A weekend getaway in the village of Riverport
Nova Scotia’s hidden gem
Riverport, Nova Scotia, is perhaps the prettiest little seaside village you’ve never heard of. Although it’s a mere 15-minute drive from iconic Lunenburg on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, it feels a world away, tucked into picturesque Ritcey Cove amid remnants of its fishing and ship-building past. The secret is slowly getting out. You may recognize Riverport, Nova Scotia, from one of the tv shows and movies filmed here, including the Stephen King movie Dolores Claiborne and the fourth season of The Sinner.
We are thrilled this hidden gem appeared on our radar and that we had a chance to visit Riverport recently for the weekend. If it isn’t on your radar yet, here is why you should put Riverport, Nova Scotia, on your next road trip itinerary.
RIVERPORT INN B&B
Our weekend getaway home base was the historic Riverport Inn B&B, which began its life as The Myrtle Hotel in 1906. Later, It was the site of probation-era rum-running operations and a frequent hideout for Al Capone. Riverport Inn features the type of splendour, luxury, and attention to detail you’d expect to find in a big-city boutique hotel. Still, it is delightfully situated here in an idyllic seaside village. Boasting an enviably scenic location overlooking Creaser’s Cove, it affords guests fabulous waterfront views.
Make time to wander the stunningly designed common areas of the inn. There’s Myrtle Bar, a nod to the building’s speakeasy past, featuring photos of dozens of Myrtles through time (some famous, most not). The comfy, laid-back sitting room is perfect for curling up with a book or playing a board game. And the opulent salon, with its rich chocolate walls, tufted leather furniture, and gold accents, beckons you for after-dinner drinks, music and conversation.
Owners Ben and Leanne know what they’re about. From the minute we arrived, we were warmly welcomed into the inn; and we felt like we had arrived at our home away from home. Knowledgeable and friendly but never intrusive, these hosts are happy to leave you to your privacy. They are also eager to share local tips and trip-planning suggestions, depending on your wishes.
Breakfast is delivered on a tray outside your suite door, perfect for guests who don’t want to leave that impossibly comfy bed. Go ahead and enjoy breakfast in bed – you deserve it!
We stayed in the gorgeous North Suite, but from what we saw, there’s no “bad” room here, so you can’t go wrong. Impeccably decorated and wondrously comfortable, this ocean-view suite features upscale touches and personalized details that anticipate your every need, including tea and coffee, complete with biscotti and vintage teacups. There are playing cards, wine glasses, comfy bathrobes and even a drawer full of miscellaneous personal hygiene items if you forgot something at home.
If you can tear yourself away from the view, plan some pampering in the huge ensuite, with its rain-head shower and massive soaker tub (scented candle and bubble bath provided). The name of the game here is comfort and luxury, and Riverport Inn is winning.
When you’re ready to leave the luxurious comfort of your room at the Riverport Inn, there’s plenty to do in and around the inn. Bird lovers can avail themselves of the inn’s binoculars and bird books (we weren’t lucky enough to spot the resident kingfisher, but we did wake up to a loon diving just outside our window). If you’re looking for more active pursuits, hop on one of the inn’s bicycles for a ride around Riverport, or head out to peaceful Ritcey Cove for a paddle.
The Riverport Inn is also a community entertainment hub, with comedians, musicians and other artists regularly performing on-site.
Dining in Riverport, Nova Scotia (and area)
Rose Bay Bistro
Equal parts café, restaurant and general store, the Rose Bay General Store and Bistro is a hotspot for locals and visitors alike. Choose a table at the charming restaurant to enjoy a meal from the delightfully diverse menu, grab some takeout, or browse the selection of mouth-watering baked goods and the coffee and tea menu. Don’t forget to check out the general store for locally sourced produce, bread, groceries, supplies, alcohol and a fascinating array of European snacks reflecting the German heritage of the owners (you’ll also find a selection of novels for sale available in both English and German).
I went to Bayport Pub expecting a typical pub where my options would be quite limited as a vegetarian. The menu here caters to carnivores, celiacs, vegans, and vegetarians, and surprisingly not just with a token salad or two. The staff are happy to discuss dietary restrictions and modify your dish accordingly. My meatosaur companion and I walked away happy and full. We enjoyed the Bayport Bacon Burger, the lemon balm crème brûlée, and the spatz and cheese – German mac and cheese. All items were especially fabulous.
Oh-so-much-more than just a bakery. LaHave Bakery is across the LaHave River from Riverport, reachable by a short drive and quick ferry trip. Eat your fill of yummy breakfast and lunch wraps and sandwiches. Drop by for a gourmet cup of tea or coffee, and a delectable sweet or two. The bakery even has its own line of preserves, mustards and sauces and a variety of freshly-baked bread you’ll want to try.
Beaches around Riverport, Nova Scotia
Unsurprisingly for a province known as Canada’s ocean playground, Riverport is within easy driving distance ofnumerous beaches. Some small and some sprawling.
- A mere 5 minutes takes you to Oxner’s Beach and Marsh, perfect for bird-watching and nature walks.
- Sand Dollar Beach is just as close, named for the sand dollars you can find at low tide. Remember not to take reddish-brown or purple sand dollars with small moving hairs because these are still alive.
- Hirtle’s Beach offers a rolling sandy beach accented with dramatic cliffs. You can join Gaff Point Trailhead for some coastal hiking.
- A little further out, beach lovers will find Crescent Beach, which you can drive your car on.
- Rissers Beach, with its white sands, marsh and boardwalk.
- The fine grey sand of Cherry Hill Beach, with waves that are great for surfers.
Check out our article on the Best Beaches to visit around Halifax
Visit local attractions around Riverport, Nova Scotia
Ovens Natural Park
Just 10 minutes from Riverport lies one of the most spectacular landscapes in Nova Scotia: Ovens Natural Park. Walk the cliffside trail for unparalleled ocean views and revel in the rugged beauty of the sea caves. Caves have been carved over millennia and are still being formed today. Learn about the 1861 gold rush that occurred here, and try your hand at panning for gold. Come for a hike. Grab a bite at the Ol’ Miner Diner. Book a campsite or cabin for a longer stay.
It may be hard to believe nowadays; however, there was a time when nearly every resident of the LaHave Islands was involved in the fishing industry. LaHave Islands Marine Museum celebrates the area’s marine heritage with many artefacts, photos and memorabilia. Have you ever wondered how lobster traps work or wanted to see a nine-pointed starfish? Maybe you’ve longed to see a sword made from a swordfish bill. If this is you, this museum has you covered!
Located in the former lightkeeper’s house, Fort Point Museum exploresthe storied history of the LaHave area. From its first inhabitants, the Mi’kmaq people, to its inception as the first capital of New France in 1632 and beyond. The original Fort Sainte-Marie-de-Grâce site has long eroded and now lies off Fort Point under the ocean. Nevertheless, you can still learn all about the beginnings of Acadian Nova Scotia at this National Historic Site.
A 15-minute drive will bring you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg. The town is instantly recognizable thanks to its famous whimsically-coloured buildings. Lunenburg, founded in 1753, has historic architecture, boutique shops, waterfront restaurants, and maritime charm. Everywhere you turn in this stunning town, there is another fabulous photo opportunity to discover.
Unquestionably the area is bursting with east coast friendliness, small-town charm, and views to rejuvenate the soul. The village of Riverport may just be one of Nova Scotia’s best-kept secrets. Why not check it out for yourself on your next visit to the south shore of Nova Scotia? Visit Riverport, Nova Scotia, soon before the secret gets out.
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Our visit to the Riverport Inn BnB was a gifted stay. This gift inspired us to find some of the best things to do in Riverport, Nova Scotia.