Our Guide to a Perfect Workation in Halifax

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You don’t need palm trees and white sandy beaches to have a good Canadian seaside workation. Fly in to Halifax and drive down the East Coast. Seaside views, majestic rocky coastlines, fresh seafood, and locally farmed produce will leave you feeling like a straight-up mermaid. Not to mention: Halifax locals are called ‘Haligonians.’ How cute is that?

Tedi has wanted to travel to the East Coast for years, so when one of our couples, and Haligonians, Zoë and Chris needed engagement photos, I thought why not celebrate Tedi’s Birthday and do a little work at the same time? I wanted to surprise her with the trip, but unfortunately Google now puts things in your calendar without asking, and Tedi found it hard to ignore “Adorable Halifax Studio” from Nov. 9-14. So after a little happy cry, we boarded our 6 am flight and headed east!

WHEN TO GO & WHERE TO STAY

If you’re thinking about visiting Halifax, aim to head down during summer or early autumn. The end of September and Early October is a safe bet. When we got there in November most of the leaves were off the trees and the weather was unpredictable (sad face). Our flight out was cancelled because of high winds, and the day after we narrowly escaped before they were hit with a huge snow storm. Halifax is right by the sea, so surprising weather is typical.

If you’re an explorer at heart, you’ll love the city. We recommend staying in a hotel or Airbnb close to the action (anywhere around the Citadel) if you want to experience the city life. If you’re a quieter personality, you’ll want to rent a car to get out of the city and explore nature. There are vast coastlines to see. We could have spent a month just driving down ocean roads. And when we finally get our van built we will do just that.

I booked the MOST adorable little AirBNB close to downtown Halifax. We were always an easy 10-15 minute walk from the most amazing restaurants and shops.

WHERE to EAT AND DRINK

Good Robot Brewery

By the time we landed and drove 45 minutes from the airport to Halifax we hadn’t eaten 12 hours, so we would’ve settled for anything. But somehow we found ourselves at Good Robot, one of the best breweries in Halifax. We had the spicy jalapeno beer (total novelty), haddock, fries and vegetarian nachos – some of the best nachos I’ve ever had and I’m not even vegetarian.

The Sou'Wester

It was a happy accident that we found Sou’Wester in Peggy’s Cove. We were trying to have lunch on the coast before our photo session with Zoë and Chris, but the highbrow place where we wanted to eat had an hour wait time. Ew. So we kept driving until we found a place that was open and found Sou'Wester, which is right on the tip of an outlet home to the popular Peggy’s Cover Lighthouse. The restaurant has a 180-degree ocean view and our server had a strong Nova Scotian accent adding to the authentic East coast experience. We found that Halifax was full of little gems in every corner run by the nicest people.

Garrison Brewing

At the end of a long day hiking and tacos, we weren’t quite ready to call it a night. Thankfully Garrison Brewing was only a 10-minute walk from the apartment and was the perfect place to spend the evening. For the Winnipegger’s, its like a big version of Little Brown Jug but with 10 different local brews on tap instead of one. It was a very chill atmosphere and the perfect place to have a wild game of table football. It was Tedi’s first time playing, but she definitely got into it.

Restaurants worth mentioning

La Frasca Cibi & Vini – Higher end Italian restaurant. Was the perfect place for a romantic late-night dinner after a movie.

Antojo Tacos & Tequila – By chance we ended up here on Taco Tuesday and enjoyed half-price margaritas and some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. Followed by churros, of course.

Chainyard Urban Cidery – Sweet local cider paired with unique east coast dishes.

Cha Baa Thai Restaurant – This was the perfect Thai food to bring home and enjoy on the couch while watching the Jets game. Good food at a good price.

WHERE TO HIKE AND TAKE PHOTOS

Peggys Cove

Peggy’s Cove is a popular attraction, but for a more scenic route take Hwy 103 East out of Halifax and then south on Peggy’s Cove Drive. The road took us by idyllic houses, the lobster traps, and trees that open up to the ocean. The drive gave me the quintessential East Coast feel I dreamed of. Tall duplexes with wood siding. Hammocks by the water. Lobster crates and fishing nets hung around houses. We felt as though we were in the middle of a movie set.

Pollys Cove

Not 10 minutes West of Peggy’s Cove is the lesser known and harder to access Polly’s Cove Hiking Trail. We just parked on the side of the road like everyone else, not too sure of how legal it was because, unlike Peggy’s Cove, there are no amenities to cater to tourism. The hiking trail is a pretty easy one that within ten minutes opens up to a majestic coastline. This was the perfect place for sunset photos with Zoë and Chris.

Duncans Cove

About 45 minutes south of Halifax, off the smaller Hwy 349, is a quiet residential area that hides the Duncans Cove Trail. This is a 5km round trip hike that was fairly easy to trek but spoiled us with fascinating scenery the whole way. Along the trail are two WW2 military lookout bunkers that, when inside, beautiful framed the Nova Scotian coastline.

Please note that Duncans Cove Trail is a Protected Nature Reserve. There are no amenities on the trail or at the trailhead, so use the bathroom facilities before you arrive and bring water. When visiting, be respectful of the residents that live there, stick to the trail, and follow appropriate Leave No Trace principles.

OUR ROAD TRIP PLAYLIST

1) Joji – Ballads 1

2) 88Rising – Head in the Clouds

I have been on a total Joji kick lately, but it worked out that the chilly, wet, and cloudy East Coast weather paired well with the chill, trip-hop, lo-fi, R&B music. My favourite thing about rental cars is blasting the music on high without consequences, and ‘Slow Dancing in the Dark’ sounded gooooood through the 2019 Santa Fe sound system. The song is mildly emblematic of what this trip was like. Aside from booking the flights, AirBNB, and car rental, we had no idea what we were going into. Getting stressed in the unknown is typical when you’re on a trip, but we’re all about surrendering to the moment, enjoying where you are and having a slow dance, even in the dark.

Of course, that's not what the song is about at all. It's a tragic song about a broken man who thinks the girl he loves deserves someone better because he's just so messed up. But art is open to interpretation, right?

 
 

SEASIDE PHOTOGRAPHY TAKEAWAY & TIP

When we started our photo session it was windy BEYOND windy. Like hard to walk in a straight line windy. Poor Zoë and Chris nearly got blown off of the rocks while modelling for us. If you’re prepping for photography by the Halifax seaside, wear layers (especially in the fall and winter months) and have a backup plan if the breeze gets too wild. Lucky for us, the wind died down by the time we drove up to Polly’s Cove for a walk down the shore and trails. A little natural wind blowing through your hair is just the right amount of drama without derailing your process. Plan your hike around sunset time to capture golden hour bath the coastline in a warm life. The Halifax coast is a photographer’s dream, so long as you’re prepared for the weather.

The wind whipped around Zoë’s golden mane, adding some drama to the moment.

The wind whipped around Zoë’s golden mane, adding some drama to the moment.

ROAD TRIP PACKING TIP

We bring our own coffee and aero press. Even though Halifax had plenty of amazing coffee shops – including one that styles your latte with glitter, and another that has a full-scale bouldering wall – there’s a sense of home when you don’t have to leave the house for your first coffee of the day. We were miles and miles away from Winnipeg, but it didn’t feel that way with our routine cup in our hands every morning. And thanks to our adorable AirBNB, the cups we designed with unicorns. 🦄

WHERE TO collect SOUVENIRS

The Independent Mercantile was the first place we stopped to browse some cute trinkets and things, and the suggested we also visit their sister store downtown, Biscuit General Store. But with all the shopping we did, it seemed like Tedi was more in the collecting mood. She brought back an empty crab shell she found on the beach. I'm a little weirded out by it, but she said she has plans for it. Right now it's just sitting on my nightstand.

Moral of the story? Go to Halifax, take photos, listen to R&B, eat like a king and collect some weirdo shells for your bedside. You’ll be happy as a clam.

Evan Bergen