East Coast 2019

Last weekend I visited the Canadian East Coast for the second time (my first time was back in 2014 to visit Halifax and Charlottetown). I love travelling in Canada and will take any and all opportunities given!

My friend Nina invited me to join her to visit Halifax, Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg in Nova Scotia. She was able to get us a few tickets and a car rental for our day trip. We had a lot of things to do, see and eat but it was still an incredibly relaxing and enjoyable trip. Some things I adore about the east coast: the friendliness of people, the slower paced feel of the city and the small towns/cities. (Halifax has a population of 400,000 people but it doesn’t have the “big city” hustle and bustle feel like Toronto).

Nina and I also did a ton of walking and used the public transit system (I took the bus from the airport and we took the ferry across the harbour to Dartmouth).

Day one: Flight from Ottawa, Dinner at Studio East
Day two: Halifax Public Gardens, Museum of Immigration (Pier 21), Farmer’s Market, Halifax Citadel, East of Grafton, Lower Deck, Middle Spoon/Noble
Day three: Lunenburg/Fish Shack, Peggy’s Cove/Rhubarb
Day four: Maritime Museum, Ferry to Dartmouth, Two If By Sea, Vandal Doughnuts, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Home

Day one: Flight from Ottawa, Dinner at Studio East

I flew from Ottawa to Halifax and took a $3.50 bus from the Halifax airport to downtown. (The bus was leaving in 15 minutes and would take 1.5 hours to get downtown, the $22 shuttle was leaving in 45 minutes and would take upwards of an hour and the $65 taxi would take 45 minutes. I scored a deal!!) I met my friend Nina at our AirBNB (she’d just got in from her visit to PEI) and we went to grab dinner and a drink.

Studio East was less than a 10 minute walk from our AirBNB and came as a recommendation from “restaurants near me” on Google (and a TripAdvisor search for reviews). It was a relaxing dinner (and the food was delicious).

Day two: Halifax Public Gardens, Museum of Immigration (Pier 21), Farmer’s Market, Halifax Citadel, East of Grafton, Lower Deck, Middle Spoon/Noble

Our second “day” was jam packed but we still had plenty of time to relax and not feel like we still had so much to do.

We planned to head to the Museum of Immigration and wandered through the Halifax Public Gardens on our walk down to the harbour.  I’m a big fan of nature and flowers so it was a great first stop (and we had a beautiful day so it was a must).

 

 

The Museum of Immigration is on the waterfront. I love the Google feature for how long people spend at one place: the 2 hour average for the museum would be more than enough! A tour of the museum (approximately 30 minutes) as well as an immigration video (approximately 20 minutes) is included in the ticket price. We got some passes from the city but I think $14.50 is well worth the price. Over 1 million people immigrated to Canada through Pier 21 before it closed in 1971.

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We then stopped at the Farmer’s Market for lunch. I love checking out farmer’s markets – local food and drink – sign me up! There were some tables upstairs (elevator accessible) and we stopped for a treat as well.

Next, we walked up the incredibly steep and high hill (at least it felt like it went on forever) to get to the Halifax Citadel. The existing citadel is the fourth constructed fortification and was built like a star to eliminate blind spots on the site. (By the time they finished the construction, technology had advanced so far that the Citadel was considered a command centre rather than a fortification). An English and French tour is offered every hour at 5 minutes past the hour (i.e. 1:05 pm, 2:05 pm, etc.) and we got there just in time! It’s a great historic site and again, well worth the price tag!

(This stop was one I wanted to go on my last trip but we didn’t end up having time).

 

 

FYI: the Citadel is only open during the summer and shoulder seasons (which is an ideal time to visit Halifax anyways).

We then needed some food so we stopped at East of Grafton for happy hour (half price nachos and drink deals), after which we wandered back to the waterfront to take pictures and enjoy the boardwalk.

We stopped at Lower Deck to wait for an epic sunset before heading to Middle Spoon for a final cocktail and dessert. I got the peanut butter pie and Nina got the chocolate pie and they were both scrumptious. (This trip turned out to be a ton of amazing food and drink places to visit).

Little did we know that we happened to be in the restaurant for one of Halifax’s SIX speakeasys!! Nina got us the password and we finished the night in a super secret (but not so secret) bar in the basement. SO COOL.

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Day three: Lunenburg/Fish Shack, Peggy’s Cove/Rhubarb

After a later night on Saturday, we slept in and drove to Lunenburg for lunch at the Fish Shack. We also signed up for a walking tour at 2 pm, which gave us lots of time to sit on the patio, enjoy our lunch and wander up to the meeting point. We ended up being the only 2 people on the tour (don’t you love that?).

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The tour itself was fun and gave a lot of history of the individual houses/inns/stores within the town. For example, one of the houses has been in the family for seven generations: from it’s original owner and owns by their descendants! I loved the colourful buildings (which makes this town so picturesque). The whole town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! We wandered across the bay to take some pictures of the town. So cute, amiright?! The tour guide recommended we stop at Ironworks Distillery for some samples so off we went. The Pear Gin was amazing but I only had a small bag and couldn’t bring it home with me. I’ll be on the lookout! 

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Our next stop was Peggy’s Cove. We originally got there around 5:30 pm but the light was incredibly harsh for photos so we circled back to the Rhubarb Restaurant for some dinner. I got the seafood pasta and oh. my. cod. it was amazing! Lobster, mussels, salmon, and tuna? NOMS.

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Our last stop of the day was Peggy’s Cove and we timed it to get there at sunset. Isn’t it stunning? We lucked out with the amazing colours that night.

 

 

Nina drove us back to Halifax and it was time for bed. Being a passenger is tough work!

Day four: Robie St. Station (Brunch), Maritime Museum, Ferry to Dartmouth, Two If By Sea, Vandal Doughnuts, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Home

We had brunch at another spot down the street for our AirBNB called Robie St. Station. Another delightful meal (I recommend the rosti). We then walked downtown to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and learned lots about the tragic Titanic shipwreck among other interesting maritime stories. The special exhibit was “The Sea In Her Blood” and showcased “contemporary women redefining ways of living with the sea”.

We then hopped on the ferry to Dartmouth to check out the cafe “Two If By Sea” and also stopped for a Vandal doughnut (which I saved for the plane). My original plan was to head across the Dartmouth on the ferry with Nina and then take the bus to the airport but the museum and Dartmouth didn’t take nearly as long as we thought so we went back across the harbour to check out the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. There was a lot of contemporary art, which is not really the art I’m a fan of but it was still fun!

Finally, I caught the bus back to the airport to head home.

Have you been to the East Coast (or are from there?) What’s your favourite day trip from Halifax!

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