I have no idea why Halifax isn’t the first place people want to visit in Canada.
It’s so much better than Toronto or Ottawa. The people are nicer, the air is cleaner and the food is AMAZING.
I couldn’t even feel bad about gaining the freshman 15 … and then the second year stone and the third year tummy rolls and … well, you get it!
Whenever people ask where to go in Canada, Halifax is first on my list.
I moved to Halifax in 2013 to go to Dalhousie University. In four years, the city nestled deeper in my heart than Toronto ever could.
I’ve been missing my apartment in Halifax lately, which has brought up a lot of other nostalgia.
What better way to handle that nostalgia than writing a blog post?
This isn’t a university post. That’d be much longer and probably a bit angsty (medieval lit studies will do that to you). This is about my 5 favourite things to do in Halifax.
They may not be the “best” things to do in the city, or what I’d recommend tourists do. They are the 5 things that made Halifax home for me.
Halifax Seaport Market
If you’ve read any of my other blog posts then by now you’ve realized that food is a huge part of my life. It shouldn’t be a surprise that it would also play a part in my love of a city.
Halifax’s seafood has ruined me forever. I learned to cook scallops and salmon before I fully figured out chicken (…I still don’t think I’ve fully figured out chicken). A bag of scallops from the market wasn’t enough to bankrupt me.
Living in New Zealand, I’ve quickly realized the luxury of quality seafood that didn’t drain my bank account.
The Halifax Seaport Market was more than just seafood though. It became a weekend ritual for me. I knew the vendors I preferred for fruit, vegetables, smoothies and breakfast pizza. It got me out of bed back when I used to sleep until noon. It gave me a purpose on the weekend and encouraged me to try new recipes.
Going to the market made me feel like I actually had some part of my life together when I was drowning in essays and reading lists. It was an amazing anchor that kept me sane.
Although that could have been the breakfast pizza. Seriously, it was that good.
Walking in Point Pleasant Park
I actually didn’t discover this until my fourth year in Halifax. People had always talked about Point Pleasant Park, but I assumed it was some far-off place that was hard to reach.
It was a 20-minute walk from my apartment.
I started walking to the park and meandering along the dirt paths sort of by accident. I don’t think I intended to circle the entire park or sit on a bench by the ocean.
As I got back into working out, I started walking more to use up my new energy. Then I started walking to calm down when school got stressful. Then I realized the park was full of dogs that I could pet, so I’d go whenever I wanted to pet a dog (which is basically always).
The park is a beautiful spot to walk. It’s the perfect blend of forest and harbour. You can find quiet spots or areas full of people.
I think it’s best enjoyed chatting with a friend. And followed by ice cream.
Eat at Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief is my absolute favourite restaurant in Halifax. Delicious Italian food by the water is bound to be good. But they make it phenomenal.
I always took visitors to Bicycle Thief – no matter what time of day or year. They always have something incredible on their menu.
In four years, I couldn’t manage to try everything. Partially because the things I did try were so good that I couldn’t not order them again!
The prices are a bit high for a uni student, so going to the restaurant was a treat. Even so, I always managed to go a couple times a year (often by coaxing family and family friends to come visit so they’d take me there).
My favourite dishes were the shrimp sautéed in a Cognac cream sauce, the seafood chowder and the pistachio honey-crusted salmon.
The best way to finish a meal that forces you to unbutton your pants (true story) is with a walk along the waterfront. A night like that may just beat out the hammock in Spain as my happy place.
Walk Dogs at the SPCA
My family has 4 dogs back in Toronto. Leaving them to go to university was tough. I sought out dogs wherever I was. Google led me to the Nova Scotia SPCA.
The SPCA in Dartmouth has a great policy where you can walk some of the dogs each day.
They have specific hours, a route you’re allowed to take and certain dogs available to be walked each day.
I didn’t go often, since it was so far outside the city. When I did go, it felt like therapy.
Especially since I usually left crying because I couldn’t adopt them all.
I’ve yet to find another city where you can casually walk the dogs at the SPCA. For someone going through doggy withdrawals, the Nova Scotia SPCA did an amazing public service.
Get Ice Cream at the Dairy Bar
Have you noticed how many of my favourite things are food-based? Who can blame me when Halifax is killing the food game!
Also, I was a uni student on a budget with limited free time when I lived there. It’s lucky I went outside at all in those four years.
In my third year in Halifax, the Dairy Bar opened. My pants would never fit me right again.
Luckily, it was only open in the summer.
The Dairy Bar constantly experimented with new flavours. I loved trying their black currant infused soft serve and staring at the colourful sundae creations on Instagram. But nothing could beat the creaminess of their vanilla soft serve.
No soft serve will ever beat theirs, but I valiantly keep testing that around the globe.
Halifax will always be home to me. I did a lot of growing while I was there. The Nina that arrived in 2013 barely resembled the one who left in 2017.
Sometimes I wish I could go back. When I visited last year, I nearly bailed on my trip to New Zealand to move onto my friends’ couch.
But right now I need to move forward. Unfortunately, forward seems to be away from Halifax at the moment.
Still, I’ll always love Halifax.