Family Fun at the Clay Café

Our family loves art, so choosing the Clay Café, for one of our March Break activities was an easy choice, however, the Clay Café is fun for everyone! My mother-in-law came with us and she hasn’t painted in a long time. My youngest daughter is 9. All four of us had a wonderful time painting our ceramics and my mother-in-law commented on how relaxing it was.

When you first arrive at Clay Café, you choose a ceramic piece from the shelves on the wall to paint. They have over 300 pottery shapes to choose from! You pay for it first so you’re all ready to go when it’s done. The prices are marked on the bottom and include your paint and firing. There are many items to choose from ranging in price from approx. $1 to $60 (Averaging $12-30). There are a lot of practical ceramics such as plates, soap holders, light switch covers, mugs and bowls. There are also whimsical pieces such as moustaches, animals, letters and flying piggy banks. My girls always take a little while choosing something to paint because there are so many fun pieces.

Since we were there on a Saturday, it started to get busy quickly, but there were enough seats for everyone and it didn’t feel crowded. There was even a birthday party going on while we were there.

Once you have your piece picked out you have to decide how to paint it. There are books you can look at for ideas, stamps, stencils and sponges to make patterns with and fun paint items such as puffy and speckled paint. There are so many ways you can paint your pottery, but the one thing to remember is that you can’t paint it wrong! Art is for fun and can never be wrong! This is why ceramic painting is such a wonderful activity for children. They have the opportunity to express themselves in any way they want. My daughter painted her flying piggy bank with polka dots and I painted a mug tiki style for my husband.

It took all of us equally about 2 hours to paint our pottery. We left them to be fired and picked up in about a week.

We decided since we were in Halifax already we would check out a fun restaurant for lunch. My daughter chose The Wooden Monkey because we have been there before and love it. I was happy she choose it, because of their purpose. According to their website, The Wooden Monkey strives to support and help grow a healthier, local, sustainable food system here in Nova Scotia. They are committed to supporting as many local and organic farmers as they can. You can absolutely taste the difference in the food. It’s just delicious. From the apple in the chicken sandwich to the honey in your tea, everything is so very flavourful.

I had the weekend Eggs Benedict special, which was slightly sweet and had the most delicious thick slices of ham (and I am a pretty picky eggs benedict eater). My daughters both ate off the adult menu, although they do have a child’s menu. My youngest also had the Eggs Benedict and my oldest had the Fish and Roasties. She ate it in about 5 minutes, which is testimony to how good it was.

The décor in the restaurant is warm and inviting, with wood that was re-purposed from Hurricane Juan. Although some might not consider The Wooden Monkey a family restaurant, we have always felt comfortable bringing children in to eat there. High chairs are available if needed. The prices are a little higher than a typical chain restaurant due to the fact that the food is locally sourced and much of it is organic.

March Break Activities for Families in Halifax

March Break is a great time to get out and enjoy all of the wonderful things Halifax has to offer for families. If you’re visiting from out of town, make sure you check out the hotel packages on the Destination Halifax website. If you’re from Halifax, then there’s no better time to get out and be a tourist in your own city. There should be something on this list for everyone!

Skating at the Emera Oval

This is a great time to get out and enjoy the oval before it’s gone for the season. With free skate & helmet rentals, Beavertails for sale, and a warming hut, this is a fantastic family activity for all ages. There should be public skate times each day up until March 16th, weather permitting.

Skiing at Martock Mountain

March Break is a great time to learn to ski or improve your skiing. They have special lesson packages on during March Break.

Swimming at the Dartmouth Sportsplex or the Canada Games Center

Get out of the cold and go swimming at the Dartmouth Sportsplex or the new Canada Games Center. Both have waterslides and public and family swims on during March Break.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia 

Sign up for week-long art classes or drop in on Family Sunday for a hands on art exploration in collaboration with Symphony Nova Scotia.

Ross Farm Museum

There are themed activities planned for every day of March Break on the farm, from snowshoe demonstrations to tasty treats. They will have sleigh rides (weather permitting) and serve hot chocolate.  Every day on the farm is special!

Clay Café

The art camps offered at clay café will bring out your child’s inner artist. They are designed for children from ages 7-14. Or you can drop by anytime and paint unique pottery on your own. They are very helpful and there are lots of books to help you choose what to paint.

Mooseheads Hockey

It’s a lot of fun to go out to a hockey game with your family. It’s also very affordable for a family night out. There’s a home game against the Saint John Sea Dogs on March 14th.

7th Annual St. Patricks Day Parade

The St. Patricks Day Parade will be held on Saturday, March 15th at 11AM. The parade starts at the corner of South/South Park Streets and ends at Brunswick/Cogswell Streets.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is always fun for families, but this March Break they also have a surprise visitor that is going to “hop in”. What do you think it could be?

Hatfield Farm

Be a cowboy for a day at Hatfield Farm. They have March Break specials on from Monday, March 10th to Sunday, March 16th. Included in this adventure package: Wagon/Sleigh Ride, Petting Pen, Mini Golf, All-You-Can-Eat Hot Dogs, Unlimited Juice, Pop, Coffee & Tea. Time in the Rubber Rodeo with the Inflatable Games. Three Daily Departures: 11:00AM, 12:00PM, & 1:00PM. Weather permitting, please call ahead.

The Hampton Inn & Suites, Dartmouth Crossing

There is nothing better than finding a great hotel when travelling. There are so many hotels out there to choose from that a good review from another parent is really important. The Hampton Inn & Suites in Dartmouth Crossing is a beautiful hotel and really caters to families.

We recently stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites with my daughter’s Ringette team. The hotel was full and they did a great job handling the crowds of children. They made sure there was a lifeguard in the pool area when it was busy, and that there was plenty of food available at the breakfast buffet. They also had movies playing in the lobby for older or younger children.

The best thing about the Hampton Inn & Suites, for children, is the amazing pool area. The main pool is very big. There are two hot tubs and a long spiral waterslide that doesn’t empty into the main pool. This is a fantastic feature as it keeps everyone in the pool area completely safe and the waterslide is perfect for smaller children. There is plenty of seating for parents to watch children and the room is open enough that you can see your children from almost anywhere in the room.

The rooms at the Hampton Inn are of average size and nicely decorated. The beds and pillows are among the most comfortable I’ve slept on and the room was spotless.

The breakfast buffet, which is included in the cost of the room, was fantastic. There were many hot breakfast options such as eggs, bacon, oatmeal, bagels and waffles. Cold items such as cereal, yogurt and fruit were available, as were coffee, tea and juice. There are many hotels that don’t offer a full hot breakfast anymore, and it was very much appreciated before my daughter went to her Ringette game. Children eat a lot of food and parents really appreciate them having a full belly before they head out for the day!

Parking is free at this Hampton Inn & Suites since it is located in Dartmouth Crossing. It’s not downtown, but in a good location, close to both bridges, only minutes from downtown Halifax, and a short drive from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. The hotel is close to many shops and restaurants and next door to a movie theatre. I highly recommend the Hampton Inn & Suites, Dartmouth Crossing. Click here for their website: http://www.dartmouthhampton.com/

A Family Winter Getaway to Halifax, Nova Scotia

Are you planning a family visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia and needing some advice on how to organize your weekend? I’ve put together a sample itinerary for what our family would do if we were coming to Halifax for the first time and only had a weekend to see everything. We tend to fit a lot into our travel schedules, so if you would rather have a more relaxed visit, than simply remove one or two activities per day.

Day 1

Arrive as early as you can on a Friday. If you aren’t coming from far away or can take the afternoon off of work you’ll be much more rested for your weekend’s adventures. I suggest staying at one of the local hotels that has a pool if your children like swimming, or at least a hot tub for mommy and daddy to relax in. Check the Destination Halifax website for package deals that include dinner, breakfast, parking etc. Some great hotel suggestions for families are:

Atlantica Hotel Halifax, 1980 Robie St.

Hampton Inn & Suites Dartmouth Crossing, 65 Cromarty Dr.

Comfort Hotel Halifax, 88 Chain Lake Dr.

In the evening you might want to head to the Emera Oval, an outdoor ice skating rink on the Halifax Common. Skate and helmet rentals are free. Most Friday nights starting at 6:30 p.m., 101.3 The Bounce radio station takes their road show to the Oval with fun, prizes, and music.

Day 2

Wake up early and either grab breakfast at the hotel if it’s included, or head straight to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, 1209 Marginal Rd. There are so many wonderful vendors there with homemade treats to try. You can get coffee, smoothies, and pastries fresh out of the oven. Make sure you pick up some local fruit and goodies for your hotel room. Parking is free on the weekend in the parking lot or at any of the parking meters near the Market.

From the Market, head to the Discovery Center, 1593 Barrington St., a hands-on science center where children will have a blast for about 2 hours and not even realize they are learning. Don’t worry, it’s fun for parents too! You can park at any meter close by.

There are many lunch options in the area. Here are some restaurants I would choose for my family keeping a budget in mind:

Subway, 1560 Argyle St.

Certainly Cinnamon (soup and sandwiches), 1673 Barrington St.

Scotia Square Mall food court

After lunch why not take the family to the Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer St. They have recently renovated and added a large globe called Science on a Sphere where you can see the Earth’s ocean currents, earthquakes happening in real time, temperature ratings, and much more. Other permanent exhibits include Gus the Gopher Tortoise who is 91 years old, marine and archaeology galleries.

Now might be a great time to go back to the hotel for a swim or nap. Some restaurants you might want to consider for dinner:

The Wooden Monkey, 1707 Grafton St. and 40 Alderney Dr.

The Five Fishermen Restaurant and Grill, 1740 Argyle St.

Waterfront Warehouse, 1549 Lower Water St.

Kempster’s Cookhouse and Eatery, 3644 Kempt Rd.

Montana’s, Jack Astors, Boston Pizza or Swiss Chalet in Dartmouth Crossing

Day 3

After checking out of your hotel (and possibly having one last swim) head to Hatfield Farm, 1840 Hammonds Plains Rd. for the Weekend Family Round Up. Included in this adventure package: Wagon/Sleigh Ride, Petting Pen, Mini Golf, All-You-Can-Eat Hot Dogs, Unlimited Juice, Pop, Coffee & Tea and time in the Rubber Rodeo with Inflatable Games. This starts at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s about 20 minutes outside of the city but worth the drive.

A few other options you might want to add to your trip if your schedule permits:

A Halifax Mooseheads hockey game

A performance at Neptune Theatre (Mary Poppins is coming up!)

For more sample itineraries, visit http://destinationhalifax.com/halifax-itineraries.

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