Top-5 Things to do in Pictou, Nova Scotia – The Birthplace of New Scotland

On the Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia, there sits an idyllic town known as Pictou. In 1773, the first wave of Scottish immigrants landed here, forever changing the trajectory of this area and the town. Today, Pictou, Nova Scotia, has a blend of old-world charm and modern style and amenities, all side-by-side.

Pictou Nova Scotia aerial photo by MikesRoadTrip.com

Long, long ago, the natives to the land—the Mi’kmaq—referred to Pictou as “Pictook” which translates to “exploding gas.” Naming this area what they did may sound like funny business, but it actually fits. The Mi’kmaq were quite probably referring to the coal fields in the sea.

Once you arrive in Pictou, you may already have your entire itinerary planned, but if you’re open to suggestions, here are a few.

Five things to do in Pictou, Nova Scotia

  • Hector Heritage Quay – You cannot miss Hector Heritage Quay, the ultimate symbol of Scottish Immigration in North America. Learn everything you will every want to know about Canada’s Scottish heritage and the Ship Hector that landed upon Brown’s Point in Pictou Harbor with 189 Scottish Highlanders on board. These were the people who had left their home in search of a better life in the New World. The site offers guided tours, workshops, and demonstrations. Make sure you check ahead as Hector Heritage Quay does close down during the off-season.

Hector Heritage Quay Museum by MikesRoadTrip.com

  • Caribou Lighthouse – Caribou Lighthouse offers picturesque views of Northumberland Strait, Prince Edward Island Ferry and Pictou Island. If you’re lucky, you just might see deer, pheasants, and even baby seals offshore in the winter. The sounds of the waves crashing on the shore only adds to the scenery and the peace you’ll find while you’re here.
  • Waterside Beach Provincial Park – If you are ready to take a walk and be surrounded by nature—not other people—make your way to Waterside Beach Provincial Park. This hidden gem of a park has boardwalks that lead to the dunes on the red sandy beaches. The best part is Waterside Beach Provincial Park is never crowded. Relax in this wonderful spot and take heart: the water is warm enough for even the faintest hearted among your group to jump in!

Pictou downtown aerial by MikesRoadTrip.com

  • Eat your fill of Pictou food – Once you arrive in Pictou, you will have your choice of fare. From fine dining to Pictou pub food, Pictou offers a wide variety of eats. Lobster. Yam fries. Calamari. Shortbread. The list goes on. Take note: being so close to the water, the seafood is particularly delicious.
  •  Take a hike – Breathe in the fresh air of Nova Scotia and take a jaunt along the waterfront’s Jitney Walking Trail. Walkers and cyclists can enjoy this 3K trail to the point where the ship Hector made its historic landing in 1773. The panoramic views are gorgeous. If you’re looking for more serious hiking, explore the Fitzpatrick Mountain Trail. Note: bring your binoculars if you have a pair as the bird watching is eventful.

Red boat house in Pictou Nova Scotia by MikesRoadTrip.com

If you’ve ever been to Pictou, Nova Scotia, please leave a comment below and share your experience and/or favorite activities.

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Mike Shubic

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Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.

16 Comments

  1. It’s a great little town! I was born and raised in Pictou and always enjoy returning home for a visit.
    Great shots of special places to visit!

  2. I love the place. I live nearby. Almost every time I go there, I marvel at the houses, or notice some other thing I didn’t see before. Did you notice the old post office with the window in the chimney? I hope you had a great visit.

    1. Hi Susan, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience. Yes, as a matter of fact, I did see the P.O. with the chimney. I did indeed have a great visit, thank you. All the best, Mike

  3. We visited and within a few years quit our jobs in the big city and moved our family to Pictou. The schools are the BEST and people kind and caring. Winter is cold but we couldn’t be more appreciative to live a place where you can see the ocean from so many vantage points.

  4. Funny that you mention the Caribou lighthouse that is no longer there. And your first picture feathers the Northumberland Fisheries Museum with it’s museum and replica of the origional Carabou lighthouse, and the only lobster hatchery open to the public in Canada but not mention them.

  5. My husbands parents lived in Pictou. It is wonderful for all the activities for the local community to take part in. The food is great. Sharon’s is the best neibourhood diner ever! Try to hit the lobster carnival each year.
    With the new investment in the town things can only continue to get more interesting.

  6. Love all the pictures that are posted about Pictou. My mom grew up there ( in the Tate House) so I heard about Pictou and everything in it my entire life…. and I am 72 now. We returned every summer for many years and I will be returning one of these days to spread my moms ashes on her grandmothers grave. She passed a couple of years ago at 93. So happy to see Pictou is being developed… I live in Thunder Bay in Ontario.

    1. Hi Pam…thank you so much! I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your story. That’s very nice that your mom and grandmother will once again be reunited. All the best, Mike

  7. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, we have now retired to Moncton, NB. In the last several years we have been exploring the Maritimes as much as we can and two summers ago, we did a drive along Nova Scotia’s Northumberland Shore, headed toward Cape Breton for a few days. We fell in love with Pictou and especially loved Mrs. MacGregor’s Shortbreads!! Thank you for re-kindling our romance for the scenic Northumberland Shore!! Although we have kept up our “friendship” with Mrs. MacGregor’s on Facebook, we must soon return for another taste of shortbread and Pictou!!

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