Picture this: you’ve landed in Halifax in the late afternoon on a Friday. You take a cab or the bus to your temporary home, drop off your things, and then you’re ready to experience the city for the next two days. The best of Halifax can indeed be experienced in two semi-busy days, fitting in everything from cultural icons to wonderful restaurants to the sea that’s framed Halifax’s history. You’ll get a taste of the City of Trees that will make you want to come back every spring and summer.
Best Places to Visit
The Public Gardens
A charming Victorian-style garden downtown, the Public Gardens is a must-see. The gardens are full of beautiful flowers and gorgeous trees, there are plenty of ducks to watch paddle in the lake, and they have ice cream available on hot days.
Address: Spring Garden and South Park Street Corner
The Museum of Natural History
This is a great place for the whole family. The displays of Nova Scotian natural history are fascinating and appropriate for all ages, and there’s always something new to see.
Address: 1747 Summer Street
Everyone is welcome at this library, even those who come from away. It’s a beautiful building, they have free programs on almost every day, and you can ask any of the librarians for more information about places of interest in the city.
Address: 5440 Spring Garden Road
Come to the art gallery to see a well-curated mix of local and international art collections. My personal recommendation is their Maud Lewis exhibit, because they have her and her husband’s actual house!
Address: 1723 Hollis Street
Spring Garden Road
This is one of the liveliest roads in Halifax, but it’s also much shorter than some of the other “big streets”. There’s something for everyone along this road: restaurants of various cuisines, a bookstore, the Park Lane mall, a music store, a Running Room, and even a cheesecake restaurant!
Dartmouth Crossing is almost like a little shopping village just over the bridge. They have all the big-name stores and plenty of restaurants all close together in pretty buildings, so you can make a whole shopping day!
Address: 34 Logiealmond Close, Dartmouth
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Address: 1675 Lower Water Street
This is a beautiful cove just outside of Halifax, with rough cliffs, colourful houses, and a bunch of things to do in and around the sea. Stop by the lighthouse, eat at the restaurant, and don’t climb on wet rocks!
Once an important naval fort, the Citadel is now a museum dedicated to showing what life was like at the base while it was in operation. You can take the historic tour (or the Ghost Tour if you’re feeling brave), see re enactments, and get a stunning view of the city.
Address: Citadel Hill
It wouldn’t be a trip to Nova Scotia without going to at least one beach. Rainbow Haven is a short drive from Halifax, and the water tends to be warmer than the other beaches, and there’s plenty of people to hang out with no matter the weather or water temperature. It’s an important lesson in Nova Scotia: fun at the beach can be found outside of the water too!
Best Places to Take in the Halifax Vibe
Halifax encapsulates a lot of dualities: the modern with the historic, the sea with the land, tradition and change. This creates a fascinating vibe that’s well worth experiencing at the following places, where the blend is best.
The Waterfront brings Haligonians and tourists alike to the very brink of land and sea. With traditional shops, inventive eateries, and events that light up the night, it’s a wonderful microcosm of Halifax itself.
Halifax Common (The Commons)
The Halifax Common is technically “a giant park”, but it’s so much more than that. With baseball diamonds, the Oval (ready for roller-blading and biking in the warmer months), a playground and a skate park, you can do almost anything at the Commons, including having a picnic and absorbing the atmosphere of casual happiness that’s never quite out of reach in Halifax.
Address: 5816 Cogswell Street
Point Pleasant Park
This park is just past the end of the Waterfront, but it feels like another world entirely. You’ll find great walking trails, beautiful trees, a gazebo, and plenty of historical buildings and monuments. Wherever you are in the park, you can still smell the ocean, so you never forget where you are.
As I said above, the Citadel Hill fort is great. But there’s a lot of hill besides the top, and you can climb all over it. You can get a view of Halifax from whatever angle you’d like, you get great sun, and you still feel like you’re a part of the hustle and bustle of the city while enjoying a quieter perspective.
Halifax Nightlife Guide
Weekend Entertainment in Halifax
Halifax has a rotating events schedule—most weeks of spring and summer have festivals or events for everyone to enjoy. If you’re looking to plan something specific, however, the following five venues have regular and fun weekend entertainment all year round.
Live theatre is always a treat, and the Neptune delivers. With two stages, they put on a variety of shows all year round, several of which are family friendly. It’s a great place to start your evening because it’s on Argyle Street, right in the heart of Halifax’s night life.
Address: 1593 Argyle Street
Grafton Street Dinner Theatre
If you’d like to eat your meal while taking in theatre, on the other hand, try dinner theatre! This wonderful theatre has been around since 1987, and it just keeps getting better. This year’s offerings include an 80s themed murder mystery, a Prohibition/modern music mashup, and a competition show about which Atlantic province is the best.
Address: 1741 Grafton Street
New Scotland’s capital city has a thriving Irish tradition, and it’s celebrated at this Authentic Irish Pub. This pub has won well-deserved awards for food and drink, but their crowning jewel is their live entertainment. With music on Saturdays and a ceilidh on Sundays, this is a great place to soak in Irish Haligonian culture and hear some talented local musicians.
Address: Argyle and Sackville Street corner
The Boardroom was the first board game café in Halifax, and it’s only gotten better since it first opened its doors. They have a huge game selection, a fantastic menu (try the milkshakes, they’re fantastic), and you can bring children in until 6pm. If you’re looking for something special, they have an impressive calendar of trivia contests and game tournaments.
Address: 1256 Barrington Street
The Split Crow
This was the first tavern in all of Halifax, opened on July 14th, 1749. They have a great menu with a local flair, and their beverage menu highlights Nova Scotian and Canadian options. Best of all, they have live music seven nights a week, with longer performances on weekend nights.
Address: 1855 Granville Street
Sporting Events in Halifax
If you’re looking for sports in Halifax, you’ve got quite a few options. The Halifax Mooseheads hockey team’s season lasts into April, so you can catch one of their games at the Scotiabank Centre. If they’re not playing, there’s a good chance that either the Halifax Hurricanes (basketball) or the Halifax Thunderbirds (lacrosse) will be playing. And if none of those are quite what you’re looking for, Halifax has four universities with multiple sports teams, so you’re sure to find something.
Halifax Food Guide
Halifax is well-known for its restaurants, but here are some categories to keep in mind:
• Pubs and bars: There are several downtown, each with their own unique aesthetic. If you can’t pick just one, consider hopping on the Beer Bus, which will take you to several craft beer destinations.
• Diners: It’s hard to beat a good diner, and Halifax has several dotted throughout the city. If you can’t decide on just one, you could always create your own diner driving tour!
• Multicultural: Halifax has everything from sushi to donairs, and you really can’t go wrong. Simply type in the kind of cuisine you’re interested in, and you’ll get a list of great options all over the city.
• Local food: Several restaurants in Halifax take pride in their focus on local food. There are too many to list here, so all I will say is that they can be found all across the city with varying price ranges and food focuses.
How to Get Around in Halifax
Where to Stay
This very much depends on what your priorities are when you come to Halifax. There are several hotels downtown at different price points, which gives you immediate access to landmarks and activities in that area (it’s especially good for the night life). If you’re planning on more of a shopping trip, or you want to stay somewhere quieter, Dartmouth has some lovely hotels too, one of which is in Dartmouth Crossing. If you want to go further off the peninsula into the wider Halifax Regional Municipality, your options open up considerably, though if you want to get the most out of your trip you will likely need a vehicle at those locations. There are also several hostel and AirBnb properties throughout the city, so if you have a particular neighbourhood in mind you should check out those options.
By: Adrienne Colborne