Posts Tagged ‘Eco’

Things to Do in Nova Scotia: 18-Hole Journeys and Beyond

August 13, 2011

Nova Scotia golfing

The charms of Nova Scotia are endless and hold an understated elegance and simplicity that is the perfect remedy for a New Yorker’s urban hangover. With a flight from JFK clocking in just over two hours and the convenience of being only one time zone away to keep your jet lag in check, rest assured Nova Scotia will decompress your city-brewed stress. The true allure of this destination lies in the activities involving Nova Scotia’s lush natural landscape. The greenery doesn’t end there. Nova Scotia boasts the best recycling system in all of Canada, while government legislation ensures sustainability and green initiatives.

Meandering through the golf courses of Nova Scotia provides endless views of gorgeous grounds nestled amidst vast expanses of nature that truly remind us where the inspiration for going green starts. I went to Atlantic Canada to golf but discovered much more.

I was bowled over by the lush landscapes, excellent local cuisine and what is considered to be rush hour here, a small collection of cars politely commuting at a relaxing pace. The locals won’t plow you over, make you feel in the way, or pressure you to do anything faster. They never interact socially without a smile and warming disposition giving the whole country an atmosphere of welcoming hospitality. Nova Scotia is the place to trade in a New York minute.

Cape Breton Island
Cape BretonCape Breton Island
makes up almost a third of the province and serves up gorgeous coastline, sublime green spaces, lakeside vistas, and abundant wildlife.

Outdoors Activities
Beware of Moose crossing as you loop around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island. The Cabot Trail scenic roadway allows you to tour gorgeous panoramas that join coast and forest throughout Cape Breton Highlands National Park ($7.80/adult admission). Even non-golfers will want to strap on a bag of clubs to enjoy the views found at Highland Links (from $65.93/green fees). The style of a links course attempts to recreate the original terrain at the birth of the sport in Scotland. Set along the water, these challenging holes provide breathtaking views of a sparkling sea and Bald Eagles. If this style of golf terrain tickles your fancy, Cabot Links ($82/20-hole rate), set to open this summer, has ocean views at every hole that will surely leave you slack-jawed. Or consider Bell Bay (from $65/adult fee), along Cape Breton’s inland sea, and has earned top marks across the board for its service and greens.

Food And Spirits
Glenora Inn & Distillery
($5/tour) Releasing their first batch of whiskey as recently as the mid-90’s, Glenora garnered much attention as North American’s first Single Malt whiskey distillery. The attention was both positive and tumultuous as the Scotch Whiskey Association of Scotland contended that the use of the terms “single malt” and “glen” would be misleading and potentially tarnishing Scotland’s world renowned stamp on whiskey. Glenora won the battle and boasts a product that drinks like a true champion. This scandal of the spirits has inspired their truly delectable 15-year single malt whiskey named Battle Of The Glen in honor of their Scotland scandal. Tour their distillery, enjoy the delicious whiskey-infused culinary delights in their dining room or pub, and if you’ve enjoyed their product a little too much, relax in one of the rooms in their cozy inn.

The Lakeside Restaurant at Inverary Resort (from $189 per person/Golf Packages) plates locally sourced cuisine in a laid-back atmosphere right on the banks of the Bras d’Or Lakes. The serene outlook doubles as a perfect natural digestif.

Local Intel
Hiking L'Acadian Trail in CheticampSituated on a 350-acre hilltop property, the Gaelic College overlooks the picturesque St. Ann’s Bay. The focus of this summer college is to promote, preserve, and perpetuate the culture of the Scottish highlands through course offerings, museums, and special events. Indulge your Gaelic interests through studies of craftsmanship, music, dance, history, and performance.  Their calendar of events provides a nice window into all they offer whether you are just passing through or planning to study for a longer term.

On the western end of the Cabot Trail, the small fishing community of Cheticamp is home to Les Trois Pignons, which is a museum of Nova Scotian Acadian Culture. The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled primarily in the Canadian Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Les Trois Pignons features a collection of artfully crafted rugs, antiquities, and a genealogical resource library. The respect and enthusiasm for heritage throughout the province is strongly woven into the modern culture and is an integral part of the Nova Scotia experience.

Digby
Digby
boasts the title, “Scallop Capitol Of The World,” so sampling the fresh buttery morsels of seafood takes on global significance. Digby’s port offers year round ferry access from New Brunswick. This quaint fishing community offers views of the charming Annapolis Basin and is outdoor oasis of activity.

Outdoor Activities
whale watchingDigby is home to some of the best whale watching in all of North America.  The Dockside Inn, Petit Passage ($55/adult) and Brier Island ($219/Stay & See package) offer a variety of whale excursions from Digby Neck, which is the thin peninsula of land that juts out along the Bay Of Fundy from the small downtown.

Digby is proud of its Stanley Thompson-designed Digby Pines Golf Course ($67/18 holes), and in nearby Weymouth right along St. Mary’s Bay, you can embark on all types of kayaking and canoeing to take in the magnificent waterways.

Food And Spirits
En route to Digby on the winding Clementsvale Road, a pleasant stop off with a free tasting bar is the Annapolis Highland Vineyards. This newcomer to the Nova Scotia wine scene has already garnered many awards at worldwide competitions throughout North America. Stop off and sample their delicious wines to take the travel edge off, tour their grounds, and learn about the romantic process from vine to wine.

Scallops at Churchill RestaurantFor a true culinary delight, Churchill’s Restaurant at the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa offers a tantalizing menu including those world famous local scallops. Award-winning Chef Dale Nichols serves up an eclectic menu that is sure to delight a wide range of palates.

Local Intel
The Digby Admiral Museum offers a window into the past and heritage of this maritime area.

Halifax
If you’re already traveling around Canada, you can access Nova Scotia via ferries from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The direct flight from New York lands at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Just outside of the city, you can then venture downtown, brimming with culture, heritage, and shops.

Glen Harbour's hole 8Outdoor Activities
I set my sights on the gorgeous greens of Glen Arbour ($105/day rate). This stunning course takes its name from the Scottish translation for “a valley of trees.” Sculpted by famed Canadian architect, Graham Cooke, Glen Arbour’s greens are designed with much reverence to the natural landscape of the area. Natural lakes and streams scatter throughout the grounds within the mature forests surrounding. The exquisite variety of terrains, obstacles, and scenery are myriad.

Food And Spirits
MacAskill’s Restaurant
sits across the water from Halifax in Dartmouth and overlooks spectacular views of Halifax Harbor. It is accessible from Halifax by ferry.

Open everyday of the week, The Halifax Farmers Market, sits on the Halifax side of the harbor. There you can feast on a wide array of food, spirits, arts, crafts, and a whole host of other goods from local vendors.

Local Intel
Shakespeare by the SeaYou could spend the better part of a day scanning the bins at Taz Records Inc, which offers up 50,000+ titles of new and used records in all formats. Many annual events color the Halifax calendar including the TD Halifax Jazz Festival, Shakespeare by the Sea, Halifax Pride Week, Halifax Seaport BeerFest, Atlantic Fringe Festival, Halifax Pop Explosion Music Festival, and many more.

This author is already crafting a return trip to Nova Scotia, and its coves along the coast of Chester and the 365 small islands scattered throughout Chester Bay. The Highland Games in Antigonish offer another festive Scottish heritage experience from pipers to pork pies. I’ve got my sights on world class Fox Harbor Golf Resort And Spa ($389 per person/Stay and Play Package), which attracts annual visits from the green-minded golfer Al Gore and his buddy Clinton. The list goes on and on just like the rolling green fields and endless serene coastline.

How to get there: Fly into Halifax International Airport. There are shuttles from the airport to many hotels. Since the province is so large and taxis can be a bit pricey ($50 from the airport into Halifax, this is one place where it might make sense to rent a “green” car for navigating between the regions. The bright side is that once you reach whatever destination you have in mind, you won’t be needing much of the car, since there are so many places to walk and bike and hike.

Photos: All courtesy of the author and respective destinations, except for Cheticamp by pixonomy

This article was originally published here.

 

Nova Scotia Getaway
Nova Scotia coastline

Nova Scotia coastline
Cabot Links

Cabot Links
Highlands Links

Highlands Links
Cape Breton beach

Cape Breton beach
The grounds at Glenora Distillery.

The grounds at Glenora Distillery.
The distillation kettles at Glenora.

The distillation kettles at Glenora.
Whiskey in the making.

Whiskey in the making.
A lighthouse on the Bras d'Or Lake.

A lighthouse on the Bras d’Or Lake.
Halifax Harbor at dusk.

Halifax Harbor at dusk.
Digby Pines Resort

Digby Pines Resort
Digby Harbor

Digby Harbor
The Bay of Fundy meets Digby.

The Bay of Fundy meets Digby.
The ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax.

The ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax.
Houses overlooking Digby Harbor.

Houses overlooking Digby Harbor.
The coastal view in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The coastal view in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Tee off at Highland Links.

Tee off at Highland Links.
The Keltic Lodge

The Keltic Lodge
Horses on the shores of the Bras d'Or Lake.

Horses on the shores of the Bras d’Or Lake.
Brunch at Inverary Resort

Brunch at Inverary Resort
Acadian, Canadian, and Nova Scotian flags.

Off-Season Adventures: Things to do on Block Island

October 15, 2010

Old Harbor

As we move away from summer, many local destinations are fading out of peak season. Before the winter chill hits the air, consider a weekend away on New England’s most intimate and pristine island.

Forgoing the stuffy upper crust vibe on Nantucket and the more popular and thus more crowded Martha’s Vineyard, I set my sights on Block Island, R.I. My interest in a visit during the off-season turned out to mean lower rates, less people, sales at the shops, no waits for restaurant seating, and ultimately more peaceful seclusion.

With close to 50 percent of its landmass designated as protected green space, Block Island is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery. So much so in fact, that The Nature Conservancy named Block one of the 12 “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere. In recent years, the Nature Conservancy has joined forces with the Block Island Land Trust to ensure its green tradition, charging a 3% sales tax on all property sold on the island that is re-invested in purchasing, expanding, and protecting the island’s green space. The island is also currently researching possibilities of offshore wind turbines that would contribute clean and sustainable energy to the island.

A Room With a Sea

Deck at Avonlea! Sifting through many inns, hotels, and B&B’s. Two Victorian properties caught my eye. The Blue Dory Inn and Avonlea, Jewel Of The Sea boasted the convenience of being close to the Old Harbor and the highest concentration of restaurants on the island, while also being steps to the beach. Which one to choose? I believe this is what they call a win-win situation. We arrived at the adorable pet-friendly Blue Dory Inn and couldn’t have been happier with our experience. We had a private porch and private entrance that overlooked the ocean. Sleeping with the windows open, we could hear the waves lapping on the beach. The décor was quintessential charming New England. Staying in a private entrance room, I was impressed by how clean the space was—and not a trace of discouraging smells or pet wear and tear. Cheers to their impeccable staff on that one, and to the hotel for the quality and comfort of the mattress, something that is an oft-overlooked detail at even the most respected hotel and is a real drag when your vacation is less comfortable than your life.

The neighboring Avonlea is equally impeccable and has been recently voted as the inn with the best view on all of Block Island. Both properties serve a breakfast buffet and a pre-dinner wine hour with hors d’oeuvres and their signature Block Island Barnacle Cookies. Coffee is available all day long, which is a nice treat especially in the off-season when many of the local business have limited hours. It’s a rare gift when your room is as appealing to spend a day in, as it is to go to the beach.

Nibbles and Bits

The Oar Restaurant Once settled at the hotel, it won’t take long before the cravings for New England coastal food arrive. Our innkeeper suggested Finn’s and it did not disappoint. We ordered up a feast of New England Clam Chowder, a pint of Steamers, two lobsters, corn on the cob, and some wine. Finn’s keeps it simple with their cooked seafood, serving either steamed, broiled, or fried accompanied with dipping sides of the natural juices and drawn butter. Another culinary highlight was the restaurant at the Manisses Inn. They have the kind of menu that makes you want one of each. We narrowed it down a tad with Roasted Garden Beets, the Duck Confit Tamale, Oysters on the Half Shell, the Seafood Shephard’s Pie, and finally the Jumbo Wild Shrimp Fra Diavlo. They offer both half and full portions of most of their items, which enables more taste testing of their exquisite menu. For more casual fare The Mohegan and Sharky’s offer a varied and satisfying menu. For lunch, Three Sisters and The Oar are great spots for a bite. The Oar, with its ceiling surprises, has a stunning view of New Harbor whether your craving a lobster roll or a just a beer at their cozy bar.

Where to Relax in New England Paradise

Koru Eco Spa With a full belly, you may need a little down time before setting off to the hiking trails and walks along the beach. Koru Eco Spa delivers first class rejuvenation and bodywork and lives up to its name with a strong commitment to the environment. Affiliated with carbon-fund.org, they use energy efficient appliances, furniture made with reclaimed wood or re-used antiques. Their paint, uniforms, and t-shirts are organic. All products are organic and vegan. As we sat and enjoyed our superb pedicures, our eyes wandered out the window that overlooks the Old Harbor, where passengers leisurely come and go on the ferry. The spa produces many of their organic products, some of which have celebrated attention at NYC Fashion Week. The atmosphere is serene, the staff impeccable, and the results not lacking from their animal-tested and chemical filled counterparts.

Exploring the Island

Clay Head Trail After full rejuvenation and recuperation, the true allure of Block Island lies in its landscape. The island is quite small at almost 10 square miles and is easily traveled by bicycles that are available for rent at the Old Harbor, which offers great discounts on half and full day rentals. There are also Smart Car and moped rentals if you need to rest your legs and seek fuel-efficient means to cruise along. The popular beaches are steps from the main roads. Many hiking trails lead to secluded beaches with stunning cliffs, rocky shores, and the splish splash of waves.

We ventured on the hike to Clay Head. A ¾ of a mile trip down to the beach from the roadside trailhead delivers you to the beach. Take in a truly breathtaking beach. The trail continues from the beach for another three miles that take you high along the cliffs along the ocean, continually opening up to amazing vistas of raw ocean. The trail passes equally serene inland reserves where one can spy deer and quail playing hide and go seek from us humans. After leaving the main road in pursuit of the Clay Head Beach, we didn’t see another person until we returned back to the main road four hours later.

An equally lovely hike to shoreline solitude is the trail that meanders through Rodman’s Hollow towards the beach at Black Rock. For less demanding access to the raw and breathtaking shores, a convenient stairway through a cliff ravine leads to Mohegan Bluffs. These bluffs seem to be home to the largest concentration of sea stones that many travelers have stacked along the beach into little natural temples. The effect is near spiritual. With the convenience of the access comes more presence of other people, though still very few.

What to Know When You Go

Rainbow at Clay Head Beach If the secret season on Block Island lies between Labor Day and Columbus Day, we are entering an even more off off-season on the Block. The fall still has many great days in store and so will the island. In the quiet season, the restaurant hours are more limited. When you arrive, take a little time right when you settle in to call all the restaurants in the area and get their hours so you can map out your food itinerary depending on the days and hours they’re open.

How to get there: During off peak season, you can only take the Block Island Ferry departing from Point Judith. The ride takes 55 minutes, consult the schedule here. Take Amtrak from Penn Station to Kingston, Rhode Island. Then take RIPTA bus 66 to Great Island Road Far Side Coast Guard and walk a couple minutes to the Pier for the ferry. In peak season, you can take Amtrak to New London, then walk a few steps to the high speed ferry or take the LIRR to Montauk, and take the ferry to Block Island. Or take Megabus from NY to Providence from Port Authority or an Amtrak train from Penn Station. Once in Providence, you can hop bus number 60 run by RIPTA from Kennedy Plaza towards Newport to catch the Block Island Ferry.

Photos: All Courtesy of the author, except photo courtesy of Koru Eco Spa

Where to Book in Block Island

The Blue Dory Inn | 68 Dodge Street | 401.466.2254

Avonlea, Jewel Of The Sea | 68 Dodge Street | 401.466.2254

Koru Eco Spa | 232 Water St. | 401.466.2308

Finn’s | 212 Water Street | 401.466.2473

Manisses Inn | 5 Spring St | 401.466.2836

The Mohegan | 213 Water St | 401.466.5911

Sharky’s | 596 Corner Neck Rd | 401.466.9900

Three Sisters | 443 Old Town Rd | 401.466.9661

The Oar | 221 Jobs Hill Rd | 401.466.8820

An Off Season Getaway to Block Island
Enjoy an adventurous escape to an island in Rhode Island.
Black Rock 

Black Rock
Private Porch at Avonlea Hotel 

Private Porch at Avonlea Hotel
Clay Head Beach 

Clay Head Beach
Koru Eco Spa 

Koru Eco Spa