A normal summer's day in Halifax has streets throbbing with tourists from far reaches of the world. They'd pour out of cruise ships and make their way in from the airport to soak up all the good that this city has to offer. But this year, COVID-19 had other plans which means it's high time for you, humble Haligonian to make like Leslie Knope and turn this town into your own Pawnee.
The Halifax Citadel National Historic site isn't the only historical landmark with an expansive view of the city for your eyes to ogle. Dingle Tower at Sir Sandford Fleming Park, otherwise known as Dingle Park, is an imposing tower that stands 34 metres tall and is flanked by two bronze lions. Overlooking the Northwest Arm, it is surrounded by 95-acres of greenery and neighbouring Frog Pond as well as several small beaches and walking paths. Or for the history buff with a lust for the macabre, look no further than Fairview Cemetery (3720 Windsor Street). It's the largest of three burial sites containing victims of the RMS Titanic with about 121 gravestones. Essential history touring includes museums for relearning our past by highlighting the contributions of Black Nova Scotians over the centuries.
When somebody from away comes to visit, they've got exactly two food groups on their mind: Lobster and donair. Now it's your turn to indulge in Halifax's official food— famous for its raunchy-sweet sauce, spicy meat and onions (but never lettuce). Keep it classic with King of Donair or, for a twist on the authentic treat, try everything from donair pizza to donair poutine and even vegan donairs. (Or skip the meat and use garlic fingers as a vehicle to devour the sauce.)
Smell the rhododendrons
There are plenty of opportunities for you to experience mother nature within the city's walls, but the pièce de résistance is the stunning Victorian-inspired Public Gardens. Spanning 16 acres, it has over 240 varieties of flora and fauna arranged with symmetry, artistry and harmony in mind. Halifax's Public Gardens is worthy of an afternoon stroll, ice cream in hand or take advantage of the family area and have a picnic with take-out from your favourite nearby business.
Art on the street
There are over 200 public sculptures and art installations in Halifax, from the famous Drunken Lampposts on the Halifax Waterfront to the pearl-and-shell near Grand Parade on Barrington Street—and countless linger-worthy murals. Let your feet take you to discover several distinct pieces of art and graffiti. There are abandoned buildings and sheets of concrete at King's Wharf that make the perfect photo backdrop. Or poke your head around the side of Alteregos Cafe on Gottingen Street or visit the Freak Lunchbox mural on Barrington Street to experience a different side of the city. Get inspired to take it all in on your bike on page 16.
Soak up the sea
People come from afar to sit by the ocean and soak up the salty air. They're trying to escape the hustle and bustle of their busy lives. Lucky for you, all that and more is within walking distance on the Halifax Waterfront. Swing the morning away on a hammock, stop for ice cream, grab a seaside-patio beer, even take a photo with George's Island in the background. Do it at sunset and sit in awe of the pink and orange sky. From there take the ferry to Dartmouth and do the silly Titanic thing at the front. Ride the ferry all day if you want, call it a cruise.
Nights under the stars
While some cities in Canada are using COVID as an excuse to loosen the rules against drinking in pubic, Halifax still lags behind. For those who don't have their own backyard to lounge in, the stars and the cool evening breeze from Halifax's plethora of patios can fulfill all your night out needs. Just don't forget to wash your hands and wear a mask.