Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #2 Ingonish, Canada

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited

With 33 countries under my belt, I’ve experienced some of the most amazing cities that the world has to offer. From great beaches, climate, friendly people, personal interests, world-famous attractions, architecture, history, and culture, there are many different factors that make a city great, let alone top ten!

#2 Ingonish, Canada – Splashing around in the ocean, jumping off of cliffs, boogie boarding, water chicken fights, and late-night horseshoes followed by later nights fueled by music and card games…the memories of my youth.

Splashing around in the ocean, jumping off of cliffs, learning how to roll in a wave, boogie boarding, and water chicken fights were all part of our daily beach adventures when I was a child. Singing, dancing, playing horseshoes or cards, and drinking until the wee hours of the morning filled my early adult life and shaped the bond between my family members. All of my fondest family memories took place in one location. When I think about being “home” or reflect on my greatest form of happiness it is Ingonish, Nova Scotia that holds my heart.  The visual beauty captivates me and the continued cultural connections keep me falling in love over and over again. As you experience Smokey Mountain, Black Brook Beach, Black Brook Falls, Ingonish Beach, and a little cottage on Swamp Road, you will have a glimpse of my life and become part of it.

Every time I drive over Smokey Mountain, part of the world famous Cabot Trail, I remember the countless times I made the journey in my grandparent’s Nissan truck. We’d sing “On Top of Ol’ Smokey”, stop at look-offs, and cringe at the never-ending drop from the top of the mountain. The bold highlands towered above us and the spectacular ocean views below. The sight of Smokey Mountain Ski Resort is the first indication that I am back in Heaven. I take that turn with a smile every time. There are just some places that fill your heart with comfort and joy; Ingonish does that for me.

I’ve been around the globe and swam in many waters, but the warmth of the French Riveria or the shimmering, crystal blue Caribbean Sea don’t hold a candle to the large refreshing waves at Black Brook Beach in Ingonish. Flanked by a spectacular highlands, the panoramic views are astonishing. Although the August breakers can be extreme and the water is cold enough to make your whole body hurt, it is worth every goose bump. If you’re strong enough to stand up against the waves and thick-blooded enough to brave the icy waters, you can consider yourself a true Nova Scotian.

When I first introduced Darren to Black Brook Beach, the initial look of complete shock, as his toes touched the water, said it all. IT IS COLD! It’s cold enough to make your teeth chatter, your body tingle, and your… skin shrivel up. He wasn’t far behind me as I dove in and embraced the salty sea and I admired his ability to adapt.  We brought the water-proof camera with us and made an adventure out of our afternoon at the beach.

A stop at Black Brook Beach wouldn’t be complete without hiking the trails and exploring the hidden coves.

Black Brook Falls opens the hiking trails with an inspiring view of the jagged cliffs and busy beach below, but it is the hidden cove that makes me take a deep breath, relax, and truly enjoy the surroundings. Listening to the waves crashing on the rocks and watching teens jump from the cliffs above always transfers me to a simpler time where worries are washed away.

Ingonish Beach is a step even further back into my past. Before I was old enough to bravely boogie board the huge waves or shiver through the freezing waters, my family took me to the lake at Ingonish Beach. It may have been there that I developed my fear of water creatures because we were constantly brushed by eels, but it didn’t seem to bother me as a child. Besides, as a child, I always had my massive grandfather to fend of any unwanted guests. He was Poseidon, the God of the sea, and nothing could hurt me in his presence.

With hiking trails, the life-guarded ocean, playful swings, the fresh lake, cold showers, tennis courts, and a soccer field, Ingonish Beach is a great place to spend the day with family. My younger sister and brother may remember playing tennis in the evenings there or flying high on the swings, my parents may remember cooling off in the clear ocean, and my grandparents may have a special affliction for the ice creams from the small vendor, but it’s the picturesque lake look-off that makes me a child all over again.

Swamp Road, with its distasteful name and hidden locale, makes my face glow and my heart race with anticipation. Upon arrival, I can always expect a alcoholic drink, or several, and several more, horseshoes, singing, dancing, and with the presence of my brother, good ol’  Cape Breton music and guitar playing. The grass may be tall and the bugs a plenty, but none of that matters when I’m playing Hearts with my grandparents, listening to my brother play the guitar, surfing in the kitchen with friends, or dancing to the Yellow Submarine with my sister, Suzanne.

During each trip to Ingonish, I embrace the ocean, stroll bare-foot along the beach, and watch life happening around me during the day. A family and friends ceilidh completes the evening and makes Ingonish an unforgettable experience. As you journey through my childhood and into my adulthood, it’s a life filled with oceans, fun, laughter, and music. Ingonish shaped my life and made me the person I am today.


Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #3 New York, United States of America

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #4 Djanet, Algeria

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #5 San Diego, United States of America

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #6 Dublin, Ireland

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #7 Santorini, Greece

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #8 Las Vegas, United States of America

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #9 Paris, France

Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #10 London – United Kingdom

131 thoughts on “Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #2 Ingonish, Canada

      • Wonderful post. And, you are so brave! I’ve been snorkeling off the coast of Gaspésie and thought I would turn blue, even with a full wet suit and gloves and booties! (My husband went diving and did turn bluish.) But, I’m at heart a Great Lakes girl and admire those who can enjoy and take the cold waters.

        I echo your comment on Canada being such a diverse land. I’ve spent significant time in all but three of the provinces. Need to plan a New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia long holiday!


  1. Ah, a nice twist to this concept! This brings back memories of my childhood summers hidden away from civilisation at Waimarama Beach in New Zealand. I can’t wait to see what your #1 is!


  2. Was it warm enough for boogie-boarding and wearing a swimsuit? What month of the year were the photos taken? Lovely!!! I must confess I am one Canadian who has not been to Nova Scotia. Shame on me!


    • In the summer months, July and August, the water is warm enough for me to get in and play for hours, but most tourists are still wearing sweaters and hats. 😉

      Nova Scotia is certainly worth the visit in the summer or the fall. I hope you make it there!

      Where in Canada are you from? I lived in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Manitoba.



  3. Of COURSE Ingonish has to be way up there on your list of favorite cities. It is HOME! I can really see how you became you from this post. Thanks so much for the joyful sharing.


  4. This place truly looks like Heaven! I’ve always heard about the beauty of Nova Scotia…and now seeing your pictures, I hope I get to see it someday! What a great place to grow up.


  5. Looks like a great place, and very scenic. I am not much of a water person, especially when it come to cold water. But I do love to be by the ocean and hear the waves crash upon the shoreline, and smell the salty air from the sea.


  6. This is amazing Leslie.. You have described it perfectly. There is no better place than our Island and nothing like the feeling of coming home and seeing the Welcome to Cape Breton sign at the causeway.You have an awesome gift!!

    Judy Tremblett


  7. I love the moose pic!

    I’ve experienced the icy cold water of New Hampshire… many times. I’m sure Nova Scotia is even colder. It found it very invigorating once the pain subsided and a little numbness set in. (o:


  8. As a resident of Nova Scotia, I love getting the chance to drive up to Cape Breton, which thankfully, isn’t more than a couple hours away. It was the first place I took my son for a father/son adventure, and we’re looking forward to getting to visit again this summer.

    Great blog!


  9. What an amazing thing to be able to say you’ve been in 33 countries! I love it. Beautiful pictures and storytelling. I am ready to go!!


  10. Great post. I could totally relate to being afraid of what you can’t see beneath the surface of the water. Great photos as well. The family pictures are great, but you’ve got a particularly keen eye for nature photography.


  11. Hi Lesley!
    I’ve been following your “Top 10 favorite cities visited” and was hoping (and somewhat expecting) to see Cape Breton somewhere on your list! Ingonish is one of my favorite spots in CB as well; definitely my favorite on the eastern side of CB. I enjoy reading your blog and learning about all the wonderful and exciting things you’re doing! Take care and all the best!


    • Thank you Alisha!

      I wish I had some of your photos to include in the post; you have a great eye for nature and landscapes.

      I hope everything is going well in Canada. You are more than welcome to visit this side of the continent.



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  13. I’m taken away by your descriptive writing and your way of pulling memories of your own out and sharing them with us readers. This was a wonderful way to take a break here at work. Thanks for sharing these great memories!


  14. Fantastic pictures! I really enjoy reading your blog. This makes me want to visit Canada soon. I’ve only been once as a child to Toronto. I think it’s time to go back. Great post!


  15. So cool that Canada is #2 on your list, Lesley. I’m out on Vancouver Isle & love the ‘warmth’ of the Pacific all year long — I know the Canadian Atlantic is a LOT colder. You’re a brave & wondrous soul. Can’t wait to see #1.


  16. I always enjoyed riding the brook that flowed from the lake/lagoon to the ocean at Ingonish Beach (or was it Broad Cove?) … awesome post!


  17. This is next for us… We plan New York and Canada for our next trip. In fact, Canada has been the only country that I’ve really ever wanted to go to. After reading your heart; I yearn for the refreshing colours of Canada to be mine…. Thank you for the glimpse… 😉


  18. You got my attention with its listing as # 2…

    Wow, this guy gets it…

    It IS a most amazing place… A pink beach…. pink sand…. And it is nice to know my family wasn’t the “only one” who sang that very song on the perilous road down, especially through the fog of a summer night after a long day trip brought us back to our temporary “home”…

    Thank you for publishing this, (with pictures) to temporarily erase all effects of time……


  19. “In the town where I was born…lived a man who sailed the sea….”
    Hi Lesley. Thanks for liking my post. My son liked it as well logged in as me! lol
    Been wanting to visit Nova Scotia myself for a long while. It’s on my bucket list.


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