Ten fun budget things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada

Our latest guest blogger of 2011 is Candice Walsh, founder of popular travel blog Candice Does the World. After studying English in London for six weeks a couple of years ago, Candice was well and truly bitten by the travel bug. Since then she has travelled to Holland, Mexico, Ireland and more. To keep up to date with Candice you can follow her on Twitter or ‘like’ her facebook page.

I love Halifax… a lot. It makes up for what my home city of St. John’s is missing—a metropolitan vibe, and that safe feeling of going out on the town and not having to worry about running into someone you don’t want to see. But it still has that Atlantic Canadian feel and a connection to the sea. Like you can wander into any pub with fiddle music pouring out from it and feel right at home.

I spent August to late November in Halifax last year, job hunting and networking and sampling beers. I didn’t have much money, but by being thrifty and leeching off my friends, I managed reasonably well. Here’s how you can, too.

1. Scope out the views at Citadel Hill (above)

From high above the city, the skyline looks great from here. Most of this area was wiped out by the Halifax Explosion in 1917, one of the biggest man-made explosions in history, but most buildings have been restored beautifully.

2. Spend a day at the Public Gardens

Open seasonally, strolling through here is a great way to escape the bustle of Spring Garden Road. Plus the flora is something you wouldn’t expect on the rainy east coast of Canada: tropical beds with agave and cacti, colourful flower beds and even rare tree species from Japan, California and Switzerland.

3. Walk around downtown

One of my favourite, feel-good activities in a new city is to just walk around downtown. Halifax’s downtown area is entirely on a slope, so you can meander through the streets, ducking in and out of shops, and eventually end up at the waterfront. There’s a lot going on here during the summer too -buskers, people milling about, cruise ships, and tons of great food joints.

4. Partake in Split Crow Power Hour

Halifax has a massive student population, meaning the city comes alive at night…no matter what day of the week it is. Thursday nights from 9-10, beers sell 2 for $5 at the Split Crow. There’s live music and lots of drunken debauchery, so get busy downing those beers before time runs out.

5. Pause for Ice-Cream or a Beaver Tail

Right downtown you’ll find two quintessential Canadian food joints: Beaver Tails and Cow’s Ice-Cream. Don’t worry, you’re not eating the backside of any mammals – Beaver Tails are pastries covered in your toppings of choice. Cow’s is a popular ice-cream joint hailing from Prince Edward Island, but not commonly found anywhere else. Enjoy the experience, and please don’t count calories.

6. Take an Alexander Keith Brewery tour

For about CA$15, you get a free beer and some great entertainment from Nova Scotia’s most popular brewery. Nova Scotians love their Keith’s, and so should you. Take a trip back into Mr. Keith’s time, sample some freebies, and even sing a little tune. One in every four beers sold in Nova Scotia is a Keith’s, so if you want to fit in, it’s best you have one in hand. Preferably at all times.

7. Hang out on Spring Garden Road

Reportedly the road experiencing more pedestrian traffic than anywhere else in Canada, this place is lined with restaurants, boutique shops, and more. It never sleeps, and you’re sure to find something entertaining around these parts.

8. Head to the beach

Nova Scotia has some amazing beaches and swimming holes. If possible, head over to Rainbow Haven in Cow Bay to find a white, sandy reprieve from the city, or go for a dip in the deliciously titled Chocolate Lake. Hint: it’s not made of chocolate. I know, I was disappointed too.

9. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

For a small fee, get a history lesson about the area and learn more about the Halifax Explosion. There are also several Titantic artefacts on display, including some sobering items of clothing from people never recovered from the Atlantic.

10. $2 Breakfasts at Maxwell’s Plum

Not only does this restaurant have 60 beer brands on tap, but on Saturday mornings, they serve up a greasy breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and fries…for $2! They also do a killer $5.95 burger platter Mondays to Fridays before 5 p.m. It’s the perfect hangover cure!

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