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Fall en Route to Canada’s Maritime Provinces

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Cape Breton in Fall

Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, offers breathtaking foliage views.

(Photo: Wally Hayes)

My daughter, Clara, and I have meandered our way throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on several road trips. We’ve found that early fall is the perfect time for a northeastern drive into Canada, as the trip offers an early look at peak autumn colors, with maples and poplars showcasing crisper reds and oranges each hour traveled north.

I’ve put together an autumn itinerary that encompasses some of our greatest hits of travel experiences for a family road trip to the Maritime Provinces.

View the slideshow below.

Maine

It starts in Bar Harbor, Maine, a seaside town that serves as a base camp to explore Acadia National Park. When Clara could still fit into a hiking pack, she and I walked many of Acadia’s trails and often ended up at popular Sand Beach. While there, a drive up Cadillac Mountain offers the opportunity to spy the sunrise before the rest of the U.S., and sweeping views of the rocky islands in the Gulf of Maine.

Cadillac Mountain, Maine

A road trip to Canada’s Maritime Provinces should start at Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine, for expansive views of fall’s vivid colors and the first glimpse of sunrise from the United States.

(Photo: EJ-J / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

New Brunswick

We then drive northeast along coastal Route 1 into New Brunswick, Canada, arriving at St. Andrews by-the-Sea, a tranquil town with some of the highest – and quickest – tides in the world. It’s easy to become mesmerized by the incoming swells, when land is swallowed up by the foot and tidal creatures rush in to invade the beach.

Prince Edward Island

The next day, we cross the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island to commune with “kindred spirits” who learned of this province through the “Anne of Green Gables” book series. Anne-themed attractions abound, with Green Gables Heritage Place serving as a shrine for fans.

Nova Scotia

A short ferry ride into Nova Scotia and a brief drive brings us to Cape Breton, an island known for its thriving Celtic music scene. The Celtic Colours International Festival is held in early October, but you can find great fiddle and piano music anytime. The views on the island are just as much a pull as the music: It’s as if the lush rolling hills of Scotland were transplanted to Canada (although with better weather).

Fiddlers at Cape Breton

The Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton takes place in October.

(Photo: Murdock Smith / Celtic Colours)

Halifax

We then travel south across mainland Nova Scotia to Halifax, the commercial center of the Maritime Provinces that’s retained its architectural charm from past centuries. There we walk the 19th century Citadel, a fort on a hill overlooking Halifax Harbor. The clear views, which once provided early warning of a possible attack from land and sea, now give visitors a panoramic view of greater Halifax. The landscape is usually awash in reds and oranges that look like distant campfires.

Afterward, we head slightly north to spy Nova Scotia’s dramatic coastline along the Bay of Fundy before dipping down to Yarmouth, where we catch the ferry to Portland, Maine. While the end of a trip is always bittersweet, we come home with the secret knowledge of the autumn beauty soon to come to New England.

AAA members receive CAT Cash when booking the CAT Ferry service between Maine and Nova Scotia. Find out more.

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