Welcome to our dog-friendly Halifax, Nova Scotia guide. Our summer 2022 maritime trip culminated with a dog-friendly visit to one of my new favourite cities. When we hit Halifax on our post-pandemic pet friendly road trip, we’d already been to Yarmouth, Saint. Johns, and Kejimkujik National Park.
After two nights camping (well, glamping), I was ready for a luxury stay at the dog-friendly Westin Hotel in the heart of Halifax. Halifax is unofficially the patio capital of the Maritimes and this bodes well for those sporting Spot on their journey, especially since provincial law made it legal to allow dogs on outdoor patios in 2021.
Extending our Halifax stay from one to three days was the best decision I made on the trip. It had been almost a decade since I’d last visited this city, and I’d forgotten how much I love it – especially now that the waterfront and pier area has been beautifully developed. (Full disclosure: I was actually born in Halifax, but spent only the first six months of my life as a resident).
Despite my birth certificate, during this visit I’m a tourist – a tourist toting my dog Victoria along, which is my favourite way to tour.
Here’s were to take the dog in Halifax, Nova Scotia:
Remarkably dog-friendly Halifax Seaport
If you don’t visit the Halifax waterfront while in Halifax, you haven’t visited Halifax – that’s my view. First, the waterfront boardwalk – called the Seaport – is about a 3 km walk beginning near the Pier 21 Canadian Museum of Immigration and ending near the convention centre and casino. (Officially the Seaport extends from Pier 19 to 23).
The Halifax waterfront boardwalk is lined with pet-friendly outdoor patios adjacent to bistro-style restaurants and boutique shops selling everything from Peace Chocolates to pewter jewelry; handmade glass to local author’s books.
You will meet other dog walkers – the sea-side route is a popular walk with both visitors and locals, especially those who get their early enough to score one of the hammocks close to the water’s edge. Otherwise, there’s creative seating, public art, photo opportunities, and even an Instagram worthy site designed specifically for dogs – assuming yours sits and stays. We had to work at it a bit.
Most stores let my on-leash pup inside, and a few even had water bowls and treats at the ready including Amos jewelry. (Water bowls are a tell-tale sign of a dog-friendly locale – much like Ottawa’s Byward Market).
As part of the local transit system, you can take a 15-minute ferry ride easily to two points across the bay in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. But the ferries are only pet-friendly if your dog is in a ‘certified’ enclosed travel carrier, and I’m not in the habit of carrying that with me. So, essentially, ferries are off-limits to travelling pups like mine. No Dartmouth visit today.
Dog-friendly Garrison Brewing Co.
At the end of the Seaport closest to the dog-friendly Westin Hotel is the Halifax Farmer’s Market active on Saturdays – note the Farmer’s Market does not permit non-service dogs – and the Garrison Brewing Co.
The latter locale is very dog friendly both indoors and out, and it’s were we spent the better part of late afternoon during our first full day in Halifax. (Find the details here). The microbrewery focuses on libation production only, so had no kitchen. That means you can bring both your dog and dinner into the pub and enjoy a selection on tap.
Dog-friendly Westin Nova Scotian Hotel
Across the street is the dog-friendly beautifully boutique-ish Westin Nova Scotian Hotel. This 300-guest room historic property was built in the 1930s as the first Canadian National Railway landmark hotel. Fun fact: in the 1980s, Princess Diana hosted the only official royal dinner during her Eastern Canada tour here. It’s doubtful that she brought along any of the palace’s corgis, but you can bring yours today.
Currently, the Westin Nova Scotian is dog-friendly but there’s a $35 a night additional fee per stay. Limit one dog per room. Parking is also not included in the room rate, but the hotel is centrally located between downtown and the waterfront, and we spent the first day and a half on a long leash walk starting at the front steps.
Dog-friendly Halifax Downtown
Turn right out the front doors of the Westin Hotel and head up Barrington Street in Halifax. You’ll likely be walking faster than traffic, even with the dog, because car congestion is intense along Halifax’s narrow city streets. Couple that with the hills characteristic of coastal towns and you’re better off walking – in comfortable shoes.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the largest art gallery in Atlantic Canada, is on Hollis Street within walking distance of the Westin Hotel. The lower floor is dedicated to the maritime folk artist Maud Lewis, and includes a recreating of her one-room home where she produced most of her works. Clearly, the art gallery is not dog-friendly, so to see it you’ll have to arrange doggy sitting at the hotel for a couple of hours.
However, the Maud Lewis historic site along Highway #1 in Digby County, Nova Scotia is a good stop with the dog if you’re driving here from Yarmouth. (More on that site soon on dogtrotting.net).
Dog-friendly Pub Patios: The Brown Dog Pub and Good Robot
Before you get to the art gallery, you’ll find the Brown Hound Public House in a courtyard along Barrington Street. True to name, the Brown Hound Pub is both a traditional English pub – good spot for fish or a maritime lobster roll (in season) – and dog-friendly. Well-behaved dogs are welcome on the back patio with picnic tables where service is curt and reasonably efficient. During the day, you’ll notice many dogs walking through the courtyard because a doggie daycare Dogtopia franchise is next door.
Further afield – you’ll need to drive to get there from downtown – is the popular Good Robot Brewing Co. on Robie Street in the city’s north end. This quirky neighbourhood brew pub is popular with the canine-loving community because of the dog-friendly outdoor patio. First, head to the walk-up bar and select one of the Good Robot onsite brews including Rose Hip Hibiscus Rose Cider, my choice. Then take a look at the kitchen menu that includes nachos, tacos, and ‘a pretty boring burger.’ that’s actually the name.
Fun fact: the Good Robot patio opened in 2015 because the owners discovered 10,000 pounds of astroturf on sale at an elementary school for $300. Viola, an astroturf covered patio resulted. (Not ideal for dog pee, however, as the signs warn). The Good Robot is open after 4 pm on weekdays, and 10 am for the popular brunch option on the weekend.
Leash-free Dog Parks in Halifax
Halifax sports several leash free dog parks, but we chose the two within a 10-minute drive of downtown: Halifax commons and Point Pleasant Park. One is significantly better than the other.
First, the Halifax Commons (Cunard Street) near the Citidel is a fenced neighbourhood dog park – a square of grass really. There is a double gate and no big or small dog division. Unfortunately, it’s not well kept and a little over-grown in this older area of town. Also, the Halifax Commons dog park is adjacent to a very busy street and intersection, so if a dog does escape through the gate, it’s extremely dangerous.
Point Pleasant Park in Halifax
Next, the Point Pleasant Park is the polar opposite experience. Point Pleasant Park is acres at the top of a hill (Halifax is hilly) beside a well-treed historical homes neighbourhood. About a five minute drive (or 40 minute walk – uphill) from the Westin Hotel, Point Pleasant Park is worth visiting with your dog even if you have to drive. Part of the park is leashed trails – part of the park is off leash trails.
That’s right – follow the signs from the parking lot to the dog-friendly area and your pup can race through the woods off leash at Point Pleasant Park. However, perfect recall is essential. The forest is dense and unfenced. I lost my bird crazy spaniel for about five-minutes and that was enough of a scare for me: She spent the rest of our outdoor hike on leash. Off leash adventure sans fence will have to wait for a few more year after increased maturity and training. Otherwise, our Halifax adventure was smooth sailing.
If you go….
- The Westin Nova Scotian Hotel, 1181 Hollis Street, Halifax
- The Brown Hound Public House, 2394 Agricola Street, Halifax
- Garrison Brewing Co. 1149 Marginal Road, Halifax
- The Good Robot Brewing Co., 2736 Robie Street, Halifax
- Halifax Commons dog park, 5816 Cunard Street, Halifax
- Point Pleasant Park, 5718 Pt Pleasant Drive, Halifax
Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria. Contact Sherri at dogtrotting.net here. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research. Please subscribe!