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In Halifax, summer begins and ends with water. The patio drinks on either side of Halifax Harbor as the water obligingly sparkles? To verify. If a lobster roll were to appear in your hand, so much the better. Stroll the downtown boardwalk or take your steps along the salt marsh trail between the gravel and boardwalk, which winds along Conrad and Lawrencetown beaches? Yes please. Climb aboard the oldest continuously operating saltwater ferry for the 15-minute ride to Dartmouth? Why not?
If you need to burn some energy, a walk on the Angus L. Macdonald Suspension Bridge, connecting Halifax to Dartmouth, offers the most scenic water view of all. Travel on foot or by bicycle is free and in good weather, up to 1,200 crossings are recorded each day.
When I moved to Dartmouth, known as the ‘City of Lakes’ for the 23 within its boundaries, proximity to the water was one of the main attractions. During the humid and thick July of last summer, there was salt water in the air – you could smell it and almost taste it. From my condo, I could see swathes of ocean blue peeking out between the buildings. My brain was buzzing with plans to hit the best beaches in the area – stat.
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Dartmouth delivered, and then some. Conrad Beach, just 20 minutes away, means weekday swims after work are possible. The sunsets are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen in the world. Lawrencetown and Martinique are prime spots for observing surfers, both board and kite. On the Halifax side, Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park, just 30 minutes from downtown, captivates with its three white sand beaches and hiking trails.
Naturally, all that fresh air and seawater makes a person both hungry and thirsty, and there is no shortage of memorable places to satisfy both of these cravings. LF Bakery in Halifax is said to make the best croissants outside of Paris, and I can’t disagree – although frankly, it’s the airy, melt-in-the-mouth donuts, both cherry and dulce de leche, that have won my heart.
Stopping by Field Guide is like attending a house party, only chicer and probably friendlier. (I’m a fan of their Jungle Bird, a blend of dark rums with Campari and pineapple juice.) The Ostrich Club in trendy Hydrostone, which looks like a quaint English village, serves up an intoxicating mix of atmosphere. and appetizing platters (tuna crudo with ponzu vinaigrette!) with the motto “Live Fast. Yum yum. And in Dartmouth, I spent way too much money on artisanal pastries and ice cream at Café Good Luck, drooled over seared Digby scallops at Cantine and sipped and nibbled on craft cocktails and the best pan. con tomate (fresh grated tomatoes on fried sourdough) I sampled outside of Spain at Dear Friend, which is opening a new enlarged patio where the tunes and vibes are sure to be top notch.
As for the terraces, dogs are now allowed to join their owners as they dine and drink al fresco in restaurants, bars and cafes. In a pandemic, every benefit counts, and the industry says restaurants see sales increase by 5% when dogs can join in the fun and owners linger a little longer. Just one of the many charming and civilized details that will make summer in this city even more memorable between visits to the beach.
With the slogan “Born of this place”, Muir Hotel seeks to create a niche of luxury hotels in Atlantic Canada’s largest city. Scheduled to open in late summer or early fall, Muir’s waterfront location and modern, thoughtful maritime design will make it Halifax’s new must-see. Nestled just below the historic Halifax Citadel, Sutton Place Halifax Hotel opened in 2020 and offers a central location and rooms with views of the citadel or the port. Book online to stay anytime until the end of the year and get 40% off the standard rate, plus free parking and unlimited Wi-Fi. For an elevated home experience, check out Brewery Park on busy Agricola Street. Its seven contemporary loft-style suites let you live like a local and explore the city’s trendy North End on foot, coffee in hand.
What is this parcel of land floating in Halifax Harbor? Georges Island, a veritable glacial drumlin, is the site of Fort Charlotte, built in 1750. Now a National Historic Site, the island opened to the public last summer for the first time since 1965 and is on the verge of doing so. again. Access Georges Island by canoe or kayak or arrange a tour with the private boat from Murphy’s on the Water and plan a few hours to explore the island and visit its tunnels. The island is home to a large population of garter snakes, so be sure to look down and walk lightly.
If a boat trip is more your idea to commune with nature, hop aboard the Sea warrior with Captain Ryan of Murphy’s Camping on the Ocean, who will tour the 100 wild islands along the east coast and drop you off on a private island for the afternoon. Hike, swim and picnic on your own island paradise.
Foodies across town rejoiced when EDNA, consistently rated one of Canada’s best restaurants, recently announced it will reopen in June after a one-year hiatus. The popular Göttingen Street spot performs unassuming bistro-style dishes perfectly.
Brightwood Brewery, known for its craft beers such as Bonspiel and Backyards, operates a Beer Garden at Alderney Landing, the site of the Dartmouth Waterfront Ferry Terminal. A beer and a view are no better than here.
From the “go big or go home” files, a new inflatable water park called Splashifax is about to detonate the first lake near Lower Sackville. One of the park’s first claims to fame? The world’s largest inflatable unicorn, which will be ready for its Instagram close-up by June if all goes according to plan.