Top-5 Things to do in Pictou, Nova Scotia – The Birthplace of New Scotland
On the Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia, there sits an idyllic town known as Pictou. In 1773, the first wave of Scottish immigrants landed here, forever changing the trajectory of this area and the town. Today, Pictou, Nova Scotia, has a blend of old-world charm and modern style and amenities, all side-by-side.
Long, long ago, the natives to the land—the Mi’kmaq—referred to Pictou as “Pictook” which translates to “exploding gas.” Naming this area what they did may sound like funny business, but it actually fits. The Mi’kmaq were quite probably referring to the coal fields in the sea.
Once you arrive in Pictou, you may already have your entire itinerary planned, but if you’re open to suggestions, here are a few.
Five things to do in Pictou, Nova Scotia
- Hector Heritage Quay – You cannot miss Hector Heritage Quay, the ultimate symbol of Scottish Immigration in North America. Learn everything you will every want to know about Canada’s Scottish heritage and the Ship Hector that landed upon Brown’s Point in Pictou Harbor with 189 Scottish Highlanders on board. These were the people who had left their home in search of a better life in the New World. The site offers guided tours, workshops, and demonstrations. Make sure you check ahead as Hector Heritage Quay does close down during the off-season.
- Caribou Lighthouse – Caribou Lighthouse offers picturesque views of Northumberland Strait, Prince Edward Island Ferry and Pictou Island. If you’re lucky, you just might see deer, pheasants, and even baby seals offshore in the winter. The sounds of the waves crashing on the shore only adds to the scenery and the peace you’ll find while you’re here.
- Waterside Beach Provincial Park – If you are ready to take a walk and be surrounded by nature—not other people—make your way to Waterside Beach Provincial Park. This hidden gem of a park has boardwalks that lead to the dunes on the red sandy beaches. The best part is Waterside Beach Provincial Park is never crowded. Relax in this wonderful spot and take heart: the water is warm enough for even the faintest hearted among your group to jump in!
- Eat your fill of Pictou food – Once you arrive in Pictou, you will have your choice of fare. From fine dining to Pictou pub food, Pictou offers a wide variety of eats. Lobster. Yam fries. Calamari. Shortbread. The list goes on. Take note: being so close to the water, the seafood is particularly delicious.
- Take a hike – Breathe in the fresh air of Nova Scotia and take a jaunt along the waterfront’s Jitney Walking Trail. Walkers and cyclists can enjoy this 3K trail to the point where the ship Hector made its historic landing in 1773. The panoramic views are gorgeous. If you’re looking for more serious hiking, explore the Fitzpatrick Mountain Trail. Note: bring your binoculars if you have a pair as the bird watching is eventful.
If you’ve ever been to Pictou, Nova Scotia, please leave a comment below and share your experience and/or favorite activities.