Most cities have specially designed areas and activities for children. They also have areas and activities for adults, and some that are family-friendly that combine the two. But when it comes to teens, it can be harder to find spaces that are interesting for them. Luckily, Halifax has places that are great for teens, and most of them can be enjoyed by children too, making family outings easy. This list has ideas for lots of different kinds of teens; whatever their favourite activities, they’ll find fun!
KartbahnGo-kart racing is one of the great equalizers—as long as you’re all in go-karts, anyone can win. Kartbahn has a great track and different kinds of races to do. If you’re tired of go-karting, you can go to their laser-tag arena too. It’s huge and ready for any skill levels to make teams and settle some scores in a non-violent but still satisfying way.
Address: 66 Otter Lake Court
Explore Nature Attractions & Parks
Nova Scotia is well known for its natural beauty. You’ve got gorgeous beaches, thick forests, and rolling valleys. And you don’t have to go very far to enjoy some of the best sites on the mainland; within a 2-hour drive from Halifax, there are many great places to get into nature.
Putting Edge is actually very close to Kartbahn, so you could have a whole day between the places. Putting Edge is an indoor mini golf course that’s glow in the dark. The environments are fantastic, taking full advantage of the possibilities of glow in the dark with all the possible colours. Make sure not to wear black—go for white or light colours so you glow up just as much.
Address: 182 Chain Lake Drive
I will forever sing the praises of Central Library, and one of the best parts of it is their teen section. It’s big and beautiful, perfectly designed as the hangout I wished I had when I was a teenager at the library. They have lots of books, a video game section, plenty of computers, and best of all the creative studio is on that side too. They also have tons of teen programs every week, and you don’t have to be a library member to join in. If there are lots of ages in your group, you can split up and explore the whole building and everyone will find something fun to do.
Address: 5440 Spring Garden Road
Halifax Shopping Centre
If you’re looking for a place to shop as a group, this is the place to go. The Shopping Centre has over 160 stores and services, and it has a bookstore so it counts as a proper mall in my book. The layout means that you’re never too far away from each other even if you split up, so everyone can be independent and look for whatever they’re interested in without being dragged along on someone else’s quest. This extends to the food court too; they’ve got lots of options in a big, naturally bright space, so you can come together and show off your purchases while you eat whatever you want, they eat whatever you want, and it stays a fun experience.
Address: 7001 Mumford Road
Explore Halifax Museums
Museums allow us to gather objects and lessons about our world together and display them for educational and entertainment purposes. Every city has their own ways to shape these spaces, and Halifax is no exception.
The OvalIf the weather is nice (and depending on the time of year that means different things), you’ve got to check out the Oval. Built for the Canada Winter Games and then kept due to public demand, it’s a free place to do many different activities. You can rent equipment and machines and protective gear for the cost of having a photo ID of any kind, so why not try something new? You can use power skates, figure skates, snowshoes, and sledges in the winter (as well as skating aids so you don’t fall down too much), while in the summer you can borrow roller and inline skates, bikes, scooters, and plasma cars, or you can bring your own. It’s a great place to hang out and get some exercise, and if you go in the winter there’s a Beaver Tails truck!
If you love spooky times, this is the activity for you. Halifax is a very old city, so of course it has many reported hauntings. They’ve been doing this since the 90s (they’re actually the oldest ghost tour in North America), and that experience translates into fantastic storytelling and a deep knowledge of the city’s ghostly past. You can show up without a reservation at the Old Town Clock, and just get ready to be informed, scared, and who knows? Maybe you’ll start to believe…
If the weather outside is frightful but you still want to get in some exercise, you’ve got a great option in the Dalplex. It’s the athletics facility for Dalhousie University, and it’s open to the public at a reasonable charge. Dalplex has an Olympic standard pool, a brand new weights and cardio facility, and a fieldhouse where you can rent equipment for badminton and basketball, or just run around the track. It’s a great place to hang out and blow off some steam, and if they’re interested in going to Dal someday, this is a great first look for teens.
Address: 6260 South Street
Canada Games Centre
If you’re looking to get exercise but also have a bit more fun, you should check out the Canada Games Centre. Built for the same games as the Oval, it has many of the same types of facilities as Dal, including a big pool. But their pool is a bit different: they have water slides. One of them goes outside (it’s a tube slide, but you’re still going outside), and the other remains indoors. Come for a swim, a slide, and a hot tub, and maybe check out the rest of the Centre after that (personally I feel that water slides should always take precedence, but it’s up to you).
Address: 26 Thomas Raddall Drive
Jumping on trampolines and bouncy castles is often pitched as being for kids; some facilities even have a height limit. Get Air, on the other hand, is for people of all ages! You can jump on trampolines courses, play bouncy dodgeball, do ninja tricks and learn how to slackline. The best part is that kiddos have their own jumpy places, so there’s no worries about crushing tiny people in your haste to win a race.
Address: 612 Windmill Road, Dartmouth
Nearby Planet VRVirtual Reality (VR) is becoming a bigger trend by the day, but it’s still not in every home (it’s expensive, dang it). Nearby Planet VR offers a chance to experience the VR world without having to pack anything! They have over a hundred games to choose from, both on console and PC, and they have special lighting that you can control to maximize your immersion. They’ve even got a set up that allows you to move freely, so no worries about getting tangled up in wires. Best of all, they have snacks and drinks, so you can stay as long as you want!
Address: 2093 Gottingen Street
Atlantic Splash Adventure Park
About 45 minutes from Halifax lies Atlantic Splash Adventure Park, and you’ve got to check it out if you’re here in the summer. Once called Atlantic Playland, this is a classic theme park with a haunted house, bumper cars, a carousel, a Ferris Wheel, and so much more. They’ve recently added some new water slides, which range from straight slides to inner tube rides, and I’m super excited for the summer so I can try them out. Everyone will find something to do here, and when you’re all played out you can relax with some classic theme park food and watch the park’s activities.
Address: 1200 Lucasville Road, Lucasville
Otis and Clementine’s Used Bookstore
This is a fantastic stop for teen bookworms. Otis and Clementine’s has a large selection for its size (not as big as John W. Doull in Dartmouth, but that place is more geared towards adults and children). They have a great teen books selection, and since they’re used books you can pick up quite a few for a very reasonable price. The thing that sets this place apart is that they foster kittens, so there’s small furry creatures running around the shop; it helps to get them acquainted with people, and they’re utterly charming.
Address: 5209 St. Margaret’s Bay Road
This is a stop that will require an event, but there’s no shortage here! The Scotiabank Centre is the home of the Halifax Mooseheads (hockey), the Halifax Hurricanes (basketball), and the Halifax Thunderbirds (lacrosse), so there’s a game for every season. If sports aren’t your thing, you can check out music events, stand up comedy, and performances like the Royal Tattoo or the Cirque de Soleil. Watch their website for events around the time of your visit.
Address: 1800 Argyle Street
Captured Escape Rooms
Escaped rooms are super fun, and Captured Escape Rooms definitely caters to teens as well as adults. They have several different rooms (with more in the works), each with a different theme and aesthetic. You work together, solve puzzles, and try to escape from the room. My advice? Keep things you find together, write everything down, and there are no dumb ideas. Note: for those with claustrophobia or anxiety, I’ve got that too and I find them okay, but the staff are also fine with letting you out if you need to take a breather, or just need to step away entirely. There’s no shaming involved.
Address: 1684 Barrington Street Suite 400
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
If you’ve got an artist among you, going to the Art Gallery is a great stop. They have an impressive collection of local and global art, arranged in tasteful and informative displays. A must-see is the Maud Lewis exhibit, where her actual house stands preserved, surrounded by her other work. All of it’s lovely, and you can easily spend an afternoon going through the galleries, perhaps finishing with coffee and pastries at Pavia Café, which is attached to the gallery.
Address: 1723 Hollis Street
The Waterfront is another place that’s great for all ages. Everywhere you look you’ll find restaurants, food stands, little stores, buskers, ships in port, and a playground for younger ones. It’s a great place to explore the marine spirit of Halifax, and it’s even fun on foggy days, because then you’re alone and exploring a misty landscape that holds just as much wonder as on sunny days.
Clay CaféThe Clay Café is a wonderful place. The premise is simple: you pick a figurine from their offerings (they’ve got dragons, giraffes, dolphins, mugs, puppies in all kinds of sizes), pick some paints, and then paint your figurine while you enjoy a hot beverage. When you’re satisfied, you give it to them, they put it in a kiln, and you pick it up in a couple of days. I have almost a dozen figurines I’ve painted over the years, and I plan on painting more; it’s so satisfying to look at, even when there are mistakes, because you did it!
Address: 6413 Quinpool Road
This will, of course, depend on when you’re visiting, but from May to October there’s reliably a different festival every week (and sometimes multiple at once). There are festivals for different ethnic groups, the Pride Parade, Word on the Street for local writers and readers, and so many more.
Point Pleasant Park
Point Pleasant Park is a beautiful, wild park next to the ocean. It’s technically on rent from the British Government for 10 cents a year, and it’s full of things to do. You can walk/bike/run the trails, explore the old buildings and memorials, and maybe catch a Shakespeare by the Sea play in the summer and fall. Finish off your day with a picnic, and look for the gazebo if you want a goal. Note: a lot of the trails in this park are off leash for dogs, so if you’re nervous around dogs like I am, make sure you look at the map to find the ones where dogs have to be leashed. You’ll still have a pleasant time.
Address: 5530 Point Pleasant Drive
Want to try bouldering? Seven Bays is a great place to do it. For starters, they have “problems” set up upstairs, but downstairs they have freer walls without set paths, so you can get the feel of how you climb without everyone watching you. The staff are also great, and they’ll get you set up for fun whether you’re brand new or you’re an old pro. Best of all, they have a café, which serves great pastries and coffee as a pick-me-up after an intense workout.
Address: 2019 Gottingen Street
Chocolate Lake Beach
This is not a lake made of chocolate, as my disappointed four-year-old self found out, but it’s the next best thing. Chocolate Lake is accessible by bus from Halifax, so it’s a great place to go even if you don’t have access to a vehicle. The beach is beautiful, and the water is usually a reasonable temperature. You can swim all day, enjoy the beach, or just have a picnic by the water and enjoy being outside.
Seaport’s Farmer’s Market
This is a market that has something for everyone. Local farmers come to sell their produce, of course, but there are also food vendors like the Cake Lady, jewelry makers, artists, and many more. You could look all day and still find something new! I’d recommend coming during Saturday or Sunday afternoon—the selection is a bit larger first thing in the morning, but so are the crowds. Come and find some local treasures, grab some food, and sit on the stairs so you can people watch; it can be really fascinating.
Address: 1209 Marginal Road
Phone: 902-492-4043 extension 301
Pier 21 Museum
This building was the first stop for thousands of immigrants during the 20th century, and the last stop on Canadian soil for soldiers going off to World War Two. It’s now a museum that covers the history of immigration in Canada: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s a great place to learn about Canada’s past and how people came into this country, and walking in the building where it all happened is honestly pretty moving. They also have a genealogical research centre, so now’s a great time to see if you can find out more about your family tree (it’s much cheaper than a DNA test).
Address: 1055 Marginal Road