Halifax Staycations

A list of getaways that don’t require getting away

Illustration by Amber Solberg

Illustration by Amber Solberg

As strange as it sounds, not everyone leaves Halifax during the winter break. You might be here as a result of being a born-and-bred East Coaster, or might have been blessed with establishing a more permanent residence here in beauteous Haligonia. For those of you who in these situations, here is a list of some staycation opportunities available for you during the winter when it seems everything is closed.


As surprising as it may be, there is actually a place outside of the peninsula. Just a short ferry or bus ride (which is still covered by your student UPass during the break), you can walk into downtown Dartmouth and experience something different. One great place over there is Two If By Sea cafe, out on Ochterloney Street – always a delicious experience.


The Emera Oval, initially built for the 2011 Canadian Winter Games, provides free skate rentals as soon as it becomes reliably wintry. Right in the Halifax Commons, it’s a great time.

Polar Bear Dip

A number of Nova Scotians like to participate in the craziness which is a polar bear dip, the chilling experience of jumping into a lake or the ocean during the height of the winter. The biggest and brightest of those in the Halifax area is the Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip, which occurs every Jan. 1 as a fundraiser for Feed Nova Scotia.


If you head out towards Bayer’s Lake or Chain Lake Drive, you can actually go and visit the lakes which these roads are named after – and they’re pretty cool. If you go during the winter when they’re frozen over, you are given a lot more flexibility in your hiking experiences as you always have the option of taking the shorter route back across the lake. Just be sure to bundle up warm for weather.

Bedford Institute of Oceanography

Just past the MacKay Bridge on the other side of the harbour is this lovely gem of a site. With the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Geological Survey of Canada and the Canadian Forces all having a presence on site, what could be more interesting?


For those frustrated with the parking situation in Halifax, it’s always worth remembering the town of Lunenburg, N.S. doesn’t enforce its parking laws during the month of December.

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William Coney

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