The Essential Itinerary: Halifax

The formula for making the most of a three-day getaway to the Nova Scotia capital during the blustery fall season includes a hefty dose of the great indoors — and the food, drink, art and crafts that come along with it

  • Oct 19, 2020
  • 869 words
  • 4 minutes
A view of Halifax from Citadel Hill. (Photo: Ann Kilbreath/Can Geo Photo Club)
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Day 1

Shake a leg: 8 a.m.
To get an overview of the downtown waterfront — and spy some spots you may want to revisit later on for, say, a lobster roll or a lesson on the city’s history — lace up your sneakers and hit the Halifax Harbourwalk. At four kilometres long, the boardwalk connects the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in the west with Casino Nova Scotia in the east, passing the Maritime Museum, the Historic Properties, the Discover Centre and the cruise ship terminal along the way. If you get tired of walking or running, relax in one of the orange hammocks along the route.

Eat like an Italian: 7:30 p.m.
Make sure you reserve a table at the Bicycle Thief well before you get hungry: the hopping Italian hot spot fills up early. And no wonder — plates such as the linguine all’aragosta, with Nova Scotia lobster; the cioppino seafood stew; and the lamb chops with rosemary and garlic have patrons wanting to lick their plates clean.

Looking at Halifax Harbour from the Dartmouth side. (Photo: Bernie Ewing/Can Geo Photo Club)
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Day 2

Hit the market: 9 a.m.
Established by a Royal Proclamation in 1750, the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, in the city’s seaport district, is the oldest continuously running farm-to-table trading post in North America. Here, you can pick up everything from new potatoes to blueberries to apples, not to mention craft items such as jewellery and leather goods, trigger mitts and vegan soap bars.

Learn your lessons: 1 p.m.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia puts on temporary shows that focus mainly on Nova Scotia artists, but also exhibits that explore intersections and parallels between regional and international art. In the permanent collection, you’ll find the works of folk artist Maud Lewis, whose vivid paintings of everyday life are perennial crowd pleasers. For your science fix, head to the Discovery Centre for hands-on exhibits on such topics as home energy use and multimedia tours of the ocean.

The wife-and-husband duo behind 2 Crows Brewing Co. seek to create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone. (Photo: 2 Crows Brewing Co.)
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Find your sweet spot: 4 p.m.
Who doesn’t need an afternoon pick-me-up? Voted the city’s best bakery in 2019, Vandal Doughnuts, in the city’s North End, doles out dough with holes in an array of rainbow colours and flavours, from lemon square and Caramilk to classics like maple dip and cinnamon sugar. It’s a challenge to pick only one.

Day 3

Relax and recharge: 12 p.m.
The Halifax Central Library might not seem like the most obvious tourist attraction, but we beg to differ. Housed in a glass block that has won awards for its design, the luminous space is the perfect quiet place to reenergize, especially over panini and lattes at the top-floor café, Pavia. At noon on some days, you can even drop in for the library’s one-hour Lunch & Listen: Storytime for Grown-Ups. Just bring your panini or a lunch from outside; coffee and tea are served at the reading.

Raise a pint for diversity: 5 p.m.
The fact that the people who run 2 Crows Brewing Co. actively seek to employ persons from marginalized groups and communities, including BIPOC and LGBTQ folx, is reason enough to clink glasses of this brewer’s craft beers. Add to that the suds themselves — from Laurel, a dark saison, to Shadow Rider, a sour beer aged in tequila barrels with a hint of cucumber and mint, and you’ve got a double winner. Make that a hat trick: Part of the proceeds from each tasting pack of Fortitude beer goes to support the ALS Society, which might well explain why the motto “You are not alone” is printed on the label.

The Westin Nova Scotian is a waterfront Mariott Hotel. (Photo: Marriott Hotels)
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Where to stay

The Westin Nova Scotian has been a stalwart on the Halifax waterfront since it opened as a grand railway hotel in 1930. Book a room overlooking the water and take in the giant cruise ships squeezing in to dock right in front of the property, which is literally only steps away from the boardwalk, Pier 21 and the Discovery Centre. Wind down in the salt-water pool after a day of exploration, or work up an appetite in the on-site gym.

What to pack

Autumn is breezy and often rainy, so pack Helly Hansen’s clean-lined, JPN Rain Jacket (available in women’s and men’s versions), along with the lightweight Odin Stretch Insulator Vest for cool days, to stave off wind and rain.

Bring along a reusable bottle and mug, to minimize plastic waste resulting from single-use bottles and cups. We like the slim standard bottle from Hydroflask, which holds 621 ml of cold water or hot tea in a non-slip powder-coated container.

Made from recycled bottles, the Arcane Tote Pack from Osprey can be used as a tote bag, thanks to its long handles, or as backpack thanks to a comfortable tuckaway harness. A zippered roll top conceals a laptop sleeve and smaller pockets for credit cards, a wallet and a notebook, and there is plenty of room for extra layers, gloves, a water bottle and an umbrella — all in a slim, 20-litre urban pack.


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