Budget-Conscious Date Ideas

Ask any advice columnist or marriage counselor and they will tell you that the secret to keeping the “spark” in your relationship is making time for regular dates with your partner. Great idea, however going out for dinner every week can get pricey, right? The good news is there are lots of inexpensive and/or free options, too. Whether you’re going on your 1st date or your 100th, give these budget-conscious date ideas a try:

“PWYC” (a.k.a. Pay What You Can) at Neptune Theatre The first Tuesday for each play is “Pay What You Can Night”, which means admission is by donation only ($5 is a suggested minimum, but it’s really up to you what you give.) Tickets are given out on a first-come-first-served basis, so you need to line up early (doors open at 7 p.m., shows start at 7:30 p.m.) But there is no assigned seating, so if you don’t mind the wait, you can end up with a great viewpoint – one that would normally cost 10 times your donation! Besides, you can use that line-waiting time to catch up with your partner or learn more about a potential one.

Upcoming PWYC performances: Cradle and All – February 4th Oil and Water – February 18th Mary Poppins: The Musical – April 1st Miss Caledonia – April 29th

Get Game at the Board Room Playing a board game with someone is a great way to bond (laughing and/or working together is sure to bring you closer), and to get to know someone (want to see someone’s true character? Play a game with them.) The Board Room has lots of comfy seats, over 400 board games to choose from, and a small café to keep you energized through that “Ticket to Ride” marathon. The best part is you only have to pay $5 each and you can play as many games as you like, for as long as you want. You can save even more by showing your stamp card on each visit (your 5th one is free!)

Skate at the Emera Oval What is more romantic than skating hand-in-hand, nothing but the winter air and cozy layers between you? The Emera Oval has you covered (ice-skating in winter, rollerblading in summer.) And with public skates taking place at various times throughout the week, this is an activity you can easily fit into a busy schedule. Not to mention the added health benefits! No worries if you don’t have the equipment – everything is available for rent at the Oval. This is one activity that everyone can afford – it’s all free of charge.

Cozy Up With a Cocktail Most of us don’t get to dress up very often, so why not put in a little extra effort and head out for a night on the town with your sweetheart? An expensive dinner isn’t the only option. Try Martini Monday at The Fireside, where all martinis are only $5. Or check out Happy Hour at Niche Lounge, which is 4 p.m. to close EVERY DAY! That means cheap drinks, but also cheap eats (selected appetizers are half price until 6:30 p.m.) Looking for a more casual atmosphere? Pizza Delight on Spring Garden Rd. has $4 drinks ($6 doubles) every day, plus a different food special every day of the week (all-you-can-eat wings, fries, onion rings and garlic cheese fingers for only $15 on Wednesdays!) Share your hopes and dreams, the details of your day, or just your appetizers – whatever you choose!

Laugh It Up at Yuk Yuk’s Dates have to be fun – otherwise, what is the point?! One way to guarantee LOL’s is to take in a show at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club. Cover for Thursday night shows is only $12 ($5 for students), so that’s an awesome date for less than $25! It’s hard not to walk away from a date happy when you spent the entire time laughing. Sure, you could watch a movie at home (again), but I would encourage you to try something new this week and get out on the town for your next date. After all, the important thing is not the cost, it’s the company.

Photo Cred for couple on bikes: NS Tourism

Our ALT Hotel ‘Staycation’

It’s no secret that our family loves to travel, but we have discovered that you don’t need to go far to feel the excitement of travelling. You can get that feeling from a short trip or even just going to the airport to pick someone else up. We love airports about as much as we love flying somewhere. We also love taking a staycation, where we can get away to a nice hotel and relax without going far from home. This made me think…what if we put the two together and went on a staycation to an airport hotel? Sound good? We decided to stay a night at the ALT Hotel Halifax Stanfield at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, just for fun.

We’ve stayed at many hotel brands but this was our first time at an ALT hotel and it was different. The ALT brand stands for an alternative experience and that is exactly what you get. ALT hotels are trendy, stylish, eco-responsible and offer a “service light” approach to guest services. Don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean their customer service is substandard. Quite the opposite, in fact. While they do have fewer staff – for instance no doormen or concierge – the staff they do have strive to offer the best customer service possible. The employees of the ALT Hotel Halifax Stanfield were very friendly and went above and beyond to make our stay comfortable and enjoyable. This service light approach allows the ALT hotel brand to offer affordable rates year round. It’s a great concept!

What really impressed me was how eco-friendly the hotel is. The hotel does all of the following:

• Geothermal heating and cooling
• Heat recovery from ventilation exhaust to preheat cold air coming in from the exterior
• Heat recovery from water used in commercial washers
• Energy efficient lighting
• Huge thermal windows with low emission rates that maximize natural light
• Central switch in the rooms to allow lights to be turned off remotely
• Domestic water heating by geothermal energy
• Sensors in the stairwell to control the use of lighting
• Automatic regulation system for ventilation, air conditioning, and heating
• ALT has chosen products that can be reused, refilled, or recycled
• Recycling bins in all rooms and public areas
• Smoke-free environment

This is a step forward that I would love to see many other hotels take. The travel industry has a huge impact on the environment and we need to make changes if we want to keep travelling for many years to come!

The lobby and lounge areas were all beautifully decorated and very comfortable. They do not have a restaurant but have to-go food items such as sandwiches, cheese trays, sweets and delicious coffee available all the time in the lounge. There were fresh croissants available for purchase at breakfast too!

We really liked the guest rooms because the beds were the most comfortable we had ever slept in and the view was amazing! We loved seeing the planes taking off and landing, especially after it was dark. There was free Wi-Fi in the room as well as inputs for electronics.

The pool was small but refreshing and the exercise room was a good size with yoga mats and balls.

I would highly recommend the ALT hotel for business or leisure travelers, as well as anyone else looking to experience the ALT brand. It’s not the best place for kids to spend a lot of time, but it’s great for a night before travelling or a staycation experience.

Halifax’s Agricola Street

If you can name a more vibrant, eclectic street than Agricola Street, I’m dying to hear of it. Agricola Street is a hip street in North End Halifax filled with antique stores, chic restaurants, and brightly coloured row houses. The best part: the street is undergoing a renaissance, and there’s no shortage of places to check out.

Try these places next time you’re in the neighbourhood:

Finer Things Antiques and Curios (2797 Agricola Street)

There are so many beautiful antiques in Finer Things, you could spend an hour in each room and come away with a wish list a mile long. They’ve got the market cornered on Mid Century Modern glassware, let me tell you. If you’re thinking of it, this antique store probably has it, and they’re always getting new stock in. You’re greeted at the door by Louie, the store dog who acts as mascot and greeter, making the experience that much more fun.

Bellissimo! (2743 Agricola Street)

Every time I go into Bellissimo, I imagine what it would be like to furnish my apartment with their wares. If you’re looking for a chic, Francophile, monochromatic look, then head there.

Fred. (2606 Agricola Street)

Fred. is a staple on Agricola Street, having opened 10 years ago. The combination salon and restaurant is the first and only of its kind in the city, run by Fred Connors. I love walking by and checking out the chalkboard walls – there’s never a shortage of interesting things scrawled on the walls.

Gus’s Pub + Ace Burger Co. (2605 Agricola Street)

Gus’s Pub is a great place to go for live music and cheap drinks, and Ace Burger Co. is a great place for delicious burgers. Win win, right? Ace operates as a Brooklyn Warehouse extension and was one of the first gourmet burger places in Halifax. I recommend the Po’Boy Seasonal burger.

Bridge Brewing Company (2576 Agricola Street)

Bridge Brewing Company is a relatively new microbrewery crafting Belgian-inspired beers that are available in a bunch of Halifax restaurants (including Gus’s Pub on the corner of North and Agricola Streets.) I’m loving the craft beer trend that’s hit Halifax in the past few years, and am looking forward to sampling Bridge Brewing in the future.

Smith’s Bakery (2525 Agricola Street)

I cannot write enough about how delicious the pastries are at Smith’s Bakery. I’ve never tried something I didn’t love there: peanut butter cookies, fresh bread, sausage rolls… mmmm. Smith’s is Halifax’s oldest independent bakery, and has been in business since 1932. You can trust on the quality there.

Of course I’m not mentioning other great places along the street, like Obsolete Records, or Agricola Street Brasserie, a newly-opened restaurant that’s getting positive feedback from diners.

Where do you like to go on Agricola Street?

Halifax - market - bakery_edited-1

The BEST Dessert shops in Halifax

here is no shortage of places to grab some supper in Halifax, but what if it’s your sweet tooth that needs placating? Life is short – sometimes you need to eat dessert first (or as a meal!), despite what your mother might have told you. Whether you are in the mood for a giant slab of cake or a cold scoop of ice cream, these special spots have your cravings covered.

1. Le French Fix Patisserie
Location: 
5233 Prince St., Halifax

You will feel transported to Paris when you enter this small but adorable café on Prince Street, and onward to heaven when you catch a glimpse of their display case. Colorful and quaint tarts, macarons, and madeleines in perfect individual portions will not fail to tempt your taste buds.

2. The Middle Spoon Desserterie & Bar Location: 1559 Barrington St., Halifax With “dessert” right in the name, it’s pretty safe to say what this place is good at. But that’s not all they do – you can also order some pretty amazing artisan cocktails to go along with your sweet treat. 

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3. Humani-T Cafe
Location:
 1451 South Park St., Halifax,
This café has not one, but two locations (Agricola Street and South Park Street) where you can enjoy a sweet snack in a low-key atmosphere. This self-proclaimed “tea room” offers sandwiches, soups and hot drinks, but what you really can’t miss is the gelato and baked goods, including cookies, cakes, muffins, oatcakes, profiteroles, baklava, loaves, tarts, brownies…I could go on.

Today’s the big day!! Don’t forget to use #FreeGelatoDay when posting. #humanitcafe #halifax #gelato

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4. Julien’s Patisserie Bakery & Cafe
Location: 
5517 Young St., Halifax

This North-End staple has been serving up delicious French-style baked goods from the historic Hydrostone Market since 1993. Everything here is freshly made and so perfect-looking it could be in a commercial. Hot cross buns with x’s of creamy icing, fruit tarts with shiny strawberries and powdered sugar, glazed and swirly danishes, meringues, exquisite petit fours and pillowy cream puffs are just some of the dessert options.

انيو يوربون 💘🙋🏻

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Life is sweet in Halifax. So, forget about veggies for one night and get out there and grab some dessert (don’t worry, I won’t tell mom).

Discover authentic Halifax with inspiration, tips, and recommendations curated by locals.