In Nova Scotia, hitting the links is almost synonymous with hitting the road. After all, this Maritime province on Canada’s east coast is a road-tripper’s mapbook of historic sites, jaw-dropping scenery, sublime cuisine, and plenty of golf courses to practice your swing as you explore. Check out these eight stellar spots to tee off on Nova Scotia’s Golf Trail.
With more than a dozen golf courses, Nova Scotia’s buzzing capital city is an essential stop on your route when traveling through Halifax.
Located just nine miles from downtown, award-winning The Links at Brunello, one of the province’s newest golf courses, is a 7,089-yard natural playground featuring the handiwork of golf architect Thomas McBroom. Along with spectacular fairways and gorgeous views, the course has dog-friendly tee times on Sundays.
Farther afield in Hammonds Plains, championship 18-hole Glen Arbour promises to enchant and challenge everyone who comes to play. Designed by Canadian golf course architect Graham Cooke, the course delights with dramatic elevation changes and natural hazards such as pristine Sandy Lake.
Stay: Check into a stylish contemporary suite at the luxurious Prince George Hotel in the heart downtown Halifax; it’s just a stroll from the harbor. Or opt for old-world charm at the Halliburton (guest rooms are in historic townhouses), where you can relax in the garden or cozy up in front of the fireplace in Sir Brenton’s Library.
Eat: For a taste of the sea, find a seat at Bar Kismet, where you can savour dishes such as charred mackerel and treats like the bittersweet chocolate-sesame tart. For upscale Italian fare, head to The Bicycle Thief (located at Bishop’s Landing) and indulge in Cioppino (a seafood stew), along with classic pasta dishes like handmade gnocchi all’Amatriciana.
Cape Breton Island
Continue north, driving the famous 185-mile Cabot Trail to Cape Breton Island (Forbes magazine called it “the hottest island for golf”) and the idyllic beach community of Inverness. Here, you’ll find out first-hand why Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses have earned worldwide acclaim. There’s a wealth of beachfront holes scented with sea air, angular cliffs overlooking the ocean, and sand dunes that seem to stretch to infinity. Along with such stunning settings, both 18-hole courses welcome serious and novice golfers alike to play on their rolling fairways etched from the natural landscape.
To find another otherworldly place to play, round the top of Cape Breton Island, then drive south along the Atlantic to the rural community of Ingonish Beach. For more than 75 years, Cape Breton Highlands Links has been luring wilderness lovers here to tee off in its unique location: Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Deep canyons and towering cliffs characterize this stretch of land where, in the 1930s, Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson realized his vision for designing a course in an area reminiscent of Scotland, the birthplace of golf. Thompon gave each hole a Gaelic name and the greens have been provocatively described as “devilish, plummeting, clever” and “downright fascinating.”
Stay: Rest up at the secluded Glenora Inn and Distillery Resort in Inverness and enjoy a nightcap of its award-winning whisky before you tuck in. For a front-row view of the Cabot Links golf course, stay overnight at Dusky Diamond Bed & Breakfast, a 1900s-era Victorian house that features a gorgeous verandah.
Eat: Take in glorious vistas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence over a dinner of Nova Scotia lobster or grilled ribeye steak at the Panorama Restaurant situated at Cabot Links golf course. Farther afield in Sydney, you’ll find Flavor on the Water, a modern bistro turning out delectable items like crabcakes, local halibut, and vegan curries.
Make your way back to the mainland to explore Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore and Fox Harb’r Resort, a golfer’s paradise nestled in the picturesque town of Wallace. The championship 18-hole course (there’s also a par 3 course) melds Canadian and Scottish sensibilities. Stroll through quintessentially Canadian shaded forests and alongside wetlands on its outward nine, then discover the course’s rugged back nine that huddles up against the coast. You’ll be playing in the shadow of giants likes Tiger Woods who challenged former basketball pro Charles Barkley here in a nine-hole exhibition match.
Stay: Start your day with an invigorating yoga class when staying in Pictou at Pictou Lodge Beach Resort, which features gorgeous oceanview cottages and chalets. For another type of unique experience, sleep inside a caboose or boxcar at the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche.
Eat: Enjoy award-winning global cuisine at Gabrieau’s Bistro, which serves up dry-aged AAA Canadian beef, along with sumptuous seafood dishes. Period decor abounds at the Amherst Shore Country Inn, a family run establishment near Amherst that offers four-course dinners every evening.
Bay of Fundy
Tearing yourself away from such a superlative setting will be challenge enough, but the awe-inspiring Bay of Fundy is a destination unto itself. The unique coastal environment is best known for having the highest tides on the planet (watch for humpback, fin, and minke whales swimming offshore), plus more than 40 geosites where you can spot dinosaur fossils. It’s also home to Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa, which just marked its 90th year. Another legacy of golf architect Stanley Thompson, the 18-hole championship course in Digby (dubbed “Canada’s Natural Aquarium”) ambles through pine groves and beside a brook, offering golfers a natural sanctuary in which to practice their swing while inhaling the fragrance of the forest.
Stay: The historic Harbourview Inn & Winchester House in Smith’s Cove near the Bay of Fundy offers lovely rooms with modern amenities and period furnishings that take you back in time. For more modern flair, bed down in the contemporary Dockside Suites situated in the Fundy Complex overlooking the Digby waterfront.
Eat: In Summerville, sustainable seafood and local and organic ingredients are mainstays at The Flying Apron Inn and Cookery, where fresh pastas, salads, and soul-warming seafood chowder are menu must-haves. Digby is famed for its briny scallops and Fundy Restaurant is the ideal place to bite into juicy bacon-wrapped scallops, steamed mussels, and more, while watched the tides ebb and flow.