Ah, summer in Nova Scotia. That glorious 10-week window of sunshine between the long stretches of frigid dampness so seldom mentioned in our tourism ads. A time for us to "come to life," as it were, and maybe take a break from watching DVD box-sets and eating ketchup chips from bags we've rested on our stomachs. There is a whole world of wonder and tasty summer snacks waiting for even the most lethargic Haligonians, just right outside our doors.
I am not what you would call an outdoors person. Or an active person. I don't like to "do things" or "experience life." But even I can appreciate how good it feels to have the sun hit my skin for a few weeks each year. I have discovered several fun and easy local outdoor activities that keep me trim enough to still fit through my front door.
Level 1: The Tour de Citadel Hill
This is an excellent way to spend a lazy day off. It requires that you get yourself to the base of Citadel Hill somehow—it matters not to me how you do this. For this excursion I would recommend bringing the following:
- a blanket- sunscreen- a book or magazine- sunglasses- a friend or an mp3 player
Start at the northeast corner by Gottingen Street. First, go into the Propeller Brewery and buy yourself a frosty soda. Then, stroll up the hill as high as you like, and sit down. When the soda is done and you have grown tired of watching the Propeller Brewery's propeller sign rotate from afar, move to the east side of the hill, by the Town Clock. This is where you can take in that excellent view everyone is always talking about. I recommend moving high enough up on the hill so you can see over the Metro Centre. When you have had enough of gazing down on historic downtown Halifax, move to the southeast corner of the hill. This is your money corner. You can hang out and read for a while, then roll on down the hill to Pizza Corner, if you're hungry, or go to the library or the Paper Chase on Blowers Street, if you want something new to read. It's a happening corner of the hill.
Finally, move yourself to the southwest side, unless there is a Nickelback concert happening, in which case you should avoid the southwest side. On this side you can continue to lounge around until the sun starts to set. You can call up your buddies, if you have a cell phone with you, and see who wants to meet you at a Spring Garden Road bar for beers. It's a perfect way to end a vaguely active day.
Level 2: The Rewarding Walk
There is a walk I like to do that I call the Nova Scotia Sampler. I call it this because you cross over a lot of different terrain in a very short amount of time. Your turnaround point is Fleming Park, home of the Dingle Tower. Start the walk from the Armdale Rotary, which you can get to by taking any number of buses to the Mumford Terminal. The route takes you down and through the rotary and up Purcells Cove Road until you hit Armshore Drive. Walk down this lovely street of charming houses and you will find a path down to the water. The path extends around the Northwest Arm, giving you a chance to smell the salty air and look at the many sailboats parked at the yacht clubs.
The path will then take you back up to Purcells Cove Road, which you will have to trudge along until you reach the Shannex nursing home. Now, this may sound less than scenic, but bear with me. Go into the parking lot of the nursing home and around the building. You will see the beginning of a path going into the woods. This path will take you to Fleming Park, and you'll be completely surrounded by shady, dense forest. You won't even realize that you are still in a city. When you arrive at the park, you can get an ice cream and sit on the grass. You can climb to the top of the tower if you like, but you won't find me up there. Walk back towards the city the way you came, through the woods. When you reach the road again, you won't be far from Phil's Fish & Chips. Treat yourself! You've earned it!
Level 3: The Flat Bike Ride
Halifax is a discouraging place for the timid bike rider. There are a lot of hills that make biking around town very tiring. But I have found that if you keep to the outsides of the peninsula, rather than busting through the middle, you can enjoy a very level ride. Plus, like all good things, it leads to ice cream. I live in the west end, so I like to start around Quinpool. You can travel via Oxford or Connaught if you like, but the traffic is heavy and scary. I prefer the side streets, with their many trees and fancy houses and secret pathways. You can bike all the way from the west end to Point Pleasant Park on fairly flat roads if you're creative, and once there you can bike through the park and, of course, get some ice cream.
From there you can bike through the Halterm Shipping Terminal to Pier 21 and onto the boardwalk. And if you still have some juice in you, take your bike right onto the ferry and continue on through the paths in Dartmouth to Shubie Park. Even an inexperienced biker can enjoy a full day of easy biking in Metro Halifax.
So there you go. Easy and fun activities that allow you to enjoy summer to the
fullest and still let you get home in time to watch reruns of The Office—because some of us are just never going to build our own kayaks, or run the Bluenose Marathon.
Some of us want our biggest challenge of the summer to be deciding between yellow or pink lemonade.