Parent Zone

57 places you gotta see before you’re 12!

Friday August 12, 2016 | Posted in Biology, Exploration, Museums, Nature

Do you and your family members (or students) love adventure? There’s nothing like the thrill of discovering new places. If you complete this list of places to see and explore you will have gained a collection of incredible experiences, a lot of fun new discoveries, amazing memories, and many great stories to tell your friends (oh yes, and pics for instagram and snapchat!)

Along the way, you might just make some unexpected discoveries about yourself or your family members and friends who go along with you, too.

Bon Voyage!

skyline trail

Photo: You should definitely add one of our favourite hikes to your list: the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Some tips on how to use this list:

  1. Get organized – figure out which places you’ve already seen and which ones you want to go to next.
  2. Plan excursions with families or friends
  3. Save some mementos of your excursions and trips – photos, postcards, tickets, lots of pictures, etc.
  4. Keep a journal of the places you’ve visited with notes about your exploring.
  5. Share your memories on Facebook or Instagram!


Photo: Low Point Lighthouse, New Waterford, Cape Breton Island – one of many lighthouses you could visit in Nova Scotia. Hey, you could create a new list just for lighthouses!

Let’s Get Up and Go! (I’ve included some web links that are relevant here in Nova Scotia)

  1. A Lighthouse;
  2. A Living History Museum;;;
  3. An Amazing Architectural Achievement – you might have to travel further afield than within Nova Scotia, but there are lots of them in major cities, like the CN Tower in Toronto, the Empire State Building in New York, the Hoover Dam outside of Las Vegas, or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. We do have some amazing architectural buildings in our province, like the Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road.
  4. A Sensory Garden –
  5. A Street Market – although street markets are not quite the same as Farmers’ Markets, here is a great link for information about Farmers’ Markets in NS, but for Street markets, try googling seasonally for “street festivals” in our region
  6. A Greenhouse –
  7. A Recording Studio or Radio Station
  8. An Amazing Science Site – like the Discovery Centre in Halifax
  9. A Prison or Jail – you’d probably have better luck visiting historical ones, i.e. not in use any more – some options are listed here
  10. An Airplane Hangar or Collection, or an Aeronautical Museum –;;
  11. A Medical Museum – there are likely other medical museums in our province, but I was able to track down a web page for this one:; and this:
  12. A Canyon or Gorge – similar to these:;; or this:
  13. Your Parent’s Workplace
  14. A Place Where They Make Cool Stuff – like here: or if you’re into cheese…
  15. An Endangered Place – like St. Alphonsus Church in Victoria Mines, Cape Breton:
  16. A Working Port – take your pick of Halifax or Sydney for the big ports of our province, and there are many smaller working ports/harbours around the province (e.g. Digby, Pictou, Baddeck Bay, Chester, etc.)
  17. A Replica – like the replica Maud Lewis house, or Bluenose II (is a replica of Bluenose I)!
  18. A Courthouse – some courthouses listed in this great list
  19. A Hall of Fame – like the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, or the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame
  20. A Floating Museum – like the Bluenose II, or Ship Hector in Pictou, NS
  21. An Archaeological Site – like the Debert Palaeo- Indian site, or sometimes there are active archaeological digs at Fortress Louisbourg
  22. A Radical Rock Formation – like the Balancing Rock
  23. Backstage of a Theater – you could try to book a class visit to Neptune Theater or the Rebecca Cohn in Halifax, or the Savoy in Glace Bay, Cape Breton (or other there might be a theater close to you!)
  24. A Newsroom
  25. A Stargazing Spot
  26. A Second-hand Store or a Used Book Store – here is a guide to used book stores in Halifax, and there are many, many other awesome used book stores, second hand stores, consignment shops and antique shops across our province!
  27. An Unusual Museum – here is list of interesting museums throughout Annapolis Valley, NS – including doll museums, railway museums, and old schoolhouses:
  28. A Dinosaur Site – we’re rich with these in Nova Scotia! Check out these locales:, and; and we have an excellent fossil centre in Cape Breton:
  29. A Fort – lots to choose from in Nova Scotia!
    hoto: William enjoyed the cannons at Fortress Louisbourg!
    Photo: Kicking his feet up while enjoying Soldier’s Bread at Fortress Louisbourg. Ah, hard life!
  30. A Very Big Thing – potential list here:, but don’t forget about the Giant Fiddle in Sydney!
  31. A Haunted Place – okay, I got goosebumps looking at this site:; and reading these stories:
  32. A Gateway to the New World – like Pier 21
  33. A Repair Shop – like a bicycle repair shop, an auto repair shop, an electronics repair shop, or a watch shop – maybe your parents could take you with them when they go to get something fixed, and you might ask the owners if you could get a quick tour and explanation of how they fix things
  34. A Boardwalk
  35. A Battlefield – we have a few in our province, read more about our military history here:
  36. A Wetland – there’s probably a wetland close to where you live, and you could learn even more about wetlands through Ducks Unlimited Canada Project Webfoot
  37. A Farmers’ Market – there is likely one close to you:
  38. An Old Folks’ Home
  39. A Supernatural Sighting Spot – check out the links listed for #31. Haunted places, and even more here:
  40. A Long Hiking Trail

    mommy and william hiking good copyMe and my son, William, exploring the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands – an awesome day hike!
  41. A Cemetery
  42. Your Elected Official’s Office or City Hall
  43. A Big Cave – like the sea caves at Ovens Natural Park
  44. The Houses Where Your Parents Grew Up
  45. A Wildlife Refuge/ Animal Rescue Center – like Two Rivers Wildlife Park, or Hope for Wildlife
    poo pines
    Photo: William with his favourite animal at Two Rivers Wildlife Park – the “Poo Pines” (he had a hard time saying Porcupine!)
  46. An Aquarium or Fish Hatchery – such as the Aquarium at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, the Margaree Fish Hatchery, Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery, or McGowan Lake Fish Hatchery;
  47. A Wind Farm – some of the companies/partners might give tours or guest lectures about wind energy, check out all the turbines in NS:
  48. An Art Gallery  – perhaps the largest in our province is the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, but there are many other galleries around our region
  49. An Old-Growth Forest – for more information about what is meant by an old-growth forest, this is a good read:, and here’s a Wikipedia list of old-growth forests in our region
  50. A Waterfall – great blog on waterfalls around our province:
  51. A Skatepark
  52. A Migration Path – or a Site that is Significant to a Migration
  53. An Artist’s Studio – many listed here:, and here:; you could take a whole summer just to visit them all!
  54. A Landfill
  55. A Working Farm – Nova Scotia has an open farm day, great time to see farming in action!
  56. A War Memorial Site – list of memorials can be found here:
  57. A General Store – old style! – we still have some in Nova Scotia, CBC’s Land and Sea did a feature on some of them:

This list was adapted for Nova Scotia explorers from Joanne O’Sullivan’s “101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12!” If you have other suggestions, we’d love to hear about them. Please contact us at

Happy Adventures!

Respectfully submitted by Katherine Jones, August 22, 2016