Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore, an enchanting little town has a lot of stories to tell. Shaped by its relationship with the sea, Lunenburg has built its reputation on shipbuilding and fisheries, rugged natural beauty and harbor-side homes. But there is more to Lunenburg than its past. Excellent shopping, world-class dining, and local surprises—including a micro-distillery that wouldn’t be out of place in Portland or Brooklyn—prove that Lunenburg is ever evolving into the present day.
Lunenburg Town Walking Tours
Lunenburg’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, retains its colonial charm, with its strict grid pattern and colorful 18th-century architecture. And the best way to experience it is on a walking tour with local guide Shelah Allen, a seventh-generation Lunenburger and owner of Lunenburg Walking Tours. According to Allen, every year, students of architecture filter through town to check the ubiquitous “Lunenburg bumps”—decorative dormers affixed over the front entrances of many homes in Old Town—off their bucket lists. Indeed, much of Lunenburg’s appeal is in its beautiful historical homes and churches. Her fascinating tour takes you from Lunenburg Academy, high on a hill, down steep streets that lead to the harbor’s windblown shacks and wharf-side tall ships.
Local delicacies of the alcoholic variety are on offer at Ironworks Distillery, just a short walk from the harbor area. In a weatherworn building that used to be the local blacksmith shop, the distillery crafts small-batch artisan spirits from regional ingredients. Here, history is on display, as are fruit liqueurs, rums, and vodkas; tastings are free. Don’t miss the tart cranberry liqueur and luscious pear eau de vie.
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
The bright-red building that houses the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is without a doubt the most eye-catching feature of the Lunenburg harbor. Inside, step back in time and celebrate the town’s rich maritime history through artifacts and memorials. Wharf-side, the museum displays massive whale’s bones, stunning in their size and beauty, and a number of moored vessels, including the schooner Theresa E. Connor, which museum-goers can board and imagine life on the high seas.
Fleur de Sel
In a little house just a block away from the water, Fleur de Sel serves up innovative French cuisine in a romantic fine-dining atmosphere. At the helm, native Nova Scotian chef Martin Ruiz Salvador has found the delicate balance between his classical training and his Maritime roots. Each dish, from the amuse-bouche of salmon cream with goat cheese and herbs to the freshest local scallops served with refreshing pear coulis, is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. An excellent cocktail menu, featuring spirits from around-the-corner Ironworks Distillery, provides the perfect complement to a superb meal.
Designed with guests’ every comfort in mind, this delightful, cozy hotel charms with its mix of elegance and coziness, and the helpful staff will point you to all the best spots in town. Rooms are beautifully and thoughtfully decorated, with traditional features such as arched windows whose shutters can be thrown open to welcome refreshing ocean breezes and updated amenities such as locally handcrafted soaps. Just a stone’s throw from the harbor area and walking distance from all of the sights, it’s a hotel you’ll be happy to come back to after a day exploring this captivating town.
(Photos: Julianne Lowell, Dennis Jarvis via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike, Nicole Bratt via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike, and Julianne Lowell)
Have a question for Julianne about her trip to Lunenburg? Planning a trip yourself and need advice? Want to share your own Lunenburg experience? Leave a comment below!
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