Plan your Cumberland County vacation in Nova Scotia | Road trip routes, regions, and where to stay

by W. Andrew Powell
Wallace, Nova Scotia

Cumberland County, Nova Scotia is filled with hidden gems, refreshing small towns, and lots of great Maritime food and hospitality. It’s a beautiful area to explore, especially in summer and early fall, and everything is along an easy route for a fun road trip.

Planning a vacation in the area is surprisingly easy, and it’s perfect for trips over three or four days, or a full week.

Hikers and bikers will love getting out and enjoying the fresh air along the coast and through untouched scenic paths. Foodies, wine, and beer lovers will enjoy excellent meals and local vintages. And families will love the opportunity to unplug, slow down, and discover hidden gems.

Read on for our full route guide, suggestions on areas to stay in, and when to visit.

Planning your route through Cumberland County

Amherst, Nova Scotia
Amherst, Nova Scotia

Like all great Maritime trips, the best way to get around is by car. You can either drive into the area from the west, through New Brunswick, or you can fly into one of two airports and rent a car for your trip.

From the west, you can fly into Moncton, New Brunswick and rent a car, and then drive through Cumberland County. For that route, you can easily drive in a loop from Moncton to Amherst, Nova Scotia, and on to Wallace, down to Wentworth and the Masstown area, before heading west to Parrsboro.

When you’re ready to leave, it’s an easy trip back to Amherst and back to New Brunswick.

From the east, you can fly into Halifax Stanfield International Airport and then drive up to Highway 2, follow the coast to Parrsboro, and then drive to Amherst, followed by Wallace, and then south to Wentworth and Masstown before driving back to Halifax airport.

Finally, there is a third route option. You can also fly into Moncton airport, rent a car, and drive between Amherst, Parrsboro, and Wallace before departing from Halifax airport.

This can be a fun route since you won’t have to backtrack anywhere, however it’s worth noting that rental companies usually charge an extra fee to return cars to a different destination at the end of the trip. The fee is usually not too high between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick though, and it’s a fun way of seeing the most on this scenic drive.

Where to stay in Cumberland County

Wallace River Ranch & Domes
Wallace River Ranch & Domes

There are a number of hotels, motels, inns, B&Bs, and rental properties available in the area, and for my trip I stayed in Amherst, Wallace, and Parrsboro.

Those three towns offered the most options for places to stay, and they’re conveniently within a short 30 minute drive of just about everything you want to see and do.

From the town of Amherst, it’s easy to visit Joggins, Tidnish, Springhill, and Oxford.

Parrsboro has a lot to see and do from Advocate Harbour in the west to Five Islands and Economy to the east.

And Wallace is close to Pugwash, Wentworth, Malagash, and even a little further to Tatamagouche.

If you’re staying for a week, I recommend stopping for two nights in Amherst, Parrsboro, and Wallace. If you’re looking for three to four days, Amherst and Parrsboro are excellent for a shorter stay, or consider Amherst and Wallace. Both Amherst and Parrsboro are larger areas with more options for accommodations.

For more recommendations on where to stay, read about my favourite hotels and accommodations in Cumberland County.

When to visit

Age of Sail Museum, Wards Brook
Age of Sail Museum, Wards Brook

Summer travel season in Nova Scotia begins around the second week of June and runs until the middle of September, when temperatures are still warm and usually sunny. This is high season when summer businesses are usually open throughout the week and weekends, and that includes restaurants, cafes, activities, museums, and more.

During the summer, the temperatures can be between 24°C and 35°C (75°F to 95°F), although it’s often cooler along the coastline.

Early fall is also a beautiful time to visit Nova Scotia, as the temperatures are still between 15°C and 25°C (59°F to 77°F), so a trip between mid-September and mid-October can be perfect. Fall leaves tend to start changing around the first week of October to mid-October as well, so there’s lots of colour to see.

However Nova Scotia does offer a lot of winter activities, including skiing and snowmobiling–in the Wentworth area especially–so January, February, and early March can also be fun for outdoor enthusiasts.

If you’re planning to visit during spring, or late fall, be sure to check hours for businesses and activities.

Travel resources

To better plan your trip, here are a few of the best resources for exploring Cumberland County, including a map of places to stay in the area. Have a question? Leave a comment below, and you can also watch my video on my trip through the area.

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