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Travelers looking to explore the lesser known areas of the maritimes might be lucky enough to stumble upon Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

Did you know Annapolis Royal’s claim to fame is it was the very first permanent settlement in all of Canada? Essentially, Canada’s first town… that’s pretty impressive!

Annapolis Royal’s history dates back to 1605 and certainly has a long and complex past, including even once being the capital of Nova Scotia.

hotel queen anne - historical buildings annapolis royal

Now a days Annapolis Royal is a calm and charming tourist destination bursting with treasures and stories from the past, and many people don’t even know it exists!

Annapolis Royal star-fort

Personally, I had never heard of Annapolis Royal until my parents made the decision to relocate there a few years ago. This fall I had the opportunity to visit them and learn everything about their quaint hidden gem.

Boardwalk in Annapolis Royal

I can see why people love this place. It truly draws in not only Canadians, but visitors from all over the world. With a population of only 500 people, you would think there would be absolutely nothing going on, but it’s quite the opposite. Annapolis Royal has lots to see and do whether you are just a day-tripper or you want to stay a little while.

Fort Anne NS

Annapolis Royal Travel Guide

Annapolis Royal Travel Guide

The Best Time To Visit Annapolis Royal

June to September.
In late spring, summer and early fall, you'll have the highest temperatures, the driest and sunniest days, and the most activities happening.

During the cooler and darker winter months, not as many tourist attractions and businesses are open.

What time of year to visit annapolis royal

Weather in Annapolis Royal

The weather is cool, wet and pleasant.
You’ll likely never experience any scorching high temperatures in the summer, but you’ll also avoid the deep-freeze plunges in the winter that happen in the Canadian prairies.

No matter what time you visit, you’ll likely experience some time of rain or snowfall. Even in the driest summer months Annapolis Royal still experiences 6-7 days of rain. In the wet spring, expect around 10 days a month of rainfall, and expect 12+ days of snowfall in the winter.

Annapolis royal's boardwalk
Average daily highs/lows in Annapolis Royal

January:  -1°c / -8°c

February:  0°c / -8°c

March:  4°c / -4°c

April:  9°c / 1°c

May:  16°c / 6°c

June:  21°c / 10°c

July:  24°c / 13°c

August:  24°c / 13°c

September:  19°c / 10°c

October: 13°c / 5°c

November:  8°c / 1°c

December:  3°c / -4°c

How To Get To Annapolis Royal

Annapolis Royal is located near the south-western tip of Nova Scotia and it’s reasonably easy to get to, but just far enough away to keep out the major crowds.

You can get to Annapolis Royal by ferry or plane, but both will need a car to fully complete the trip.

Annapolis Royal from above

By Air

The Halifax airport (YHZ) is where most visitors to Annapolis Royal will fly into. The airport serves quite a few locations with direct flights, making even international visits easier than you think.

Halifax YHZ airport flies direct to:

Canada – Calgary, Charlottetown, Deer Lake, Edmonton, Hamilton, Moncton, Montreal, Fredericton, Ottawa, St. John, St. John’s, Toronto, Winnipeg (seasonally)

USA – Boston, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, New York (LGA & EWR)

Europe – Dublin, Frankfurt, Glasgow, London, Paris

 

From the Halifax Airport it takes about 2 hours to drive to Annapolis Royal (200km) by taking the 101 highway.

By Ferry

From Saint John, NB to Digby, NS

You can cross from New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia by ferry, which lands you only 25 minutes from Annapolis Royal (32km)

The ferry takes about 2.5 hours to cross.

Bay Ferries from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia

One-way fares on the Fundy Rose ferry start at $39 for adults with discounts for seniors, children and students. Round-trip fares are also discounted.

You can walk on the ferry, bring your vehicle, and even your RV. Prices and schedules can be found here.

From Bar Harbor, Maine to Yarmouth, NS

Americans can board the ferry in Bar Harbour, Maine and take the 3.5 hour journey over to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia – which is 1.5 hours away from Annapolis Royal.

One-way fares on the CAT ferry start at $99 with discounts for youth, students, seniors and round-trip tickets. Prices and schedules can be found here.

CAT ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia

By Car

No matter if you flew into Halifax or took a Ferry to a nearby city, you’ll still need a car to get to Annapolis Royal. There are a few public buses that connect the towns, but I am told that the information is not up to date and the schedules not reliable at this point, so renting a car (or bringing your own) is your best bet for now.

You can rent cars in Halifax, Digby and Yarmouth.

If you have a Tesla, there ARE charging stations!

Tesla parking and charging in Annapolis Royal

Things To Do in Annapolis Royal

Fort Anne Site and Park

Fort Anne Annapolis Royal

A unique and rare piece of Canadian history. This four-star fort saw more battles than any other ground in all of the country.

Fort Anne is the best place to learn all about the detailed, and at times messy, history of Annapolis Royal and it's ties to the British, French, Acadian and Mi’kmaq from the early 1600's to today. 

Fort Anne officers quarters

The main white building on the property is the old officers quarters, now turned into a museum. 

You'll be given a map and can tour through the buildings and walk around the grounds at your own pace. There are employees who speak both English and French and are happy to go into detail about any of the history you're most curious about.

Even if you're not a history buff, simply strolling around the beautiful grounds is a lovely pass time. 

Canons at Fort Anne

323 St. George Street

Fees: Adults $3.90, Seniors $3.40, Youth free

Graveyard Tour

Fort Anne is completely different after dark.
Trust me on this one… you're going to walk down a dark path and head behind the main officers quarters building at 9:30pm. It will seem like no one is there and you'll think you've gotten the address or time wrong. But then, all of a sudden you'll see a man dressed in period clothing and holding a glowing lantern.

Graveyard tour with Alan Melanson in Annapolis Royal

That man is Alan Melanson and he is going to take you on a one of a kind journey through a 400 year old graveyard. From the second you meet Alan you will realize how passionate he is about leading visitors through the graveyard and telling the stories of the people buried there. He's been doing it every night since 1992 and it shows in his ability as a captivating guide and illuminating historian. 

Annapolis Royal graveyard

You'll find Alan just a few minutes before 9:30pm every evening from June 1 to Oct 15, rain or shine. Antique lanterns are provided for lamp light during the tour. And for anyone wondering, no… it's not scary.

323 St. George Street

Price: $10 cash per person. Proceeds are donated to the historical society. 

Tripp's Gallery

Tripp's Gallery Annapolis Royal

Okay, in fully disclosure, this is the art gallery my parents run. However, even if it was run by strangers I would still have to include it on the list of must-do's. In a world where we increasingly see souvenirs made in China and then sold as if they are local treasures, Tripp's Gallery is a breath of fresh air.

Tripps Gallery inside

There are actually 2 galleries on St. George Street. One that sells only locally made handicrafts under $150, and another full art gallery featuring famous local artists as well as up and comers. Both galleries are a celebration of local talent, creativity and soul.

Tripp (ed parmiter) painting in his gallery

My father, who paints under the name ‘Tripp', has become one of Eastern Canada's top selling maritime artists and ships his art to all corners of the world. 

Check out the gallery online

Tripp's Gallery maritime art

You have to check out both galleries when you are in town. 
Tripp's Handmade Gallery268 St. George St (all handmade crafts, cards, gifts, and more for $2 to $150)
Tripp's Gallery324 St.George St (art gallery)

Royal Historic Gardens

The Royal Historic Gardens are truly world-class and ablaze with color through a 17 acre wonderland of trees, annuals, and blossoms. The grounds feature historic gardens from the Acadian, British colonial, and Victorian periods, all with detailed descriptions. 
You will even find an innovative garden which teaches easy and clever techniques to use at home in your own garden.

Royal Gardens in Annapolis Royal

Roses can be seen in bloom in July and August, but even visits in September and October will still offer a surprisingly beautiful show. Maps are handed out upon entry and there is a small cafe and gift shop. Plan for at least 2 hours to truly take in the gardens.

441 St George St

Prices: Adults $14.50, Seniors $12.50, Youth $6, Child $3 (under 18 is free on weekends and holidays)

Kings Theatre

Originally built in 1920 and restored for more modern times, the King's Theatre is the creative cradle of Annapolis Royal. This is the place where you can enjoy movies, films, live theatre, music and art exhibitions. 

Things to do in Annapolis- catch a show at the Kings Theatre

The King's Theatre is a mixed bag depending on what day you visit. You might see a MET HD streaming encore, the latest blockbuster to hit the big screen, a country western concert, or a live production of ‘Love, Sex and the IRA'. But no matter what time of year you go, there is always something on! Check the latest listings, concerts and plays HERE.

209 St George St

Walk Up And Down St. George Street

victorian homes on st george st annapolis royal

Many of the cities most elegant houses, delicious cafes, and curious shops can be found simply by walking up and down St. George Street. 

If you started at the beginning of St. George Street, down by O'Dell House Musuem, and walked to the very end, just past the First United Baptist Church, you will clock about 2 km and it would take around 25 minutes.

Bring your camera and wallet!

Farmers and Traders Market

During high season a visit to the farmers market is a MUST! 

Here you will find all kinds of treasures like: fruit and veggies, hand knitted items, scallop pearl jewelry, organic soaps and skincare, local honey, artisan beads, hand woven baskets, pottery, furniture, antiques, fudge, baked goods, stained glass, antique books, handmade leather shoes, fish, meat, and even sushi! See a full list of the vendors HERE

The farmers market in Annapolis Royal

TIP: Come on an empty stomach and with extra room in your luggage.

On St. George St (near the wharf)

May to October on Saturdays – 8:00am to 1:00pm

July & August on Wednesdays – 10:00am to 2:00pm

(the market is also running during off season {Nov-May} on Saturdays but changes location to the Royal Historic Gardens)

O’Dell House Museum

Genealogy tourism is on the rise and not surprisingly, many North Americans are tracing their roots back to Annapolis Royal. The O'Dell House Museum holds records back to the earliest years of British control, plus on site experts that will help you find information on your family tree.

Odell museum - things to do in annapolis royal

If you are just a visitor with no ties to the area, the main level of the O'Dell house is set up with it's rooms depicting how life would have been in Annapolis Royal circa 1869.

136 Lower St George St

Open year round. Daily during high season and closed only Sunday & Monday during low season.

Price: $3 suggested donation

Sinclair Inn Museum

The Sinclair musuem is located inside one of Canada's oldest and first ever homes, built in 1710! This restored pink building also served as the first Canadian Masonic Lodge back in 1738. 

Sinclair house museum - annapolis

Inside you'll learn about the various building techniques used in those times, how they discovered murals painted behind the wallpaper from 1841, and stories from the ‘ghosts' in the basement!

230 St. George Street

Price: $3 suggested donation

Walk The Boardwalk

boardwalk

The town of Annapolis Royal has built a quaint little boardwalk along the shore line that is perfect for daily strolls. You'll see all kinds of people walking up and down every time of day with their kids, dogs or a good book in hand. At various spots there are a few adroniak chairs overlooking the water to stop at.

Lighthouse on the boardwalk of Annapolis Royal

As you're walking along the boardwalk, you'll also come across the cities old lighthouse. Built in 1889 it's smaller in stature than you would assume, but it's a very cute photo op.

Oqwa’titek Amphitheatre

amphitheatre in annapolis royal

This 140 seat outdoor amphitheatre was completed in the summer of 2017 and has been the site for outdoor concerts, weddings, workout classes and cultural events ever since. 

Visitors and residents can find out what's going on at the amphitheatre (and other venues!) but checking the towns community calendar. 

275 St. George Street

Restaurants in Annapolis Royal

Sissaboo Coffee

Every morning I sprang out of bed to walk to Sissaboo for an almond milk cappuccino. They really do have the best coffee in town, offering fair-trade and organic beans.

On the walls of the café you’ll find paintings from local artists and posters about get-togethers, like the weekly writers meeting.

262 St George St
Sissaboo's Website

Leo's Cafe

Leo’s was my go-to spot for lunch, especially when I needed to switch up the fish and chips routine. They have extremely fair prices, a menu with some global influence and comfy spots to eat both inside and out.

222 St George St
Leo's on Facebook

Crow's Nest

The Crow’s Nest isn’t right in town, but about a 10-minute drive to nearby Hillsburn. This is the place to go for all things seafood! Lobster rolls, fish and chips, scallops, you name it – they’ll serve it.

3931 Shore Rd W
Crow's Nest on Facebook

The Crows Nest Nova Scotia

Founder's House

Just a five-minute drive from downtown will bring you to Founder’s House where you can sample what the East Coast has to offer on a finer dining scale. Expect things like oysters, pork belly, guinea hen and truffle oil.

3816 Nova Scotia Trunk
Founder's House Website

Lola's Cafe

Lola’s Café recently moved in beside the public library, just at the back of the beautiful red brick school-house that has now been renovated into condos. They offer coffee, baked good, breakfast and lunch.

143 Ritchie Street

Bistro East

Open for lunch and dinner, Bistro East is a great place to grab some pasta, pizza, salad or dessert. During high season you will find local performers playing live music during dinner hours.

274 St George St
Bistro East's Website

Garrison Inn

The Garrison House Inn is a B&B right across the street from the Fort Anne Historical Site that has a full restaurant in the front, open from May to November. Expect seafood dishes, salads, pastas, and other timeless favorites.

350 St. George St
Garrison Inn's Website

Composé

Definitely one of the best views in AR. You can eat your dinner and watch the sun go down on their waterfront patio. They specialize in Austrian food (think Schnitzel and Goulash) but also serve up some local favs.

235 St George St
Compose's Website

Fort Anne Cafe

The Fort Anna Café sure has an impressive breakfast menu including breakfast sandwiches and bowls and filling lunch combos. What makes them different is they also have a smaller appetite and snack menu in case you just need a quick bite.

298 St George St
Fort Ann Cafe's Website

Tom's Pizzeria

If you have a pizza craving, head over to Tom’s which is just a 4-minute drive from downtown. You can build your own pizza or order other comfort food like subs, burgers, donairs and more.

106 NS-201, Annapolis Royal
Tom's Pizzeria's Website

Bars

Annapolis Brewing Company

This is the happening place in town. The Annapolis Brewing Company has opened up a taproom serving their craft brews that also serves as a bar and a live music stage. Open late on the weekend, this is the nightlife hot-spot in AR. Check out their tasting flights.

302 St George St

Mad Hatter Wine Bar

Indoor and outdoor seats, water views, charcuterie and WINE… need I say more? The Mad Hatter Wine Bar offers a great vibe and many choices of both local and non-local wines to be the cherry on top of your day in Annapolis Royal.

213 St. George Street

Where To Say in Annapolis Royal

Annapolis Royal is a place where the Bed & Breakfast is very much still alive. This type of accommodation is thriving here, and it’s so wonder once you see all the charming and delightful Victorian homes. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend the night in one?

Queen Anne Inn

Step back in time and stay in an elegant victorian bedroom at this 1865 heritage inn located on St. George St.
The Queen Anne Inn is definitely one of the most impressive and iconic buildings in town.

Breakfast, parking and wifi are included. Open May to October.

Bailey House

Stay in a Georgian home from the 1770's, but with the luxury of modern renovated rooms with private en-suites.

The Bailey House also serves hearty breakfasts using locally grown ingredients, in-house baked goods, fair trade coffee and organic teas. Open year round!

Carlisle House

The Carlisle House has just recently been renovated, bringing a touch of modern elegance to their beautifully appointed bedrooms, decorated with lovely period antiques. 
What we love about this 150 year old B&B is that they also offer a proper English high-tea during the afternoon for an unforgettable stay.

Hillsdale House

Spend the night in a tranquil Victorian estate set back on a beautiful 12 acre property. 

Built in 1859 the Hillsdale House has been receiving guests for over 150 years.

Open May to October.

The Lark & The Loon

Over 4000 sq ft and built in 1890, The Lark and The Loon is a timeless bed and breakfast to stay in. This is one of the only properties is town with a 2-bedroom suite for families, plus some of the en-suites have romantic antique claw tubs.
Open year round.

Garrison House Inn

The Garrison House was built in 1854 and is popular among paranormal enthusiasts, as a friendly and playful ghost named Emily is said to visit guests from time to time. 

Open May to October.

At The Turret

At The Turret has been a local bed and breakfast for over 25 years. The late-Victorian home was built in 1902 by a notable businessman and has been lovely restored to welcome visitors.

Open May to October.

A Seafaring Maiden

A local favorite with very high guest reviews, A Seafaring Maiden offers beautiful Annapolis River views and comfy rooms.

Located just outside of town and built in 1881 to a Sea Captain, staying in this B&B will bring you back in time.
Open April to December.

Annapolis Royal Inn

The only ‘hotel' in town, the Annapolis Royal Inn is also open year round for any off-season visitors. 

In the summer months, guests can enjoy the outdoor heated salt water pool, hot-tub and sauna. 

Thinking of Relocating to Annapolis Royal?

Annapolis Royal is actually experiencing a slight growth in its population as more retirees across the country are looking for more affordable and comfortable places to live. My parents included!

They re-located to Annapolis Royal over 3 years ago and are so glad they did. They love the strong sense of community the town offers, the abundance of things to do, and the affordable lifestyle.

Red chair on boardwalk

My dad likes to say “Annapolis Royal has everything that NYC has”, and while the travel blogger in my wants to roll my eyes, he’s not entirely wrong.

Residents in Annapolis Royal will find cafes, world class restaurants, historic buildings, a modern new library, clean and efficient hospital, art galleries, movie theatre, stage theatre with local productions, hiking and walking trails, museums, brewery, wine bar, grocery stores, any kind of shopping you need, affordable housing, and many local clubs and get-togethers. Artists of all kinds have seemed to gather together in the area, making it an Eastern hub for all things creative.

The town is also not far from Halifax airport, which has many direct flights to USA and Europe, making it a very convenient place to live for frequent travelers.

Old school converted into condos annapolis royal
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