With a population of around a million combined, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island offer striking natural beauty and Maritime flavor filled with picturesque seascapes, wild salmon rivers and fresh lobsters boiling in the pots of quaint seaside restaurants in fishing villages up and down their coastlines.
Around a quarter of the population of the Maritimes resides in the greater Halifax area, the economic, political and cultural center of Atlantic Canada. Paired with Dartmouth along either side of a magnificent natural harbor, Halifax cuts an impressive skyline and features an inviting waterfront. Its strategic location on the North Atlantic makes it an attractive destination for visitors from all over the world by land and by sea. Halifax is the northern-most ice-free port on the western Atlantic and the city is pleased to roll out the red carpet with a wide variety of entertainment, dining, lodging and sight-seeing options. With a rich tradition stretching back more than 250 years, historic Halifax makes a fitting front door to Canada.
Seafood lovers won't be disappointed with the fabulous array, with cold-water lobster heading the long list. For a low-cost, stick-to-your-ribs kind of food, try poutine -- a dish that is so popular that you will even find it in some the McDonald's of eastern Canada. Poutine consists of french fries topped with melted cheese and beef gravy; a cardiologist's nightmare perhaps, but it's very good, very filling and VERY Canadian.
History buffs will enjoy the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Included in the collection is an authentic deck chair from the Titanic. Around 150 victims of the disaster are buried in three Halifax cemeteries.
For those looking to range a bit beyond the region of the provincial capital, consider devoting a day and a night or two toward seeing the Cape Breton Highlands, an impressive national park with breaktaking views. Whale-watching tours are available and there are plenty of places to stay, particularly for those who enjoy the 'bed & breakfast' type of experience.
One of my regular stops is the Town of Truro, past the airport exit and about an hour from Halifax. It's probably nothing special to most; one never knows exactly what causes that special familiarity to develop with a place. In May, there is an annual tulip festival (and weather permitting, it will even feature tulips). But the real treat is the 1,000 acre Victoria Park which is right in town and features beautiful walking trails, long staircases up steep embankments and picturesque waterfalls.
For a travel value with plenty to do, plenty of charm and a lot to see that is north of the tourist crushes and high prices of popular U.S. destinations, Halifax and the Maritimes are well worth investigating.