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THE VIEW FROM HERE: Sensational summer on the South Shore

So it’s a lovely South Shore summer Saturday morning, and you plan to spend the whole day taking advantage of the nice weather, but here’s the big question — what are you going to do for an entire day?

Well, my friends, if you live anywhere on the South Shore, the answer should be easy because there’s so much to see and do throughout the region that I promise there’s no way you’ll ever get it all done in one day.

In fact, I bet you couldn’t get it done in one weekend or one week. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

I find it truly ironic that we — and by ‘we’, I mean governments and private sector operators — spend millions of dollars to entice visitors to our region while many of us locals don’t take the time to enjoy and appreciate what we have in our own backyards.

And this time by ‘we’, I’m talking about most of us who live here. In fact, I’m always shocked when I hear someone openly admit that they either didn’t know something was going on or, if they did, they didn’t care to participate. I’m also amazed when I hear someone complain that there is nothing to see or do in the area.

Really? Have you truly looked around this place?

Personally, I love exploring the South Shore. What’s not to love? If driving and sightseeing is your thing, then some of the most spectacular natural sights in the country can be found around the next bend in the road just up ahead or at the top of every hill. You just have to be willing and able to take the adventure.

Take a road trip

If you have two or three days on your hands, then I suggest one of the best ways to gain a full appreciation of the South Shore is to drive to the Yarmouth area and start your trip at the Cape Forchu Lighthouse. The awe-inspiring sight at this location will leave you breathless, but that’s just the beginning. From that point, follow the Lighthouse Route (old #3 highway) along the coast to Peggy’s Cove. The natural beauty and built heritage you’ll discover during the drive is second to none.

I promise you it’s worth the time and expense, although the costs can be kept to a minimum if you’re creative. For example, depending upon where you live on the South Shore, you can use your own home as your base and split the trip over two or three days. If you’re on a tight budget, bring along a picnic lunch and enjoy a stop along the way at one of the many beaches, lakes or parks you’ll discover, or just pull over somewhere off the road and take a break. Make it an adventure, but embracing the region’s natural beauty is just one of the many possibilities that await you on the South Shore.

If you enjoy museums, there are dozens in the region. If you like arts and crafts, then visit the hundreds of shops and galleries that can be found from one end of the South Shore to the other. If you have an appetite for festivals, then there’s always something fun going on somewhere on the South Shore just about every weekend throughout the summer.

If history is your thing, there is no need to travel any further than the South Shore to learn more about your heritage. Nova Scotia, and particularly this region of the province, is one of the oldest locations in Canada and as such it is the location for some of the most historically significant sites — many of which have museums — in the country. Regardless of your ancestry, the region’s rich heritage will entertain and educate at the same time.

Shopping

Some people search for treasures at yard sales and flea markets, and there’s always an abundance of those on any given weekend.

If shopping is your thing, make it a point to visit any of the towns and villages throughout the South Shore, where you’ll find a unique experience down every street.

If you enjoy dining out, well then, you’ll find the South Shore is a diner’s delight because no matter what type of food wets your appetite, be it fine dining or fast food, there’s something for everyone’s taste.

In recent years, farmers’ markets and open-air markets have gained popularity, especially as more and more people become conscience of what they eat. Not only that, but such community-based markets are often held on a Saturday — but not always, as Lunenburg’s highly popular market is held on Thursdays — and provide a wonderful backdrop for social gatherings where you can connect with your neighbours and friends while stocking up on some delicious food that you know has either been grown or made in your own community.

Go outdoors

Do you like to swim? If you enjoy the beach, you’re in the right place, as there is no location in this province that has nicer beaches than the South Shore. Some of the most spectacular white sand beaches are found in the region and some of the warmest ocean temperatures are found at those beaches.

On the other hand, if a lake is more to your liking, the South Shore has an ample selection from which to choose. Whatever type of experience you like, a beach or lake is usually just a stone throw away from where you live.

Over the past decade, the move to outdoor and natural experiences has gained momentum and no matter if you’re looking for a place to hike, kayak, canoe, surf or go for a bike ride, well, there’s no need to travel outside of the South Shore. Furthermore, if you need any of the necessary equipment or gear, there are places throughout the region that can outfit you with everything you need.

Is sailing or boating your thing? Do you like to fish (fresh water and deep sea)? Would you like to go whale watching? Does exploring caves or panning for gold sound like fun? How about visiting a vineyard and seeing how wine is made? Want to spend a day on a farm or exploring a lighthouse? Are you thinking about researching your family tree? Does the idea of investigating historic cemeteries and old burial grounds appeal to you? Does the idea of horseback riding excite you? Do you like live music or theatre? Maybe you’d like to go skating. Yes, you can do all of this and more right here on the South Shore.

Does it get any better?

My favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning is to find out where there’s a community breakfast. There is no better way to start your weekend than to enjoy a full breakfast put on by a local fire department or other community groups. The food is great, the company is always fantastic as you get chance to talk with your neighbours and, in the process, you’re helping to support a local cause.

Does it get any better than that? Not really, or at least, not in my books. If you take the time to truly scope out the South Shore, I am positive that, without a doubt, you will find a new adventure awaits you just around the corner, or at least that’s the view from here.

Vernon Oickle writes The View From Here column, which appears weekly in the South Shore Breaker. He can be reached at vernon.l.oickle@Eastlink.ca.

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