Looking for ideas on the best things to do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia?
Chances are, if you’re visiting Canada’s East Coast, you’ll find your way to Halifax at some point. And while Halifax is a great city with plenty to see and do, it’s definitely worth taking a trip across the harbour and exploring all the things to do in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Dartmouth is its own unique community with so much to do. If you have time, we recommend staying a few days on each side of the harbour.
If not, be sure to at least visit Dartmouth for the day – you won’t be disappointed!
Known as the City of Lakes, there are 23 lakes in Dartmouth that provide plenty of opportunities to get out on the water, whether it’s kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddleboarding or swimming.
There’s also easy access to many fabulous beaches and trails, so why wouldn’t you want to stay and explore Dartmouth for a few days?
Located just across the harbour from Halifax, Dartmouth is easily accessible by ferry, bridge, or bus. Once you’re there, you’ll find a vibrant and historic community with plenty to see and do.
The downtown area is especially worth exploring, as it’s home to a number of unique shops, plus there are excellent restaurants and plenty of places to eat and drink in Downtown Dartmouth.
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Best Things to Do in Downtown Dartmouth
Visit Alderney Landing
Alderney Landing is home to the Halifax Ferry Terminal but there are also a few shops, restaurants and cafes inside.
Inside on the lower level, you can pick up coffee, treats, fresh veggies or even some delicious seafood.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, stop by on Saturday mornings to pick up some fresh produce, baked goods and local hand-made crafts at the Farmer’s Market.
Take the Ferry
While it may seem odd to write a post on things to do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia and then suggest for you to leave the area, the ferry is something unique to Halifax and Dartmouth and is worth taking!
A short 10-15 minute ride takes you across the Halifax Harbour and provides some excellent views! (If you’re travelling with kids, this may be one of the highlights of their trip…)
The ferry runs every 15-30 minutes, depending on the time of day. Fares are $2.75 per adult, children are free.
Fun fact: The Halifax Transit Ferry Service is the oldest saltwater ferry in North America
and the second oldest in the world!
Shop Downtown Dartmouth
There are so many great places to shop in Downtown Dartmouth.
Wander up Portland Street and you’ll find everything from locally made products, jewellery, clothing, craft beer and cider and plenty of public art sprinkled in between.
Some places you need to check out are Kept, P’Lovers and The Trainyard General Store.
Go for an Outdoor Mural Walk
Downtown Dartmouth is home to over 30 murals and sculptures.
In addition to the beautiful artwork found throughout the downtown area, you’ll also find thirteen word murals, created to make people feel appreciated and connected especially during the past year.
Some of these murals are easy to spot while others may take a bit of searching. There are quite a few sculptures to be found, as well as some light installations that are best seen at night.
You can find a list of murals and their locations here and create your own walking tour.
Sample a Local Craft Brew
Dartmouth is home to six craft breweries plus a few cideries.
Have a Bite to Eat
Dartmouth is home to many great cafes, perfect for grabbing a quick snack or coffee. A few of our favourites include Two If By Sea, Cafe Good Luck and Portland Street Creperie.
Read more | Best Places to Eat & Drink in Dartmouth
Stroll Around Sullivan’s Pond
Sullivan’s Pond is an iconic spot in Dartmouth and a great place to get outside on a nice day. Stroll along the path around the pond, watch the ducks and swans and relax on one of the many benches.
There’s a small bridge that crosses over the city’s old locks, and plenty of historical markers and monuments to learn a bit about the local history. The trail is well paved and stroller (or scooter) friendly.
The path circles Sullivan’s Pond but you can easily cross the road and link up to the path around Lake Banook for a longer 5km route.
**There is no parking at the pond itself, but there are plenty of spots available on nearby streets.
Get Outdoors at Lake Banook
Dartmouth is known as the City of Lakes, and Lake Banook is one of the more popular ones, right in the middle of Dartmouth.
Named for the Mi’kmaq phrase for ‘first lake’, it’s the first lake in what later became the Shubenacadie Canal.
Lake Banook is a very popular spot for paddling and several well-known aquatic clubs call the lake home.
In the summer, there’s a supervised beach at Birch Cove or you can walk, run or bike the path that circles the lake.
In the winter, skate or snowshoe on the lake!
Follow the Shubenacadie Canal
The Shubenacadie Canal is a historic waterway that stretches from the Halifax Harbour to the Bay of Fundy. The canal is now used for recreation and is a great place to go for a walk, run or bike ride.
In the downtown area, you can follow the Shubenacadie Canal from Sullivan’s Pond (cross at the Esso Station and continue down Prince Albert Street) to the harbour. Towards the harbour in Martins Park, you’ll find Seymour the Sea Turtle, a large turtle filled with greenery who overlooks the canal.
Outside of the downtown area, another fantastic spot to explore the Shubenacadie Canal is in Shubie Park. More about Shubie Park can be found at the end of this post.
Hike the Ferry Terminal Path
An easy hike in the downtown area is the Dartmouth Harbourwalk Trail, also known as the Ferry Terminal Path.
This 3km path connects the Alderney Landing Ferry Terminal to the Woodside Ferry terminal.
The path is well-maintained (even in the winter), and mostly paved, although there is a small section that crosses a parking lot.
It’s scooter and stroller-friendly (I run it often while my boys scooter beside me) and there’s a fantastic playground at the Alderney Landing end of the path.
Along the path, you’ll have some fantastic views of the Halifax waterfront and at spots you can even see Citadel Hill – home to Halifax Citadel National Historic Site – peeking between the buildings.
Visit Dartmouth Commons Park
Just a short walk from the Alderney Landing ferry terminal, Dartmouth Commons provides some incredible views across the harbour. The paths through the park are steep, but worth it for the views.
To the south you can see Georges Island, McNabs Island and even the lighthouse on Devil’s Island, if it’s a clear day. Across the harbour you’ll see the Halifax skyline, the shipyards and have a fantastic view of the MacDonald Bridge.
Google maps will bring you to the middle of the park, but the parking lot is on the northwest side of the park, near the Zatzman Sportsplex.
Walk Across the MacDonald Bridge
The older of two bridges spanning the Halifax Harbour, the MacDonald Bridge has a dedicated sidewalk and bike lane.
Cross the 1.3km bridge for some fantastic views of the harbour.
Although it’s a toll bridge ($1.25 for vehicles), you can walk or cycle across for free.
Be warned that it will be windy!
Explore Historic Museums
While many of the more popular museums, such as the Museum of Natural History, are across the harbour in Halifax, Dartmouth has several museums and historic homes to explore.
Quaker House is the oldest standing structure in Dartmouth and is furnished as it was in 1785. Evergreen House is another Victorian-style historic home to visit in downtown Dartmouth.
Both historic homes are open from June to August and are free to visit.
Other Things to Do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia
Shop at Dartmouth Crossing
If you’re need of some retail therapy, head to Dartmouth Crossing. A combination of outlets and big-box stores, as well as some smaller shops, you’re sure to find everything you need there.
There are also plenty of restaurants and a theatre, as well as a few hotels including Courtyard Marriott and Hampton Inn & Suites – our personal favourite when staying in Dartmouth.
Explore Shubie Park
This gem of a park is right in the middle of Dartmouth and it’s a fantastic place to get outdoors, while still in the city. It’s one of our favourite places to get outdoors in Dartmouth.
Named for the Shubenacadie Canal, which passes through the park, there are over 9km of wooded walking trails, including part of the Trans Canada Trail.
It’s a great spot to hike, bike, or walk, and in the winter, cross-country ski or snowshoe.
Some of the trails follow the Shubenacadie Canal, while others have views of the surrounding lakes. There are also off-leash areas for dogs to run.
You can access Shubie Park at several different spots in Dartmouth, including the Fairbanks center which has a large parking lot.
Trailheads are also found near the Hampton Inn & Suites at Dartmouth Crossing and near MicMac Mall.
Get Active on the Salt Marsh & Shearwater Flyer Trail
Part of the Trans Canada Trail, this section follows a former rail line and runs from Dartmouth to Lawrencetown Beach.
The popular path goes through wooded areas and crosses the salt marsh before ending at Lawrencetown Beach Provincial Park.
You can walk, run or cycle all or a portion of the 15km, or connect to the Atlantic View Trail or Cole Harbour Heritage Trails for a longer adventure. If you’re looking to only do a portion, the Salt Marsh Trail is especially scenic.
Places to Visit Near Dartmouth
Just 15 minutes from Alderney Landing in Downtown Dartmouth, Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage is an authentic fishing community.
Stroll along the picturesque boardwalk, visit the boutiques and shops or pick up some fresh seafood! It’s busy in the summer, but many of the shops are open all year round.
McCormack’s Beach Provincial Park
Located next to Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage, this park has an easy 1km boardwalk trail that loops around and provides some great views of Halifax Harbour.
It can be quite windy some days though!
Rainbow Haven Beach
One of the more popular beaches in the area (and our personal favourite), Rainbow Haven Beach is tucked in a cove so there’s not as much wind.
With plenty of sand to sit and enjoy the warmth of summer, it’s also a fabulous beach to walk along, winter or summer!
Lawrencetown Beach is a bit more of a drive (just under 30 minutes from Alderney Landing) but it’s worth the drive!
Home to world famous surfing – summer or winter – it’s a classic Nova Scotian beach with sand, rocks, cliffs, beach grass and of course, big surf!
Places to Stay in Dartmouth
Hampton Inn & Suites, Dartmouth Crossing
Conveniently located in Dartmouth Crossing, this family-friendly hotel is a great place to stay. We’ve stayed here quite a few times and always had a good experience.
The suites are quite large, there’s a great breakfast and a pool, hot tub and even a slide that is perfect for kids (it doesn’t land in the actual pool so it’s great for kids of all ages).
Doubletree by Hilton Dartmouth
Only a short walk from Alderney Landing, the Doubletree Dartmouth overlooks the Halifax Harbour. There’s a restaurant onsite as well as conference facilities, a fitness center and a swimming pool.
It’s only steps from Dartmouth Commons, where you’ll also have some fantastic views of the Halifax skyline.
I hope these suggestions were helpful and you found plenty of things to do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia!