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Memory Lane Heritage Village

Hit the Road

Hit-the-Road_Planters-Ridge

There’s a lot to see and do in Halifax, but on a glorious summer day, it’s hard to beat the allure of a road trip. Whatever your taste, you’ll find an attractive destination near Halifax

By: Trevor J. Adams

SEASIDE RAMBLES

About a 45-minute drive west of Halifax on Route 333, you’ll come to the historic fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. Ramble amongst the homes, fish sheds, and small local businesses, and you’ll see fishermen preparing for their next excursion on the wild North Atlantic, just as their ancestors have for generations. Perched on the rocks above the ocean is the village’s iconic lighthouse, one of the most-photographed sites in Nova Scotia. Here you’ll also find The Sou’wester, a friendly family restaurant that has been serving boiled lobster, seafood chowder, and fish and chips for five decades. (The home-style gingerbread is a local favourite).

Hit-the-Road_Peggy's-Cove
Photo: Tammy Fancy

Continue west on scenic Route 3 for about 130 kilometres, and you’ll make your way through the picturesque seaside villages of Chester and Mahone Bay. Your final destination on this itinerary is Lunenburg. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is noted for its distinct historic architecture, and large assortment of world-class restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. It’s also the home port of the Bluenose II schooner, which graces the Canadian dime. While here, be sure to visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Meet retired fishermen and learn about the East Coast’s fishing heritage from a plethora of exhibitions and artifacts.

 

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Photo: HRM

EASTERN ADVENTURES

Nova Scotia’s wild and rugged Eastern Shore is the perfect destination for hikers, kayakers, and beach lovers. About an hour’s drive east of the city on Highway 107, you’ll come to Clam Harbour Beach. This giant sandy beach is a local favourite, offering spectacular ocean vistas, good (albeit a bit chilly) swimming conditions, and balmy ocean breezes. On August 12, it hosts the Clam Harbour Sand Castle Competition.

Also in this area, you’ll find Memory Lane Heritage Village in nearby Lake Charles. This living-history village re-creates life in a 1940s-era rural Nova Scotian village, with several carefully restored buildings and expert guides and interpreters. It hosts special events throughout the summer, including the Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival on August 11. And while you’re there, try a traditional meal in the cookhouse.

 

Hit-the-Road_Meander
Photo: Trevor J. Adams

EPICURIAN ESCAPADES

Heading northwest from Halifax on scenic Route 1 will lead you to the fecund Annapolis Valley. It’s known as “the breadbasket of Nova Scotia” and you’ll see why, with lush farms, orchards, and vineyards everywhere you look. En route, take a short detour into Ashdale and you’ll discover the charming little Meander River Farm craft brewery. It’s a great place to discover unique Nova Scotian beers and other farm products. (Phone ahead, hours vary).

Back on track to the Valley, you’ll next come to the Avondale Sky Winery & Restaurant in Windsor. Located in a restored church, this little gem of a spot offers a variety of wines, with tasty food pairings in the restaurant. Also in Windsor, you’ll discover the Schoolhouse Brewery, another small spot serving local (English-style) brews.

As you continue, keep an eye out for the many markets and produce stands (often a simple table at the end of a farm’s driveway) selling seasonal local produce. And history buffs will want to make a stop at Grand-Pré National Historic Site to learn about Nova Scotia’s early Acadian settlers.

The next major town you’ll come to is Wolfville. Just before you hit the downtown, you’ll come to Luckett Vineyards, one of the many wineries in this region. There’s a wine bar on site, and it hosts special events throughout the season. Also in Wolfville is Paddy’s Pub, a neighbourhood favourite brewpub serving house-made beers and hearty pub food.

There are many more wineries, breweries, and restaurants to explore in this region. If you decide to stay longer, drop by a visitor-info centre for a free guidebook.

 

Ultimate Halifax

UltimateHalifax_Memory-Lane

Photo: Rochelle Owen

Family fun, outdoor adventures, live theatre, and more—our annual roundup of the things we love most about our city

By Trevor J. Adams
With reporting by Janice Hudson

 

TO MARKET

Halifax hosts several farmers’ markets, offering visitors great opportunities to discover fresh produce, craft beer and cider, local wine, fresh-baked goods, local art, and unique souvenirs. 

—Over 250 vendors from across the province showcase their goods over two levels at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Marginal Road. You’ll find some vendors at the waterfront market throughout the week, with full markets on Saturday.  

—A short walk up Lower Water Street takes you to the Historic Farmers’ Market in the Alexander Keith’s Brewery building. Find vendors and live entertainment in the main courtyard or tucked away in the maze of wings and hallways in this historic facility.

—In the North End on Windsor Street is the Halifax Forum, home to the Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. Find 50+ vendors, including local farmers selling produce right off their trucks
in the parking lot.

—Across the harbour in Dartmouth, just steps from the Halifax Transit ferry terminal, you’ll find the Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market. It has live entertainment on its main stage on Saturday mornings. Outside, find flower and plant vendors aplenty during spring.

 

UltimateHalifax_Public-Gardens

Photo: Serena Graham-Dwyer

URBAN ESCAPE

Spanning six hectares in the middle of the city, the Halifax Public Gardens is one of North America’s finest formal Victorian gardens, with dramatic flower displays, weeping and flowering trees, fountains, and foliage plants. An oasis just steps from the bustle of Spring Garden Road, it’s an ideal spot to relax and recharge. On Sunday afternoons through the spring and summer, drop by the Victorian bandstand for free concerts featuring local musicians.

 

UltimateHalifax_Public-Gardens

Photo: Discover Halifax

HISTORIC HALIFAX

—Located on the site of “Canada’s Ellis Island” on the Halifax waterfront, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 explores how immigration built our country. From 1928 to 1971, some one million newcomers passed through Pier 21, as did some 500,000 military personnel during the Second World War. This is the East Coast’s only national museum. 

—One of Canada’s most visited National Historic Sites, the Halifax Citadel towers over downtown Halifax. These colonial-era fortifications were once key to protecting Britain’s North American territories. On site, you’ll also find the Army Museum, detailing Halifax’s extensive military history. 

UltimateHalifax_Dartmouth-Heritage-Museum

—A short walk from the Halifax Transit ferry terminal, you’ll find Dartmouth Heritage Museum in Evergreen House on Newcastle Street. Built in 1867, the historic building holds dozens of artifacts and displays reflecting life in the city’s early days. 

—Explore Nova Scotia’s seafaring history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street. You’ll find exhibitions on the glory days of the age of sail, the Canadian navy in the world wars, the sinking of the Titanic, pirates and privateers, and more.

—Cole Harbour Heritage Farm is a rural oasis standing in stark contrast to the surrounding modern development. The 200-year-old farm features livestock, heritage buildings, gardens, walking paths, and more.

 

PLAY TIME

Eastern Front Theatre’s Stages Theatre Festival presents some 15 shows and events from May 21 to June 3. The schedule includes new plays, workshops, theatre for families, and world premieres held at venues across the city. The festival highlights work from Nova Scotia’s top professional theatre companies at different stages of development, from workshops and play-readings to full productions.

 

UltimateHalifax_Peggys-Cove

Photo: Discover Halifax

DAY TRIPPER

—No trip to Halifax is complete without visiting Peggy’s Cove. About a 45-minute drive west of Halifax, this tiny community is a visitor-favourite. Descendants of the original settlers still work the North Atlantic waters and towering above the bustle of the fishing village is the famous lighthouse—purported to be the most photographed site in Nova Scotia.

—Or strike off in the other direction and find Memory Lane Heritage Village in Lake Charlotte, a 50-minute drive east of the city. The living-history museum re-creates life in a 1940s Nova Scotian coastal village. Tour the 18 restored buildings and tuck into a lunch of baked beans and brown bread at the cookhouse.

 

UltimateHalifax_Point-Pleasant

GET SOME FRESH AIR

—Haligonians love Point Pleasant Park in any season, and it’s not hard to see why. Perched at the tip of the South End, it boasts 39 kilometres of trails winding through forest and past rocky hills, ravines, and military ruins, including the Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site.

—West past the Armdale Rotary on Purcell’s Cove Road, you’ll find Sir Sandford Fleming Park. This 38-hectare space has walking trails through forest, saltwater marsh, and a large pond. Locals know the park as the “Dingle,” in reference to Dingle Memorial Tower, a 10-storey Italianate landmark built in the early 1900s. Kids will love the new playground on-site, Halifax’s first all-natural play space made of hand-carved tree trunks. 

—Across the harbour in Dartmouth, Shubie Park is a 16-hectare greenway bounded by Charles Lake to the north and Lake Micmac to the south. Meander from deep forest to sunny lakeside along the historic route of the Shubenacadie Canal.

 

UltimateHalifax_Discovery-Centre

Photo: Riley Smith

JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

A family-favourite in any season the Discovery Centre gives kids and adults alike exciting, hands-on opportunities to learn about science, math, engineering, and technology. Find it in its new 40,000-square-foot home on the Halifax waterfront on Lower Water Street. It boasts four themed galleries, an innovation lab, and Atlantic Canada’s only immersive dome theatre. There is an ever-changing array of visiting exhibitions, plus many permanent displays. On Wednesday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m., admission is free. 

Celebrate summer

By Trevor J. Adams

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A busy month of festivals and cultural celebrations begins with the Scotia Festival of Music. Continuing through June 8 at venues around the city, this is event is a must for serious music fans, showcasing the best in Chamber music. This year, ScotiaFest marks its 35th anniversary with the return of cellist Lynn Harrell, who performed at the very first edition in 1980. See him at the closing Gala on June 8; he’ll perform Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. Violin virtuoso Giora Schmidt also takes the stage with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, while pianist John Novacek plays Daugherty’s Le tombeau de Liberace.
Concurrently, Halifax’s vibrant Lebanese community celebrates its roots with Cedar Festival from June 5 to 8 at Our Lady of Lebanon Parish on Joseph Howe Drive. Festivities include a special mass, musical performances, art exhibitions, food tastings, games, dancing and more.
June also sees the return of one of Halifax’s biggest and most popular festivals. Running this year from June 12 to 15, Halifax Greek Fest always attracts thousands to Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Church
on Purcell’s Cove Road. Lively music and dancing abound, along with cultural exhibitions and Greek cuisine aplenty. Sommelier Costa Elles, the restaurateur behind Ela Greek Taverna and Flipburger, hosts a Greek wine tasting.
That same weekend, Memory Lane Heritage Village in Lake Charlotte hosts the Father’s Day Antique Car Show. Scheduled for June 15 (rain date June 29), the show is a rite of Father’s Day. There are dozens of lovingly restored classic cars, plus live entertainment and Kub Kar races.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of one of Halifax’s longest-running summer events: the Nova Scotia Multicultural Festival. Running from June 15 to 22 at the Halifax Seaport Harbourwalk at the corner of Terminal and Marginal roads, the festival showcases Nova Scotia’s many cultural communities with music, food, art, cultural exhibitions and more.
Bedford Days closes out the month. The erstwhile town to the north of Halifax celebrates its heritage with family-friend events, fireworks, a beer fest, concerts and more. Join the party at DeWolf Park on Waterfront Drive from June 26 to July 1.

7 Unforgettable Day Trips From Halifax

When the tides send the waters of the Bay of Fundy surging back into the Shubenacadie River, hearty adventurers go tidal-bore rafting. Photo: Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

When the tides send the waters of the Bay of Fundy surging back into the Shubenacadie River, hearty adventurers go tidal-bore rafting. Photo: Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

Fly high, get the blues or travel in time—Nova Scotia’s best, within a short drive of Halifax.

There is no shortage of things to do in Halifax this summer, but if wanderlust strikes you, you’ll also discover many fantastic finds within day-tripping distance of Halifax.

HAVE THE BLUES?

From August 9 to 11, the Truro Raceway and Exhibition Grounds in Bible Hill (a one-hour drive north of Halifax on Highway 102) hosts the Dutch Mason Blues Festival. The festival is named for deceased Halifax blues legend Dutch Mason, the man B.B. King calls “the Prime Minister of the Blues.” This year’s performers include the Blues Brothers, Guitar Shorty, Lucky Peterson, Shirley King, Powder Blues and James Cotton. In addition to the smokin’ music, the festival features a BBQ competition, a custom motorcycle show, vendors galore and more.

GET HIGH

You’ve never seen Nova Scotia like this. East Coast Balloon Adventures depart from the heart of the Annapolis Valley (usually near New Minas, a 75-minute drive northwest of Halifax on Highway 101). Flying daily, when conditions permit, at dawn and dusk, the hot-air balloon soars as high as 610 metres above the ground, usually travelling three to 20 kilometres, depending on winds. The ride costs $250 per passenger, with the balloon carrying four passengers plus the pilot.

TIME TRAVEL

A 50-minute drive east of Halifax on Highway 7, the Memory Lane Heritage Village is a “living history” museum, re-creating life in a typical 1940s Nova Scotian fishing village. There are 17 restored buildings on site, including a mill, barn, mine, general store, church and homestead. Enjoy a hearty lunch at the traditional camp Cookhouse restaurant. History buffs will love the Archives Research Centre (but book an appointment in advance). The village hosts special events throughout the year; take in the sounds of the Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival on August 17.

GO WEST

You’ll know it when you see it: 45 minutes west of Halifax on Route 333 is the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. Perched on the rocks above the crashing Atlantic waves, its iconic lighthouse is the province’s most-photographed site. There’s lots of space to clamber around the shore and take in the ocean’s beauty, just take care to avoid the waves and slippery rocks. After you putter around the working fishing village, visiting shops and galleries, enjoy a slice of the signature gingerbread at the Sou’wester  restaurant.

FOLLOW THE LIGHT

Continuing west, the Lighthouse Route wends its way to the picturesque village of Lunenburg, an hour’s drive on Highway 103. This historic community with its lovingly maintained architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Great dining abounds, including the Old Fish Factory Restaurant, Large Marge’s Diner and the Knot Pub. See Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II, being rebuilt in her homeport. On the waterfront, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic tells how life on the sea shaped generations of Maritimers.

RIDE THE WAVE

With each cycle of the tides, the mighty waters of the Bay of Fundy surge back into the Shubenacadie River, offering a unique opportunity to go tidal-bore rafting. Numerous companies offer daily tours from the Shubenacadie and Maitland areas (a 45- to 60-minute drive north of Halifax on Highway 102). On high-powered Zodiac boats, you’ll race out to meet the rushing waves, splash around and experience the power of nature firsthand. www.novascotia.com

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

A 45- to 60-minute drive north of Halifax on Highway 101, you’ll find some of Nova Scotia’s most celebrated wineries. In the last decade, the province’s wine industry has exploded, with local wineries winning accolades worldwide. Here are two local favourites: on the Avon Peninsula, bracketed by the Avon and St. Croix rivers, the Avon Sky Winery has quickly emerged as one of the country’s best, winning multiple awards: most recently, two silvers and a bronze at the Finger Lakes International Wine Championship. At the western end of the Annapolis Valley in Grand Pré, Domaine de Grand Pré is the province’s oldest operating winery, and home to the elegant
La Caveau restaurant. winesofnovascotia.ca