Halifax on a budget

Photo by Steve Smith, VisionFire Studios



id making merry over the holidays batter your budget? Did that beer-can turkey for Christmas dinner turn into a beer belly and a turkey neck? Don’t let your wallet be lighter than your spirits! If you’re feeling sad, fat, and broke, here’s a light-hearted guide to budget-friendly activities in Halifax that will knock down that holiday debt and beat the winter blues this season.

Photo by Discover Halifax, Acorn Art Photography


With plenty of fun, budget-friendly activities around Halifax, don’t let winter keep you holed up at home.
Free Ice Skating on the Oval at Halifax Common (free rentals with Government ID)
A fun family activity, the Oval offers free ice-skate rentals with government issued photo-ID, and you can skate as long as you want. The rink is open well into March, depending on the weather.
Snowshoe or hike the trails
Visit Point Pleasant Park, Hemlock Ravine, Shubie Canal Greenway, Bluff Wilderness Trails, or even the Halifax Common and take a hike through the snow. The Oval also rents snowshoes for free (with government ID).
Sled down the Citadel Hill
Sledding isn’t just for the young ‘uns: put on your snow pants and scarf and take a ride down the Citadel Hill. It’s fun, it’s free, and you can head over to The Nook on Gottingen St. and sip some hot cocoa afterwards to warm your insides.
Sportfishing Weekend (Feb. 17–19)
Avid-fishermen (and fisherwomen!) can fish for free on Sportfishing Weekend. This year will be the 30th year of operation for the McGowan Lake Hatchery, one of three provincial hatcheries. First-timers can try sport fishing without a license, so feel free to bring family and friends. For information on locations and allowances, visit novascotia.ca/fish.
Hatfield Farm
Take the kids to Hatfield Farm on Saturday or Sunday to enjoy the $15 Weekend Family Round Up. “We have horse wagon or sleigh rides, a rubber rodeo with inflatable games, four zip lines, and AYCE hot dogs and refreshments,” says Haley Green from Hatfield Farm. No reservations are required and children two years and under go for free.


Photo by Discover Halifax, Acorn Art Photography


No matter how hard you try, some days you just can’t play outside in Halifax. Here are some activities for the days when you want to stay warm and dry inside.
Pot Yoga with Dave, 5982 Spring Garden Rd.
Yoga and cannabis are both capable of facilitating relaxation and benefiting mental, physical, and spiritual health, so why not do them together? Join Dave for pot yoga every Wednesday until June 27, 2018 for $7 per session at High Life Social Club.
In The Dead of Winter Music Festival (Jan. 18–20)
Looking for some diverse, live Atlantic music to brighten up the dreary winter weather? Find shows at bars including The Seahorse, Good Robot, and The Carleton. Tickets for this event range from $10 to $150 (VIP tickets) and can be found online through IDOW’s Facebook page.
Brides 2018 (Jan. 21)
The new Halifax Convention Centre hosts Atlantic Canada’s largest wedding show and you can attend for just $15 at the door or $14 online! They’ll also have a large bridal gown liquidation sale with up to 90% off, so for the men who will soon “put a ring on it”, you better drop your lady a hint about this event!
Neptune Theatre
Neptune Theatre has several productions happening over the next couple of months: Jonas & Barry in the Home, Salt-Water Moon, The Mountaintop, and Mamma Mia! are just a few shows over the upcoming months. Neptune’s “Pay What You Can” show (usually) on the first Tuesday of each production is the best entertainment deal around.
Games Night @ All Nations Christian Reformed Church (Jan. 19, Feb. 16)
To unwind from a busy day at work or if you have a shortage of board games at home, the All Nations Christian Reformed Church on Robie Street hosts free games nights all year. If you have a specific game request, let them know in advance and they’ll see what they can do.


Photo by Rachael Shrum


Holiday feasting is behind us, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want the occasional meal out. Halifax abounds with affordable restaurants.
Mary’s Place Café II, 5982 Spring Garden Rd.
Mary’s Place is famous for its all-day breakfast, and options range from $6 to $12. The basic all-day breakfast includes two eggs, home fries, toast, and your choice of bacon, sausage, ham, bologna, falafel, or baked beans.
Finbar’s Irish Pub, 1595 Bedford Hwy., Bedford
Friendly Finbar’s serves “fine food, fine ales, fine scotch and whiskey.” Try the beer battered (with Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale) fish and chips for $16.
Elle’s Bistro, 1678 Barrington St.
Elle’s is a Canadian comfort food restaurant that also offers all-day breakfast. One online review says it offers “the best bang for your buck”. And, for you early-risers, it offers $1 off any breakfast meal priced over $5.95 before 10 a.m.
Ardmore Tea Room, 6499 Quinpool Rd.
Ardmore is a family-friendly historic diner with “the fastest eggs in the East.” Be ready for lines on the weekends, and since it is a cash-only place make sure that plastic is not the only thing in your wallet. Fried egg sandwiches for only $2.99.
Dilly Dally Café, 6100 Quinpool Rd.
Dilly Dally is a small licensed coffee shop with gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. “The most popular item would probably be the vegan morning glory muffin, or cinnamon buns come out at 9:00 in the morning and are usually gone within the hour,” says Dilly Dally’s Laura Draeger. The muffins are $2.60 and the cinnamon buns are $3.50.
Indochine Banh Mi, 1551 South Park St.
A popular Vietnamese restaurant, most of the items on the menu are under $10. Great vegan options, especially the Buddha bowl and bubble tea smoothies.
The Canteen, 22 Portland St., Dartmouth
The Canteen has a small but artful lunch menu that varies to showcase seasonal ingredients. It also boasts soups, salads, sandwiches, bowls and desserts for under $20. Open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.
Oasis Halifax, 5661 Spring Garden Rd.
Dating back to 1949, this is one of the city’s oldest taverns. Great deals on burgers, beer, cocktails, and wings with some 10 sauces to choose from, head over to Oasis. Everything on their menu is under $20.
Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria, 5541 Young St.
Classic pizzas, ranging in price anywhere from $11 to $23 with the average price of a medium pizza being around $16. A fan favourite is the Bianco in Stephano: onions, tomatoes, lemon, herbs, and four different cheeses.
Your Father’s Moustache, 5686 Spring Garden Rd.
Thursday nights are wing nights, but the burgers at Your Father’s Moustache are arguably the best pub grub in Halifax! They range from $13.75 to $17.75 and include a side of fries, rice, soup, or potatoes.
Tom’s, 585 Sackville Dr., Lower Sackville
Tom’s is a casual all-day kind of restaurant. It offers an AYCE breakfast buffet on weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for only $12.99, or if you’re in the mood for Greek fare, their Greek options are highly recommended.
The Maxwell’s Plum, 1600 Grafton St.
Maxwell’s Plum has the widest selection of beer in Halifax with a variety of daily specials. On Sundays, enjoy the $2.99 island blue mussels with the purchase of a beverage.
Niche Lounge, 1505 Barrington St.
Niche has some of the best happy-hour deals in the city! From 4:30 p.m. to close, it offers $3.50 18-oz. draft and well shots, plus $4.25 glasses of wine, and from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., half price on selected appetizers!
Stubborn Goat Gastropub, 1579 Grafton St.
The Stubborn Goat is a great place to go with friends. Order a bunch of food to share from the small plates menu and split the bill. Servers bring the food out when it’s ready instead of waiting for everyone’s plates. Sharing is caring!


Photo by Discover Halifax, Acorn Art Photography


You didn’t like the socks your spouse gifted you. Maybe you prefer the latest tech or kitchen appliances, or maybe you’re going for a “new year, new me” look and want to buy some inexpensive conversation pieces. Shop ‘til you drop without breaking the bank.
Sweet Pea Boutique, 1542 Queen St.
Just because the holidays are over, doesn’t mean the get-togethers are… if you’re looking for a new dress, Sweet Pea Boutique has you covered! Their sweet-spot is between $69 and $89 but they often have sales for 30% off or more.
Black Market Boutique, 1545 Grafton St.
The Black Market Boutique is a quality place to buy handbags, incense, home décor, Buddha statues, and many other things that won’t empty your wallet. “The owners and managers go on a buying trip every single year, usually to Southeast Asia and South America, and they ship everything back here. The average price of things is around $20,” says employee Rebecca Hartery.
Elsie’s Used Clothing, 1530 Queen St.
Elsie’s Used Clothing is a consignment store that carries high-quality unique clothing for fair prices. You might have to do some searching to find your new favourite shirt or boots, but it’s definitely worth the time to check out this gem! There’s also a $2 bin if you’re looking for more of a bargain.
Nova Scotian Crystal, 5080 George St.
Visit the studio to see traditional Old World glass-blowing techniques. As you’d expect at this quality, many of the pieces are pricey, but you can also find some gems in the double digits, like candleholders, tumblers, and shot glasses. “They are absolutely worth the price,” says local guide Ian MacDonald on Google Reviews. It’s also a fun alternative to staying in and watching How It’s Made.
Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia, 5635 Spring Garden Rd.
Anyone who loves local artisan pieces and needs to find a gift for someone—go to Jennifer’s! They carry beautiful glass art, bowls, and plates that can start at around $25 and go up as high as $185, as well as other cute little knick-knacks to decorate the house with.
Put Me on Consignment, 1526 Queen St.
Located above the Clothes Horse, Put Me on Consignment is a small vintage, second-hand men’s and women’s clothing store. There is a $5 bin in the back, but other items are a little bit more expensive. It also has jewelry, soaps, and accessories.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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