Halifax is an ideal place for any adventure-seeker. There are countless places to explore and discover, whether you’re just visiting or living in Halifax.
We’ve listed 10 fun, unique adventures you can try this summer around the Halifax area, so grab your calendar and start planning!
Climb to the top of The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and meet your historically costumed guide on the drawbridge at the main gate. For 70 minutes, you’ll be led by candlelight through tunnels, prison cells, and restricted areas of Canada’s most haunted historic site, to hear true accounts of unexplained events in their actual locations.
Public Ghost Tours start at the Citadel’s main gate every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30PM, from July 8 to October 29.
Where: Tours begin from the main gate of the Halifax Citadel
Located just minutes away from downtown, Point Pleasant Park offers a quick escape from the bright lights of the city. The park is full of running and cycling trails, and also offers up some great oceanside views and even a small beach. Throughout the park you will find historic buildings, forts and monuments. Pack a picnic and sit and listen to the waves crash, or just watch all the sailboats and ships come in and out of the harbour.
During the summer months, be sure to check out a Shakespeare by the Sea performance, located inside the park everyday (except Mondays). This is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the park and the local arts at the same time!
3 – Hike Duncan’s Cove
Known as one of the best coastal hikes in Nova Scotia, this hidden gem is located 25 minutes from downtown Halifax and has not one, but three beautiful sand beaches. The trail itself is 8km of coastal barrens that give way to rugged granite cliffs right on the Atlantic Ocean. Since Duncan’s Cove is also a nature preserve there is a great chance that you will come across an array of wildlife on your hike including sun-bathing seals, coastal birds and even the distant whale on occasion.
Once you’ve returned from your hike, you can enjoy one of the white sand beaches located at the trail head.
Duncan’s Cove Hiking Trail https://www.halifaxtrails.ca/duncans-cove/
4 – Sail the Halifax Harbour
The Halifax Harbour is an amazing resource. Not only does it provide great views from the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts, but it can be enjoyed by boat. The easiest way is to hop on the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry ($2.50/ adult). If you’re going to Dartmouth on the weekend, you can also enjoy the Alderney Market for some fresh local goodies (located right inside the ferry terminal building). There are also several sailing tours that will take you around the harbour in style, including the Tall Ship Silva or even a pirate experience on the Mar. There are also several yacht clubs that give lessons in smaller sailboats. Or you can even rent kayaks or canoes from places like the St. Mary’s Boat Club or Halifax Kayaks on the waterfront.
Tall Ship Silva http://www.tallshipsilva.com/
St. Mary’s Boat Club http://www.halifax.ca/smbc/
Kayak Halifax http://kayakhalifax.com/
This trail system is perfect for any type of hiking and wilderness adventure. The main trail starts near the Railway Museum in Musquodoboit (about 40 minute drive from downtown Halifax), and is a well groomed trail suitable for bikes and strollers. From this trail you can choose your own adventure, venturing off into several looped trails that climb up and provide stunning views of the Musquodoboit River and surrounding areas. This area is also known for climbing, with large rock faces and boulders.
The main loop is the Admiral Lake loop, which starts 1.7km into the main trail and loops around for 5km before returning to the main trail again. The terrain can be slightly tricky, but nothing too difficult. When you get to the “look off” (you will know) make sure to pause and take in the awesome 180 degree views of the White Lake Wilderness Area.
Be sure to pack lots of snacks and water.
More info: https://www.mta-ns.ca/the-trail
6 – Bluff Wilderness Trail
Many people from Halifax have never even heard of the Bluff Wilderness Trail. Located just 20 minutes from downtown behind the bustling Bayers Lake Business Park, this trail is one of the most diverse inland trails in the province.
There are four loops within the trail system and it totals over 30km. The trails run through ecologically sensitive barrens, woodlands with a variety of trees such as red maple, spruce and oak. The trails go mostly through wooded areas, with many high peaks allowing for amazing vistas of the surrounding lakes.
You could spend all day, or just a few hours exploring this area. Pack lots of snacks and water and enjoy all that this trail has to offer.
7 – BLT Rails to Trails
Looking for a sweet day trip? Hop on your bike and start out at the Bike and Bean Café in Tantallon and the next thing you know, you’ll be swimming in the ocean in Hubbards! The total trip is 32km (each way) and the trail is easy and family friendly.
Don’t have a bike? That’s okay. The Bike and Bean actually has bikes for ½ days, full days and even 7 days rentals. These rentals include kids bikes and tag-a-longs for smaller children.
This coastal trail travels through wooded areas, beautiful ocean vistas, across rivers and at times you will feel completely secluded. Enjoy!
8 – Surf at Lawrencetown Beach
Believe it or not, people travel from all over the world to surf on the shores of Lawrencetown. Yet most people who live here, have never even tried it. While I understand it can seem pretty intimidating, there are many ways to ease yourself into the sport. You can call East Coast Surf School, who will provide you with all your gear, a world-class lesson and teach you some surf etiquette. You can also just rent a surfboard and wetsuit and go for it. The best and easiest place to get started is at Lawrencetown Beach, located about 30 minutes from Halifax.
More info: East Coast Surf School http://www.ecsurfschool.com/
9 – Kayaking in Lower Prospect
Whether you are an experienced kayaker, or just trying it for the first time, there’s an option for everyone. One of the most picturesque paddles is only 30 minutes from downtown Halifax in Lower Prospect, with East Coast Outfitters. Here, you can rent kayaks or even have a guide come with you.
Paddling in between islands and coves, you will feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by beautiful shoreline. The folks at East Coast Outfitters may even show you a couple local secret islands and beaches!
There’s no question that getting into a kayak is one of the best ways to relax and get an unprecedented perspective of the ocean and nature.
More info: http://www.eastcoastoutfitters.com/
10 – McNabs Island
You can see it from the Halifax waterfront, sitting there in the harbour. No, not that little island, that’s George’s Island. It’s that big one just a little bit further out in the harbour. McNabs is somehow still a mystery to many who are from Halifax, yet it is only a short boat ride or kayak away. So why is McNabs #1 on this list? Because no other major city in the world has an undeveloped island gem just minutes from the downtown core, ready for you to explore.
McNabs is full of history, with a Parks Canada site and old forts and buildings that give a glimpse into what life used to be on the island. The island is about 5km long, and can be easily travelled with good ocean view trails and an old road that runs through the island. McNabs gives some incredible views of Halifax and out towards the Atlantic Ocean, where soldiers used to survey the waters for German u-boats. There is a lighthouse and a remarkably beautiful beach. You can even camp on McNabs and relax and watch the sunset over the city of Halifax (highly recommended to sit at Fort McNab or Fort Ives to watch it).
Getting there: You can kayak or take your own boat and enter at McNabs Cove or Wreck Cove. Or you can get there by various charter boats. If you charter a boat, ask if you can take your bike with you, having your bike is an amazing way to zip around the island.
Kayak rentals: http://www.kattukexpeditions.com/seakayaking
Stay in touch! Whether you’re still planning your trip or you’re already here, check us out on social media for travel ideas, adventure inspiration, and an inside look at all things Halifax.
Originally published August 2014, updated May 2018
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