Halifax weekend getaway

Nova Scotia is billed as “Canada’s Ocean Playground” — and it’s not false advertising. Halifax is one of the province’s gems; a beautiful city, and not so large that a weekend seems like a wasted opportunity (although you may well want to return for more!) Here are some sights you won’t want to miss.

To market, to market

Saturday’s the day of the Brewery market, located between Hollis and Lower Water Streets. You’ll want to get up early to join Halifax natives for warm cinnamon buns and farm cheeses, and browse local vendors’ wares. Halifax’s arts and arts and crafts communities are vibrant and this start to the day will fill the stomach and the eye.

Climb for the view

The Citadel National Historic Park is just nine blocks from the waterfront. Restored to resemble the fort in 1856, it does gives a sense of history — but even better it also gives the visitor amazing views of both the city and its harbour. This is a definite must-see, even if fort life is not your thing.

If you truly want a sense of life along the harbour, stop in to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The museum gives an excellent sense of the unique relationship that the residents of Halifax, and indeed Nova Scotians, have with the sea. The role of Halifax as a port connecting Canada to the Atlantic is also well portrayed at the museum with displays about the Halifax Explosion, the experience during the two World Wars, and of course the Titanic disaster (many of the victims were buried in Halifax).

Then enjoy a late afternoon stroll in the Halifax Public Gardens at the corner of South Park Street and Spring Garden road. These are the oldest formal Victorian gardens in North America and contain flowers from all over the world.

Where to settle in for the evening

If you want the sense of a less expensive, local hangout, the Split Crow Pub opened in 1749 and is still going strong. Enjoy the selection of local microbrews, local bands, and pub menu. Or if fine dining is more your style, try Stories Fine Dining or The Press Gang.

If you still have time and energy you may want to take in a movie at the Oxford Theatre. A “rep-cinema stand-in,” it is a classic style movie theatre that reminds one of the days when going to film was a stylish event.

Sunday morning, you may want to attend a church service in one of Halifax’s churches. The problem will be choosing which one. St. Paul’s Church is not only the oldest Protestant church in Canada, it’s also the home of the “explosion window” — the third window shattered in the 1917 explosion, leaving the silhouette of a human head. But then there’s also the Byzantine-style St. George’s Round church (Anglican) and the gothic-style Cathedral Church of All Saints, which contains beautiful woodcarvings.


Gallery delights

You won’t want to miss the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia which is open Sundays year-round. The Ondaatje Gallery of Canadian Contemporary Art gives a sense of the thriving arts community in the province and across the country, and the Historical Canadian Painting gallery looks back to our rich arts heritage. To see what exhibits are current on, visit thegallery website

If you’re starting to wonder about shopping, check out Granville Mall, or take a stroll down Spring Garden Road to pick up a few things to remember the city by.

Then head out towards Point Pleasant Park at Halifax’s eastern end. This park, which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, gives a truer “ocean view” than the harbour, and has been enjoyed by Halifax residents since the city’s founding in 1749. During the summer you can also catch a production of Shakespeare by the Sea at 7 pm on Sundays.

The most difficult part of any getaway to Halifax is leaving, so be sure to plan a return visit.

Photo © Nova Scotia Economic and Rural Development and Tourism

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