In celebration of Canada’s 150th, we decided to go to Eastern Canada for a 2 week East Coast Canada road trip in the Maritimes. The trip was in partnership with Parks Canada, as we wanted to stay in as many national parks as possible, and visit as many National Historic Sites in honour of this special celebration.
This trip was logistically challenging, as we wanted to spend most of our time camping on the East Coast. So we had to pack all of our camping equipment up and bring it across the country with us. This meant we had to bring less stuff, which was a great challenge for us and yet somehow, in the end, we still had way more than we needed!
Here’s a day by day itinerary outlining our East Coast Canada road trip as well as some suggestions should you be choosing to do a similar adventure!
Day 1 – St. John’s
With only one day in St. John’s we had to capitalize on our time and do as many things as possible! This kicked off with a tour of Signal Hill which is a beautiful hike to the iconic lookout castle on the entrance to the St. John’s Harbour.
Next stop was the Cape Spear Lighthouse where we explored the most Eastern point in all of North America!
We wrapped up our day touring the streets of St. John’s, including walking down the oldest street in Canada, Water Street! Check out our full article on what to do in St. John’s here.
St. John’s Tip – Give yourself at least 2 days in St. John’s. There were a lot more things we wanted to check out that we didn’t get to such as The Battery, George Street, Victoria Park, and local hikes around town.
Day 2 – Terra Nova National Park
Located about 3 hours north of St. John’s is Terra Nova National Park. This beautiful park boasts amazing coastlines that wrap through the fingers of the Bonne Vista Bay. We stayed in an oTENTik which gave us more time for exploring the region. A MUST stop is the Discovery Center which has a hands on touch tank for visitors to explore. Learn all about it and everything else to see in Terra Nova here.
Day 3 – Iceberg Hunting!
By far one of the most memorable days on our East Coast Canada road trip was when we set out on the ocean to find an iceberg! With our captain leading the way we were led out to discover an amazing 80-foot tall iceberg. We could hear the ice melting and it sounded like it was raining! For more pictures and full story click here.
Terra Nova Tip – Give yourself at least 3 days in Terra Nova and try to get out on the water at least once. Whether you’re going hunting for icebergs (locals will be able to tell you if they are around, and there’s a lot of great websites that track them) or you’re wanting to go whale watching, to truly experience Terra Nova you need to see it from the water.
Day 4-6 Gros Morne National Park
After seeing a single image of Gros Morne National Park I decided 4 years ago that I needed to visit this place in person. And while four years was a long time to wait, it was certainly worth it!!! Gros Morne is a UNESCO world heritage site as it is one of our planet’s most significant natural areas.
With stunning geological regions like the Tablelands, there is so much to explore in Gros Morne National Park. At this moment I felt like I was walking on Mars! The oddest part of it all though, was the fact that directly behind me was a typical East Coast forest!
If you’re visiting Gros Morne I highly suggest you get out on the water and explore the region from a different perspective. Whether it’s a boat tour or a self guided kayaking trip, there’s more to see and learn out on the water. We loved the guided Eco tour with Bon Bay Tours as we got to see different animals and learn more about the region, and also be entertained with local music on the way home!
Check out all of our adventures in Gros Morne here.
Gros Morne Tips – I knew Gros Morne was a large park but I didn’t realize how HUGE it was. Unfortunately, with travel and commuting times we only ended up with two full days there, and we easily could have doubled that time and explored more, like heading North up the Viking trail. In terms of “musts” be sure to see the tablelands and get out on the water in some shape or form!
On the way out of the park we stopped at the Insectarium, and it was absolutely amazing! My daughter was actually scared as there were TOO MANY butterflies in the butterfly garden! Check out more pictures of the butterflies and the exhibits in our full article here.
Day 7 – 9 Fortress of Louisbourg
Our whole trip had been planned around spending Canada Day at the Fortress of Louisbourg. (And me being able to light off a cannon in celebration!) The Fortress is one of Canada’s original settlements dating back to 1713. It is filled with rich history including a fishing port, major commercial port, and the strongly defended fortress. In the 1960’s, the site was reconstructed and stands as the largest reconstruction project in North America. We spent two full days at the Fortress and didn’t even see it all! Check out here for more adventures in the fortress, including video and pictures of my husband firing off a musket and my kids “working” for the day.
When it was time for grub we headed over to a Beggar’s Banquet in Louisbourg. We were all dressed up in full costume (kids too) and spoiled with local delicacies including lobster, crab, and halibut. It was a night full of music, dancing, and memories I’ll never forget.
On Canada Day we slept in 18th century tents along with a few other families behind the gates of the Fortress. It was the perfect way to end an amazing Canada Day! For more pictures and stories from the Fortress click here.
Fortress of Louisbourg Tips – Take part in some of the enhanced experiences… whether it’s firing off a cannon or taking in a rum tour, they offer a variety of opportunities for every member of the family to explore the park as if it were the 18th century.
Day 10 – 13 Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Our next stop also gave us the capacity to check one off the bucket list, drive the iconic Cabot Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This beautiful drive brought us around stunning panoramic views and sweeping ocean vistas.
We spent 3 days in the park, one at Ingonish Beach and two at Cheticamp. From hiking to beachcombing, to searching for lookouts it was an amazing park to explore. For more pictures and park recommendations click here.
Cabot Trail Tip – One tip. GO THERE!
Day 13 – 16 – Prince Edward Island
PEI stole my heart within four hours of our arrival. From watching my kids run down it’s red sandy beaches, to seeing my husband soak in all the history at the historic sites, I knew this was the perfect place for us to end our East Coast Canada road trip.
PEI National Park
We spent a lot of time at PEI National Park and from this picture I’m sure you can tell why… we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves! With the big sand dunes watching over us, our children were free to play in the ocean, running back and forth between the waves.
Hanging Out With the Locals
We met up with Mark and his favourite lobster, Larry, who taught us that maybe, just maybe, Sharks aren’t really the king of the sea! My kids still talk about their Top Notch experience, weeks after we’ve returned!
PEI Tip – PEI is the mecca for family adventures and the perfect place for a family vacation. Give yourself at least a week and you’ll be able to explore the park’s, attractions, historic sites, as well as cozy in to a cottage and enjoy some family down time.
Other Tips and Tricks:
Parks Xplorers Program
Plan your own National Park Adventure. Whether it’s in your own neighbourhood, town, or if you have to travel a bit, we highly recommend a Parks Canada Experience. If you’re travelling with kids, an absolute must is their Parks Xplorers Program.vThese programs teach children about the parks and include fun games and hands on activities such as courses, culture, arts and crafts, drama, and games. Learn more about the free Parks Xplorers Program here.
One of the biggest reasons we are excited to partner with Parks Canada is because of their promotion of their Discovery Pass and their open-door policy to Canadians this year. Our National Parks are some of our most beautiful and iconic Canadian places. They are protected for a reason. People come from around the world to experience these world-class views and National Geographic wonders.
Is this a sponsored post?: Yes, our East Coast Canada road trip is sponsored. However, my experiences and thoughts are my own!
Are you working on your next road trip plans? Here are some ideas to add to your list!
- Interested in the newest camping trend? Try Glamping in Canada!
- Discover 5 Star Camping in National Parks
- See why Jasper National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park should be on your bucket list!
- Not sure what to take with you? Here are our Family Camping Checklist and Tips on Packing blogs!
- Here are some Tips and Tricks on helping you get everything you need into your car for your road trip!
- We are coming into very popular travel seasons of the year, check out my Top Travel Tips for Families segment that was featured on CTV!
- Check out tips to secure your house before you head out!