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24 Cape Breton Treasures in 24 Hours of Travel Time

"As Director of Operations at Maritime Inns & Resorts, I felt a responsibility to “walk the talk” and experience the Cape Breton Treasure Hunt Guide for myself. Hope it helps!"
- Graham MacNeil

Basing a Cape Breton vacation from Baddeck makes a lot of sense and the folks at Silver Dart Lodge have made it their business to become “Cabot Trail specialists” to the extent they can. Each spring the staff travel the trail refreshing themselves with the “nuggets” that can really make a Cape Breton vacation memorable.

One thing is for sure, these “treasures” sneak up on you, so knowing the landmarks that precede the entry and exit roads is very helpful. Finding a safe spot to turn around is not so easy or convenient. TIP: consult with our specialists and have them identify each attraction of choice on your map and show you what you might expect.

Sunday Afternoon- The First 20 Hours

Shortly after we crossed the Canso Causeway to arrive on Cape Breton Island, we had lunch at Miller’s Tap and Grill at Maritime Inn Port Hawkesbury [Treasure #1] of course. If we were “history buffing” and were going to “launch an assault on Louisbourg” this is where would have set up base for the night. However, we started out for toward the “cultural” side of the Island and headed Northeast to Rankin Country, featuring Mabou and the famous Red Shoe Pub as well as the world-renowned Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses. More about that later.

All along the route to Judique we kept noticing the Celtic Shores Coastal Trails [Treasure #2], which are a series of hiking trails providing tremendous ocean front exposure. When we pulled into the Celtic Music Interpretive Center [Treasure # 3], sure enough there was a concert underway and a mix of tourist and locals alike were tapping their toes and raising a glass to authentic Cape Breton fiddle music, accompanied by the piano of course. Further along we encountered Glenora Distillery, Inn and Restaurant [Treasure #4] where the spacious grounds provided a peaceful and relaxing natural ambiance. Inside, the pub was occupied with mid-afternoon patrons and more live entertainment.

Spectacular Views

We travelled through Mabou as we planned to return the next day on our way off the island. We wanted to see the emerging community of Inverness and the award-winning Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs Golf Resort [Treasure # 5]. Make sure to travel down to the Boardwalk which graces the dunes above Inverness Beach [Treasure # 6] for a spectacular view of the greens and the beach. If you planned to return directly to Baddeck [Treasure # 7] you would be advised to take what the locals call the Margaree Forks, cutting off 25 minutes.

We elected to continue up the coastal route and we are glad we did because it was there that we discovered the United Church Cemetery in Whale Cove [Treasure # 8], perched up on an impressive bluff overlooking the sea and a popular beach on the inlet side. Watch for the turn-off as it slopes down a hill just before the beach. At the end of this route is a right turn back through the Margaree valley and along the Margaree River [Treasure #9] a world-famous salmon destination for serious anglers. Our last stop for the evening is, of course, Silver Dart Lodge and McCurdy’s Restaurant [Treasure # 10] where we were hosted by authentic Cape Bretoners, dined on delicious, traditional Cape Breton fare, while enjoying panoramic views of the Bras d’or Lakes. 

Time for 8 hours of sleep -- tomorrow is a full day!

Read Day 2 of Graham’s Cabot Trail adventure