times of the pandemic.
The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
For a deeper dive into the connection that Lunenburg has to the sea, we spent several hours at the small but excellent Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. The exhibits are well done, and the interpreters provide entertaining insights into maritime life. Did you know that a lobster can live at least 100 years and never stops growing? The largest lobster ever caught came from Nova Scotia, and was 3.5 feet long and weighed 44 pounds. That would take a big cooking pot.
Biking To Mahone Bay
Mahone Bay is a pretty little village not far from Lunenburg. We biked the Bay to Bay Trail, a 6.7 mile trail that winds through woodlands to the center of Mahone Bay. Lunch at Rebecca’s and afternoon coffee at The Barn Coffee and Social House made for a fun day of adventure.
Best of all were the interesting series of sculptures along the forested part of the trail. The Riverbank Habitat Sculpture Project was created as a living public art installation designed as a safe place for small critters to rest and store food. The forms were inspired by the stacked firewood seen throughout the countryside. Eventually, the sculptures will break down and return to the earth.
Blue Rocks: An Authentic Fishing Village?
I had heard that Blue Rocks is an authentic fishing village, so I wanted to visit. In my opinion, it does not look like a working fishing village. If you want to see a true, unpolished working fishing town, come to Eastpoint, Florida (where we are now living). I’ll write more about that sometime.
However, Blue Rocks is lovely, with blue slate rocks that edge the ocean and picturesque fishing cottages. It’s about a 10-minute drive from Lunenburg.