17 Things to Do in Hubbards, Nova Scotia
There are so many things to do in Hubbards, Nova Scotia. Stunning beaches like Queensland, Cleveland and Fox Point are a stone’s throw away, and just around the corner, on the Aspotogan peninsula, the soft pepper-coloured sand and cool, clear waters of Bayswater beach await. Once you’re in Hubbards, the rest of the South Shore is suddenly at your fingertips: Chester, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg and Liverpool are just a short drive down Highway 103. You can even bike there, along the Rum Runners Trail.
Although we have been regular day-trippers from Halifax to Hubbards for many years, the 2020 pandemic gave our family a unique opportunity. With some extra vacation time, and “nowhere to go,” we decided to bunk up in Hubbards for an entire week. What a pleasure it was to enjoy a beach vacation so close to home!
Here are 17 things to do in Hubbards. There are definitely, more, but these are our favourite spots- including a few secrets that only the locals know!
1. Shop at the Saturday Hubbards Market
This is no secret. The Hubbards market (follow signs for The Barn), is a fantastic place to spend your Saturday morning, with live music, fresh veggies, meat and fish, and delicious pastries from Julien’s Bakery. For day to day food-shopping, Hubbards also has a really well-stocked grocery store (the Independent) and a pharmacy, which has just about everything you could ever need. This summer, social distancing measures are in place throughout. For example, when we visited in July 2020, we noticed that all the staff at Pharmasave wore masks.
2. Devour Greasy Beach Food from Gallant’s Fish n’ Chips
Gallant’s Fish and Chips is a well-kept secret around the corner of Hubbards Cove, connected to Hubbards Campground. But it’s not just for campers! Drive up, eat at the “rustic” picnic tables, or take your hot, delicious greasy feast down to the beach. The prices are affordable here: a 2-piece and chips costs $10.00, including tax. (You would hardly get a fish stick for that price in Halifax!) “Just fries” is even cheaper. During normal times, the wooden shed opposite Gallants has arcade games. This is a Hubbards tradition, they’ve had machines there since the days of Pac Man!
3. Try the New Menu at Tuna Blue
Under new ownership this year, the brightly coloured Tuna Blue Inn Restaurant and Marina (167 Shore Club Road) has undergone an exciting new refresh, welcoming new chef, Jessika Maymi, whose culinary influence comes from Hawaii, California and Nevada. Maymi’s new menu features everything you want to eat by the sea: chowders, burgers and healthy salads, with a focus on sustainable ingredients from local businesses. Dine-in, on the patio or call ahead for takeout. The rooms (formerly the Dauphinee Inn) have also been refurbished to a high standard, just in case you want to spend the night. (902) 857-1790
4. Snorkel at Fox Point Beach
Just outside of Hubbards on Highway 329, there is a small, perfect beach: Fox Point. When the tide is high, the water completely covers the sand, but at low tide, there is enough room for everyone. Not too many out-of-towners come this far, so the beach is rarely overcrowded. There are no lifeguards or facilities here, just beautifully soft, perfect-for-sandcastles sand, and crystal clear water – ideal for snorkelling and diving. The water here is several degrees warmer than Queensland or Bayswater.
5. Eat Deep Fried Ice Cream at Black Harbour Creamery
New this year, the Black Harbour Creamery (419 Highway 329) serves ice cream cones from the Old Mill Cove Elementary School. This building has been here for 70 years, but step inside – you won’t believe the tasteful, modern renovation (they even re-purposed the old school chairs and blackboards!). The speciality here is deep-fried ice cream – a decadent summertime secret that will cost you zero Weight Watchers points (it’s a fact that anything you eat in Hubbards is point-free). And for the Mummies and Daddies? There is a rum distillery in the basement. Black Harbour Creamery’s sister business (literally!) is Black Harbour Distillery.
6. Enjoy a Lobster Supper at the Shore Club
Shore Club owner Rhys Harnish says, “When my grandfather started the Lobster Suppers back in 1936, he had already lived through World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic and the great depression, but none of these could have prepared him for 2020.” Unfortunately, the Shore Club has been forced to cancel its Saturday night shows for the 2020 season, but the lobster suppers are still on, every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4:00 – 7:30. Call (902) 857-9555 for reservations.
7. Experience Foodie Heaven at The Savary Plate
Newly launched in January 2020, The Savary Plate (located in the strip mall at 100 Highway 3) serves food that could rival any Halifax restaurant, with a mission to use quality, locally sourced ingredients. When we visited, owner Alisha Savary was experimenting with a Ginger and Sesame Haddock Burger with Wasabi Mustard Greens. (Yum!) In fact, you can find micro-greens (from Dan’s Micro Greens) on most of their menu items. Savary even puts pea shoots on the poutine, claiming it is the perfect taste match to the chicken gravy. “We want to demonstrate that you can fuel and nourish your body at the same time,” says Savary. The Savary Plate also makes amazing pizzas and delectable desserts. Eat-in, or Take out. (902) 857-1300
8. Shop the World at Lola’s Landing
Discover shopping galore at Lola’s Landing (10061 St. Margaret’s Bay Road) – a labyrinth of gifts and clothing, including a kids’ room with countless exciting toys, games and trinkets. This summer, Lola has the most astonishing collection of Dr Who charms, trinkets and gifts – a real hit with our family! There is also a huge selection of jewellery, hats, wallets, sunglasses, reading glasses, books…. everything a girl could want on vacation. The secret? Maureen (Lola) Moore herself attends several national and international trade fairs every year – she shops for everything herself. On our visit, Moore insisted on masks and hand sanitizer for customers, and also politely took our names and phone numbers for future contact tracing. We were very impressed with the efforts of this local business to keep customers safe.
9. Relax at Hubbards Beach
Hubbards Beach is the well-known diamond of the region, with beautiful white sand, a fun raft that kids love to jump from. You have to pay to park here during the day (it’s worth it), but after 7 pm the beach road is closed. This doesn’t mean the beach is off-limits! Not many visitors realize that in the evening, you can park up by the Shore Club and walk down to the beach for free. Although you can still feel the energy of the crowds that have returned to Halifax, the evening is a peaceful time, with plenty of birds tweeting their evening songs in the dunes opposite.
10. Spin Tricks at the Liam Mathers All Wheels Park
The Liam Mathers All Wheels Park is located a few miles after Queensland Beach (on the left-hand side, if you are travelling west on the Saint Margaret’s Bay Road) This community skate park is never going to make it into the Nova Scotia Doers and Dreamer’s Guide, but for local staycationers who love to scooter and skateboard, it’s a great way to burn off some steam. The small skate park is well-maintained and has a handy maintenance area with all the tools you will need to tighten your trucks or re-adjust your handles! Behind the skate park are a large ball field, basketball courts and a small hiking trail.
11. Visit the Hooked Rug Museum of North America
Introduce your kids to some hookers! The Hooked Rug Museum in North America lives in a former bowling alley, just opposite the skate park (9849 Saint Margaret’s Bay Road). This remarkable museum, which sees visitors from all over the USA and Canada, was opened in 2013 by the late Hugh Conrod and his wife, Suzanne. Interesting fact: Conrod was Bureau Chief for the Halifax Herald Ltd. in Dartmouth for 21 years and at one time, also held the position of Deputy Minister of Tourism. The Hooked Rug Museum of North America is closed for 2020 but plans to open again next summer.
12. Stay at a Hip New Air BnB in Nearby Black Point
There are plenty of Air BnBs and cottages in Hubbards itself, but we really love this one, The Beach House, a few minutes away in Black Point. For less than the price of a downtown Halifax hotel room, you can have the whole place to yourself, with four bedrooms sleeping 13 people – perfect for multi-family trips, or grand getaways with the girls! Behind the house, access the rails to trails path (go west for Hubbards, east for Tantallon). Just across the road, dip your toes in St. Margaret’s Bay. Trade secret: this stunning yet affordable Air BnB is a former seaside youth hostel, and that’s why it has so many beds.
Other places we have stayed over the years include Anchorage Cottages, Rosewood on the Cove (both right in the Cove), and Emily’s Seaside Escape (past Fox Point). These are all great places for families.
13. Listen to The Seaside Sounds of Cove FM
Did you know that Hubbards has its own radio station? Since 2010, community volunteers have owned and operated 88.7 Cove FM, and it’s a great station! Their office and studios are located at 10361 St. Margaret’s Bay Road, at the end of Station Road, near the Post Office. Have a peek in the window, and wave to your favourite local DJ.
14. Sip Coffee at Hubbards Cove
Opposite the radio station, one of the best things to do in Hubbards is relax with a coffee at Hubbards Cove Coffee (10360 St. Margaret’s Bay Road), which also has a great selection of treats and sandwiches and treats. Try the delicious breakfast paninis. You will also Hubbards Cove Coffee at the Saturday morning HubbardsMarket.
15. Hire Surf Board and SUPs from Hubbards Cove Rentals
Renting a kayak is probably one of the best things to do in Hubbards. The place to hire surfboards, paddleboards, kayaks, skimboards, bodyboards, bikes and hydro bikes is Hubbards Cove Rentals (204 Highway 329). In addition to rentals, Hubbards Cove offers paddleboard and kayak lessons from experienced instructors as well as personal and group SUP yoga lessons. (902) 452-3751.
16. See What’s in Store at Hubbards Hardware
Most Hubbards residents will chuckle at their local hardware store being included in a list of “17 Things to Do in Hubbards” but honestly, this place is the business! One sunny day, we visited this store (100 Highway 3, i.e. the strip mall behind the Irving Station) on the off-chance that we might find a pool noodle or inflatable toy. We found they had the best selection of children’s beach toys, bodyboards, pool noodles and beach umbrellas. Plus, they had a stack of really well-priced greeting cards – and it happened to be a friend’s anniversary, so they pretty well saved my day. So although this isn’t your usual holiday shopping recommendation, it must be put it on record that this place is pretty cool. You never know what you’ll find there… but it will probably be just what you needed.
17. Explore The Cove and Bishop’s Park
Did you know that Hubbards Cove (9 Yacht Club Rd) is Nova Scotia’s smallest Provincial Park? It’s a great place to fish, swim and launch your boat or kayak. In the summertime, local families gather here for outdoor movies. Annually, this cove hosts the prestigious World Tuna Flat Races, which includes an all-day barbecue for families.
Around the corner is Bishop’s Park, with a small gazebo, under the watch of beautiful St. Luke’s Anglican Church, which held its first service in 1850. If you are so inclined, stroll through the cemetery of this church. It reveals the fascinating early history of Hubbards, one of Nova Scotia’s most relaxing summer destinations.