I discovered the wonderful and honest Ashley MacInnis through her blog I’m Ashley MI, which chronicles parenthood, local activities and just straight from the gut thoughts about life. She also writes a blog called The Frenzied Fashionista, which is about looking great while having no time to look great and picking out the best fashion to work with a lifestyle full of flying food and sandboxes. She also touches on some serious and honest topics such as addiction. Basically, if you want to keep it real, have a laugh and look good – read Ashley.
I asked her to talk about Halifax, which is so close to Montreal yet different in so many ways. I’m glad I did because Halifax is a wonderful destination for the family and Ashley has some great tips.
I originally moved to Halifax to return to school, but we settled in the vibrant city because it’s full of opportunity. We’re lucky to work, live and study within a small radius just outside of the Halifax-core. Even though we’re now settled Haligonians, we love to play tourist in our city! The waterfront is a playground for all ages; fabulous residents are everywhere you look and it’s a friendly, East Coast vibe that feels homey and safe.
Here are some general tips:
Wear comfortable shoes and bring a stroller for little ones. The city of Halifax is built on a hill, and downtown is particularly hilly!
Like mama always said, dress in layers! Being a port city in Atlantic Canada, we’ve got the wind off the water and it can be cold! Oh, and don’t forget a raincoat but leave your umbrella – it will get wrecked.
Carry cash. Some of the best little shops don’t take debit!
Arrange a car from the airport in advance. Also remember to bring a car seat. It’s about a 25 minute drive into Halifax from the airport.
Give yourself 4-7 days to enjoy the city. Make one day about local history, spend a day shopping, take a day to explore on foot along the waterfront and be sure to jump on the Harbour Hopper if you can.
Make reservations whenever possible. It can be hard to get into a lot of the popular restaurants downtown otherwise.
Just about everyone speaks English, and French is a common second-language.
Book a hotel downtown to avoid needing a car (parking in Halifax is a bit of a nightmare). The Marriott, Prince George and Lord Nelson are all great spots near shopping and historical properties!
Don’t want to be downtown? Consider staying just outside of the city in areas like Bayer’s Lake or Dartmouth Crossing. Both are near industrial parks with large parking areas and great shopping districts.
There are so many great places to eat in Halifax, it’s hard to narrow it down. Tourist-y destinations like McKelvies, The Five Fisherman and Murphy’s On The Water are all downtown and fabulous. Little nooks like the Armview Restaurant and Ardmore Tea Room are local favourites and boast some of the best milkshakes, sandwiches and breakfasts in the city. Gastropubs like The Stubborn Goat and trendy digs like Lot6 are better suited to adults, though.
If all else fails, there are oodles of large chain restaurants.
Great local dishes include fish or clams and chips on the waterfront. If your kids are not into seafood, there is always great non-seafood, finger-food options in the food huts.
The Museum of the Atlantic, Museum of Natural History, Discovery Centre and Public Gardens are some of our favourite places to visit and offer excitement for any age.
Free entertainment is the best. Head to the waterfront on a nice day to hear local musicians, play on the playground and view tall ships.
If you can avoid renting a car – do it. Parking in downtown Halifax can be a nightmare at best. The city boasts old, narrow streets built on a steep hill – and one-way streets are everywhere.
Public Transit is meh, but taxies are friendly and easy to hail.
Downtown is great for walking around!
Rush hour is usually from 7:45am – 9am and 3:30-5:30pm – if you can avoid the streets at those times, it’s not a bad idea (or at least head in the other direction!)
You can take the ferry from Halifax to Dartmouth waterfronts – both are vibrant but each is unique.
When to Visit
Winter in Halifax is bleak – and can be very snowy and cold. Spring and summer are vibrant and fun, with festivals and boat cruises to enjoy on the waterfront.
As a university-heavy city, avoid early September if you want to get accommodations and avoid the busyness of moving trucks, family visiting and frosh stumbling around downtown.
Originally from the prairies and now in Montreal, I love exploring new places, eating great food and modern design. I'm mom of two wild things and paper and cake make me happy.
Photographing your cutie family would make me very happy.