It seemed so suitably Maritimes. After a day of touring Halifax in the sunshine, our family was excited to climb to the top of the city’s landmark Citadel fort, to watch a fabulous display of fireworks. Doubt set in, however, since the further we climbed up the hill, the thicker was the fog (eventually reaching pea soup density). At the top, we received word that the fireworks had been cancelled (deferred, actually), although it did not dampen our spirits (no pun intended). The eerie mist was a classic reminder of how temperamental the weather could be in this part of the world. Fireworks or no fireworks, we had enjoyed a great couple of mostly sunny days exploring what Halifax had to offer for kids. Take a peek at this short video of what we loved for families (includes Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove), or just read on:
1. The Citadel
Perched on a hilltop that allows for unobstructed views of the Halifax harbour, this fort was built in 1749 to protect the city. Daily events allow visitors to step back in time and experience what the soldiers did more than two and a half centuries ago. Be sure to check their special events page so you don’t miss out on a fun and educational experience. (see website)
2. The Halifax Boardwalk
Not only does this harbourside walkway have great views, it often plays host to many of the city’s festivals. Our kids enjoyed looking at some of the interesting ships, eating from the food carts, exploring the public art and playing in the playgrounds (especially loved by children seems to be the giant wave). For events (see website)
3. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Pier 21 was the gateway to Canada for one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. Through many interactive exhibits, this museum does a very good job at capturing the essence of what it may have been like to arrive in this foreign land many years ago. I am always hopeful when entering a museum with my children that they will remain engaged for more than 5 minutes. I was quite thrilled to discover that this museum (and the excellent craft station) kept my kids busy for at least 30 minutes while I explored around them. Especially interesting to me was the fact that Canadians can research their family history in the archives downstairs and that the museum has volunteers you can chat to who actually arrived in Canada via this building. (see website for more information)
4. The Discovery Science Centre
With many hands-on science experiments, The Discover Centre is a perfect place for busy kids to burn off some energy. It features dynamic exhibitions, a digital planetarium, live demonstrations and interesting science programs for all ages. My kids were particularly fascinated by the hurricane simulator and the giant bubble maker (that envelopes your whole body). As if things couldn’t get any better, we finished our visit with a trip to Menchies frozen yoghurt, which is but a block away. For more information on the Discovery Centre, see website.
5. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Located right on Halifax’s waterfront boardwalk, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a perfect place to learn about Nova Scotia’s rich maritime history. Exhibitions include the art of small craft boatbuilding to World War Convoys, the Days of Sail to the Age of Steam, the Titanic to the Halifax Explosion (be sure to watch the fascinating film). My kids were quite intrigued by the replica Titanic deck chair and the fact that they could go aboard the CSS Acadia ship that is docked outside. For more information and special events, see website.
6. Halifax Festivals
Halifax knows how to throw a great party. From the world famous Busker Festival to the International Tattoo (bagpipes), there seems to be something fun going on almost all the time. Be sure to check the Destination Halifax Festival Directory, before planning a visit so as not to miss out.
7. Halifax Ghost Walk Tours
Arguably not for all children (my youngest was in – my eldest was definitively out), the Ghost Walk of Historic Halifax is a very popular city tour. Starting from the old town clock at the Citadel, you make your way towards the harbour with many eerie tales and creepy stops along the way (like the cemetery). The tour runs several times a week at 7:30pm, so if you went in the peak of summer, you could possibly do it all in the daylight ( perhaps a little less scary for kids). See Tattle Tours website for more information.
8. Peggy’s Cove Day Trip
It is so close to Halifax (a 30 minute drive), that Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse just had to be included as part of this post. While we had seen many lighthouses on our Maritimes road trip, this was definitely the most spectacular. The rugged coast and waves are simply mesmerizing, but the biggest hit for my kids was all the rocks to climb on (many local families go just for this). Read more about Peggy’s Cove with kids here.
Family-Friendly Halifax Accommodation
During our time in Halifax we stayed at the very family-friendly Lord Nelson Hotel and Suites. The property is centrally located (across from a park and a block from the Citadel), with very spacious suites. See Lord Nelson website for more information.
Family-Friendly Halifax Restaurants
Halifax has a very big pub culture, and we were happy to discover that many of them were family friendly. We enjoyed good meals and a lively scene at Your Father’s Mustache and the Red Stag Tavern. For older children (or if you have a babysitter), The Bicycle Thief on the waterfront is fantastic.
While visiting Halifax we were guests of Tourism Nova Scotia with partial expenses being covered by this entity. All opinions about our experiences are entirely my own. As always on my website, I encourage you to also read current reviews by other family travelers on hotels, attractions and restaurants (Tripadvisor, Google, Yelp etc.) before booking or making any final travel decisions.
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