I strongly recommend completely avoiding the town. The restaurants were all dirty looking and run down (we entered all of them looking for something to eat and exited immediately) and the accommodations were horrible for the excdeption of one hotel (resort) that didn't even have a cot for our 3rd child. It looked very nice though and it did have a restaurant.
As for the fortress, it was a bit of a joke, but interesting, especially for the children.
The people working there didn't really seem to care and even though they were very forthcoming in giving directions and helping out, there was a general feeling of "we don't care, this is just a job" mentality. The "guided" tour was a joke, given the complex history of the place (it consisted of us sitting in the church and listening to a guide's lecture about a period of history that was very complicated and difficult to grasp for the children, for 45 minutes). Nobody bothered to walk us through the buildings and we did it on our own trying to figure out what each one represented (there are no description plaques in front of the buildings so we were trying to enter buildings that were locked because even the ones that were open to the public had their doors closed, so we spent most of the afternoon wandering about trying to figure out where we were).
I had already visited the place 12 years ago and things were diffierent then. The guide actually took us to the buildings and explained the archeology, architecture history and purpose.
At the ticket booth, there were no smiles, just people doing their jobs. I am contrasting this to Baddeck NS, which we had visited earlier and the mentality and service is out of this world. Highly recommended. We made it our base to visit Cape Breton because frankly, it was the best place to be.
My suggestions: Stay in Baddeck (anywhere than in Louisbourg), visit the fortress and ask if the tour is guided as in, will you walk from building to building instead of a high school lecture. Then, get the heck out and spend your nights in Baddeck or anywhere else than Louisbourg, because in spite of the terrible service and mediocre degree of organization, the fortress is a must-see.
The Fortress of Louisbourg can be a lot of fun. It is a great idea for a day trip. If you have ever been to a Pioneer village and enjoyed it, you will love the costumes and real feel of the past here. The restaurants are even fille dwith the food and place settings of the time. Also, throughout the day, canons are set off at certain times of the day
The Grubsteak is an excellent restuarant with a real fishermans feel. Located on the main road, beside the town dairy, it is an excellent spot to eat seafood or any meal. It may seem classy and up scale, but as many restuarant down east it is not! The food is amazing for any ocassion.
Favorite Dish: One dish I just loved while visiting the Grubsteak was the fresh mussels. They are amazing, a must try! There is mothign more disappointing than to come down east and not try some seafood at least.
Another dish i enjoyed was their salad and lasagne. It was great, it had the true taste of homemade.
In the fortress, there's an olde-style public house that serves food that the settlers here may have eaten. Mead isn't legal, so you can't drink old-school beer, but they do give you fresh-caught fish roasted to perfection and served au natural -- eyes and all -- for you to pick the meat out of it. The potatoes come as mash, and the soup is decidedly unrefined.
That said, it was delicious! My traveling companion couldn't handle eating fish that still had the skin and head attached, so I had to give up the excellent corn and potato soup. That's okay, the fish was phenomenal.
Favorite Dish: The corn and potato soup was outstanding.