Lunenburg is a charming town about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. Its colorful buildings, National Historic Sites, and delicious seafood will mesmerize visitors. Here are the 10 best things to do and see in Lunenburg.
Housed in a bright red building on Lunenburg’s waterfront, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is easy to spot. Inside, visitors will find an extensive (and hands-on) aquarium, exhibits, and the Ice House Theatre with films showing throughout the day. Outside, people can climb aboard the Theresa E. Connor, Canada’s oldest dory schooner, and Cape Sable, a steel-hulled side trawler. Retired fishermen and captains act as Historic Interpreters onboard the vessels.
It may be small, but Lunenburg hosts some amazing festivals throughout the year. The Boxwood Festival has a worldwide presence and includes embracing all types of traditional music. The events for 2017 include a Baroque concert and a Ceilidh dance night. The Folk Harbour Festival is Nova Scotia’s longest-running festival. Over four days, there is music, dance, workshops, and conferences. Other annual festivals include the Festival of Crafts and the Lunenburg Doc Fest (documentary film festival).
One of the most popular stops in Lunenburg is Ironworks Distillery, founded in 2009. The owners make all of their products from scratch, using mostly Nova Scotian raw ingredients. They produce delicious liqueurs, brandy, rum, gin, and vodka. Pop by the distillery and take a tour, have a taste, and pick up a bottle of one of their premium spirits. A fun fact is that their name is derived from its 1893 heritage building home, which was formerly a marine blacksmith’s shop that produced ironworks for the shipbuilding trade.
A designated National Historic Site, the Knaut-Rhuland House is a 1793-built museum managed by the Lunenburg Heritage Society, which houses examples of Lunenburg life during the turn of the 19th century. Costumed guides lead you through the house filled with Georgian architectural elements. The museum also has both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Benjamin Knaut constructed the building and then sold it to Conrad Rhuland in 1813, hence the name.
Launching in 1921, the Bluenose was once the world’s fastest racing schooner and remained undefeated in international competition for 17 years. An icon in Canada, Bluenose is now a part of the nation’s identity as it appears on its dime. Launched in 1963, Bluenose II is a replica and Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador. Today, people can relive the glory days of sailing by exploring the vessel, going on a two-hour sail when she’s in port in Lunenburg, or even becoming a deckhand for the day.
“World-class views. Casual setting. Seriously good food”—this is all you need to know about Salt Shaker Deli, which has Lunenburg harbor views. The award-winning chef Martin Ruiz Salvador, who loves cooking with fresh seafood (what Nova Scotia is known for) and local produce, is the person behind the menu. Popular items include the seafood chowder, lobster roll, and Greasy Marty’s thin-crust pizzas. The owners of Salt Shaker Deli also run the South Shore Fish Shack and Fleur de Sel Restaurant.
Lunenburg’s Old Town is one of only two North American urban communities designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourism Nova Scotia says the town is considered to be “the best surviving planned British colonial town in North America.” Enjoy photographing the colorful historic buildings, which house many of Lunenburg’s restaurants and shops. Lunenburg Walking Tours are a popular way to learn while you explore the Old Town, as the local guides walk you through 260 years of history.
Because Lunenburg is predominantly known for its ocean adventures and seaside location, taking to the water is one of the best ways to experience the port town. Options include sailing tours with Star Charters, deep sea fishing for adventurous seafarers, whale-watching during the summertime, or taking to a kayak for a unique tour with Pleasant Paddling. No matter which option you choose, just make sure you enjoy the water when in Lunenburg.
Visit its many National Historic Sites
For a small town, Lunenburg is positively brimming with buildings on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, as well as National Historic Sites. In addition to the Knaut-Rhuland House, explore the town’s history through sites such as the Lunenburg Academy, which is a Second Empire-style building sitting atop Gallow’s Hill and is the only 19th-century academy building still intact in Nova Scotia. Many people consider St. John’s Anglican Church to be one of North America’s best examples of Carpenter Gothic architecture, and as previously mentioned, the Old Town is also a National Historic Site.
Lincoln Street Food is a new Lunenburg establishment, and visitors won’t be disappointed. Their menu is ingredient-driven, which means it changes regularly, depending on the local produce available at the Lunenburg Farmers Market. Customers can also choose to experience the menu in three ways: a la carte, a three-course prix fixe, including snacks, or a chef’s choice tasting menu, which includes a “little bit of everything.” Their drink menu includes an all-natural wine list and local beers.