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Halifax is the largest city in Atlantic Canada and a city that is easy to love. It’s large, natural harbour is the centre of the city and comes alive during the summer months. It was the first stop on our East Coast road trip and a great place to learn about the history of the Maritimes. The warmth of the people and the general vibrancy of the city, charmed us immediately. Halifax makes a fantastic destination for all ages, however, this guide focuses on what to do in Halifax with teens and tweens.
- 1 8 Things to Do in Halifax with Teens and Tweens
- 2 How Long to Spend in Halifax
- 3 Where to Stay in Halifax
8 Things to Do in Halifax with Teens and Tweens
The Harbourfront should be the first thing you do on any visit to Halifax with kids of all ages. Wander along the boardwalk to see the navy ships, yachts, buskers and musicians and views of Halifax harbour. There is a great playground for little kids and our older kids loved playing on the massive wave. The Halifax Harbourfront offers a plethora of restaurants and cute eateries. The famous PEI Cows ice creamery has both an ice cream shop and a retail merchandise store. You can also sample all the Canadian and East Coast classics including lobster rolls, poutines, donairs, and more. We really enjoyed visiting the new Peace by Chocolate shop after having watched the movie by the same name about Syrian refugees who lost their chocolate factory in Syria, came to Canada and started again.
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
This wonderful museum is located at the Pier 21 national historic site at the Halifax seaport which operated from 1928-1971. Over 1 million new Canadians entered here and the Museum tells the story of their experiences, as well as Canadian immigration over the ages. Our daughter is taking gr 10 history in summer school and there were incredible linkages to what she was learning. She much preferred this field trip to her actual classes! This should definitely be included on your Halifax with teens itinerary.
The Museum is very modern with incredibly powerful exhibitions that our kids really enjoyed. Tours are offered regularly throughout the day which really enhance the experience by helping visitors connect to the journeys that immigrants take. As Canadians we are incredibly proud of the multi-cultural society we live in and this Museum tells the important story of the political, historical and social experience and effects of immigration. While there are activities and exhibits to interest children, this Museum will be most impactful on tweens and teens. Plan to spend a minimum of 2 hours.
Adult $15.50, youth (6-16) $10.25, family (2+3) $35.50. Open daily 9:30-5:30.
You don’t have to look hard to find the Halifax Citadel. Located right in the downtown, the grassy hill that the Citadel prominently sits upon is visible throughout the downtown area. The Halifax Citadel was chosen in 1749 to protect Halifax harbour and is one of the best things to do in Halifax with tweens, teens and kids. You will step back in history with costumed guides and staff that will explain the role of the fortress and what life was like within the fort.
The site is run by Parks Canada as a National Historic Site and has an Xplorers program for children 6-11 that you can pick up at the Information desk. Kids complete mini-quest activities throughout the Citadel and can receive a small souvenir. However, teens and tweens are not left out. There is a great spy adventure that kids aged 9 to 15 will enjoy (my 14 year old was fully into it) can pick up as well. They are given a comic booklet with cipher and a satchel with compass, flashlight, and ruler to locate clues to help decode the message. The spy adventure took our kids 45 minutes to complete and was a great introduction to the Citadel.
Tours of the Citadel are offered every hour in both English and French (45 min tour). The tour guides are university students in costume and offer great information on the Citadel. After our spy adventure, we joined a tour to learn more.
If you are there at noon, you will get to experience the daily cannon firing, a highlight of visiting Halifax with kids. Plan to spend a minimum of 2 hours there, although you could double that if you visit all the Museum exhibitions (included).
Adult (peak season) $12.50, youth are free. Open daily 9-5.
Nova Scotia has a rich maritime history and this Museum showcases all aspects of it from small boatbuilders, to wartime sailing ships, to steam liners. There are numerous full-size boats and intricate models of boats and ships throughout history. You can also learn about the Halifax Explosion, see artifacts from the Titanic and learn about treasure hunters.
We lucked out and showed up on a Tuesday evening, which is their free admission night.
Adult (peak season) $9.55, youth $5.15 (peak), family $24.75. Wednesday-Monday 9:30-5:30, Tuesdays 9:30-8. Free admission Tuesdays 5:30-8 pm.
Harbour Ferry to Dartmouth
I love water-based public transit. It gives you a harbour cruise for a fraction of the price of a tourist boat cruise. Catch the ferry at the Halifax waterfront and head across to Dartmouth. Enjoy being out on the water and the great views and spend some time wandering around downtown Dartmouth. Best of all, youth are completely free, making this a very cheap thing to do in Halifax.
Adults $2.75/one-way, youth are free. You need to pay with exact change. Bank machine and change machine at the ferry terminal.
Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour
A brewery tour might not normally be on your list for things to do with your kids, however this one should be. It is one of the oldest breweries in North America and the period costumes, song, dance and games will be a hit with the kids, while the beer tastings will be a hit with the adults.
If you have visited all of the above attractions and are in Halifax longer, this is a good activity to add to your itinerary.
Adults $29.95, youth (11-18) $12.95, children are free. Tours every hour between noon-8pm. Tours are 45 minutes. Bookings needed during peak season.
Take a Halifax Tour
The most popular tour in Halifax is the Halifax Harbour Hopper Tour, an amphibious vehicle that will show you Halifax from land and sea. There are also sailing and yacht tours to experience Halifax harbour.
The nearby Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is a Canadian and Nova Scotia icon. If you are not visiting on your own, you can book a tour that includes a visit to the lighthouse, as well as Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.
Lobster and Seafood Meal
You can’t visit the East Coast without eating a lobster or seafood meal. Some good suggestions of where to eat in Halifax are Salty’s, Five Fisherman, Goldwater Seafood, and South Shore Fish Shack . If you head to Peggy’s Cove, sample everything lobster at Shaw’s Landing where you can taste lobster rolls, whole lobster, a lobster grilled cheese, and even a lobster poutine. Of course they also have delicious mussels, fish cakes and fish and chips.
Festivals in Halifax
There seems to always be a festival happening in Halifax in the summer. While we were there, the TD Jazz Festival was on, as well as the Halifax Mural Festival. Check the Halifax website before your visit to see what is happening.
If you are into mountain biking, don’t miss checking out the awesome trails at Macintosh Run, just on the city limits. The trails are impeccably well maintained and the riding is Moab-like with massive granite slabs everywhere.
How Long to Spend in Halifax
Halifax is fairly compact and you can see the major sites in two days. However, allow yourself a few more to enjoy this lively maritime city and you will get a glimpse of Halifax that goes deeper.
Where to Stay in Halifax
Halifax Marriott Harbourfront – this hotel is in a great location right along the harbourfront with great views and rooms suitable for families (2 double beds). There is also a pool and fitness centre. Check the latest prices here.
The Sutton Place – the best and most luxurious hotel in Halifax, the Sutton Place’s convenient location with great views, stunning design and excellent staff will impress you. Rooms are set up well for families (2 queen beds). Check the latest prices here.
Shubie’s Campground – if you are looking for the closest campground to Halifax, Shubie’s in Dartmouth is your place. The campground has a really great location set in Shubie Park with great trails, a lake with beach and even a bike pump track. The campground has a playground, tennis court, laundry and good facilities.