Dartmouth Nova Scotia is Halifax's unpopular little sister. Both cities are linked through the harbor the ferries pass through to reach one city and the other. It's safe to say Halifax receives thousands more visitors annually than Dartmouth, called The City of Lakes, yet a jaunt over the bay can be surprisingly rewarding. Even though Nova Scotia's official tourism web site lumps Dartmouth in with Halifax as if the two were one (it is part of the Halifax Regional Municipality), Dartmouth has ample attractive qualities to warrant a visit. As one of the oldest Canadian cities on the east coast, abundant charm and history are main attributes.
Learning the rich city history through various attractions is one of the top things to do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. Founded in the mid-eighteenth century, an ocean vessel called Alderny arrived at the Dartmouth port carrying only 150 immigrants. The Halifax Council determined the new residents should make homes across the harbor in a settlement then called Boonamoogwaddy (Tomcod Ground) by the Mi'kmaq natives. The settlement was later named Dartmouth Nova Scotia, commemorating William Legge. Legge was a departed nobleman in Queen Anne of Great Britain's court and the inaugural Earl of Dartmouth. Today, Dartmouth is the result of some careful municipal planning, an achievement that has created a region featuring two very distinct areas. Amalgamating Halifax and Dartmouth seemed a natural progression and in 1996 it was made official so the two city's became one autonomous region, the Halifax Regional Municipality.
For starters, one of the best Dartmouth attractions are the small hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, and other unique lodging available, all within a short distance of lively Halifax. For a mere few dollars, hop a ferry across the water to Halifax for a larger choice in restaurants, shops, and attractions while enjoying the peaceful backdrop of Dartmouth Nova Scotia. The low-cost, round-trip fare is valid all day long, which makes getting back and forth inexpensive and conveniently only about ten minutes each way. One of the best things to do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia is to see the picturesque coast area from a boat trip, where local fishermen dot the waters with their color vessels.
There are many things to do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia beginning with visits to the area beach. Albro Lake Beach is a freshwater site situated on the north side of the city. It doesn't really compare to many of the magnificent beaches in and around Halifax, but it's still a quiet place to catch some rays and have some fun, and the crowds are nonexistent. Aldernay Landing is a cultural center featuring children's events and special activities. It's one of the best Dartmouth attractions for kids and even features a fine art and theater camp.
The Bedford Institute of Oceanography is another family-friendly destination offering a variety of things to do in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. This waterfront institution is the largest ocean research organization in Canada offering interesting guided tours. Most don't know that the Titanic's dead were famously taken to the Halifax/Dartmouth morgue after the disaster. The BIO site offers a captivating look at a model of the Titanic sitting on the ocean's floor as it looks today. Exploring how seafloor maps work is another possible endeavor at BIO. Visitors also get a chance to learning much more about the ocean and ocean species (touch crabs, lobsters, sea cucumbers and more) and ocean conservation through onsite exhibits.
Four museums round out Dartmouth attractions. They include Musquodoboit Railway Museum, the Shearwater Aviation Museum, the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, and Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum. These four dandies offer tons of information with few crowds. Don't miss historic Evergreen House, the World Peace Pavilion, and Quaker House, the former Canadian homestead to the Nantucket whalers of the late eighteenth century.