Thursday, September 16, 2010

Venturing to Nova Scotia

I was browsing through the latest news stories on Hospitality Net when I saw the announcement that the Culinary Tourism World Summit would be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. What peaked my interest about this was not the renowned culinary leaders or special events or fabulous dinners that would take place at the event, but rather the location itself. Nova Scotia? Really? So I did a little research, and as you may or may not have guessed, I'm adding another destination to my list.

Nova Scotia is located directly East of Maine. (This truly surprised me, because I had this idea that Nova Scotia was way further North than that, closer to say...Greenland. I was way off.) Halifax is a bustling port city said to be the gateway to Atlantic Canada. It's rich maritime history and eclectic modern vibe make it a place worth visiting. But don't let my praises sway you, just listen to all the things you can see and do in Halifax.....

The heart and soul of this seafront town is, of course, it's harbor. If you are a history buff, make a trip to Pier 21 and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Canada's version of Ellis Island, Pier 21 was the doorway for over one million immigrants who came over to Nova Scotia between 1920 and 1970. Genealogists will truly appreciate this testament to Halifax's ancestors. The Maritime Museum is the largest one on Canada, housing artifacts, photographs, charts and maps relating to Nova Scotia's marine history. Exhibits feature the Halifax Explosion of 1917, the Royal Canadian Navy, the merchant marine, the Halifax connection to the Titanic and the many local shipwrecks that occurred around the harbor. At Fisherman's Cove, you can watch the local fisherman come in with their daily catch, or take a boat ride out to McNab's Island. Peggy's Cove is a picturesque destination known for it's breathtaking scenery and traditional lighthouse--which is also a working post office.

The Halifax Citadel is a star-shaped naval station nestled atop a hill in the middle of downtown. This living history museum offers guided tours from an costumed patron, who will show you the musket gallery and garrison cells. At noon every day, the 78th Highland Regiment fires the cannon. Halifax is brimming with antique buildings that transport visitors back to the early years of the city's settlement. St. Paul's Church, built in 1750, is Halifax's oldest building and the first Protestant Church in Canada. One of the most famous structures in Halifax, Old Town Clock started keeping time for residents in 1803. Other buildings of note are Province House--a Georgian building that housed the first government in the British Empire--and Government House--home of Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor and the oldest government building in Canada.

Halifax is a outdoor enthusiast's paradise; with kayaking, hiking, fishing, golfing and more, guests will never run out of things to do. You can take a deep-sea dive to explore the graveyard of shipwrecked boats around the harbor, or relax in the sun on one of the many gorgeous beaches. Surfers can enjoy great waves on the Eastern Shore at Lawrencetown Beach, while hikers can huff up the 14-mile trail at Taylor Head Provincial Park.

As far as entertainment and nightlife go, Halifax doesn't disappoint. The city is known for it's vibrant music scene, and visitors can experience exceptional shows at Symphony Nova Scotia or Neptune Theater. There are also a number of festivals and events to attend, like the Halifax Pop Explosion, Nocturne: Art at night and Atlantic Film Festival, just to name a few. The nightlife thrives with packed bars and contemporary restaurants, most of which are in walking distance of downtown.

The culinary experience in Halifax is one guests won't soon forget. They are known for their seafood dishes--I can't imagine why--and the award-winning chefs are meticulous with their dishes, creating true masterpieces on the plate. Visitors can indulge on Digby Scallops and Nova Scotia Lobster, the savory delights can be found on many restaurant menus. But the dining experience doesn't have to be super fancy, there are casual eateries up and down the waterfront where tourists can grab a quick bite. There are way too many restaurants to name, but you can trust that you'll find something great no matter where you go.

Halifax, Nova Scotia is a wonderful city full of Canadian culture and heritage. (Those Culinary experts may be on to something.) With it's beautiful beaches, active harbor and exciting nightlife, Halifax seems like a great place to travel to. And since I've never been there myself, I think it's time I looked into a little trip across the border.

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