Winter in Halifax normally means chilly Atlantic winters with varying amounts of snow. This winter however was exceptional, snowfall the likes of which the city hasn’t seen in 30 years! This didn’t stop me from having some fun though while here on my second Nova Scotia trip.
I haven’t yet been horseback riding in the snow, but there’s a first time for everything. Hatfield Farm, located in Hammonds Plains, a quick half-hour jaunt from downtown Halifax, offers trail rides for ages eight and up. Everything from group and private guided rides to lessons and riding camp is available here, along with a petting pen, rubber rodeo, and a bunch of other fun stuff that the entire family can enjoy.
Brian Hatfield greeted us at the rental building, describing the hour or so trail we’d be taking, then fitted us with helmets and packed our water bottles into velcro-fastened bottle holders. Outside, two of the gentlest horses awaited our arrival. Once we were up on the horses (mine, a gorgeous Quarter Horse named Faith), we were briefed on how to hold the harness and direct the horses. Soon enough, we were off onto the snow-covered trail, winding our way along the property’s fifth-generation family-run farm.
And then the snow gently began to fall, creating an even lovelier setting! The horses are all well-trained and gentle with their guests. Following the ride, we were treated to a steamy cup of hot cocoa. The entire experience proved an unexpected pleasure and worth checking out when in the area for a convenient city break.
Hatfield Farm can also arrange corporate, holiday, and birthday parties, weddings and weekend adventure packages. Trail rides start at $37 on weekends and cost $52 during the week (plus tax). Visit the website for more info.
Open Top Tours of Nova Scotia takes visitors around the city and beyond in 4×4 Jeeps. The season officially kicks off in April, but owner Karl Dias was available to show us around the city and Peggy’s Cove a few weeks ahead of schedule (with the top UP). Open Top started two years ago and has grown to offer a variety of organized and customized tour options.
They’ll take guests out sea kayaking, whale watching, ziplining and to various eateries in the region. Nearby Annapolis Valley wine region is a popular tour option as is the Bay of Fundy (a longer day out but likely just as rewarding).
We were on the road for a total of four hours and got a good overview of the city and out to Peggy’s Cove, looking especially gorgeous on this fine late winter day. I’d been here last year in June, and the quiet, tourist-free views we got were a reward for braving the chilly air and snowbanks. Guides are knowledgeable, multilingual, and flexible — three key aspects you’d want out of any tour outfit.
My Patagonia Vosque 3-in-1 parka fit the bill for this and most of my Nova Scotia week-long trip, especially when the wind kicked up. Karl also arranges larger tour bus groups by way of handing the bus driver a customized itinerary and setting the passengers off exploring that way.
He’s even arranged a private lobster dinner at the beach!
And if you’re up for a local excursion, head to Dartmouth with cute shops and award-winning crowd favourite The Canteen where the 2014 Gold Medal Plate award-winning croissant reigns supreme.
An easy ferry ride across the water, Dartmouth is also filled with cute shops, such as KEPT (on Portland Street), a locally-focused home decor, jewelry, and accessory shop that just happens to feature one of my favourite critters on its logo.
Foodies should seek out Taste Halifax, offering Eat Halifax ($89) and Drink Halifax ($69) excursions five days a week from May to October (prices exclude tax). A six-hour wine tour of the Annapolis Valley stops at three wineries and costs between $79 and $149, another fine way to discover a few new gems. Visit Taste Halifax online for more information and tour schedules.
My excursions were provided by Destination Halifax for the purpose of this feature. Opinions, as always, are my own.