Argyle Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Exploring Halifax, the east coast’s biggest city | Powell’s Travels

by W. Andrew Powell

The east coast is calling! In a few days I’m starting a 10-day trip around Nova Scotia with my family, and our first stop is naturally Halifax.

We fly into Halifax before driving to Peggy’s Cove, a quick trip through the Northumberland Shore and Eastern Shore, and then on to Cape Breton before we head back to Halifax for a few days at the end of the trip.

Halifax is the east coast’s largest city, and it’s always felt like the big city to me, since I grew up in New Brunswick. I haven’t been there in a number of years now, so I’ve been planning to see as much as possible, and I’ve got a pretty big list of highlights so far.

There are a lot of things I love about Halifax–from the food and the sea air, to the people and views–it’s distinctly got those Nova Scotian vibes. If you’re thinking about visiting Halifax sometime soon, since it’s a perfect time to explore Canada, and our own backyards, I thought I’d share some of the places I’m planning to visit.

First off, if you’re looking for a really complete guide to planning a trip to Halifax, Discoverhalifaxns.com is a great resource. The site has details on packages, attractions, food, entertainment and events, and I’ve been referring to it constantly for information.

The official Nova Scotia tourism site also has a lot of ideas for Halifax.

Booking hotels, there were a lot of places to pick from. We considered The Lord Nelson hotel, Hampton Inn, The Sutton Place, and the Prince George, but we picked The Halliburton because it’s such a unique place. The hotel took three heritage townhouses and combined them to create 29 rooms and suites, including the remarkable-looking Grand Suite.

And beyond the guest rooms, The Halliburton also has a very well-reviewed restaurant, Stories. Their menu sounds delicious, including Faroe Islands salmon, duck magret, and a list of desserts I can’t wait to try.

Halifax has a lot of character, and I love that the city blends modern details with century-old homes and landmarks, like The Halliburton.

Looking at restaurants, I’ve got a long list of gastro and brew pubs, and great places serving amazing food. I won’t list them all, but I’m hoping to stop at Tidehouse Brewing Company, Agricola Street Brasserie, Little Oak Bar, The Bicycle Thief, and Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub. I could probably spend a week in Halifax and barely make it to all the great restaurants and pubs in the area, including Dartmouth.

And aside from how much I’m looking forward to wandering the city, harbour, and parks, there’s a lot to do around the city. The Halifax Citadel was built in 1749, and it’s one of the most instantly recognizable places in the city.

Since 1857 the Citadel sets of the “noon gun” thanks to the 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery, and there are guided and ghost tours to get into the history of the iconic site.

Speaking of spirits, there are a few opportunities to try local ones, of the liquid variety, depending on when you’re visiting. Compass Distillers ages three types in the Citadel, and during the summer you can visit the barrel room and enjoy a tasting with the Citadel Distilled — Raise Your Spirits experience.

There’s a lot of history in Halifax, as one of the cities that was first built up over 270 years ago. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 offers a glimpse into what it was like for so many people who first came to the country, while the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic looks at the history in the area, from the sinking of the Titanic, to shipbuilding and the devastating 1917 Halifax explosion.

My family and I are really looking forward to exploring around Pier 21 too, along the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk, where there are a lot of shops, restaurants, and tours you can book.

Since I’m a big fan, I’m also hoping to get back and take the Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour again. The tour offers a look behind-the-scenes, with history, stories, songs, and of course, a tasting.

There’s also The Discovery Centre, the Halifax Museum of Natural History, and I’ll be taking a walk down to the Point Pleasant Park, and around the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market.

Watch for my #VisitNovaScotia posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. During the trip I’ll be sharing photos and videos, and blog posts, with more stories over the coming weeks after the trip.

Main photo courtesy Discover Halifax, Halifax Citadel photo courtesy Lora Pope.

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