If Golf Cape Breton’s participating courses are part of a big island-wide wheel, this charming vacation town is its hub. Every track on the tour is within a two-hour scenic drive and since Alexander Graham Bell’s summer home is situated on the northern edge of the Bras d’ Or Lake, it’s rich with attractions, activities and events that keep the vast inland sea as their centerpiece, especially during summertime.
PLAY — With spot-on conditioning, a stirring setting abounding with lake views and a routing through dense forest and around peaceful ponds, Bell Bay Golf Club truly put Baddeck on Cape Breton’s must-play golf map when it opened in 1997. Architect Thomas McBroom knows his way around the northern woods and makes sure visiting golfers follow his lead with a great balance of gently rolling parkland holes. Also a popular locals’ choice is nine-hole Baddeck Forks built on former farmland.
STAY — Owned and operated by the MacAuley family for decades, the sprawling Inverary Resort covers 11 acres and is the town’s only lodging spot that actually fronts Bras d’Or Lake, with a main lodge, cottages, marina, a waterfront restaurant, ample special events facilities (it’s big on weddings, conferences and retreats) and all sorts of options for enjoying the outdoors year-round. And since MacAuley owns Bell Bay Golf Club, stay-and-play deals are in great supply. Other options for Baddeck accommodations include Auberge Gisele’s Inn, Ceilidh Country Lodge, Silver Dart Lodge and MacNeil House, plus motels and bed-and-breakfasts.
EAT — Again, the expansive Inverary Inn resort leads the way with several dining choices including Lakeside Restaurant, a can’t-miss for views of the harbor and food, Flora’s in the main lodge (a popular breakfast spot) and the Thistledown Pub downstairs, which offers the town’s largest selection of brews on tap. Seafood fans might want to check out Baddeck Lobster Suppers or Bell Bouy Restaurant and Supper House.
GETTING THERE — If you’re flying into Sydney, Baddeck is about an hour’s drive due west. If you’re driving up from Halifax, Nova Scotia, it’ll take you about four hours by car. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Cape Breton via private plane, either Sydney or the airstrip at Port Hawkesbury is the way to go.
DON’T MISS — In later life, Scotland-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his family summered in Baddeck, and now his home there, just up the road from the harbor, is open to the public from May through October as THE ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE. On a scenic bluff overlooking the lake, the compound includes a museum with examples of his many air, land and sea-based inventions beyond the telephone, including man-propelled kites and hydrofoils. There’s also a theater, Children’s Corner and hands-on experiments.