Picking up where we left off on Prince Edward Island, our next stop was Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. It’s a delightful small maritime city with all of the things we enjoy when we’re in city adventure mode. Along with lots of interesting attractions and a terrific local restaurant scene, it’s a wonderful town to explore on foot.
We liked it so much, we stayed for a week in late August. (Just to be clear, that was August 2019…we’re traveling only in our memories right now.)
On The Way To Halifax: Five Islands Provincial Park
On the way to Halifax from our adventures on Prince Edward Island, we stopped for a couple of restful nights at Five Islands Provincial Park. Here, 300-foot sea cliffs overlook the Bay of Fundy, home of the highest tides in the world.
At low tide, it looks as though someone pulled the plug on the basin, and the tide retreats as much as three miles. It’s fun walking on the seabed—but you definitely want to keep an eye on the tide and get the heck out of there before it comes charging back in.
We loved our campsite that looked over the bay. Or mudflats, depending on the time of day.
Click on any photo for a larger version
A Week In Halifax
Less than a two-hour drive across Nova Scotia brought us to Halifax. Shubie Campground is perfectly located for exploring Halifax, which is a good thing, considering that it’s the only game in town. It gets bonus points for having a network of beautiful walking and biking trails in next-door Shubie Park.
Judging from the photos on their website, I suspect this campground is insanely busy during the height of summer. It’s the kind of place we ordinarily avoid like the plague. Sure enough, shortly after we pulled in on Friday, two SUV’s with a dozen little kids arrived, set up tents a few feet away from our rig, and built a roaring bonfire.
Me to Eric: “Nooooooo!” I started plotting an escape. Eric to me: “We just got here. I am not hitching up and leaving.” Which made sense, given that we had nowhere to go. (It’s a good thing one of us can be a reasonable person when the other is not.)
Come Sunday, the park cleared out. And we were having so much fun in Halifax that we extended our stay from four nights to a week.
Exploring The Halifax Waterfront
The most interesting things to do in Halifax are concentrated around the downtown area, which includes a scenic 2.5-mile waterfront boardwalk. It’s a vibrant place day and night, with art, music, and great cafés and restaurants. We walked the boardwalk several times during our week in Halifax, enjoying all that the city has to offer. People really seem to enjoy living here. I can see why.
The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market is at the south end of the waterfront. Established in 1750, it’s the oldest farmers’ market in North America. We found local produce, eggs, seafood, and even beer from our favorite Nova Scotia brewery we discovered while on Cape Breton Island.
The Maritime Museum Of The Atlantic
One of the big attractions in Halifax is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada.
Of all of the memorabilia relating to Atlantic Canada’s many nautical activities, the display of items from the Titanic is what brings most people here. Halifax—700 nautical miles away—was the closest major port to the sinking ship, and cable ships, accustomed to the dangerous seas, were dispatched on a search and rescue mission.
The museum houses an extensive exhibit of artifacts from the doomed ship, including an original teak and rattan deck chair preserved behind glass and a replica that you can sit on. Along with the deck chair, there’s a collection of wreckwood mementos created from fragments of the Titanic and kept by the families of mariners who were involved in the recovery efforts.
With a prime location high on a hill overlooking the harbor, the British established their military fortification here in 1749, and the town of Halifax grew up around it. The Citadel is a lively place, with tours, cannon firings, and reenactors in traditional dress uniforms. Kilts are popular in Nova Scotia, which makes sense, given that it was established as New Scotland. Those fancy horse hair pouches they wear? Traditional kilts don’t have pockets.
Art Gallery Of Nova Scotia
Intrigued by the large folk art painting we discovered on the waterfront, we visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, where we enjoyed more of the colorful work of Maud Lewis. Stricken with crippling juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, she had no formal art training and lived most of her life in poverty. Because canvas was too expensive, she painted on anything she could find, including almost every surface of her tiny house—walls, doors, bread bins, dustpans.
In her later years, Maud became one of Canada’s most beloved and well-known folk artists. The museum has a wonderful collection of her art, including her tiny house, which was moved to the museum in its entirety. It reminded me of the “Little Room” of artist Walter Anderson in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, one of our favorite artists that we’ve discovered in our travels.
Halifax Public Gardens
A short walk from the downtown area is the lovely Halifax Public Gardens. Established in 1867, the 16 acres of gardens are a green oasis in the middle of the city and are a unique example of Victorian gardens. It’s very formal, and very constrained, as were the Victorians. No out-of-control flower beds here. But the eclectic and accepting spirit of Halifax comes through—check out the Pride Flag flower garden below.
The food in Halifax is fabulous. Everything, everywhere. A delicious lunch outdoors overlooking the harbor at The Bicycle Thief; an excellent seafood chowder, kale salad, and local beer at Two Doors Down; and breakfast at a cozy little neighborhood cafe gave us a good taste of what the city has to offer.
We enjoyed the atmosphere and breakfast at the Dilly Dally Cafe so much that we ate there twice. I love little cafes with mismatched china. Especially if they also serve amazing avocado toast with perfectly ripe avocados, crisp bacon, and excellent gluten-free bread.
A Day Trip To Peggy’s Cove
Everyone told us that we must go to Peggy’s Cove. The lighthouse there is one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada, which means there are people crawling all over it, all of the time. It’s pretty, and it’s busy.
Don’t tell anyone, but Polly’s Cove, right next door, is much more beautiful (at least, to our way of thinking). There’s no lighthouse, but there are also no people, and the 2.5-mile loop coastline trail is spectacular. We enjoyed a peaceful hike there and then drove a mile to Peggy’s Cove to take our obligatory photo of the lighthouse (which is not a great photo because we weren’t there at the right time for good light). But there are picturesque colorful wooden shacks and dinghies at Peggy’s Cove, and we enjoyed photographing those.
Thanks for the travel fix and reminding us how much fun it can be. Looking forward to getting out and about in the coming year. Best of luck and have a wonderful holiday season.
It is fun to look back, Nancy—and to hope that in the coming year, we’ll all be enjoying life as it was pre-pandemic. I hope you have a lovely holiday season in beautiful Ashland, too!
Halifax is one of our favs and we’ve been there a couple times. It rained almost continuously the last time so we decided to do some off-beat things in between the showers. Such as: The 1,100 lb. SS Mont Blanc anchor shaft that landed 2 miles away when the ship blew up in Halifax Harbor in 1917. There is also the graves (100) of victims of the Titanic.
But, the best part was stopping at a local fish market on the way back from Peggys cove to buy paper bags full of lobster and cooking them at our campsite….
Thanks for helping us remember some great travels!
Riley & Karen, those are great memories! We really enjoyed Halifax…I think it was our favorite city in Nova Scotia. Of course, there were some very cool small towns, too. We would love to return someday, and I’ll remember your tips for other things to explore. You two always find interesting things, wherever you go!
Seems like such a long time ago, doesn’t it? The freedom to go where we want and do what we want and eat where we want….(Avocado toast with BACON!) Freedom to walk next to others, or stand and gaze at the view near people, the freedom to shop where we want without immediately disinfecting ourselves, the freedom to enjoy museums, to touch sculptures without worrying. Even turning on the blasted tv and NOT hearing about numbers and percentages and tear jerking stories, not getting endless hints about how to set the best ZOOM holiday table, how to keep kids engaged in learning, how to best position our phone’s for the best FaceTime experience with our loved ones, perky little hints about making our hand sanitizers look pretty…..seems like such a long time ago.
Thanks for taking us back.
Everything you said, Sue. Exactly everything you said. Looking back at our travels just a little over a year ago seems like a lifetime ago, and another reality. Here’s hoping that by sometime next year, we’ll all be able to resume a more normal way of life, with all of those precious freedoms that I will never again take for granted.
I know you’re making the best of this time, but I’m sure you’re sorely missing the sweet holiday vacations that you normally spend with Jesse and Erin.
Oh, what a wonderful place you got to visit! It’s high on my list and I hope we are able to go sometime soon. Your lovely photos bring to mind Port Townsend, WA. Halifax seems to have a similar vibe, so I’m sure I will love it. Someday…
P.S. I have one more post and I will finally be caught up on our 2019 Fall Trip! After that, I guess I’ll go back and blog about some of the local trips we’ve taken.
Les, you’re right, Halifax does have a similar vibe to Port Townsend, although PT has many more historic buildings along the waterfront. When you and Rod make the trip to Nova Scotia, you’re going to love it (knowing how much you enjoy coastal towns). It will be fun for you to compare the Oregon/Washington coast to the Maritimes.
I wish I was as close as you are to being caught up on our respective blogs. I need to stay focused!
Five Islands Provincial Park looks wonderful. How I wish I could have caravanned behind you for this entire maritime adventure. So nice that you were able to extend your stay at the campground in Halifax just on a whim. I can only dream of something like that in parks in this country. WAIT, how did Eric get in that Maude Lewis poster? I love it!!
But Brits in Kilts? Don’t the Scots complain given the history between the two? Just comparing Maude to Walter makes me for sure want to see this museum. Your description of the tourons crawling all over Peggy’s Cove reminds me of Bass Harbor Light on Mount Desert Island in Maine. Great post. Fantastic pictures.
Sherry, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the photos. And yes, you must go and visit Maud Lewis’ little house! You and I share the same love of Walter Anderson’s art, and I know you will love Maud Lewis, too. Her life story is inspirational.
When I saw that giant Maud Lewis painting on the waterfront I knew it was perfect for Eric. :-) (As far as the Brits in kilts…I have no idea if it makes the Scots mad. I didn’t hear anything about that at the Citadel and didn’t think to ask.)
I may have audibly sobbed a little when I saw your photos from the waterfront. The happy oversized chairs, the strings of lights, the people eating outside in large groups. Together. Breathing the same air.
Be still my heart…
This is seriously a great post. Not just because it’s full of all the things I love (cities, food, history, art…) but because it reminds me of how awesome travel is (real travel – not the B.S. we’ve been doing). The pointless wanderings that take you to interesting places. The random stops to window gawk. The silly photos. The unplanned beer stops. The hidden treasures so many miss (Polly’s Cove? Who knew? It’s beautiful!!)
Bittersweet for sure, but vaccines are rolling out of warehouses as I type this. We’re all gonna be back to this before we know it, and it’s going to be amazing!
Laura, we enjoy the same style of travel as you guys do, and you described perfectly the way that I feel when I’m looking back at our photos. I miss wandering randomly, discovering interesting places along the way, and feeling free to leisurely enjoy life without being afraid of a virus. You know what? I even miss crowds…I miss the energy of a music festival, a bustling city street, or being elbow-to-elbow with friendly strangers in a wonderful little restaurant. Remember our evening out in St. Augustine last December? I miss that!!
I really appreciate your hopeful attitude about the vaccines and your affirmation that we’re all going to get back to normal sometime soon. Here’s to a much better 2021…we’re looking forward to seeing you when this is all over with.
Decades ago, during a family trip to Canada, I remember my parents dragging me to the tidal bore in Truro. Ten year old me was …. less than thrilled. But the things YOU did on your visit to Nova Scotia make we want to plan a return trip! Luckily these days we have great resources for travel tips like your blog, which I am very happy you are backfilling because I plan to shamelessly copy your itineraries. Thinking about future travels is helping keep us same during these trying times.
Oh good! I’m so glad that you’re interested in our ‘posts from the past,’ Shannon. I want to finish filling in our pre-pandemic travels so that in years to come, I can remember what we’ve done. But it makes me even happier to know that our friends and readers appreciate our travel blogs. And then I can look forward to all of the additional things you discover when you visit the Maritimes (which really, truly, you must do…you will love it). Meanwhile, yay for Florida in the winter, right?
We visited the maritime provinces in 2010 and I don’t really think about it much….but reading your blog brings it all back….Bay of Fundy, the maritime museum and citadel, Peggy’s crowded cove. Thanks for triggering those memories!
Joan, I’m glad our blog brings back good memories for you! We’re so glad we finally made it to the Maritimes. I’d happily spend another summer there.
I am glad you are not leaving these memories behind. Such a great place. Weekends can be scary when the families show up.
It’s a good thing I have lots of photos to jog my memory, Deb. And it really helps anchor the memories when I take the time to blog about it. Stay tuned for lots more of the Maritimes!
Ahhhhh, what a lovely escape. Both the towns and the natural beauty are such a treat. Love that evening of the waterfront shot. Love the cove with those amazing rocks along the water. How I miss local seafood and breweries!
I believe you can get caught up before hitting the road again – I have great faith!!
Thanks for having faith in me, Jodee! It’s crazy how time just slips away. I can blame it on the pandemic and the personally challenging year we’ve had, but now I have no excuse and it’s time to get caught up. Little by little, just so long as I’m done by spring! :-)
The Maritimes are beautiful, filled with wonderful scenery, delicious seafood, and local breweries. You and Bill will love it when you make the journey up there.
I loved seeing some familiar spots. We had such a fun time in Halifax. It was cold and windy the day we visited Peggy’s Cove so that took some enjoyment away. I did a puzzle of Peggy’s Cove a few weeks back. Fun reminders. We missed Polly’s Cove. We had some of the best fish and chips at a little booth outside the Maritime Museum. Funny the things that stick in your memory. Good we both have that rational person in our lives to keep us grounded. I’ve freaked out several times when we arrived at RV parks…haha! Hope all is well in Florida!!
Pam, I remember you posting a photo of your Peggy’s Cove puzzle. It’s such a colorful place. You would have enjoyed the hike at Polly’s Cove, for sure! It’s interesting, the little things that each of us remembers from our travels. Having lots of photos and the blog really takes me back to the experience—without our blog, I think I would forget a lot of details.
And yes indeed, it is a very good thing to have a rational person to keep us grounded when we want to do something impulsive, LOL! We’re enjoying winter in Florida, and I trust that you’re enjoying a beautiful winter in Nevada. Happy holidays!
I had to chuckle at your story about the kids arriving and building the big fire–those scenes are my worst nightmares! Lovely photos and a great travelogue! And by the way, we’ve decided on concrete countertops!
Janna, that’s so cool that you’re going to do concrete countertops! I can’t wait to see photos of the process. I’m glad you enjoyed our travelogue. It was a wonderful summer! For the most part, the campgrounds were peaceful. That weekend in Halifax, though…there were a LOT of little kids, especially in the campsite behind us, haha.
I would like to go to the Maritimes some day, everything looks so picturesque! I bet you had fun creating this post and reliving your memories!
Lisa, I bet you and Hans would really enjoy the Maritimes. It’s beautiful, interesting, and as you said, so picturesque. I’m having fun sorting through photos and writing about our adventures. It brings everything back in vivid detail!
Oh Laurel! What a beautiful city to visit! We had the Maritimes on our big TODO list for the next year or so, but who knows if we will make it. If we do, I will definitely have to go back and read every single word of your post over again when we visit Nova Scotia and Halifax. The food and the murals looked spectacular. I always worry about the cold summers there and seeing Eric in shorts was encouraging. I do hope we can do this someday. Our plan is to visit the 8 northeastern states we have missed over the years in 2022. Planning this trip, I realized that it was going to be too much and too long to try to do the Maritimes on the same trip, so they might have to wait a bit longer.
Sue, I think you’re right that trying to do all of the northeastern states and the Maritimes in the same trip would be too much. We spent most of July, August, and half of September in the Maritimes, and it felt just right. That was a leisurely pace. The summers are pretty perfect there…I don’t recall being cold. Our summers in the San Juan Islands seem much chillier—we’re often in fleece there. I hope you do plan a trip to the Maritimes. I know you’ll love it!
Thanks for a beautiful reminder that there is a big world out there, just waiting to be discovered…soon! That seafood chowder looks amazing.
Oh yes, there is a big, beautiful world out there waiting for us, Suzanne! I know you two are ready to get back to your travel adventures, too. The seafood chowder in the Maritimes is amazing. I was on a personal mission to try as many versions as possible, haha!
Waaaaaay back in 2003, we rafted the tidal bore in the Bay of Fundy with our kids. But we never got to spend that much time around Halifax. Such photos! Oh to go back!!! Missing Canado SOOOO much right now, especially since I can see it from my house. :(
Gretchen, we thought about rafting the tidal bore but weren’t there at quite the right hour for it. How fun that you had that adventure with your kids! We loved all of our time in the Maritimes. Here’s hoping that we’ll all soon be able to travel again in Canada. Meanwhile, wave to Vancouver Island for us.
Eric and Laurel – Such pretty towns you two find! We would love to see Halifax and the Bay of Fundy someday. Here in Portland we are experiencing our usual December with 10 straight days of dark and rain. Not rain all day, just parts of each day, along with the Solstice almost here with a 7:45 a.m. sunrise and a 4:45 sunset. Very dark, as it should be this time of year as we await the Return of the Light. That will come in more ways than one this year- we are hopeful for good changes.
We think of you two often as we have been exploring different bird habitats. This last month alone we saw in our yard: juncos, black capped and chestnut backed chickadees, house finches, downy woodpecker, northern flicker, red-breasted nuthatch, scrub and steller’s Jays, starling, hummingbird and crows. At our local Whitaker Ponds there is a resident Great Horned Owl which we regularly locate, some Great Egret and many ducks. At Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge in Washington we were 20 ft. away a Cooper’s Hawk, Tundra Swan and many Blue Herons. Happy Solstice and New Year! Love, Tom & Georgina
Tom & Georgina, what wonderful bird sightings you’re having! It makes us happy that you think of us when you’re birding. We sure wish you could join us here for some Florida birding adventures.
I’m envisioning you both using this quiet wintertime at home in wonderful ways, creating art and music and cooking delicious meals. As you said, soon the light will return…in more than one way. We’re hoping for positive changes, as well. Happy Solstice and New Year to you, too, dear friends!
One of my photos on my gallery wall was that of Peggy’s lighthouse :) Yup so many people and I have to erase some of them to get a decent shot. Out visit to Halifax was in a downpour and we were just killing time then since Betsy was at the shop at the same time. But rainy or not we had good memories of Halifax and your photos of familiar places and the ones we have overlooked made me smile.
I know you will finish your 2019 travel soon since you have posted most of 2020 events already!
I can’t wait to see your photo of Peggy’s lighthouse on your wall, MonaLiza. :-) So funny that you had to erase some people from your photo. I’m not sure there’s any time when there wouldn’t be people there! It sounds like you enjoyed Halifax as much as we did. It’s such a fun, vibrant little city.
Thanks for having faith in me that I’ll get through all of our 2019 travels. I have a LOT of posts still to write. But it makes me happy revisiting our adventures. And you’re right, I’ve already posted about most of 2020, which has been easy, since we haven’t gone anywhere except to the Piggly Wiggly, LOL.
I remember you sharing that picture of the picnic table on the bluff, and I still think, even though there are obviously “better” pictures, it’s my favorite. It just makes me happy to look at it, and think of you having lunch with that view. I also like the one of you being Edith Ann in the big chair. “And that’s the truth phhhllltttt!!!” I can certainly see why Peggy’s (and now, thanks to you, ha!) Polly’s Coves are such draws — gorgeous blue water with those rocks!
I’ve done the same thing at campsites when neighbors move in. It seems like every time we get to a place at which it would be nice to have a window or two open overnight, someone with bright lights or a smoky fire or 15 kids on caffeine sets up shop next door. Oh, well, on the scale of problems we could have, them’s small beans.
I know you’re going to get caught up to real time on your blog, and then you’ll be able to keep up once you start traveling again. Right?! :D
You have such a good memory to remember that picnic table, Joodie!! It was a very sweet campsite, I think one of the finest we’ve had in our travels. I love campsites with an expansive view.
Those big chairs always make me laugh. We’ve come across a few in our travels and I can’t resist climbing up! They’re not always easy to get out of, though. Oh, and I’m definitely going to be catching up on our blog (thanks for the vote of confidence!). And that’s the truth, pffffftt 😂
I have always been super curious about Nova Scotia and this was a wonderful introduction. The views, the rocks on the day trip and ooh the food sounds perfectly delish. Your blog posts on your travels always seem to cover what I am interested in for any place.
Thank you for sharing
Peta, I think we share a lot of similar interests. Which is why I also love reading about your travel adventures and lifestyle. :-)