The Getaway
Must-See Sights in Halifax

A long history and tons of things to do make Halifax a popular destination for visitors year-round. Known as the "City of Trees," this busy port city with several harbors and its central shipping and fishing docks share a boardwalk, wharf, shipyard, and marinas for easy access to the Atlantic Ocean. When you visit Nova Scotia's capital city, be sure to take a stroll along the promenade or hop on a ferry for a quick cruise around the Halifax Harbor. But if you're looking for a break from the outdoors, you can always explore the seaside city's unique history and scrumptious food culture.

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01 Stroll Along the Halifax Boardwalk

Lined with dozens of small shops, eateries, activities, and history, the 2.5-mile boardwalk also hosts important historical institutions, such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Pier 21. The wharves behind the museum offer a special treat — the CSS Arcadia. Go aboard this 100-year-old ship to explore its bridge, chart room, and officer's quarters to gain insight into the lives of sailors. Before leaving, have a seat at one of several seafood restaurants and enjoy the day's fresh catch while gazing out at the open waters.

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02 Take a Ferry Ride

Hop on the Halifax Ferry Terminal not far from the boardwalk. Two public ferry services carry residents and visitors to and from the capital city to nearby Dartmouth. The short 15-minute ride proffers several more activities, such as the Shubenacadie Canal, Shubie Park, and the Dartmouth Waterfront. If you want to stay in the harbor, a few private services provide excursions that take visitors by the various piers and George's Island.

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03 Take a Tour of the Alexander Keith's Brewery

Since 1820, Alexander Keith's Brewery has been making some of the best craft beer in North America. The historic beer manufacturer opens to the public for tours and special events during the off-season between June and October so you can see the care the company puts into its beer-making process. Each tour lasts an hour and features guides decked out in 19th-century costumes. At the end of the tour, anyone older than 19 can sample one of the craft brews in the Stag's Head Tavern.

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04 Donair

At some point in your travels through Halifax, you're going to get hungry — and yes, the lobster is terrific. Donair, however, holds a special place in the city's culinary heart, so much so that the city council voted to make it the official food of Halifax in 2015. Restaurants across the city serve it up hot and fresh, like Johnny K's and Rugova's Pizza on Blowers Street and Tony's Famous Donairs & Pizza on Robie Street. Whether you're out late or need a quick pick me up, the sweet, tangy taste of donair sauce and lamb enlivens your taste buds.

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05 Head out to Peggy's Cove

Of the more than 160 historic buildings that look out into the sea, Peggy's Point Lighthouse on Nova Scotia's Bluenose Coast has been charming the locals since its construction in 1915. This well-photographed lighthouse sits an hour outside the city in Peggy's Cove, a charming fishing village on the South Shore of the area. Nearby points of interest include the Coastal Heritage Trail, where travelers can take a self-guided tour of the coastal region through several sites, including S.S. Atlantic Heritage Park, Pioneer Cemetery, Bay LookOut Park, Cleveland Beach Provincial Park, and Blandford Whaling Station.

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06 Dine on Lobster at the Shore Club

A trip to Halifax isn't complete without a fresh lobster dinner, and the Shore Club is one of the most popular restaurants for seafood dining. Sitting on the South Shore, this top spot for large 2-pound lobsters has been drawing in impressed diners since opening its doors in 1946. This Halifax restaurant pairs its delicious lobster with unlimited mussels, a salad bar, and fresh bread rolls for an even more delectable dining experience. There's no reason to leave for entertainment — the Shore Club features live music nightly. Make reservations, though, because this establishment only opens from May through October.

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07 Shop at the Seaport Farmer's Market

A favorite stop along the Boardwalk for locals and tourists, Seaport Farmer's Market sits next to the Discovery Center, across from Georges Island. This indoor seaside market is the oldest fresh grocer in Halifax. Founded in 1750, it moved to its current location in 2010. You can find a variety of items here, depending on the time of year, from seasonal fruits and vegetables to baked goods, wines, craft beers, homemade soaps, and jewelry.

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08 Play on Crystal Crescent Beach

Open from May to October, Crystal Crescent Beach resides within the provincial park in Sambro Creek. Here, visitors can enjoy a peaceful walk along the boardwalks to the trio of white sandy beaches that make up the area. The first two beaches are family-friendly and connect to a few scenic hiking trails that wind around the beautiful coastline. Along these routes, watch for the local wildlife to spot a variety of bird species. The third beach is secluded by rocks and includes a nudist section.

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09 Go back in time at the Halifax Citadel

The Halifax Citadel comprises a series of forts that sit on a hill overlooking the Halifax Harbor, serving as the port city's primary defense system from 1749 to 1906. Visitors of all ages will love exploring Nova Scotia's colonial history. During all operating hours, the historic site offers an hourly sentry change at the front gate, and at noon daily, they fire the cannon. Guests under 16 can even spend a few hours living the life of a 19th-century soldier in an authentic uniform and learning to drill, fire a rifle, or play a drum. Ghost tours also run in the evenings from July until late October.

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10 Smell the flowers at the Halifax Public Gardens

During the spring and summer months, visit the Halifax Public Gardens — a National Historic Site. The expansive 16-acre city garden has more than 140 species of trees and numerous types of flowers and other plants. Located in the middle of downtown, this popular warm-weather destination houses one of the few remaining Victorian gardens in the country. Get guided tours in English, Dutch, French, German, and Chinese.

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11 Enjoy the nightlife in Downtown Halifax

Downtown Halifax surfman902 / Getty Images

Downtown Halifax has a vibrant nightlife, offering a mix of traditional pubs, modern bars, and live music venues. Whether you're looking for a quiet place to enjoy a drink or a lively venue with live music, Downtown Halifax has something for everyone. The Carleton, a popular music bar and grill, boasts intimate live performances and locally sourced menu, while the Old Triangle Alehouse, an Irish pub, features a warm, friendly atmosphere, traditional Irish fare, and live music. Known as Nova Scotia's original tavern, the Split Crow provides a lively atmosphere and pub food. Other notable area venues include New Scotland Brewing Co., Bearly's House of Blues and Ribs, and Gus' Pub, each offering a unique ambiance and a variety of craft beers.

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12 Visit the Titanic Graves at Fairview Lawn Cemetery

Titanic Grave Site Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images

The Fairview Lawn Cemetery bears a poignant reminder of the Titanic disaster as the final resting place for many victims of the maritime tragedy. Their graves have a curved arrangement reminiscent of a ship's hull, and each stone tells a story — some marked with names, others simply with the phrase "Titanic Unknown." The cemetery offers a quiet place for reflection and remembrance, a touching tribute to those who lost their lives in one of history's most famous maritime disasters.

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13 Sip coffee with a view at the Halifax Central Library

Halifax Central Public Library. Lisa-Blue / Getty Images

The Halifax Central Library isn't just a place for books — a modern architectural marvel tempts visitors with its stunning views of the city from the top floor. The library's café, Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar & Café, brews up a range of locally roasted coffees, bakes artisanal pastries, and serves light meals. Sip your coffee while enjoying panoramic views of the city, or explore the library's extensive collection of books and digital resources.

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14 Explore Halifax’s twin: Dartmouth

View of Dartmouth Shaolong Dong / Getty Images

Known as "Halifax's Brooklyn," the vibrant community of Dartmouth sits across the harbor from Halifax. Dartmouth boasts a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as the Dartmouth Harbourwalk Trail, a scenic waterfront path. The ferry ride from Halifax to Dartmouth is an experience in itself, with its beautiful views of both cities and the harbor.

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15 Visit Georges Island National Historic Site

George's Island Lighthouse shaunl / Getty Images

Recently opened to the public, Georges Island National Historic Site affords visitors with a unique adventure. A quick 5-minute boat ride takes you to the island, where you can explore the historic fort and its underground tunnels, and guided tours offer insights into the island's military history. The island also offers stunning views of the Halifax skyline.

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16 Tour Fisherman’s Cove Heritage Center

fisherman cove nova scotia by Marc Guitard / Getty Images

Just a 20-minute drive from Halifax, you can find Fisherman's Cove Heritage Center — a quaint fishing village that seems frozen in time. The village is full of colorful cabins and a boardwalk lined with locally made gifts. Kattuk Expeditions provides kayaking tours from here for a unique way to explore the surrounding waters.

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17 Explore McNabs Island

McNabs Island and Lifeguard Ring Mu Nee Min / Getty Images

McNabs Island, one of the larger islands in the harbor, gives guests a day of adventure. Crisscrossed with hiking trails that lead to historic forts and stunning beaches, this island also serves as a haven for nature lovers, with opportunities for photography and bird watching.

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18 Shop at Hydrostone Market

Women Shopping in Gourmet Grocery Store xavierarnau / Getty Images

Located in the North End of Halifax, the Hydrostone Market supplies a charming shopping experience. The small street has a distinctly European feel, with boutiques and restaurants housed in historic buildings. Try some artisanal cheese at one of the shops here, or try or try on some designer clothing.

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19 Take some photos at Lunenburg

Aerial view of the city of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, Canada Lisa-Blue / Getty Images

A UNESCO World Heritage Site about an hour from the city, Lunenburg is one of the most photographed towns in Nova Scotia. The brightly colored buildings, picturesque waterfront, and variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries make this spot the perfect day trip from Halifax. Lunenburg hosts the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, where you can learn about the town's maritime history.

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20 Go Shubenacadie Tidal bore rafting

Close-up hand of young person is rafting on the river, extreme and fun sport at tourist attraction Adkasai / Getty Images

For an adrenaline-filled day, head out to the Shubenacadie River for a guided tidal bore rafting adventure. The Shubenacadie River is one of the few places in the world where you can experience this natural phenomenon that's a must-do activity for adrenaline junkies and those wanting a unique adventure. As the tide comes in, it creates a series of powerful, fast-moving waves that deliver a thrilling ride. This adventure also includes a mud sliding session for an unforgettably fun experience.

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