The free Mahone Bay Settlers Museum, 578 Main St. (; 902/624-6263), provides a historic context for your explorations. From June through September, it’s open daily 10am to 5pm. The little museum includes a selection of antique ceramics, an exhibit on local architecture, and another on boatbuilding. All are quite informative. Before leaving, be sure to request a copy of "Three Walking Tours of Mahone Bay," a handy brochure that outlines easy walks around the compact downtown.

Thanks to the looping waterside routes nearby, this is a popular destination for walkers and bikers. Rent a bike from Sweet Ride Cycling at 523 Main St. (www.sweetridecycling.com902/531-3026) where a half-day costs you just C$20 or C$30 for a full day.

And the deep, protected harbor offers superb sea kayaking. Contact East Coast Outfitters (; 877/852-2567 or 902/852-2567), based in the Peggy’s Cove area near Halifax, for rentals and tours. They offer half-day introductory classes and a 5-day coastal tour of the area. Among the more popular adventures is the daylong introductory tour, in which paddlers explore the complex shoreline and learn about kayaking in the process. The price is C$135 per person, C$155 if you bring your own picnic. Rentals are also available, starting at about C$50 per half-day for a single kayak.

Ross Farm Museum (www.rossfarm.novascotia.ca877/689-2210 or 902/689-2210) at 4568 Rte. 12, off Route 103, is an unusually entertaining “living experience museum” that draws visitors in to life of the 1800s. Guests can ride horse-drawn sleighs, make horseshoes, pet lambs, “go to school” in the one-room schoolhouse and will smell cookies or stew cooking over a wood fire. The oxen that graze here are a highlight: big, lumbering, and beautiful. Costumed interpreters discuss heritage animal breeds and many things related to running a farm or a family home. This is one of my favorite stops winter or summer. I love the slowdown to quieter times, walking the interpretative trails, getting my hands dirty in the kitchen or the barn, and visiting the people and the animals. Allow half a day to truly enjoy country life.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.