Katie Tower grew up in a suburb just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s downtown core. “The community I lived in is part of the amalgamated Halifax Regional Municipality (similar to the GTA),” Katie explains, “which was recently renamed to just Halifax.” A freelance art director and designer, Katie has called the North End of the city home for just over two years.
“Halifax has really awesome community vibes,” she says, “It’s a city that feels like a small town and, if you’ve lived here long enough, it’s pretty much impossible to walk down the street and not see a familiar face.” With a strong music and creative scene and lots of small businesses popping up all of the time, it’s an extremely walkable coastal city with a bustling downtown waterfront — especially in the warmer months. And if you ever grow tired of the city life, just a short drive away you’ll stumble across a ton of amazing beaches, lakes, and other rural wonders. Today, Katie is virtually touring us through this great and diverse Canadian city. Enjoy! –Sabrina
Photography by Katie Tower
9 am: Markets and coffees
If you’re an early riser, head to the Historic Market on Lower Water Street (Saturdays only) or take the ferry to Dartmouth and explore the Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market (also only on Saturdays) and, in the process, grab a cappuccino and croissant from Two if By Sea (TIBS) — either on the Halifax or Dartmouth side of the harbor.
Both markets boast great assortments of locally-farmed produce, meat, and dairy, handmade goods, and homemade treats. TIBS croissants are one of the most indulgent buttery treats in the city, so make sure to go on an empty tummy!
10 am: More coffee…
It’s owned by the coffee roastery that supplies TIBS. Here you can also grab some gourmet toast or a cookie if, for some reason, the earlier croissant didn’t fill you up! Pro Skates is a skate/surf/snowboard mecca which carries popular apparel and equipment brands for both men and women. Also located at the very back of the shop is a barber, Oddfellows, if you or someone you’re with is in need of some grooming.
10:30 am: Brunch
Edna is the go-to spot for brunch in the city (it doesn’t disappoint for a great dinner, either). The Sweet and Salty satisfies every flavor craving with fluffy ricotta pancakes, bacon, sausage, maple butter, and an egg. I also love the Eggs Benedict when I’m feeling 100% savory. Top it off with a Campari and soda or opt for the classic Caesar. There are no reservations here and it can get pretty busy, so I recommend arriving close to opening time so you don’t have to wait.
12:30 pm: Shopping and Sightseeing
Canook Trading, a new shop located on Barrington Street that exclusively stocks Canadian-made clothing and accessories; The Flower Shop, where you can grab a bouquet or succulents, locally made candles, and the Toronto-based line Province Apothecary; Biscuit General Store, one of the city’s most well-established local clothing retailers for both men and women.
Anna Leonowens Gallery, the student gallery for the local art and design university; Citadel Hill National Historic site, where, even if you don’t enter the fort, you can still get a really great view of the harbor; and the new Halifax Central Library.
Completed in 2014, the library is a space that locals are really proud of and excited to have in our midst. It’s a bright and comfortable place to hang out with myriad architectural details to admire. Oh, and books! There are books there, too.
3 pm – 5 pm: Afternoon Activities
Take a mid-afternoon pause at the Good Robot tap room located in the North End. Craft beer is experiencing a huge surge in popularity in Halifax, and Good Robot is one of the newest breweries to launch. The taps rotate between their own brews and other craft breweries’ from around the Maritimes.
Within walking distance from Good Robot is the Halifax Commons and the Emera Oval. In the wintertime, public skates are held multiple times per day. I recommend getting there for 4 pm so you can catch magic hour over the open field. Skates are free to rent or bring your own. In the summertime you can inline skate on the oval, but there’s no skate rental. Alternatively, bring a frisbee and blanket, grab an ice cream at the nearby Dee Dee’s and lounge on the grass at the commons.
8 pm: Dinner
Halifax’s food, dining and nightlife has changed and grown a lot in the last five years. There are so many more options for people who want to be adventurous when they’re out for the night.
For an amazing dining experience, head to Field Guide on Gottingen Street. This intimate, no-reservations restaurant and bar has an ever-changing menu with dishes focused around locally accessible and seasonal ingredients. The cocktails here are the best in the city; the knowledgeable bartenders can shake or stir up any classic your heart (and palate) desires. If you want to stay downtown, try Highwayman. A new addition to the city this April, you can find Spanish dishes like Patatas Bravas and Pintxos on the menu in a bustling, casual fine dining atmosphere.
I happen to be a beer and wine lover, so my one-two punch to cap a night out would be to first pay a visit to Obladee to enjoy a glass of wine and, if you happen to be there on a Wednesday, live Jazz!
Last but definitely not least: Stillwell. With 12 rotating taps and a robust bottle list, there’s a beer for everyone (plus select wine and spirits for non-beer drinkers). Bonus: If you’re hungry again, the snack menu is available until 2 am daily. Everyone loves the Tokyo fries, but I’m partial to the popcorn and fried chicken.
I also recommend checking out:
Seven Bays Bouldering is a new climbing gym and cafe. Even if you don’t climb, it’s a great spot to check emails and social media (free wifi!) and grab a quick breakfast or lunch.
Big Pony is a great spot for vintage and contemporary accessories and clothes for men and women.
The Prince George Hotel is a centrally located and well-appointed independent hotel from $149/night.