Spring Break Road Trip: Toronto to The Maritimes

When you hear “Spring Break” you probably think of a beach, sun and parties, right? Given that that is the common association to Spring Break, a lot of people were surprised when in 2013 we decided to go on a road trip from Toronto to Halifax and back during our March Spring Break.

Canada is a beautiful country and a huge one, and on the five years we lived there we did’t do a good job of exploring it. So this road trip would solve that problem and would also be a good opportunity to visit friends that live in Moncton, New Brunswick.

We started our journey in Toronto, where we used to live, on a Friday night. The highway was not moving super fast as there were spots where snow was falling or had accumulated. We stopped at one of the On Route plazas to get something to eat before leaving the Ontario province and entering Quebec province.

On Route plaza along Highway 401, Ontario, Canada
On Route plaza along Highway 401, Ontario, Canada

We had a reservation for a small motel/hotel somewhere outside of Montreal to spend the night, and despite the very low rate we got and having very low expectations, we were pleasantly surprised. The staff was nice and the sleep was good and we were ready to face a fun day on the road to Moncton, to our friends’ house.

The landscape we saw didn’t really differ much from this:

Somewhere in the province of Quebec
Somewhere in the province of Quebec
Sign in French!
Sign in French!

The journey was a long one, almost 10 hours if we count the stops to eat, but we eventually arrived in Moncton:

Welcome/Bienvenue to Moncton! (I took this picture the next day, as by the time we arrived it was evening already)
Welcome/Bienvenue to Moncton! (I took this picture the next day, as by the time we arrived it was evening already)

Moncton is in the province of New Brunswick and this is the only constitutionally bilingual province in Canada, so you will hear a lot of French (or a dialect of French) here. It is a small town but that didn’t stop us from having one of the best sushis ever! They were so good and in this sort of “hidden behind the counter restaurant” inside a type of whole foods market that they were gone before realizing it would be a good idea to take a picture. At least I took a picture of the market, so if you’re ever in Moncton, go to Dolma for the best sushi ever:

Dolma market in Moncton. Go there for whole foods and amazing sushi!
Dolma market in Moncton. Go there for whole foods and amazing sushi!

 

After Moncton we set out to explore the province of Nova Scotia, most specifically their capital of Halifax. It could have been done as a day trip, but our friends said it would be better if we stayed overnight so we could see more. And so we did! It was cool to have this short trip with our friends, especially as they had done that trip many times with their family and friends.

Our first stop was the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market and the Harbourwalk. It was super cold, Canadian winter cold, but we were determined to take it all in:

Halifax Seaport Farmers Market entrance
Halifax Seaport Farmers Market entrance
Halifax Harbourwalk
Halifax Harbourwalk
You can see this from the Harbourwalk
You can see this from the Harbourwalk

After that we went for a tour of Alexander Keith’s Brewery. I wasn’t sure if kids would be allowed, but to my surprise they were. The whole tour is very interesting and worth the visit, as you learn so much about the history of this part of Canada, it is really educational. At the end of the tour you can sample their beer and kids can have lemonade.

The entrance to Alexander Keith's
The entrance to Alexander Keith’s
No caption needed
No caption needed
It's us waiting for our tour!
It’s us waiting for our tour!

 

The next day we visited Halifax Citadel. It was extremely cold and I was wishing we could come back again when the weather was warmer. But it was very educational and gives you an insight on the importance Halifax had (and has) to Canada.

Welcome to Halifax Citadel!
Welcome to Halifax Citadel!
View from the building in the middle of the Citadel
View from the building in the middle of the Citadel
Building in the middle of the Citadel
Building in the middle of the Citadel

I can only imagine the conditions to protect Halifax back in the day, think no technology how we have today, think extremely cold winters and more.

After the Citadel we went on to explore downtown Halifax and headed back to Moncton. It was a fun visit to Halifax but adventures were still awaiting for us as  we were heading for a day trip to and around Prince Edward Island the next day.

The goal with our day trip was to drive around Prince Edward Island to take in the scenery and a few pictures and maybe buy some potatoes (Prince Edward Island is known for the potatoes in Canada), since it was very cold and being realistic, we wouldn’t go dip our feet in the water. 🙂

To get to Prince Edward Island you need to drive the 12.9 km or 8 mile Confederation Bridge. Think of the Florida Key’s 7 mile bridge but in Canada, longer and with an arch. Add to that the $45+ toll fee and then you start asking if you really need to pay that to drive around the island. But I tell you, it was worth it. We saw beautiful (and snowy) landscapes and I could only wonder how beautiful and lively it must be in Summer!

P.E.I (Prince Edward Island) sign for the Confederation Bridge
P.E.I (Prince Edward Island) sign for the Confederation Bridge
In case you didn't pay enough attention, there is a sign after you are on the bridge to tell you you are there
In case you didn’t pay enough attention, there is a sign after you are on the bridge to tell you you are there
The arch of the Confederation Bridge
The arch of the Confederation Bridge
Almost on the island! Did you see all the snow?
Almost on the island! Did you see all the snow?
Beautiful view of the iced Atlantic Ocean
Beautiful view of the iced Atlantic Ocean
Imagine these houses during Summer!
Imagine these houses during Summer!
In Charlottetown, PEI's capital
In Charlottetown, PEI’s capital
Street in downtown Charlottetown
Street in downtown Charlottetown

 

It was such a fun adventure but I really wish it wasn’t that cold and that we had had the chance to enjoy that part of the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe we will be back, I tell you that this part of Canada deserves to be seen in Summer!

After that, we went back to Moncton and started getting ready for our drive back. It was so much fun, but our drive back also has lots of adventures.

But that will be the subject of another post!

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