Article written by Elizabeth Plante
Combining both the liveliness of a metropolis and the irresistible charm of a coastal city, Halifax is a vacation destination to be favored this year. The capital of Nova Scotia will amaze you.
Its peaceful streets lined with colorful houses with flowered porches really make you want to start a new life in Nova Scotia! We were there two weeks ago filming Landmarks: here's a rundown of places to see in Halifax.
Halifax or Halifornia?
Photo: Destination Halifax
Before arriving in the capital, I had heard that it was sometimes nicknamed “Halifornia” because the city supposedly looked like San Francisco…
Frankly ! Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean...would it be the same as San Francisco on the Pacific side on the other side of the continent? Come on!
But, I had to face the facts…after about twenty minutes driving downtown, Halifax did remind me of the hippie and festive atmosphere of the Californian capital. There is nothing wrong with the brightly colored houses, the buildings adorned with street art, the music in the shops or the friendly bars and restaurants... everything evokes San Francisco.
My love-hate relationship with jogging
The first morning of my stay in Halifax, I woke up at 6 a.m. and put on my shoes to explore the city while jogging. I allow myself here to make a digression to explain to you that no, I do not wake up fresh as a rose, cracked with a smile on my face at the idea of doing my so healthy and "detoxifying" morning jog... (we all friends on social networks who run once a year at dawn and who like to brag about it with photos embellished with #healthy #morningrun #detox). For my part, I rather have the face of the famous grumpy cat when my alarm rings at 5:50 am.
On the other hand, jogging between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. in any city is a truly special moment. Whether you are on vacation in Montreal, Vancouver or Paris, wandering the sleepy streets of an unknown city on vacation, THAT is out of the ordinary!
The feelings that filled me as I walked the streets of Halifax were strange to say the least:
6:10 a.m. I leave the hostel. I put one foot in front of the other and that's it, I left. Almost no cars on the street. The sun is slowly warming the salty air. All are still buried under the duvet. The city is mine. While I don't know anything about Halifax, I strangely feel like I've always lived here. Despite the fatigue, my feet seem to know where they are going...
After about fifteen minutes of warming up, I cross Halifax Harbor and land on a beach in Point Pleasant Park.
Point Pleasant Park is located on the southern tip of the peninsula. It is a park that, in addition to offering many walking trails, includes several remains of buildings that served during the two world wars such as Fort Ogilvie, the Cambridge Battery and the Prince-de Galles Tower National Historic Site.
Don't be surprised to see dogs off leash. In the morning, everyone can let their four-legged friends roam freely in the park. A privilege from which the many residents I have met greatly benefit.
The park is a perfect place to start or end your day. Indeed, the company Shakespeare by the Sea presents plays at the Cambridge Battery every evening at 7 p.m. (except Mondays) during the months of July and August. The canteen located very close to Black Rock Beach serves fish & chips if you have a little craving during your walk.
Public markets at their best
If you're like me and look forward to strolling the local market aisles, you'll love Halifax's markets. My jog in Pleasant Point Park had whetted my appetite. After a good shower, I headed to the heritage building Brewery Market, which houses the Halifax Seaport Market.
The Halifax Seaport Market is open 7 days a week, but it's really the weekend when the market really comes alive.
On Saturday morning, the smell of coffee and freshly baked pastries will awaken your senses. You will enjoy pastries, sandwiches, healthy juices, locally grown fruits and vegetables, etc. In addition to restaurants and food kiosks, you will find soaps, natural products and Nova Scotian crafts.
When you're done shopping, sit on the second-floor terrace and enjoy the view of the harbor as you listen to live musicians.
If you visit in the afternoon, cross the street to enjoy a good microbrewery beer at the Garrison Brewing Company!
Once well restored, embark on a stroll along Halifax Harbour. You will see nearby Georges Island and McNab's a little further. Keep walking downtown and you'll come across Halifax Brewery Square, an area known for its charming heritage buildings. The Historic Farmer's Market is held there every Saturday between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The tourist portion of Halifax Harbor is a perfect place for a leisurely stroll. With the fresh sea air, you really feel like you're on vacation in San Francisco.
Being not fond of places that are too touristy, the place that appealed to me the most was the Port of Halifax, located between the Seaport Market and Pleasant Point Park. The ships, cranes and behemoths of metal that ensure the transport of goods by sea to the continent are impressive.
Although the place is not very frequented by tourists, I liked finding myself, very small, in this metal jungle. On your way to the park, pass by Marginal Road to witness the bustling activity of one of Canada's most important seaports.
Halifax Citadel Historic Site
BOOM! Cover your ears, because every day at noon sharp, the soldiers of the Citadel fire a cannon that is surprising to say the least!
In addition to enjoying a breathtaking view of the city, you can take a most enriching guided tour of the Citadel with a guide dressed as a soldier from the period. Haunted tours, rifle shooting, soldier for a day program, there is everything to amuse young and old.
After two days of sightseeing in the city, I wanted to be back in nature. From Point Pleasant Park (my favorite park in Halifax!), you can see two islands off the peninsula. These are Georges Island and McNab's Island.
Bright, festive, rich in history and heritage, Halifax is my new favorite Canadian vacation destination!