I Backpack Canada » Nova Scotia http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:55:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 6 Best Casinos In Canadahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/6-best-casinos-in-canada/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/6-best-casinos-in-canada/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 00:16:20 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6933 As a travel destination, Canada is known primarily for its awesome blend of natural beauty and wonderful cities. But for those looking for specific means of entertainment, the country also offers a number of great casino experiences every bit as enjoyable as those in U.S. destinations like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. If betting on black, […]

6 Best Casinos In Canada is a post from: I Backpack Canada


As a travel destination, Canada is known primarily for its awesome blend of natural beauty and wonderful cities. But for those looking for specific means of entertainment, the country also offers a number of great casino experiences every bit as enjoyable as those in U.S. destinations like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. If betting on black, or chasing that royal flush is up your alley, here are six of Canada’s best casinos to check out.


River Rock Casino Resort

Where It Is: Richmond, British Columbia

Why It’s One Of The Best: The River Rock Casino Resort offers all of the traditional perks of a top-notch casino destination. There are endless gaming options, luxury accommodations, and great restaurants on site, including the Sea Harbour that boasts its own demonstration of Richmond’s status as the “Asian food capital of North America.” But it’s the setting that gives the River Rock an edge. Situated on the Fraser River, it’s a stunning destination that looks equal parts ski lodge and casino resort.


Casino Niagara

Where It Is: Niagara Falls, Ontario

Why It’s One Of The Best: Like the River Rock Casino, Casino Niagara excels due to the natural beauty of its surroundings. Located a block away from the picturesque Rainbow Bridge near Niagara Falls, the casino naturally draws tourists who are already in the area to see the landmarks. As a result, it tends to have a particularly lively crowd.


Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino

Where It Is: Windsor, Ontario

Why It’s One Of The Best: Like the Casino Niagara, the Caesars Windsor benefits from close proximity to the U.S., in this case drawing on tourism from Detroit, Mich. Beyond that, it’s a reliable destination in that the Caesars Entertainment group tends to be at the forefront of advances in gaming. The company has a firm hold on many of North America’s top casinos, and even partnered with the Betfair Casino to work toward bringing the online gaming industry into parts of the U.S. This sort of progressive ownership tends to keep the Windsor, and Caesars’ other locations, updated with the best in gaming and entertainment.


Casino de Montréal

Where It Is: Montréal, Quebec

Why It’s One Of The Best: Casino de Montréal may offer the grandest casino tourism destination in all of Canada. According to USA Today’s own countdown of some of Canada’s finest casinos, Casino de Montréal is one of the largest casinos on the planet. It is home to over 3,000 slot machines, 100 gaming tables, and its own street outside the venue. Combine all of that with the fact that Montréal itself is considered by many to be the most fascinating Canadian city for tourists, and this is a must-see casino for travellers.


Casino Nova Scotia

Where It Is: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Why It’s One Of The Best: It’s somewhat off the beaten path for a major casino, but its gorgeous location right on the Atlantic makes it well worth a visit. As you’ll find reading through Trip Advisor’s reviews on the casino, it’s not the biggest gambling experience in Canada, but many visitors appreciate the cosier and friendlier quality of the casino. If you’re looking to visit a smaller or even somewhat-quaint casino in Canada, Casino Nova Scotia is definitely one to consider.


Photo by Rishad Daroowala – CC Licensed via Flickr

River Cree Casino Resort

Where It Is: Enoch, Alberta

Why It’s One Of The Best: While technically in Enoch, this is essentially the main casino for the Edmonton area, which makes it an exciting venue. There are lots of gaming options and there’s generally a strong crowd of visitors and gamers. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the River Cree, though, is that it offers a glimpse of Canada’s hockey enthusiasm for foreign travellers. The venue includes full-sized hockey facilities, and many fans hope to see Edmonton Oilers players from time to time.

Where to find these casinos in Canada?

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5 Jaw Dropping Canadian RV Road Tripshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/5-jaw-dropping-canadian-rv-road-trips/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/5-jaw-dropping-canadian-rv-road-trips/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:57:25 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5804 Canada is a mecca of jaw-dropping road trips, from east to west, to way up north, there’s something for everyone. Given an appropriate amount of time, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself on the highways of this large nation. Unfortunately, many of us are limited to a couple of weeks off per year, and every […]

5 Jaw Dropping Canadian RV Road Trips is a post from: I Backpack Canada


Canada is a mecca of jaw-dropping road trips, from east to west, to way up north, there’s something for everyone. Given an appropriate amount of time, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself on the highways of this large nation. Unfortunately, many of us are limited to a couple of weeks off per year, and every day counts. Covering an entire country is not for the time-constrained, so in an effort to help point you in the right direction, I’m going to share some of my favourite Canadian Road Trips, perfect for RVer’s or anyone with a set of wheels.

Winnibego - J-Jay - RV motor home road trip

Big J-Jay The Motorhome – Photo by Trent Fraser

My RV Motor Home Experience

I have a long standing love affair with RV Road Trips. My first taste of extended travel occurred at a young age. I would have been around 8 or 9, maybe 10 (those early years all blur together unfortunately). My Dad surprised my Mom and us kids by bringing home a 1972 Winnibego Motor Home. Straight out of the Griswolds Family Vacation (Remember Cousin Eddie’s Motorhome?), or the early meth-cooking episodes of Breaking Bad. We jokingly called it a box on wheels. It was an absolute eyesore, and I’m sure our neighbours were none too pleased when he pulled it into our driveway. My mom, laughing, shook her head in disbelief, and I recall my siblings and I climbing into the RV and running around the interior, crawling into the brown faux-leather lined top bunk, jumping on dual-purpose furniture, and admiring the 1970’s yellow shag carpet found throughout the interior.

During the first 5 years of ownership, it became a tradition to spend a few weeks on the road throughout the summer. Be it camping, exploring the Rockies in Alberta and BC, or heading south to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We grew up with that motor home, and it grew old with us. Those Motor Home trips are likely what caused my love affair with extended travel, history, and run down beat-up vehicles.

Road Trip #1 – The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

nova scotia shore

My first visit to Nova Scotia included a superb trip on one of Canada’s most famous Road Trips. The Cabot Trail is located in Northern Victoria County & Inverness County on Cape Breton Island. While not necessarily an Island (it is connected to Nova Scotia after all), you’ll be hard pressed to believe it, as the highway follows the coastal hills and cliffs of the Cape Breton Highlands with a near constant view of the Gulf of St Lawrence.

The Cabot Trail measures 298km (185 miles) and loops around the tip of the the island, passing through Baddeck, St. Anns, Ingonish, Chéticamp, Dingwall, and the world famous Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Expect to see a tremendous amount of wildlife, some world class panoramic views, and some traditional maritimes towns. Note that from Halifax, a route to and from the Cabot Trail will be closer to 935km as seen in the map below.

Recommended amount of days to spend in the area: 3 – 4 days

Cabot Trail Road Trip Map

Road Trip #2 – Coast Cariboo Circle Route, Vancouver/Vancouver Island BC

bc road trip

The Coast Cariboo Circle Route is a whopping 2110.86 km (1311.63 miles) Road Trip is sure to keep you busy and experiencing all that BC has to offer. This stunning adventure takes you from Vancouver through small coastal Vancouver Island villages, exploring the remains of the Gold Rush Trail, hiking on volcanic mountains, and experiencing some of the best beaches in Canada.

This route is guaranteed to provide you with ample photo opportunities of wildlife, amazing sunsets, and really provide you with a thorough understanding of why BC folks are so laid back.

Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 7 – 10 days

Coast Cariboo Circle Route Road Trip Map

Road Trip #3 – Southern Saskatchewan Discovery Loop

Sask Road Trip

The flatlands are often overlooked as your typical Road Trip destination. People immediately think of flatlands and think boring. But spend any more than a few hours off the trans Canada and you’ll soon realize why it’s on this list. Explore rural Saskatchewan towns, quaint cafés and hotel bars, scenic panoramas of valleys, miles upon miles of flax, canola, wheat, and barley, and discover what western Canada really looked like before agriculture dominated the land.

The Southern Saskatchewan Discovery Loop is 1,659km (1,030.85 miles) of driving. This route is a bit of a DIY route that I regularly share to friends, family, and curious Saskatchewan visitors.

From Regina head south to the Big Muddy Badlands. This scenic transition from flatlands, to rolling hills, to desolate badlands shows you the stark contrast of Southern Saskatchewans topography. Climb Castle Butte (vaguely similar to Uluru of Australia), a world famous landmark carved by ice ages thousands of years ago. Sid Cassidy and the Sundance Kid once roamed these parts, relive it by riding horses at one of the ranches in the area. Continue on to the Val Marie & the Grasslands National Park, home to a wild herd of Bison, and countless other critters, both large and small. Don’t forget to camp out at Grasslands National Park under the Milky Way and shooting stars at one of Saskatchewans best kept secret dark sky preserves. Wake up slow and find work up a thirst, then stop for a beer and a burger at the Cadillac Hotel and catch some live country music.

Continue on to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, and partake in Ziplining, hiking, or relaxing at the lake. Head north to Leader, and explore the Great Sand Dunes of Saskatchewan, a tremendous and curious sight to see amongst all the farmland. Start your trip back to Regina, but be sure to stop at Moose Jaw to explore the historic downtown, cheese it up at the Moose Jaw Tunnels, and don’t forget to stop at Bobby’s Place, my favourite Moose Jaw pub. Make the final trip back to Regina and pat yourself on the back for seeing more of Saskatchewan than most locals ever get to see!

Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 4 – 5 days

Southern Saskatchewan Discovery Loop Road Trip Map

Road Trip #4 – St Johns to Central Newfoundland


I had the pleasure of exploring Central Newfoundland with Candice of Candice Does The World, and Riley of Riles for Miles. It was one of the most memorable road trips I’ve had out East. I will never forget how many times I said “Wow” during our five day trip. It was this road trip that led me to not only fall in love with this province, but also admit to falling in love with Riley – we’ve been together since and recently got engaged.

This trip is approximately 1,401km (870.54 miles) in total, and lets you experience world famous icebergs, small fishing villages, cod kissing kitchen parties, delightful Newfoundland dishes like Lobster Chowder, or more curious (but equally delicious) dishes such as Cod Tongues and Fish and brews. You’ve probably seen those famous Newfoundland commercials at the movie theatres and on TV. Central Newfoundland is featured several times throughout those spots, and you’ll see why as you explore the area.

From St Johns, travel to Twillingate to explore the small Maritime town made famous by countless folk songs. Get your stomping feet and kissing lips ready for a good ol’ fashion Kitchen Party and Screechin’ In at the Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites then sleep off the hangover and revel in the laughs from the night prior.  Sample wine at Auk Island Winery, and find out why the Wine Connoisseurs are taking notice on Newfoundlands exports. Get your sea legs on, and begin ferry hopping from Farewell, Newfoundland. Stay in quaint bed & breakfasts on Fogo Island, and check out the growing arts scene,but whatever you do, don’t forget some of the most breathtaking hiking trails, including BrimStone Head, one of the four corners of the world according to the Flat Earth Society. Nurse your sore legs and body on the way home to St Johns and revel in seeing some of the most unique and traditional Newfoundland sights.

Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 5 – 7 days

St Johns to Central Newfoundland Road trip Map

Road Trip #5 – Calgary, Banff and Jasper Trip

banff jasper road trip

While easily one of the most popular road trips in Canada, you’ll soon realize it’s popular for a reason. The Calgary-Banff-Jasper trip covers just about everything you could want from an Alberta road trip. Wildlife, blue shale lakes, a mountain backdrop, world class hiking, and some of the best sights in Western Canada.

This ~953km (592.16 miles) road trip can be built upon to create anything form a 3 – 7 day road trip, depending on how many stops you make and how busy the season is. Something to be very wary of is that in the busy summer months, tour buses and RV Holiday Tourists can slow down highway travel, and the dreaded bear-traffic-jams are all but too frequent. But despite the crazy busyness, once you’re off the highways and have found your own solitary place amongst the mountains, it’ll be all too easy to forgot the chaos that can sometimes be seen on the roads. This region is setup great for extended travel. Both Jasper and Banff have something unique to offer. Either or can be a great temporary headquarters to branch out and explore the Rockies. Calgary is a great place to stop and pickup an RV Rental if you want a bit more room for this trip. There are countless RV Parks and Camp sites setup for RV Vacationiers and tent campers, as well as several discount hostels, budget hotels, and enough high-end hotels to keep all types of travellers happy.

Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 3 – 7 days

Calgary, Banff and Jasper Road Trip Map

Road Trip #6 – Quebecois Rivers, Mountains, Lakes & Fjords

quebec road trip shipwreck

I’ve had a long standing crush on Quebec. I truly feel that if Canada ever lost Quebec, a large part of Canada’s cultural identity would go with it. As many people know, nothing breaks down barriers like travel. I strongly feel that if more western Canadians would brush up on their french and give this region a go, we’d be able to bridge the divide in language and culture and I wouldn’t have to listen to so many gomers that think the french are all jerks. Someone once said you can’t fix stupid though, so maybe it’s pointless. For those more refined in the art of tolerance, this trip is for you!

I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to explore Quebec several times, each visit is a constant reminder of the beauty of this region. The Quebecois Rivers, Mountains, Lakes & Fjords Road trip is filled to the brim with culture. From delightful microbrews, luxurious wine, delicious foods, friendly people, stunning views of the Gulf of St Lawrence, and countless museums and art galleries.

This trip can be anywhere from 7 – 16 days, and is approximately 1,600 km (994.19 miles).

Quebecois Rivers, Mountains, Lakes & Fjords Road Trip Map

There is absolutely no shortage of road trips and routes to check out in Canada. These are just a handful of my favourites that I think about often. If you have any other ones you recommend checking out please be sure to leave a comment below or let me know by Twitter!

5 Jaw Dropping Canadian RV Road Trips is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Cross Canada Video Tour: Halifaxhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/cross-canada-video-tour-halifax/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/cross-canada-video-tour-halifax/#comments Fri, 25 May 2012 14:06:11 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4646 Filming has always intrigued me. There’s some superb travel bloggers and travel vloggers out there shooting their travels, and coming back with some incredible footage. Kinda makes me wonder, if a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s the going rate for video? Unfortunately, video has never really been something I’ve put a lot of […]

Cross Canada Video Tour: Halifax is a post from: I Backpack Canada


Filming has always intrigued me. There’s some superb travel bloggers and travel vloggers out there shooting their travels, and coming back with some incredible footage. Kinda makes me wonder, if a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s the going rate for video? Unfortunately, video has never really been something I’ve put a lot of time and effort into. Not because I didn’t want to, or because I didn’t have the skills. Part of my problem is that a) I got a case of the camera shy’s and b) I tend to break every video camera I’ve ever purchased. My last decent video camera died in a freak sandboarding accident; however, you can see the footage I was able to get before it met it’s maker (canon I believe).

All that is about to change though! With the recent purchase of my Canon 60d (which by the way, shoots beautiful video!), I was finally able to start filming again! You still might not catch me in a ton of video, and while part of that is because I’m still a bit shy, I also think I can let the destination speak for itself. My game plan is to do up a little video for each city I visit over the summer.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

My first finished travel video is on one of my favourite cities in Canada, and a place I was calling home for the last few years. The beautiful east coast metropolitan city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Spring litterally sprung last week, and I took the opportunity to spend my long weekend filming out and about in downtown Halifax. I feel like I managed to do it justice, and even managed to include some of my favourite restaurantes in town. I wanted to play up the “artsy” side of travel, and really showcase the people and the general demeanor of life in Halifax. I think using some of these “vintage” techniques adds a bit of personality to the shots and kind of forces you to admire the subtle details of Halifax.

I primarily used my vintage 55mm F1.8 Super-Takumar lens for most of the video, mainly because of the unique light leaks it’s able to grab, but also because of it’s large depth of field. There’s a few shots in there that were done with my Canon 18-200mm F3.5 – 5.6 on; but only if the scene required it. I was really trying to play up the warm tints and beautiful colours I so frequently see on sunny days in Halifax, so I was always trying to shoot into the light in the late afternoon / early evening, right around sunset. The lens blurs and tilt-shift type effects were all done by hand by Free Lensing my Super-Takumar. The only post work I added was some color grading using the Technicolor Cinestyle S-curve.

I’m hoping next time around I can keep my hands a little more steady, and will probably have to dial down the focus fun. Still have lots to learn!


Cross Canada Video Tour: Halifax is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Remembering the Victims of the Titanic in Halifax Nova Scotiahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/remembering-the-victims-of-the-titanic-in-halifax-nova-scotia/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/remembering-the-victims-of-the-titanic-in-halifax-nova-scotia/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:54:32 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4527 100 Years ago the Titanic hit an iceberg that caused the deaths of  over 1,500 lives. While many seem to only remember the event through the romantic movie, friends and family of victims, survivors, and rescuers continue to honour the event, and with it being the 100th anniversary many history lovers found themselves in a […]

Remembering the Victims of the Titanic in Halifax Nova Scotia is a post from: I Backpack Canada


100 Years ago the Titanic hit an iceberg that caused the deaths of  over 1,500 lives. While many seem to only remember the event through the romantic movie, friends and family of victims, survivors, and rescuers continue to honour the event, and with it being the 100th anniversary many history lovers found themselves in a small Graveyard in the North End of Halifax, myself included. People often forget that Halifax played a large role in the tragedy. While the survivors were being moved to New York, the deceased were pulled from the icy Atlantic waters by the crew of the MacKay-Bennett and laid to rest in the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.


The Fairview Cemetery

There had been countless Titanic events throughout the week in Nova Scotia, and while I wasn’t able to catch them all I wanted to make sure I visited the Titanic memorial at the Fairview Cemetery. I ended up biking to the grounds, and watched as people from all walks of life quietly walked through the rows of graves. I have to admit I was concerned that people would be a bit “off” at these graves. Many of these people likely didn’t have a clue who any of these Titanic victims were, and I was no different. I feared that young girls would be crying out for Jack Dawson, the fictional character from James Cameron’s film. But it was nothing like that.


The Unknown Child

Young and old stared at the stones, reading the inscriptions to themselves. I watched as a young girl laid out flowers in front of the tomb of the youngest victim. I small boy who had remained unknown until 2011, 19-month-old Sidney Goodwin. He was an English child whose entire family died in the sinking. I watched an elderly couple hold eachother as the women shed a tear, perhaps for the unknown child, perhaps due to the heart warming sentiment of the youth of today honouring a child who never got to lead a full life.


The Brave Crew of the Titanic

I walked the rows and read the names, the numbers, the dates. Many of the men who perished in this tragedy were my age. Men in their young twenties. I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief, I asked myself “Would I have been so brave had I been put in that situation?“. I decided it was time to leave, and found one last stone stone to photograph. The stone was that of Everett Edward Elliot. It poetically read “Each man stood at his post while all the weaker ones went by, and showed once more to all the world how Englishmen should die.”

Remembering the Victims of the Titanic in Halifax Nova Scotia is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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The Halifax Beach Guide – Nova Scotia’s Summer Playgroundhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/the-halifax-beach-guide-nova-scotias-summer-playground/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-halifax-beach-guide-nova-scotias-summer-playground/#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:44:16 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4110 As the snow finally begins to melt and the first signs of spring start clawing their way through the ice and cold, we Canadian’s tend to count down the days to the summer months. The thawing process of the Canadian people typically requires a large amount of coffee, and as much outdoor activity and  direct […]

The Halifax Beach Guide – Nova Scotia’s Summer Playground is a post from: I Backpack Canada


As the snow finally begins to melt and the first signs of spring start clawing their way through the ice and cold, we Canadian’s tend to count down the days to the summer months. The thawing process of the Canadian people typically requires a large amount of coffee, and as much outdoor activity and  direct sunlight as possible. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, that’s where the beaches come in. A little rest and relaxation absorbing the rays followed by a quick dip in the chilly waters of the Atlantic. Haligonians have a large variety of beaches to choose from, including the secluded, the popular, the full serviced and even the naked variety.

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by EyeofJ

Rainbow Haven Beach

Located just outside of Lawrecentown and Cow Bay is the Rainbow Haven Provincial Park. This beach offers full ammenities including boardwalks, restrooms, and a canteen that serves your typical beach canteen food groups. Popcicles, freezies, burgers, fries, and those addictive 5c candies. The drive is about 30 minutes long from downtown Halifax, and includes a drive by the famous set (or what’s left of it) of the showcase TV show “Trailer Park Boys”.

The beach and it’s boardwalks are great, and though the water can be a bit chilly at times the water’s great. The beach is large enough to show up with a large group to setup up “shop” for the day and just stretch on your own turf of sand. However, I should note that due to it’s proximity to Halifax it can get busy here. Thankfully the beach is long enough that you can usually find your own spot away from the hoards. This beach also seems to be quite popular with the Ed Hardy wearing types who are all too keen to “take a lap” around the beach in order to strut their stuff. If you can get past that you’ll have a great time at Rainbow Haven.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 30 Minutes

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised areas
  • Large picnic area
  • Canteen
  • Boardwalks & Paths
  • Outhouses & Changerooms


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by newminaswilders

Clam Harbour Beach

Another gorgeous natural beach on Nova Scotias eastern shore, Clam Harbour Beach is a great place to check out if you love safety. The Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service has been supervising Clam Harbour since 1978. If you’re not a strong swimmer, or with somebody who isn’t, rest easy knowing the boys and girls in Red & Yellow can keep and eye on you (Weekends only!).

Clam Harbour beach is a bit further away, it takes roughly an hour to get there from downtown Halifax, but if you’ve got the fuel it’s a great place to check out. There’s plenty of parking nearby, as well as a full concession including restroom, an interpretive center along with some boardwalks.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 1 hour 20 minutes

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised Weekends (10am – 6pm July – August)
  • Picnic Area
  • Canteen
  • Flush Toilets & Changerooms

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Ashley Coombs

Crystal Crescent Beach

One of the more popular beaches in the Halifax area, Crystal Crescent Beach offers folks a bit of everything. There are some great hiking and biking trails nearby, several picnic areas, and some incredible waters to get your swim on! Crystal Crescent is great for a day at the beach, or if you’re feeling adventurous – a place to throw caution (and your clothes) into the wind. I know what you’re thinking…”Finally, a place to show off my birthday suit!” – hold tight though. There’s some unwritten rules.

Crystal Crescent is made up of 3 beaches, the first two beaches are for clothed patrons, while the 3rd (a 15 minute walk or so) will lead you to the land of sand and skin. A few common courtesies, no cameras and no sex, gawkers and scallywags looking to laugh it up are also discouraged. If you’re not brave enough for the nude scene, worry not. The first two beaches are great – and for those of you with a family no need to worry. The nudists don’t leave their area.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 40 minutes

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Unsupervised beaches
  • Picnic areas
  • Hike to Pennant point (10km)
  • Two outhouses
  • Nude beach (3rd beach)

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by eskimo_jo

Lawrencetown Beach

Lawrencetown Beach is a south facing 1.5 km long and is sort of Halifax’s extreme playground. Surfers, kiteboarders, windsurfers, and extreme castle builders flock here in the summer to practice their art. If you’re new to the world of surfing, there’s a couple surf schools who operate in the area and are happy to show you how to rip it up, or at the very least stand up.

If relaxing is more your thing, there’s plenty of room for that. Just note that because Lawrencetown is blasted by so many waves the beach does change, which means it can be sandy one year, and a bit rockier another. Regardless, there’s usually plenty of space to lay down a towel and do your best seal impression. The beach has several supervised areas, some boardwalks, along with restrooms, showers a large picnic area and a canteen.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 30 mins

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised areas
  • Picnic areas
  • Canteen
  • Boardwalks
  • Flush Toilets & showers
  • Surfing
  • Surf rentals & lessons nearby

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by FormFunction

Martinique Beach

Hands down the longest white sand beach in Nova Scotia, Martinique Beach is located at the end of East Petpeswick road. This incredible beach has some great surfing, which means rentals and lessons can be found right near by (see Happy Dudes Surf Emporium). If you’d rather lounge around and watch some serious birds (not talking about girls in bikinis here) you’ll be pleased to hear there’s also a bird sanctuary at Martinique where visitors can scout a variety of birds according to season. Seals have also been known to pop in and out of this area so keep your eyes peeled.

Driving from downtown Halifax to Martinique will take you almost exactly an hour. While Martinique is still very popular, due to its longer drive the crowds tend to be smaller than Rainbow Haven. Martinique Beach has several supervised areas, large picnic areas, boardwalks and hiking paths, along with restrooms and change rooms.

Drive from Downtown Halifax

  • 1 Hour


  • Supervised areas
  • Large Picnic Area
  • Boardwalks & hiking paths
  • Restrooms / Changerooms
  • Surfing
  • Surf rentals / lessons
  • Swimming

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by alex_ferguson

Queensland Beach

Queensland Beach isn’t the largest beach by far, but it makes up for its size by it’s great location. This Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the South Shore. The water in St Margarets Bay is a bit warmer than any of the real coastal beach locations near Halifax, which is part of the reason why this beach draws such big crowds. Queensland Beach is located just outside of Hubbards, a cute little town famous for it’s Shore Club.

Drive time to Queensland Beach from Downtown Halifax will take approximately 45 minutes. There’s supervised areas, picnic tables, some hiking paths, along with outhouses & change rooms.

Drive time from downtown Halifax

  • 45 mins

Beach Features

  • Swimming
  • Supervised Areas
  • Large Picnic Area
  • Paths
  • Outhouses & changerooms

Think I’m missing any other great local Halifax beaches? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

The Halifax Beach Guide – Nova Scotia’s Summer Playground is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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8 Rockin’ Breweries in Halifax Nova Scotia!http://ibackpackcanada.com/8-breweries-in-halifax-nova-scotia/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/8-breweries-in-halifax-nova-scotia/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2011 12:15:47 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3166 8 Rockin’ Breweries in Halifax Nova Scotia! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Haligonians tend to pride themselves as drinkers. (note: a Haligonian is a person from Halifax) The city is filled with pubs, restaurantes, and bars, partly due to the tourism, partly due to the fact that it’s a University town, and partly due to the celtic atmosphere that has evolved with the city. Old buildings, sail boats, sea salt, and history. What better place to start brewing beer.

Before I get started, I should mention I love beer. Not like alcoholism “love”, but I appreciate a cold devil on a hot day. Heck, any day will do! Despite this love and affection I have for beer, I am by all means not a snobby Beer Connoisseur. I’m not all that picky when it comes to what I’m drinking. So long as she’s cold, chances are I’ll give it a thumbs up, or at the very least won’t completely hate it. I’d like to think my tastes have grown up a bit though; and I think I have some of these incredible brewery’s in Halifax to thank.

The Halifax Macrobrews


Alexander Keiths

One of the oldest commercial brewery’s in North America was started in Halifax, way back in 1820. Many Haligonians pride themselves on the Keiths brew. Beer Snobs will tell you Keiths IPA doesn’t taste a thing like the original Keiths recipe, which is probably true; but that doesn’t stop the entire city from calling Keiths “their” beer.

Keiths is now owned by the beer-giants at Labatts. By all means not the best beer of the bunch in my honest opinion, but well worth the try, simply for historical value. As the saying goes, “Those who like it, like it a lot”. The same passion likely holds true for those on the other side of the fence. Regardless, if you’ve never been to Canada, its a must try beer.

Head down to the Red Stag Tavern (in the Historic Alexander Keiths Brewery), for a pint and a plate of amazing nachos (whats up caramelized onions!), don’t forget to check out their rooftop patio.

Keiths Brewery Tour

Tours through the Historic Brewery on Lower Water St are about $20. You typically get 2 or 3 beers out of it and are given a great little history lesson on the life of Alexander Keith. Be warned, its one of those Tours with actors pretending to be in the 1800’s. So if that’s not your cup, I’d stick with finding a pub nearby.

Olands Export Ale

In 1867 the Oland Family started brewing tasty tasty beer and it wasn’t long before they started shipping their suds all over Eastern Canada & the Maritimes.The Olands Family first started with Moosehead, and later with Olands Export Ale in the 1920’s. The Olands family eventually sold off the brewery to Labatt’s in the 70’s though. While it’s still brewed in Halifax at the Olands Brewery, some say they’ve lost some of their “Beer Cred” for being owned by Labatts. Try their “Schooner” beer, named after the BlueNose that the Olands Family helped fund and build.

Olands Brewery doesn’t do tours, but will occasionally host Open Houses. Read The Coast to watch for those events. In the meantime, park your keester at a pub, or head to the nearest NSLC for a case of Olands.

The Halifax Microbrews


Garrison Brewing Co

As with most microbrews, Garrison’s is very young compared to the old timers above. Garrison’s got their start in 1997, and have been picking up awards along the way since for their microbrews. Their flagship brew is the Irish Red, but my personal favourite as of lately is their Tall Ship Amber. Their modern facilities are very inviting, and the location is superb. The perfect stop after enjoying the Halifax Boardwalk. Garrison offers up a pretty awesome tour for groups of 10 or more as well. They run for $12 per person, but you definitely get your money’s worth as there are plenty of beers to “sample”.

They’ve got an awesome little gift shop where you can pick up cold Growlers (large jugs of beer) along with your standard beer bottles. They also offer 6oz samples for $2.00 each, which can be a great way of putting each of their beers into your mouth. Be sure to follow them on twitter. These guys are about as local as you can get. Added bonus, their beers have no preservatives.

Propeller Brewery Halifax Microbrewery

Propeller Brewery

Like the folks at Garrison, this craft brewery got started in 1997 and has been invading pubs & fridges of residents of Halifax ever since. Located along the eclectic Gottingen Street, this little brewery concentrates on beer for locals. You can taste the love they put into it. Stop by the Prop Shop for their extremely cheap Growlers. A small deposit is required for the massive bottle, but once you have one, refills are only 9 dollars.

Propeller Brewery does offer tours for groups. Having been on several brewery tours, I think this one might be my personal favourite. Depending on how many people are in your group, it’ll cost between $15 and $20; but I assure you that you’ll get your moneys worth. Their brewery tour consists of walking into a back-room with a couple giant tables, a bar with every Propeller Beer on tap, and an iPod plugin for your group to listen to your own choice of music. Basically you sit, and drink. Half way through the “Tour” they ask if anyone wants to see how their beer is made; but it isn’t required. They’re just as happy to let you continue drinking as much as you can in your allotted time.

Granite Brewery

There is a wild history behind the Granite Brewery. They got their start in 1985 in Gingers Tavern as the first Brew Pub east of the Canadian Rockies. It was also one of the oldest taverns in Halifax, going back as far as 1948. This may not seem that old, but one has to remember Nova Scotia was a dry province for a couple decades during prohibition. Unfortunately, Gingers has closed its doors for good, but the brewery that helped make Gingers famous lives on.

The Granite Brewery is now located in the North End of Halifax, at 6054 Stairs Street between Robie and Kempt. They also have another location in Toronto. The Halifax location concentrates on the producing and selling their beer, so don’t expect to find food here. They’re famous beers are still being served all over Halifax, including the Henry House, Obladee, and the Lions Head Tavern. Of coarse you can always pick up bottles & kegs right at the Brewery. Be sure to try their “Peculiar Strong Ale” – it’s delightfully strong and pleasantly awesome!


Rogues Roost Halifax Microbrewery

Rogues Roost

This little brewpub is close to my heart solely for the fact that their IPA is probably the best in town, and also because they’re trivia on Wednesday nights is a blast. Located on Spring Garden Road, you can find a window seat and people watch for hours. Their beer is brewed in small batches with no preservatives and is extremely amazing. I have yet to try every beer they have on tap, but I’ve put enough of a dent in their menu to know that their award winning brewmaster knows what he’s doing.


Rock Bottom Brewery

Another Spring Garden Brewery slash restaurante in downtown Halifax. This tucked away micro brewery is located below Your Father’s Moustache, a popular upstairs restaurante with an awesome rooftop patio. But ignore that patio will ya? Go downstairs, park your keester, and prepare for some mind-blowing brews. Order up a Fathom Red Ale for a robust brew, or go extra crazy and order a Sable Island Wheat Ale (What is Sable Island?). They’re beers are some sort tasty and come highly recommended by drinkers & eaters.

The folks at Rock Bottom also rock a mean trivia on Tuesday nights, which typically leads to some clever questions & some hilarious team names.


The Hart & Thistle

Along the boardwalk of Halifax is a waterfront Gastropub and Brewery called The Hart & Thistle. They serve up some great food with a mean microbrew. Their beer menu changes often; but you won’t be disappointed stopping in for something random. This little restaurantes a perfect spot to take in the Halifax Harbour and truly feel that “Nova Scotian Pride” locals talk about so often.

Staff at the Hart & Thistle is more than happy to talk beer and flavours with patrons. On a recent lunch break I was convinced by the cute tattoo’d waitress to give the American Pale Ale a try. I never got around to thanking her, but it was incredible on that particular hot summer afternoon.

Halifax is always called one of the most “Walk-able” cities in Canada. While prairie people such as myself will say that’s total bullshit (Have you seen the hills?!), everything is very close by. This convenient civic trait makes for an amazing “Micro-brewery Pub Crawl”. Do your mouth & self a favour, grab some friends, stop by a brewery  in Halifax for some serious sud action.

Have you been to any of these breweries? What’s your thoughts on their beer?

8 Rockin’ Breweries in Halifax Nova Scotia! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Photo Du Jour – Time Lapse of a Halifax Sunsethttp://ibackpackcanada.com/photo-du-jour-time-lapse-of-a-halifax-sunset/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/photo-du-jour-time-lapse-of-a-halifax-sunset/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2011 13:36:28 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3200 Photo Du Jour – Time Lapse of a Halifax Sunset is a post from: I Backpack Canada

I was doing some writing last night along the Halifax boardwalk and decided to test out a new app I had recently purchased from the iTunes store. I found an old barnacle shell and propped my iPhone up on the slanted bench and proceeded to record for just over an hour. I know that this is technically in “Video” format, but it was shot using all stills. I am honestly pretty surprised with the results, especially considering this entire time lapse was done on a cell phone.

Music by Of Porcelain

The Time lapse is of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and features several boats, the Halifax Harbour, and the iconic MacDonald Bridge. My personal favourite part is when you see a young couple pop into frame to take photos. If you stay til the end, you’ll see an eerie red glow emanating from behind the camera. That’s actually one of the lights along the boardwalk slowly charging up as it gets darker out. All in all, it was fun and I’ll definitely be doing it again.

Have you tried any of the time-lapse apps on your iphone? What’d you think?


Photo Du Jour – Time Lapse of a Halifax Sunset is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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12 Free Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotiahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/12-free-things-to-do-in-halifax-nova-scotia/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/12-free-things-to-do-in-halifax-nova-scotia/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2011 14:36:11 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3029 12 Free Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Spending money in Halifax is incredibly easy. The patio beers, the museums, the art galleries, the tours, and the food. It all ends up taking its toll on your wallet. Having been a starving student in Halifax, I’ve managed to acquire a rather large list of free things to do in Halifax. Try and do at least half of these next time you’re on the east coast of Canada. Really, you can’t beat the price!

1. Point Pleasant Park


Located about 3km south of downtown Halifax, Point Pleasant Park can provide a full days worth of enjoyment for people of all ages. It’s absolutely free for everyone, so hang onto that money for patio beers, souvenirs or some of that famous Cows Ice Cream (located on the boardwalk by the Lower Deck Pub & Grill). Point Pleasant Park has a whackload of trails for hiking and biking (no biking on weekends). There’s a supervised beach, which while locals will tell you not to swim in, is “apparently” now safe for the public after the city fixed some sewage issues. If hiking, biking, or swimming isn’t your thing there’s plenty of grass to park your keester on for a picnic or a read. If boat watching is more your thing, be prepared to be pleasantly distracted by the number of container ships, cruise ships, yachts, and sailboats you’ll see float by. While walking through Point Pleasant Park you should also expect to see plenty of old historic pieces, including cannons, old forts, and my personal favourite, Prince of Wales Tower.

2. The Halifax Public Gardens


Located on the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park St, the Halifax Public Gardens is another quiet refuge from the occasional busy streets of Halifax. Upon walking in the Gardens you’ll notice the incredible smells of thousands of flowers and the gentle sounds of flowing streams. The Halifax Gardens are great for a long stroll or for a relax and read session. It can get busy in here during the summer months, so be sure to have a Plan B in your back pocket incase crowds aren’t your thing.

3. The Halifax Common a.k.a The Commons

The Halifax Common

Definitely a more “local” park than the Halifax Public Gardens, the Halifax Common (Or “The Commons”) is where families, students, couples, and the occasional band of hippies go to enjoy the sun. It’s only about a 10 minute walk from downtown. The North Commons has several softball diamonds, a couple walking paths, a fountainand plenty of room to starfish on the warm summer grass to partake in the worlds greatest hobby, cloud-watching. If you’re bored of the massive fields, head to the Central Commons (just across the road), where you’ll find , an outdoor pool, a skateboard park, tennis courts, a fountain, and a few more fields to sprawl in.

Fun fact about The Commons, it was originally pasture land for horses and cows of citizens and military forces.

4. The Halifax Boardwalk

Halifax Boardwalk

The Halifax Boardwalk extends across the entire Downtown Halifax waterfront, just below Lower Water St. The Boardwalk is hands down one of the few things I’d say you have to check out while in Halifax. Sure, it’s a little touristy at times and can get pretty hectic with how many people check it out. But a walk down the Boardwalk in the early morning with your coffee or after finishing a meal out on the town is probably one of the coolest free things to do in Halifax. If you want to walk the entire Boardwalk, head down to the Casino and start walking south. You can actually get all the way to the new Farmers Market. Along the way expect to find pubs, artists, buskers, Fish & Chips, Beaver Tails, Souvenirs, Boat Tours, Historic Boats, shops, and some great scenic vistas to snap a photo or two.

5. The Halifax Seaport Farmers Market

Halifax Seaport Farmers Market

Take a break from the Halifax Boardwalk and check out the new Farmers Market in Halifax. This complex was just recently finished, and is filled with vendors from all over Nova Scotia. While entry is free, the goods are not. But even if you don’t plan on spending anything, it’s just a great building to walk through. Whether it’s coffee, food, fresh legumes, fruit, or meat, you’ll have a tough time not coming home with something. If you’re a robot and have no interest in food, you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of vendors selling art, trinkets, souvenirs, and other knick-knacks. Don’t miss checking out of the best views in town, head upstairs to the rooftop of the Farmers Market, there’s a few benches up there for the public along with the best view of Georges Island.  The Farmers Market is open daily, all year round!

Halifax Farmers Market Hours

  • Tuesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Wednesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Friday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Saturday 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Sunday 8:00 AM -4:00 PM

6. Get out on the water with the Halifax Ferry

Halifax Skyline from the Ferry

While this is a stretch on the word “Free”, I like to think of it as “pretty much free”, which means it’s being included whether you like it or not. For $2.00, you can get a round trip ticket on the Halifax Ferry to Dartmouth. It is the cheapest way to get on the water and provides some fantastic views of downtown Halifax and Dartmouth. During the summer months, scoring an upstairs seat on the Ferry can mean a fantastic reprieve from the Halifax summer heat. The Ferry Terminal is located just down from the new Tim Hortons (With Cold Stone Creamery), right near where they park Thomas The Tug Boat. If you’re heading to Dartmouth for the afternoon, walk up to “Two If By Sea” for Halifax’s best coffee and the most mind-blowingly-awesome cheese croissant I’ve ever eaten.

Edit – The Cost went up from $2.00 to $2.25! Don’t be sad though, now you can break a dollar and spend those quarters on the candy machines in the ferry terminal! 

7. Free Halifax Concerts at Grand Parade & Alderney Landing



Halifax has a large and thriving music scene, and if you play your cards right you might be in for experiencing some world class live music, for free! Every summer there is at least one or two free shows worth checking out at either Grand Parade (across the street from the Dome) or at Alderney Landing (in Dartmouth). Natal Day consistently brings free concerts to Halifax. Be sure to check out their schedule. This year, Natal Day is putting on Wintersleep, Gloryhound, Town Heroes, and Jay Smith at Alderney Landing, on July 30th.

8. Watch Buskers in Halifax

Buskers on the Halifax Boardwalk

For 10 days in August, Buskers from all over the world head to Halifax to perform their acts. Be it music, theatre, or dare-devil-esque performances. Watching is completely free, but I highly suggest tossing what you can into their hats if you really enjoyed the show. While the International Busker Festival in Halifax is definitely the show stopper, there is always busking going on in Halifax. If you’re in town, look for Buskers on Spring Garden Road (Typically near the library), downtown Barrington Street, or along the boardwalk. There are plenty of talented local buskers in Halifax, including Fiddlers, Guitarists, Sax Players, and my personal favourite, this one African-Canadian guy who is the worlds greatest karaoke singer (find him along the Boardwalk).

9. Visit A Halifax Cemetery

Halifax Burying Ground - Downtown

If it’s a depressing kind of day, maybe the fog rolled in, and the sun is hiding, experiencing some of the historic cemeteries in town can be a surreal change from the upbeat streets of Halifax. There are two cemeteries I’d recommend checking out. The first being the Old Burying Ground, located on the corner of Barrington Street & Spring Garden Road, which contain the remains of some of the earliest Canadians. While most of the names are pretty hard to make out from weathering, it’s still a neat little spot in the middle of downtown. If you have wheels, be they bike or car, wander up to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. It’s located in North Halifax, on Windsor St. What’s unique about this cemetery is that many of the remains of victims from the Titanic ended up there. Apparently there’s even a Jack Dawson there, which gets a lot of attention care of James Cameron’s famous film.

10. Listen to the Cannon go off at Noon on Citadal Hill

Citadal Hill

Everyday at Noon, a cannon goes off in downtown Halifax, shaking the bodies of locals and tourists, and typically scaring both. If you play your cards right, you can experience the whole event in the most up-close and personal way possible. Head up to Brunswick Street and look for the Halifax Clock Tower. Walk up the hill, or take the Citadel Hill Tour if history is your thing (costs about $8.00 for the tour), and wait. If you can make sure you’re there for noon, you are in for a treat. As the thunderous roar from that cannon goes off, you’ll witness dozens of people on the hill and along Brunswick Street freak out, then laugh as they remember “Oh, just the noon cannon, woops!”

11. Halifax Historic Sites


History Buffs will love Halifax. The amount of historic properties, forts, churches, and ships in this city is border-line crazy. Best of all, many of these sights are free, or damn-near free. Stroll through Point Pleasant Park and check out the Prince of Wales Tower, or walk along the boardwalk and hop on the H.M.C.S Sackville, the C.S.S Acadia, or if you’re timing is right, the infamous Bluenose (the boat on the Canadian dime). For a city thats so youthful and vibrant, it’s great to see so much historic “stuff” being preserved.

12. Ride the FRED bus

If you’re in Halifax during the Summer without any wheels, fret not. FRED will take you just about anywhere in downtown Halifax, for FREE. FRED (Free Rides Everywhere Downtown) runs between July 3rd and October 22nd. This vibrantly coloured bus runs seven days a week between 10:30am and 5:00pm. An on-board tour guide rides everywhere with FRED and provides a commentary on Halifax and its many historical locations. Even if you have nowhere to go downtown, hopping on the FRED can be a great way to get your bearings in Halifax. Check out the FRED Schedule to find out where it stops. Just a heads up, the FRED is not an alternative to get anywhere fast as it has a habit of being late. If you need to be somewhere fast, you can get from one end of downtown Halifax to the other for about $10 in cab fair.

Edit – March 7th, 2012 – Unfortunately FRED no longer exists. The public bus’s are also cheap ($2.25) or you can look into grabbing a a pass with the Big Pink Sightseeing Bus’s!

 Map of Free Things To Do In Halifax

Have I missed any must-do free activities in Halifax? Love to hear from you in the comments!

12 Free Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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