A Local’s Guide: Top (Free) Spots to Unwind in Halifax

At the end of last year, I started a new series on Edits Of Jo called A Local’s Guide to which features wonderfully talented voices from the travel community and their experiences of their hometown/city. Although I love nothing more than getting stuck into a good ol’ travel book (ideally with a pull-out map at the back), I also search the internet for posts that show a locals perspective to a particular area I’m planning a trip to.I approached Meggan and Peter from Let’s Get Tripsy who agreed to write about their wonderful home of Halifax, Canada.

A wee bit about Let’s Get Tripsy

Their travel blog was born out of their love for travel but also their love of talking about their adventures, both near and far!  They are both creative and enjoy writing so they thought why not share their tales of the road with a wider audience!?  They have some incredible content on their blog which you can have a read of here at www.letsgettripsy.com.

Top (Free) Spots to Unwind in Halifax

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Canada’s Ocean Playground, so the license plates read, is the small capital city with a big heart and lots to see!

Halifax is a city on the East Coast of Canada where you can enjoy seafood, pubs and fun tourist attractions both in the city as well as a short drive away.  It is also somewhere you can easily find spots to curl up with a book and chill, something we all need once in a while right!?

We have explored our city and compiled a list of a few of our favourites and we hope you will agree that these sound like some spots you want to spend some time and just…unwind!

The Halifax Central Library

This environmentally sustainable flagship library opened in Halifax in December, 2014 and is the winner of a Lieutenant Governor’s Design Award in Architecture for 2014 and a similar award for Architecture in 2016.  The library replaced the old Spring Garden Memorial Library nearby and is an impressive building!  It houses Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar and Café which can be enjoyed on both the bottom floor which opens before the actual library each day as well as the 5th floor.  In warmer months you can also enjoy the outdoor roof terrace where you can see spectacular views of the city.  There is also a unique section of the 5th floor that overlooks Spring Garden Road with comfortable chairs and views of historic Citadel Hill as well as Halifax Harbour.  There is amazing artwork on the main level including 5000 miniature portraits by painter Cliff Eyland which are a must see.  The library also has an auditorium that seats 300 which is a great community feature.  Overall it’s a great spot to research, spend time on the terrace and curl up with a book or study, all with a great view.  What more could you want?

Outside of Halifax Library, Canada showing glass windows and square architecture

Halifax Library, Canada

The Halifax Public Gardens – National Historic Site

The outside of Halifax Public Gardens

Halifax Public Gardens

Now, we might be a little biased because this is where we spent part of our first date so maybe it holds a special place in our heart more than anything but we don’t think so – it’s just a genuinely amazing green space not to be missed!

These Victorian Era gardens just off of main shopping street Spring Garden Road are a highlight to the downtown core.  The opening each year kicks off the late Spring/early summer season and the gardens have been drawing people from near and from since 1867.

The 16 acres of garden space houses memorial benches dedicated by community members to loved ones, military plaques, Griffin Pond named after a man who was sadly hung after being wrongfully convicted (not sure that gave him or his family much comfort after the fact) and many trees and flowers meticulously maintained especially during the months of May-November.  There is a Bandstand and a spot to buy ice cream and sweet treats!  If you are looking for a spot in the middle of the city to feel like you are in nature without having to go far, this is the place for you.  Bring a blanket and a book or buy an ice cream and sit on a bench and people watch – no matter what, I believe you will find it a spot to unwind and just be!

The Halifax Waterfront

Colourful deckchairs at the front of Halifax Water Front

Halifax Water Front

This is a bit of a busier spot but there are lots of options to unwind as you stroll along one of the world’s longest downtown boardwalks.

First and foremost you have the ocean beside you at all times – growing up near the ocean we find it incredibly soothing to have it nearby and hopefully you will too.

As you walk along the boardwalk you find a variety of restaurants and pubs to enjoy a meal or a beer and people watch.  There is famous Cows Ice Cream for a sweet treat and a few spots to grab a coffee.  If you wish to sit yourself down and stare out at the ocean, there are a variety of spots with outdoor tables and chairs or comfy Adirondack chairs grouped together to unwind in.  If getting out on the water relaxes you, you can take a ferry ride across to Dartmouth, no need to get off if you just wish to do the trip or you can disembark and explore!  You can also rent kayaks or take a trip on the Tall Ship Silva to see a bit more of Halifax from the water.

Sure, this area can get busy in the summer which may not seem like a way to unwind but if having a beer or some lunch or just a seat by the ocean brings you comfort – this is a great option!

Point Pleasant Park

Point Pleasant Park

Point Pleasant Park

This outdoor green space is 75 hectares of mostly wooded area with some really great walking trails and a lot of serenity!  It runs along the water in Halifax’s South End and is a great combination of nature and relaxation.   An interesting fact is that the park is actually owned by the British Government and is leased to the city of municipality of Halifax for 1 shilling per year.

The park is historic and one of Canada’s oldest urban parks. It contains the Prince of Wales tower which is the oldest Martello tower in North America, built in 1796.  It also has several war memorials and stone walls reminiscent of its military past.

It has a small sandy beach which can be used by the public for swimming although water on our shores is rarely warm but kids never seem to mind!  There are picnic table areas, green grass stretches along the water which folks use for Frisbee or laying out in the sun listening to music or reading.  The trails are often used for walking and running with a lot of people getting their dogs out for exercise, on-leash only in most areas.

In September 2003, the coast of Nova Scotia was battered by Hurricane Juan and Point Pleasant Park was devastated losing nearly ¾ of its trees which closed the park until June of 2004.  A lot of work has been put into the restoration since then and it’s been recovering nicely ever since.

Another highlight in the summer months is professional theatre company ‘Shakespeare by the Sea’ where plays are performed in Battery Park within the larger park itself.  There are original productions as well as Shakespearean plays and they have a venue which they can also use on rainy days.

There is so much to see and do here – Or you can choose to do nothing!  That’s the beauty of this forest park on the southern end of the Halifax Peninsula!

DeWolf Park

Two people walking their dogs in Dewolf Park

Dewolf Park

Located in Bedford, just outside of downtown Halifax, is Dewolf Park named after naval officer Vice-Admiral Henry George Dewolf who was one of our most decorated officers of the Second World War.

The park has a 3.1 kilometre boardwalk which winds its way along the Bedford Basin.  The boardwalk allows views of the ocean and up into the basin where you can also spot the MacKay Bridge which connects Halifax and Dartmouth.

There is a playground where parents often congregate with their kids and it is also a popular spot for dog walking however they must remain on-leash.

The park is a great green space that is often used for community events such as walks for charity and folks out for a run.  There is ample parking available and it is easy to get to from the nearby Bedford Highway.

DeWolf Park made our list because it is an alternative to the city core of Halifax yet not too far away.  It has a slower pace which lends to relaxing and really unwinding surrounded by nature and with the ever present Atlantic Ocean sparkling nearby.

Have you visited Halifax before?  What are your favourite spots around the city?

Want to read more from Let’s Get Tripsy? Check out their Nova Scotia post here. Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram too!