Nova Scotia/Halifax/Prince Edward Island Visit: WINTER EDITION
October 3, 2016 8:47 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I are visiting Nova Scotia/Halifax/Prince Edward Island from December 26-December and are looking for winter-specific ideas of things to do and places to see.

I've checked out the past threads, but really am looking for WINTER-specific information -- any road closures? any spots that are specifically gorgeous in the winter? any post-Xmas fun? what's open and what's not? any info as to what the locals do around town at this time?

Here's the nitty gritty:
- we'll have a 4x4/SUV rental to get around, and are definitely willing to drive places to explore if the roads aren't closed.
- we don't care about cold. we've been to Alaska in -20F temps before. totally understand, too, that weather is unpredictable and we could be caught in a blizzard -- we will check local weather reports and plan adventures accordingly and safely.
- we love offbeat, non-classic-tourist stuff. we also love local bars and rubbing elbows with earnest and interest people. would definitely welcome any 'weird' suggestions (as well as classic ones); indoor and outdoor.
- we love the outdoors and would dig cross-country skiing, horseback riding, chilly hiking, or even snowmobiling if that's an option for tourists!
- we'd probably prefer a day trip to PEI from Halifax, but are also open to staying there, too.
- slight Anne-of-Green-Gables nerdiness abounds, but it's understandable if nothing Anne-specific is open.
- you can save any "don't go during that time!" comments. this is our only option right now, and we mean to do whatever we can to enjoy it.

Thanks a billion in advance!
posted by knownassociate to Travel & Transportation around Nova Scotia (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
That time of year you can't really predict the weather in Nova Scotia, rain and snow are equally likely and often depend on elevation.
Here are the temperatures for last year's December. The 25th was 10 degrees and the 26th was 6 degrees, quite nice. Snow related things can be hit-and-miss so be sure to check ahead.


The 26th is boxing day so a lot of what you want to do might not be open.

People seem to like Sugar Moon Farm.


Edit: Expect lots of mud.
posted by FallowKing at 9:05 AM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


The highways only get closed if there is crappy weather - snow but mostly the rain/ice/sleet (with optional fog/ice fog) that NS specializes in. Major city and town streets should be plowed and/or salted and drive-able (though be careful of black ice).

The worst region of NS for snow is the Wentworth Valley and a toll road was built to avoid it. However, every time we've driven though there in the winter, the toll road was worse (trucks spun off) than the alternate highway. There's a small ski area (though biggest in NS) in the Wentworth Valley but it might be a little early for skiing when you go through.

I grew up in Halifax-Dartmouth and the problem is that area and that time of year are not a guarantee of pleasant winter conditions. There may or may not be snow for Christmas. The lakes might be frozen but it's unlikely the ice will be thick enough to skate. It's not likely enough snow to XC or snowmobile even if there were places to do that in the city. It'll also probably be messy weather (wet, dirty, salty) so you're not going to want to hike or walk anywhere (ask my husband about the 'horizontal ice dagger' stage of freezing precipitation). It's not the cold, it's the precipitation. Honestly, locals in Halifax-Dartmouth spend this season (like many) inside in pubs or malls. There is a ton of live music in Halifax and listening to that with a beer is a great winter activity.

A couple things in Halifax though. The Halifax Mooseheads will be playing then if you want to check out some junior hockey. Neptune Theatre might have performances on. The new Halifax Public Library and Farmers' Market are probably both worth visiting.

There are lots of places to go to look at the stormy winter ocean but a lot of the near-by restaurants will be closed for the season. You'd have to drive out, look, and drive back into town/the city. On the Dartmouth side of the habour, Eastern Passage might still have some places open and some views. If you're up for winter birding, there are a bunch of places further afield from Halifax-Dartmouth to go but you'd probably need at least binoculars, if not a scope.

As mentioned, almost everything is closed on Boxing Day, i.e. 26 December.
posted by hydrobatidae at 10:22 AM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


You might want to considering staying on the Island overnight - a day trip from Halifax means you're at the mercy of the ferry schedule which means a lot of lining up and a lot of waiting. So your day ends up eaten by travel. We always assumed you'd need at least the morning to actually get on the Island. (Granted, this was travel with kids... one of whom (me) was not a morning person... so if you are up early you could factor that in.)

In terms of what to do on the Island - the National Park is lovely (it's largely a chunk of the beach) and that lets you drive through some of the pretty part of the middle of the Island.
posted by machine at 10:36 AM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Agreeing with everything hydrobatidae said. NS is a dirty, slushy, icy mess in the winter and nearly everything will be closed on the 26th. If you can get winter tires on your rental car, do it. Be cautious of deer and moose on the highways.

You might want to drive out to Annapolis Valley if the weather is good. It's very pretty there, even in the winter. You can ski (cross-country or downhill) or snowboard at Martock and if you're into farm-y stuff we used to go to the Ross Farm Museum for a horse drawn sleigh ride through the snow. Be aware that sometimes NS has no snow in December.

In Halifax you can visit the Hydrostone Market, bum around downtown, take the ferry over to downtown Dartmouth, eat and drink at one of the many pubs, visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Pier 21, or the Natural History Museum. Point Pleasant Park is lovely even in the winter. You can rent skates and go skating at the Oval on the Commons. Check thecoast.ca closer to your trip time for live music, art, and event listings.

Halifax to PEI is around a 4 hours-ish drive depending if you take the ferry or the bridge.
posted by Stonkle at 1:08 PM on October 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I spent a few days in Halifax and PEI in early January one time. I was there during a cold snap (it was around -20C) and it was lovely and snowy.

I stayed two nights in Charlottetown. I wandered around the harbourfront (everything was frozen!). Everyone was super nice, I kept getting waved accross main roads so I wouldn't be standing in the cold waiting for the lights. I think I was the only tourist in town and if I'd been staying any longer I would've had a tonne of invites to people's places for dinner. I think I did a tour of the city hall building (or a similar large government building) which also had a video of the history of Charlottetown. I don't think any other Anne stuff was open though.

Halifax was more lively. There was a lot less 'hey, you must be that aussie tourist that someone told me was in X store yesterday!'
posted by kitten magic at 5:46 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Skating on the oval!

You can rent skis or snowshoes and go in point pleasant park or out of town. It's most likely that there will not be enough snow.
posted by exois at 6:49 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


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