The weather outside might be frightful, but love is so delightful. The winter can make you wish you were able to hibernate, or maybe you long to move further north for more snow and less freezing rain, but either way winter’s here for quite a few months in Halifax. You can’t avoid it, so why not embrace it with your significant other in tow? This list will give you some ideas for going out, some ideas for staying in, and some for doing a little bit of both.
1. Go to Central Library’s 5th floor while it’s snowing
The 5th floor of Halifax Central library is the part that looks like it’s hanging from the pile of books below. It has the second Pavia location, so hot drinks and cookies are available the minute you get off the elevator. This is the adult fiction floor, and they have a separate section for genre fiction like Mysteries and Science Fiction. That’s the best place to enjoy a snowy day–with floor to high-ceiling windows on three sides, it feels like you’re in a snow globe.
2. Go for a walk in the Public Gardens with hot chocolate/apple cider
The Public Gardenshave only recently started to be open in the wintertime, so take advantage; it has a unique beauty even in the dead of winter. Pick up a hot drink from one of the many cafe options on Spring Garden or South Park and take a stroll. Make sure you stay off where the grass lies waiting for spring to come, and walk around until your drinks are gone or you’re tired of the snow, whichever comes first. Winter hours of operation (From November 3 to April 5) are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily.
3. Check out the Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is an enduring Halifax attraction. With permanent exhibits that explore Nova Scotian natural history as well as temporary exhibits that cover other parts of the globe, there’s always something interesting to see. They’re open every day except Monday, and passes are cheap. Make sure to say hi to Gus the Gopher Tortoise, he loves visitors!
You may like:
4. Ice skating at the Oval
The Oval is one of the best accidents to happen to Halifax. Built temporarily for the Canada Games, everyone loved it so much they decided to make it permanent. You can rent skates and helmets there, and you can use their collection of skating aids if it’s been a while (or, if one of you is better than the other, hold hands). Enjoy a hot chocolate and a Beavertail when you need a break.
Tobogganing is not just for kids–in fact, when you’re older your parents can’t tell you not to go down the steeper parts of the hill. Make sure you get a good toboggan for two people, or one each if you want to race. Citadel Hill’s always a popular choice, but you can also show each other your favourite park’s hill. Wherever you go, do make sure you’re being careful; your parents may have had a point about tobogganing being dangerous.
6. Dinner Theatre
Dinner and a show is a solid dating tradition for a reason—it’s food and entertainment, bread and circuses! The Neptune Theatre provides dinner packages for theatregoers, and they always have a couple great shows on. Another option is the Grafton Street Dinner Theatre, where there’s great food and great musical theatre! Keep your ear out for events at the Spatz Theatre as well; they don’t always have food options, but they have a wide variety of events coming up this winter from musicals to music shows to plays to comedy shows, and they’re not far from either Quinpool or Spring Garden, so you can easily walk, bus, or cab to enjoy your favourite restaurant after great entertainment.
7. Check out a local bookstore
The HRM still has a few local bookstores, and all of them have their own special flair. Try Bookmark on Spring Garden for an all-age selection, Woozles on Birmingham for kids’ books, the J.W. Doull on Main Street in Dartmouth for second-hand books, and Otis & Clementine’s in Upper Tantallon for second-hand books, coffee, and kittens! Local bookstores all give you a chance to wander around, surrounded by books with a local flair. You don’t have to buy anything, but you could also buy each other a book and go home and read together.
8. Go to the Boardroom CaféBoard games, milkshakes, and snacks…what more could you want? You can settle in for hours at a time and just keep playing and eating and drinking, letting the weather rage on outside. Participate in one of their Trivia Nights or contests, as a team or against each other (make sure you know your love can survive that). If you really love one of the games, buy it and bring it home and make your own Boardroom at home, but I have a hunch you’ll still be going back.
9. Walk through one of the big parks
The Halifax Regional Municipality is full of great parks: Point Pleasant Park, the Commons, Lake Banook, the Dingle, etc. This gives you a great amount of options for walking around, even in the winter. You can enjoy nature in winter in many different ways, from hiking to snowshoeing. Just make sure you check the weather before you head out, so you don’t get caught in a freezing rain or snowstorm.
10. Get ice cream and walk around with it
Yes, ice cream in winter sounds a bit nuts, but it’s fun! Not all winter days in Halifax are gloomy and cold, sometimes the days are quite mild—aim for one of those days. There are still stores that sell ice cream in the wintertime, so get a cone or a sundae, and brave the cold. Just eat it slowly, because brain freeze in February isn’t fun.
Halifax Winter Ice Cream Ideas:
Dee Dee’s (Cornwallis Street):
The Daily Grind (Birmingham Street/Spring Garden Road)
11. Get tea together at David’s Tea/ World Tea House, then people watch
Whichever place you choose, your tea selection will be wide and interesting. Once you’ve chosen your tea, you can sit by the windows at either place and people-watch. You can play plenty of games–guessing who’s coming by next, making up stories about everyone’s lives, etc. It’s a nice icebreaker on an early date, or a relaxing afternoon when you’re both tired of the view out your own window.
You may like:
12. Explore Pete’s Frootique together and enjoy some seasonal inspiration for meals
Pete’s Frootiquefeels very different than any other grocery store, which makes it feel special. Regardless of the time of year, they will always have a huge selection of produce, bakery products, and international products. Wander around together and get inspiration for a seasonal meal. For bonus points, buy some dessert from the bakery and try not to eat it before you finish cooking.
13. Go to an open mic/karaoke nightUnless you’re completely tone-deaf, open mic nights are fun. After all, the point is that most people there can’t sing all that well, drunk or sober. It’s about having as much fun as possible, and if you happen to be good at singing you have a chance to impress your significant other. And hey, if one or both of you are tone-deaf, then just go and rate the singers (quietly, no reason to be mean).
Rockbottom Brew Pub (Spring Garden)
The Fickle Frog Pub (Spring Garden)
Oasis Pub (Spring Garden)
14. Plan a walk down one of Halifax’s longer “shop” streets
If the weather’s bad, you don’t want to walk too far between activities. That’s why these “shop” streets are so handy–there are lots of stops along the way. Window shop or go in and browse at interesting places, no need to purchase anything. Make sure the walk ends somewhere close to food so you can warm and fill up.
Suggestions: Barrington Street, Spring Garden Road, Robie Street, Argyle Street, Quinpool Road
15. Build a snow structure
It doesn’t have to be a snowman. It could be a fort, a sculpture of a car, or (if there isn’t much snow) a tiny village. Building things together is fun, especially when there are no instructions to follow. And if things don’t work out, there’s always one option: the Godzilla option. If you don’t have a yard, the Commons is a great place to go, or even Citadel Hill if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind incorporating the hill into your design.
16. Pick out cozy socks together
Cozy socks are one of life’s little pleasures, especially in the winter. Going to pick them out together is therefore a great time. You can go to a shop like “Just Cozy”, or “Coles” (both in Scotia Square mall and the Halifax Shopping Centre), or anywhere else that gives you a wide range of options. And if you feel like stepping up the cozy, maybe buy a blanket for cuddling together
17. Create a list of winter-themed shows/movies you want to watch together, then try to finish the list before spring starts
Now this list can include Christmas movies and TV show episodes (and yes, that includes Die Hard). The point is that it’s winter time for a decent portion of the movie/show, snow optional. It gives you a great excuse to cuddle inside (maybe wearing your new socks or being underneath your new blanket). Of course, the hardest part of this challenge is trying to beat spring, because in this province it could come at any point after March, or it could come and go a few times until suddenly it’s summer. For a local touch, check out this IMDB list of movies and TV shows filmed in Halifax, it crosses all genres:
18. Create a list of winter escapism shows/movies you want to watch together
This is the polar opposite of the last idea (I crack myself up, okay?) Sometimes you need to remember sun, the beach, the colour green…Make some mixed drinks with a tropical flavour and eat citrus-flavoured things. Draw the curtains and let yourself escape. Again, check out the IMDB list above, our if you’re feeling really nostalgic look for reruns of Theodore Tugboat. It just might make you want to ride the ship when summer comes around.
19. Take a class together/attend workshops at the library
It’s important to not go stir-crazy during the winter, especially as a couple. And this counts for mentally, too–you need to clear out the snow drifts every once in a while, which isn’t always easy when you’re not in school. The solution? Take a class or a workshop together. Halifax Public Libraries offers free options all year round, and there’s something for everyone to learn and/or experience.
20. Bake and cook winter themed foods together
Even in the dead of winter, the right food can warm you up. Every culture in the world with a winter has created dishes to chase away the chill and exhaustion caused by this time of year, so try some out. There are lots of cookbooks dedicated to the season as a whole, and dozens of recipes online tagged with ‘winter’. And of course, you can decide what’s wintry–hearty, warm, filling foods of any kind can count. Check out the Halifax Public Libraries’ Cloud Cookbooks for local recipes—they pull from over 40 local cookbooks, so there’s something for everyone.
21. Join for a cooking class
On the other hand, sometimes your taste buds need a taste of summer on bleak nights. Look for light, tropical dishes bursting with flavour, and use up some of the frozen fruit that haunts the back of your freezer the way mine does. Listen to summery music, and maybe watch one of your escapist movies for full effect. For extra inspiration, check out Pete’s Frootique selections, or do a cooking class together at Kitchen Door.
22. Go to the spa together and shake off winter aches and pains.
Winter is hard on your body, no matter how old you are. Cold makes you stiff, ice makes you trip, and climbing snowbanks all day might be a great workout but it’s hard on your knees. Take a trip to the spa together as a treat and get those aches and pains out. Soon you’ll forget all about the shoveling that you did (and that you’ll have to do again tomorrow).
Spirit Spa (two locations)
Remedy Facial Bar and Spa(Spring Garden)
23. Decorate together at one (or both) of your places for the winterWhatever holiday(s) you celebrate, adding a splash of colour and some decorations to your dwellings is a simple way to get in the spirit. You don’t even have to decorate for a specific event; there’s loads of beautiful decorations just for winter. If you live apart, take turns going to each other’s house; if you live together, make the place sparkle. Winter only happens once a year, after all. It’s worth celebrating.
Decoration Shopping Destination:
Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia (for local pride!)
24. Enjoy a candlelight night together
With our powerlines above ground and very little between us and the ocean, Haligonians are no strangers to power outages. And they do suck, but so long as they only go on for a few hours (or maybe a day or two), you can enjoy the novelty of piling every blanket you own on your bed, lighting lots of candles, and trying to figure out how to get dressed and hold a flashlight at the same time.
Get beautiful candles at Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia or the Independent Mercantile Company, and if you need flashlights head to Mountain Equipment Co-op or Mark’s Work Wearhouse.
25. Go out during a reasonable snowstorm (this is debatable, of course), and enjoy the snow together
Okay, this one is given with a heavy load of caution. Everyone has different ideas of what ‘reasonable’ and ‘snowstorm’ mean (just look at the Weather Network). And of course, there are other factors like visibility, ice coverage, and where you’re walking to. All that being said, being out in a storm can be adventurous, you just need to be careful. And if you’re not sure, it’s a much better idea to stay in. I’d recommend sticking to busier roads like Spring Garden, Robie, Gottingen, South Park…it helps to have plenty of places for shelter and transportation close by.