OpenCity – this is my Halifax

I live in a great city and you need to know why.

Halifax, Nova Scotia is the capital city of our province and the largest city in Canada’s Atlantic Provinces. One thing that sets us apart from other Canadian cities, however, is the energy, creativity, and strength of our independent business community.

On May 12 and 13, I Love Local Halifax, a local association of independent businesses, mobilized an entire city. Over 75 businesses participated in OpenCity, a day of activities, special menus, in-store demonstrations, free samples, and non-stop fun.

And we Haligonians turned out in droves.

Armed with some digital notes and an incredible Google map prepared by our own guest-blogger Halifax ReTales, I rounded up some friends and set out on an incredible adventure. My two days represented about 1/4 of the  events. Every single person who participated had their own unique experience. And you can’t say that about a trip to the big box stores.

9:30am: Coffee at Uncommon Grounds

Uncommon Grounds

Fuel was essential for the day, so I made sure to stop at Uncommon Grounds in the Halifax Public Gardens for a deal on coffee and to pick up my passport for the day.

10:00 am: Pretty things for spring at Wildflower Clothing

Wildflower Clothing

Open City coincided with Wildflower‘s 12th birthday party. I am a very loyal customer and was not going to miss the opportunity to see my friend Jill and pick up some more pretty clothes for spring. Mission accomplished.

10:45 am: Enviro-friendly gifts at P’Lovers


P’lovers is an amazing stop for environmentally-friendly and -conscious gifts, clothes, books, and so much more. They’ve just moved to a new, bright space and it was full of new products and great deals. To bring a little nature to my office where the windows don’t open, I picked up a little box made out of a cedar tree. Now my office will smell like nature!

11:15 am: Fresh kicks at Fresh Goods

Fresh Goods

True confession, this was my first time in Fresh Goods, but it was a blast. I got these sweet leopard-print sneakers for steal.

11:45 am: Wine tasting at Bishop’s Cellar

Bishop's Cellar

I love wine and the friendly folks at Bishop’s Cellar are always happy to introduce me to something new and delicious. For OpenCity, Benjamin Bridge, one of Nova Scotia’s seriously incredible wineries, was on-hand and pouring their newest vintage of Nova 7. Summer means Nova 7. A lightly-sparkling frizzante, if you can find it, it’s not to be missed.

12:00 pm: Bishop’s Landing – tunes and treats

After enjoying some wine, we stopped to take in the entertainment by Christina Martin and soak up the sunshine on the piazza at Bishop’s Landing.

A delightful surprise, we met Emily from Local Tasting Tours, who was giving out sea salt caramels from Ciboulette, a treat I will never, ever decline. I love food tours and I’m really excited to see one in Halifax. $25 for a 90 minute food and walking tour – I’m in.

12:30 pm: Buttons and more at Laing House

We took a few minutes to make some buttons and learn more about Laing House, an incredible local organization which provides peer support to youth with mental illness. Honestly, I didn’t know much about what they did before today and I’m really glad I got to learn more about the organization and meet some of the people who benefit from the services provided by Laing House.

12:45 pm: Art and beer at Carbonstok


We had crazy fun at Carbonstok.

Not only did we sample some great Garrison beer, we got to meet local artist Vish Purgass, who chatted with us, talked about his method, and then made some art.

1:00 pm: Lunch at Chives in the nick of time


Needing sustenance, we headed towards Chives Canadian Bistro just in time, as they ran out of delicious bacon cheeseburger sliders shortly after we got in the long line of enthusiastic eaters. I also got some much-needed refreshment in the form of an Arnold Palmer, mint iced tea and lemonade.

While we were waiting, we made some line-friends and I hatched a plot to steal the cutest dog in the universe, Penny, a four month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

2:00 pm: Anything and everything at Biscuit General Store

Biscuit General Store

Once we were fed and watered, we headed up to Biscuit General Store, which was hopping. Luckily, there were plenty of pretty things and cool stuff to keep us occupied.

2:30 pm: Letterpress and more at Inkwell


Inkwell has become a favourite stop for pretty prints, cool cards, and unique gifts. Going along with some owl-themed decor that seems to be dominating my life these days, this owl clock screamed my name.

3:00-5:00 pm: Rehydration and refueling

All of this shopping and fun required some “rehydration” on a patio, while enjoying the sunshine.

5:00 pm: Sweet tea at World Tea House

World Tea House

I was getting ready to head back up the hill to go home. Who is responsible for building this city on such a steep hill? I demand answers. To properly hydrate for the mountain climb home, I had some terrific apricot sweet tea at World Tea House.

6:00 pm: Home, collapse in heap

It was a pretty full day, that seems self-explanatory.

Day 2:

I had completely different plans for Sunday, but they were cancelled at the last minute. Never one to waste another sunny day, I set out for more OpenCity fun.

11:45 am: Ice cream for lunch at Uncommon Grounds

Uncommon Grounds

It’s not a classy or a grown-up move, but I didn’t feel like having more coffee, so I went for some of Uncommon Grounds’ hand-paddled ice cream. Vanilla with buttercrunch, it was a perfect lunch.

12:15 pm: Chives, again!


Heading toward the waterfront, it occurred to me the Chives barbecue would be up and running again, so I went back for a repeat of yesterday’s delicious bacon cheeseburger slider.

12:30 pm: Segway rides on the waterfront

I took my lunch to go, as sitting on the sidewalk would have been weird, and sat on the grassy knoll next to the harbour. It was terrific fun watching Segway Nova Scotia give free rides and Segway lessons. There was a bit of a wait, so I’ll have to give it a go another day.

1:00 pm: Sweet treats at Sugah!


I’m a fan of Sugah‘s hand-made chocolate treats, and finally got the opportunity to sample their newest product, “icebergs,” sponge toffee dipped in chocolate. I may have also caved and picked up another of my favourite chocolate bars in the world, dark chocolate with Nova Scotia sea salt.

1:15 pm: Rum o’clock at Rumrunners


Ok, I didn’t consume rum at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, but I did check out the glassware at Rumrunners.

2:00 pm: Last call at Garrison

It was too sunny to miss the siren call of a patio with beer on it. I stopped by Garrison at the Halifax Seaport for my favourite seasonal beer, Sugar Moon Maple, and a wee sample of Tall Ship Amber Ale. The sun was blazing, so I took the long way home.

After two days of perfect weather and non-stop fun, it was time to pack it in and call it a day. It was a great, great weekend in my Halifax.



    • I’m bummed I missed almost all of the other food stops, but Chives is a favourite and I’m glad I made it in time.

      The puppy was killing me, she was too adorable for words.


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