(Another) Weekend in Halifax

As a follow-up to last summer’s (warmer) Weekend in Halifax, here’s a few more notes about visiting the city, based on a quick (colder) trip we took over this weekend.

  1. On a whim I bid $50 for two rooms in Halifax on Priceline and it was, to my surprise, accepted by The Westin Nova Scotian. The hotel is perfectly acceptable, if (very) slightly off the beaten track. They charge $18/night for parking, but somehow we were exempted from that. There’s nice little swimming pool, a very well-equipped fitness room (the treadmills have built-in televisions), and the rooms are comfortable. The only downsides were that it was hard to control the temperature in the rooms, and that the entire hotel bristled with static electricity, making for a shocking weekend. But for $50, who’s complaining.
  2. We had another great dinner at Chabaa Thai Restaurant on Saturday night. We arrived about 15 minutes before the supper rush and by the time we left the place was packed to the gills. Our friend (and world traveler) C. was with us and this broadened us out of our usual Thai menu habits, so we got to taste more of what they offer. The spicy halibut was especially good.
  3. Dartmouth Crossing, which had been positioned in my mind as a sort of mainland shopping nirvana, turned out to be a depressing industrial shopping wasteland full of the same-old same-old big-box stores. Best avoided.
  4. We made our first visit to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia based on a recommendation of the Machines at Play show helpfully tweeted by Iain. It had a very high neato quotient, and the rest of the gallery was interesting too. Best $20 (per family) you can spend in downtown Halifax, I think.
  5. Conversely, the Discovery Centre’s much-hyped LEGO exhibit turned out to be little more than a bunch of LEGO models of iconic American scenes with some LEGO brick-filled tables sprinkled around. I love LEGO, and the our visit to LegoLand was one of the highlights of my life, but this had nothing at all to do with “discovery” and was more of a promotional opportunity for LEGO. The rest of the Discovery Centre is much more straight-ahead science centre-like, albeit with exhibits that look like they haven’t been refreshed in 10 years. While not completely without value, the overall impression one is left with is of a poorly-funded and unloved facility that pales when compared to any other children’s museum we’ve visited.
  6. On Sunday night we used 2-for-1 coupons from The Coast to go out to dinner at The Wooden Monkey in its large new location on Grafton Street around the corner from where it started out. The service and the food were both excellent and this remains our favourite place to eat out in Halifax.
  7. On Monday morning we drove over to Dartmouth to visit Chairs Limited, a bespoke chair maker. Met a very helpful salesperson who guided me through the options available (which turned out to be “almost anything you can imagine”). When I joked that I’d like a chair upholstered in the Prince Edward Island tartan he excused himself for a moment and emerge shortly with both PEI- and New Brunswick-tartan covered chairs. I’m preparing my chair order now.
  8. I put out a call on Twitter for a new coffee place to try out and the consensus from all corners was Two if By Sea in Dartmouth. So on our way out of town we stopped in. Wow. They have a pain au chocolate on the menu that is indescribably good (albeit also indescribably rich) and also serve a very solid espresso. Not the kind of place you could go every day, but certainly worth a visit to see how croissants are supposed to be made.

We packed a lot into 48 hours, and then made quick work of the trip back to Charlottetown, darting between snow squalls all the way.


Charlie's picture
Charlie on February 2, 2010 - 16:57 Permalink

As a Halifax resident, one of my best discoveries in the last year or two is that the westin is the only 4 star hotel in Halifax using the hotwire system…so whenever a 4 star shows up for Halifax it’s always the westin..no guessing..and it regularly shows up for around $60 a night in the off season…great way to have a couples night out at the last minute.

Iain K. MacLeod's picture
Iain K. MacLeod on February 5, 2010 - 20:27 Permalink

That sucks about the Discovery centre exhibit. I was hoping for something more when I say the poster, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

We ended up getting a e-family membership for the Art Gallery and they have monthly family days that basically let kids get down and dirty with supplies. The last one focused on the exhibit, found objects and animation, but my 3-year-old ended up with an old LP with a bunch of clay stuck to it. Oh, and a belt around her made of mental wire.

I have yet to make it to Two if By Sea myself, but the way Stephan raves it sounds like it would be worth a walk to the dark side. Especially, to shed some of the calories of excessive butter intake.