Move over, Peggy’s Cove: New bus route, food tour to pull tourists to north-end Halifax

Published on May 13, 2014
People enjoy the Hydrostone in between rain showers on Monday.
Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper

HALIFAX - Thanks to a delectable mix of local history and new restaurants, David Fleming said it might not be unusual to spot tourists leaving the Halifax waterfront to explore Gottingen and Agricola streets this summer.

Fleming, director of the North End Business Association, said he was happy to hear that Ambassatours Gray Line will soon introduce a couple north-end stops on their Big Pink Sightseeing bus, giving most of the kudos to popular eateries.

“It’s a natural transition. We’ve kind of had over the last two or three years an explosion; not just one, or two, or three restaurants,” he said about spots like Lion & Bright Café, Agricola Street Brasserie, The Nook, or Edna in addition to favourites like Tess and Fred.

These and other local stores in the north end have an “authenticity” compared to ones created specifically for tourists, Fleming said.

“These are sort of the … hidden gems or (what) the local’s would suggest.”

Emily Forrest of Local Tasting Tours has added a two-kilometre walking route of the area to show visitors nine restaurants with local beer tastings on foot.

“There’s so much happening in the culinary scene in that district that it would just be silly to miss out on it,” Forrest said.

She agreed there’s a large tourism movement for people to experience a city “like local would,” and said the north end is a great place for newcomers.

“It’s a very warm, community-minded neigbourhood. I find that people who live and work there … are very open to conversation,” Forrest said.

“You wouldn’t get lost in the crowds on the waterfront.”

Andrea Gray, spokeswoman for Ambassatours Gray Line, said the hop-off bus usually handles more than 30,000 people during busy season. She said the Hydrostone stops were added to showcase areas like Fort Needham, and allow visitors to explore more places affected by the Halifax Explosion.

The new restaurants and businesses in the area “certainly make it a more attractive area” for tourists, she added.

Fleming said while it might take time for locals to get used to the double-decker bus driving tourists into the area, money coming in from people outside HRM can only be good for the area.

Although many new restaurants don’t last more than a few years, Fleming said this spike in new businesses has “staying power” if development continues and the area grows.