A Weekend Getaway in Cape Breton
Heading to Cape Breton for the weekend? Here’s everything you need to know to make it a trip to remember.
The evening temperatures are starting to cool, but your Cape Breton adventure is just heating up! Whether you’re squeezing in one last summer vacation or taking an early fall trip, we have a plan for you to enjoy all the Island has to offer. With endless scenic views, toe-tapping entertainment, and wild outdoor adventure, it can be hard to pack all of Cape Breton Island into one weekend—but that doesn’t mean you can’t try! Check out all these fantastic things you can do on a weekend in Cape Breton.
The earlier you can get on your way, the better—you don’t want to miss your first Cape Breton sunset. Once you’ve crossed the iconic Canso Causeway, you can start on the first stretch of your scenic drive along the coast. Turn left out of the roundabout and follow the signs towards Judique. Roll down your windows and enjoy the fresh saltwater air blowing off the ocean. If you’re feeling peckish, make a stop in Mabou and check out the Red Shoe Pub for some incredible home cooking backed by the sounds of local music every night! In the mood for a fresh local taste of the sea? We recommend trying the Mabou Seafood Chowder.
Once you’ve had your Cape Breton feast, continue your journey through the old mining town of Inverness — now a world-renowned golf destination thanks to the Cabot Links Golf Course. If you book far in advance you might just get in for a twilight round. Golf not your thing? Head down to the Inverness beach boardwalk to enjoy a spectacular sunset near what is rumoured to be the best beach for sea glass collecting on this side of the island. When the cotton candy skies start to turn dusky blue, make your way to your accommodations for the night. Tomorrow is a big day—you’ll need a good night’s sleep!
You’ll find a home-away-from-home for the night just outside Inverness at MacLeod’s Inn, situated on the Ceilidh Trail. Or, you can spend the night glamping with Live Life in Tents in gorgeous Margaree Forks. Seconds from the river, overlooking a picturesque valley, you’ll feel one with nature, all while still enjoying a very comfortable mattress.
Wake up, get dressed, and get ready to hit the road again — there’s no time to laze around in bed today. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a seated breakfast, or simply grab a coffee and a sweet to tide you over until lunch, you’re in luck. The Dancing Goat Cafe offers delicious sit-in breakfast, aromatic coffees, freshly squeezed lemonade, homemade baked breads, and some of the best sweets on the island. Don’t miss the chance to bring some of these treats on the road with you!
You’re heading through the most scenic section of the Cabot Trail today, so make sure you’ve got your binoculars and a camera handy. A quick ride through Belle Côte and Grand Étang will lead you to the Acadian community of Chéticamp, where Saturday’s fun begins.
Start by getting acquainted with local culture with a stop at the Centre de la Mi-careme. Here, you’ll discover the exciting tradition of costumes, kitchen parties, and hilarity that make this part of the world so special. You can even sign up for a workshop to paint your own mask! You can also visit Les Trois Pignons for a unique view of the Acadian culture and the history of Chéticamp. This museum features a beautiful collection of hooked rugs and antiquities, a genealogy resource centre and library, and a full range of visitor information services.
If you’re a two coffees a day kind of person (no judgement here!) and you know you’re going to want another boost, check out The Frog Pond Cafe. You can munch on a homemade biscotti or mouthwatering baklava while listening to the frogs sing in the pond. Or, wander through the attached Sunset Art Gallery, where folk art brings an eclectic colour to the space. Stomach grumbling for more than a snack? Sit down for some lunch at the Harbour Restaurant and Bar or Restaurant Evangeline for a hearty Acadian meal. Or for something a little faster, stop by Wabo’s Pizza for a slice.
Once you’ve fueled up on some grub, you can make your way to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. After checking in at the information centre for a map and a pass, make your way to the famed Skyline Trail—a seven-kilometre, well maintained, looping trail that leads to some of the park’s most photographed views. Make your way to the breathtaking edge of the French Mountain—with panoramic views of the ocean on one side and the vast mountain range on the other—and take it all in (and take a few quick snaps for the ‘gram, of course). Afterwards, you can make your way back to the head of the trail. And if this isn’t your first visit to the Highlands, there are plenty of other beautiful trails nearby you can complete instead. Try to discover a new one every time you visit!
If you’re interested in getting out on the water, a stop in Pleasant Bay will bring you to Guaranteed Whales for some encounters with whales and fantastic photo opportunities. If you’re looking for even more of a thrill, check out the Pleasant Bay Zodiac Tours to get even closer to the action. Once complete, dry off, hop back in the car, and hit the open road — you’re off to the North Mountain towards Ingonish.
After all of the outdoor adventure, you’re surely ready for dinner. Stop in at the Coastal Restaurant Pub and try their Ringer Burger with a Cinnamon Roll Skillet for dessert — if you can find the room. For another filling seafood feast check out Seagull Restaurant. Looking for a local lobster dinner? You’ll find it at the Purple Thistle dining room.
A day like that is sure to have you feeling exhausted, but rest assured there’s a wonderful place to rest your head for the night. Stay at the Keltic Lodge and spend your night with some toe-tapping tunes in their Highland Sitting Room. Or, if you’d rather continue your connection with nature, book a night at one of the Cabot Shores’ Geodesic Domes in the Treetop Village located in their apple orchard.
Sunday morning is the perfect opportunity to be rejuvenated at the Keltic Lodge on-site spa, or—if you’re feeling the need to get into nature—fit in a few more outdoor activities. Whether you want to partake in a round of golf at the Keltic Lodge, go chasing waterfalls at the Mary Ann Falls hiking trail, or enjoy some time sunbathing on Ingonish beach, there are plenty of ways to soak up all the adventure in the area. Looking for a more leisurely Sunday? Head into Sydney to shop at the local boutiques, walk the boardwalk, take pictures by the big Fiddle, and enjoy a delectable meal at Flavour accompanied by harbour views. Try the Pan Fried Crab Cakes and the Maple Spinach Salad for a punch of (pardon the pun) flavour!
Continue your drive to the beautiful village of Baddeck. If you fancy an afternoon on the water, you can enjoy a relaxing sailing tour aboard the Ameoba. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboard, or even a pontoon from the Inverary Inn Resort’s Lakeside Adventure Centre. Staying dry? Take part in some shuffleboard, croquet or checkers for giants! You can also take a walk along the boardwalk and through the heart of town. Here, you’ll find boutiques and shops where you can grab the perfect souvenir gift, or just a little something for yourself.
History buffs can check out the Alexander Graham Bell Museum for an interactive history lesson of one of the world’s greatest inventors. To dive a little deeper, book the White Glove Tour, where you get the chance to hold his historic possessions in your hands.
Looking for some light fare to get you through the rest of the ride? Grab a sandwich at the Highwheeler Cafe and pick up a pack of the frosted shortbread cookies to take home. Or, sit down to savour one last long lunch at the Yellow Cello Cafe.
It’s time to head back home, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for a few stops along the way! Take a short driving break to stretch your legs and get refreshed with a flight of beer at Big Spruce Brewing, just across from the mouth of Middle River. Now, for the last part of this scenic journey, driving through Whycocomagh and making any last stops in Port Hawkesbury for snacks and supplies to get you home. Send a wave to the island as you cross back over the Canso Causeway, but just know it’s not goodbye, it’s a “see you later,” because there’s so much left to explore.
If you’re travelling to Cape Breton from PEI or New Brunswick, be sure to join us aboard the mv Fundy Rose, the mv Holiday Island, or the mv Confederation. A journey on the ferry is the perfect way to kick off or wind down your perfect Cape Breton adventure.