Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia and the biggest city in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, is the kind of place you wish you lived in. Fresh sea breezes blow in from the harbor, immaculate parks and trees frame heritage buildings, and chic restaurants and quirky shops draw you in. A youthful energy radiates from this university town, where students fill the buzzing bars and nightclubs. Meander along the historic waterfront, listen to live music, and enjoy endless festivals in summer.
With idyllic ponds, floral displays, ducks, geese, and musical performances in the gazebo, the delightful Victorian Public Gardens have remained among Halifax’s most treasured assets since 1875. Peppered with ornate fountains, urns, and statuary, the park is home to more than 100 different species of trees, with some more than a century old. The gardens occupy 16 acres in the heart of downtown Halifax and remain open from May to October. Entry is free.
The Halifax Citadel
Despite its exciting multicultural influences, Halifax has an undeniably British feel, something you will certainly pick up when you visit the fortress on Citadel Hill. Overlooking the city and the harbour, the citadel is a national historic site with a museum and a small ceremonial garrison. The museum is closed from November to April, but you can still wander through its grounds. Visit in summer for the midday ceremonial cannon firing and the unmissable celebrations on Canada Day (July 1).
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Located on the downtown waterfront, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic celebrates Nova Scotia’s seafaring heritage. Exhibits cover all things sea-related, including small craft boat-building, World War Convoys, the sail- and steam-boat eras, the devastating Halifax Explosion, and the Titanic. (Halifax was the centre of operations for the Titanic rescue mission, and 150 of the bodies recovered were buried here, in the Fairview Lawn, Baron de Hirsch, and Mount Olivet cemeteries). In summer, you can tour the CSS Acadia, a hydrographic survey ship built in 1913 and moored a few metres from the museum for an ongoing conservation project. You can also tour the HMCS Sackville, the last remaining Flower Class escort Corvette from the convoys of World War II.
Now called the Canadian Museum of Immigration, Pier 21 is Canada's version of New York's Ellis Island. In this historic waterfront building, more than 1 million emigrants arrived for processing between 1928 and 1971. Now the centre serves as an impressive museum with imaginative exhibits on Canadian immigration. Staff are on hand to help visitors trace their ancestry through investigation of the immigration records.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is Atlantic Canada’s biggest art museum, with locations in Hollis Street, downtown Halifax, and in downtown Yarmouth. You’ll find a comprehensive selection of art from the province, with standouts including works by famous local artists. See pieces by folk artist Maud Lewis and hyperrealist Alex Colville, as well as examples of Mik'maq (aboriginal) art.
Shubenacadie Wildlife Park
Get out of the city and see some of the wild natural attractions for which Canada is famous, with a visit to the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park. A 40-minute drive from downtown Halifax, (just off Highway 102, Exit 11 at Stewiacke), Shubenacadie covers 40 hectares and is teeming with native and exotic species. This is the only wildlife park where you will find Sable Island Horses, feral ponies that are normally found on an island 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax.