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Lysistrata, Temptress of the South

16 Jul
The set-up for Lysistrata

We weren’t able to take photos during the show, so I can’t show you the amazing period costumes…more reason to check it out for yourself!

In the event that you are the kind of person who skims articles, or only reads the 3-line Facebook summary, I am going to put the important stuff upfront. Go see Lysistrata.  If you like good theatre at all, or even if you have only a passing interest in theatre, or if you have anything akin to a sense of humour, you will love this play.

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Le Caveau – Annapolis Valley

15 Jul

Le Caveau Restaurant - OutsideAfter touring nine wineries during our last Annapolis adventure, and recounting the story to friends and family, one of the most common questions we heard was, “Did you eat at Le Caveau?”  Even here on our blog, many readers were finding us through searches for Le Caveau.  So, naturally, on our recent trip back to Annapolis Valley, it was our first stop. Continue reading

Bus Route #80 – Sackville

20 Jun

Welcome to the fourth installment of day trips and vacation spots in HRM accessible by bus (and bike!). Today we’ll take you on the #80, or what could be easily called ‘The Seafood Route”. The 80 starts at the Scotia Square terminal and takes you past some awesome spots in the downtown core, but for the purpose of this post we’re going to start the trip at the Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive. There are many excellent routes for downtown adventures (try the #1 for downtown and the #42 for Robie Street), and the #80’s best bits are further along.

Note for cyclists:  Cycling distances begin at the Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive.  Take care merging onto the Bedford Highway as there are many lanes and traffic tends to be heavy here.  Also, from Hatchery Park to Fultz House, follow the walking route rather than going on Hwy 101 (it’s prohibited for cyclists).  The #80 does not have a bike rack so if you’re cycling out, you’ll be cycling back.

Jim’s Family Seafood Restaurant  (2.9km)
There is a LOT of great food on the #80 route, starting with Jim’s. It offers home style cooking (if your hometown was made up of a group of fishermen, Greek, and Italian residents) for a good price and an even better view. They have awesome deals on seafood, with most entrees ringing in between $10 and $15. The patio overlooking the Bedford Basin isn’t open yet, but we’ve been assured that it won’t be much longer.  If you like fried fish, get the seafood platter.

Tomaso’s Pizza (2.9km)
Also in this area is Tomaso’s Pizza (@tomasospizza). Opened in 1969, Tomosa’s claims to be the oldest pizzaria in Halifax. The owner is originally from Italy, and while we didn’t have the chance to stop in for a slice, the pizza looks pretty good. We were especially interested in the Pesto Sopresa and the Spinaci and Galo Arrostito.

Nature’s Cove General Store (3.9km)
When I first discovered that I couldn’t eat wheat, I had a really hard time finding some decent bread. That is, until a kindly stranger heard my laments and suggested Nature’s Cove. Nature’s Cove is an awesome little shop chock full of local, organic, natural and all around good for you products. Over the weekend, we also learned that they are currently installing the means to offer fresh-scooped ice cream, and some cooking gear to be able to make more in-house creations.

Prince’s Lodge (The Rotunda) (5.7km)
I was really looking forward to covering this route specifically for the Rotunda. For years, I have driven by this funny little round building and wondered what on earth it could be. Thanks to @1_car_guy, @anthonymartinNS and @Steamwrksdesign, our questions were finally answered.

As it turns out, this whole area once played host to Prince Edward and his French mistress Julie St. Laurent. What was once a huge estate fell into disrepair in the late 1800’s, and was broken up and sold into lots. The circular building that can be seen from the road (the Rotunda) is an old music room. If you go into the park you will also see the ‘Heart Shaped Lake’, which Edward built for his mistress.

It seems that Hemlock Ravine was a bit of a lovers playground for the pair.  What all of this taught me is that being a king’s mistress is the way to go.

Hemlock Ravine (5.9km)
@aldelory suggested we check this one out, and we’re glad we did. You could easily spend the whole day here. The park is huge with a network of well-groomed trails (@halifaxtrails).  This is a great spot for couples to go for a walk (or for kids to pretend they’re Robin Hood).  We’ve added a few pictures but you really have to see this one for yourself.


Fisherman’s Market (5.8km)
From this point on, you really start to hit the seafood portion of this adventure. Fisherman’s Market (@fishermanshfx) is a great stop if you plan to bring some lobster home for dinner. When we were there, they also had some samples of their spicy smoked salmon. ☺

Clearwater (7km)
Down the road from the Fisherman’s Market is another fish market at Clearwater (@clearwatersea). As soon as you enter you are stopped short by their starfish display of live lobster. The proximity of the two markets makes it easy to compare options and prices so we suggest visiting both. One thing that we liked about Clearwater is that they have stocked the store with tons of seafood trimmings (butter, cornbread, spices, cream) making it a one-stop-shop for a lobster dinner.

Harvest Wines & Spirits (7km)
Another very nice feature about Clearwater is that it has a wine and spirits boutique for a next door neighbour. Harvest Wines & Spirits  (@harvestwines) has an impressive collection of Nova Scotian wines. We especially liked all of the artful displays of Benjamin Bridge.

They have a cozy room for hosting wine-tasting events, complete with dishware for food pairings. For bigger events, you can rent the whole store and have two bars going at once. This would make a very unique event space.

Battered Fish (7km)
Across the street from the Fisherman’s Market is a pop-up Battered Fish (@tbf09). We have had battered fish from the Waterfront and Scotia Square locations a few times now, and are big fans. The portions are big and well priced and the fries are a perfect mix between McDonalds and Homecut style fries. In addition to some great food options, they have an impressive array of vinegar options.

Esquire Restaurant (7km)
Since we are well versed in Battered Fish cuisine, we opted for a quick bite to eat at the Esquire Restaurant (@esquirebedford). This place is an old standard in HRM. It is everything you could want in a diner (except for local beers, which is unfortunate).

We tried the lobster chowder upon the recommendation of the two Coast ‘Best Of’ Chowder signs in the doorway (2008 and 2009). While it’s been a few years since they’ve made the best of list, we can see why the chowder has caused some commotion in the past. It is thick, creamy and loaded with lobster.

DeWolf Park (9.1km)
If you’ve ever been to Bedford Days, you’re familiar with DeWolf Park. The Bedford Basin park is named after Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, arguably Canada’s greatest naval officer. The park features a fair-sized green area, children’s playground, a boardwalk and signs that share historical facts that date back almost as far as the known beginning of the planet. One thing to take note of at DeWolf was the view of the infilling currently taking place in the Bedford Basin. The project is dumping pyritic slate into this unique ecosystem and has been making some pretty alarming changes. To read more about it check out here. You can also follow the citizens’ group on twitter @savebedfordreef

Thai Ivory Cuisine (8.9km)
Just past the street down to DeWolf Park is what may be the best Thai restaurant in HRM, Thai Ivory Cuisine. We have gone out of our way (i.e. to Bedford) to get their red and green curries. The best time to go is over the lunch hour to take advantage of their awesome lunch deals. Well worth the trip here.

Scott Manor House (10.8km)

I never thought that I was all that into old buildings, but Scott Manor House may have changed my sentiment. Built in 1767, it is the only full two and a half storey, gambrel-roofed colonial structure in Nova Scotia, and possibly in Canada. It also has two original mortarless, loose field stone chimney bases. This attraction is free to visit, but only open in July and August (we lucked into a visit during a special event). There is a tea room on-site that offers tea and assorted sweets between 2 pm and 4 pm.

Fish Hatchery Park (10.7km)
Just around the corner from Scott Manor is Fish Hatchery Park. As the name suggests, it was once the site of a large fish hatchery. Considering it’s right next to the main route, it’s a very peaceful little area that would be a great place for a picnic or to read a book. There is a 2 km walking route from here to Fultz House in Sackville. If you are not looking to shop in downtown Bedford, we suggest stopping at Manor House, heading to Fish Hatchery Park, and then taking a hike to Fultz house before bussing home.

Downtown Bedford (11.7km)
If you continue along on the bus, you will come to Downtown Bedford. This little shopping area has a lot to offer.  Most people are familiar with the original Pete’s location (Drew’s parents used to make pilgrimages all the way from New Glasgow to get hard to find British favourites) and the original Chicken Burger. You will also find the Sunnyside Restaurant (a great, deluxe greasy spoon) the Riverside Pub (a popular watering hole), the Freak Lunchbox candy shop and Uncommon Kids.

Fultz House (13.6km)
Fultz House is a small seasonal museum that pays tribute to more than 200 years of Sackville history. The museum wasn’t yet open on this trip (Open July-August), but we took the opportunity to wander the immaculately kept grounds. We had a great time exploring the property, which is filled with old-fashioned gardening tools, an original cooperage and a working replica of A.J. Smeltzer’s Lower Sackville blacksmith shop.

Even though this was our longest post to date, there are tons of cool things we have left out. If you take a #80 day trip, we’d love to hear what you liked the most.

Note: If you’ve been dreaming of an outdoor wedding, a few of these spots (Hemlock Ravine, DeWolf, and Fish Hatchery) can be booked with a Facilities Rental Contract through the city.

Be sure to check out our other #LocalTravelHRM posts on the #15 Purcell’s Cove, the #60 Eastern Passage and the #21 Lakeside!

@GillianWesleyNS & @DrewMooreNS

The Local Wedding NS

12 Jun

Anyone who has been following our adventures for the past year and a half might know that we are not one local traveler but a couple of local travelers. *  In fact, we are a couple and we recently got married.  Although our wedding isn’t necessarily something random readers would travel to, it was still most definitely an adventure and we were pretty keen to stick with a local theme.  Plus, since it led to some really fantastic local travel adventures for our honeymoon in the Annapolis Valley, we felt like sharing the day here.

Long before the day itself (it was a lengthy engagement), we booked our ceremony and reception at the Atlantica Hotel (@atlanticahfx) at the corner of Quinpool and Robie in Halifax.  Some of you might know it as the old Holiday Inn.  The hotel has been completely overhauled, with beautiful suites, two spacious event spaces (we flip-flopped over which to use for our wedding) and one of the best pool areas among Halifax hotels.

We took to Twitter to find local registries.  @IlovelocalHFX, and many others, promptly recommended Cucina Moderna (@cucinamoderna) on Dresdon Row.  We spent a fun afternoon browsing through their chic kitchenware, and later added a second registry at The Trail Shop (@TrailShop) on Quinpool Road.  We had a blast at the Trail Shop, anticipating all of the camping we want to do this year.

For the rehearsal party and all of the other festivities during the weekend, we stocked up on growlers of Garrison (@GarrisonBrewing) and Propeller (@PropellerBeer), as well as some bottles of Benjamin Bridge (@Benjamin_Bridge) Nova 7.  Being of Scottish descent, my mother brought a bottle of Glen Breton (@GlenBreton) for me and my groomsmen.

The rehearsal party was catered by @Scanway, and Gillian’s second hand Vera Wang dress for the evening (and for all events leading up to the wedding) was from local high end consignment shop Crimson and Clover (@crimson_clover).

Our Saturday morning ritual is to take the bus down to the Seaport Market (@HfxSeaportMrkt) to do our grocery shopping for the week and chat with the vendors and other regulars.  Gillian was a little busy getting her hair done, so I went with some of my groomsmen and my uncle for breakfast.  I went with the chicken curry Cornish pasty (delicious).  The others were afraid this might be too heavy for a wedding day so they got breakfast wraps from Wrap So D.

We washed these down with some Trinity Gold Lemonade, courtesy of our friend, Josh (@joshnordin) and then popped over to Garrison.  Trinity Gold also provided their tasty lemonade for our pre-reception cocktail.  You can now find their lemonade at Saege Bistro (@SaegeBistro).

While we were otherwise occupied, Gillian and the bridesmaids spent the morning getting pretty, with help from fantastic local makeup artist Kristen Scott (@Krisco_).  For jewels, the girls all donned sea urchin necklaces by local company RunFree RunWild, who adapted one of her popular items to custom fit the dress.

The flowers for the bouquets were all selected from a list of Avon Valley‘s ‘Local’ cuts and artfully arranged by Sandra of ‘I Do’ flowers.  The remaining flowers were almost entirely living plants, with all flower design done by Gillian’s Dad, Jay Wesley (@jaywesley4).   Jay has spent years working with the Public Gardens and totally transformed the space.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to have so many talented friends.  We knew right away that people would remember our wedding for the music.  Luke Watters (@LukeLWatters) is something of a prodigy and wowed our friends and family with the processionals during the ceremony, featuring a sing-along cover of Justin Rutledge’s Don’t be So Mean Jellybean (Rutledge was the first concert we saw together at the In the Dead of Winter Festival in 2009).  Gillian’s sister, Brittany (@BrittanyWesley) is a very talented vocalist.  She treated us to her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in lieu of grace.  ECMA winner Steven Bowers (@Steven_Bowers) honoured us by performing his 50th wedding anniversary song, It Breaks You So, for our first dance.  It was hard to find a dry eye in the place after that one.  Steve and Luke backed each other for some of their originals and then we let them off the hook to party as Zulca Moon took over.  We discovered these guys at the Seaport Market and fell in love with their infectious grooves.  Seriously, crowds of grinning people form instantly when these guys play at the market and they were in top form for our wedding.  People have been and will be talking about the music for a long time!

Instead of clinking glasses during the dinner to get us to kiss, we asked our guests to make donations to Clean Nova Scotia (@CleanNS).  Also in lieu of favours, we will be making a further donation to Clean NS, specifically to their Adopt a Watershed program.  We live in an area where the Williams Lake watershed is in jeopardy so this program is close to our hearts.

Due to a wheat allergy, we had to avoid regular cake.  Luckily, this meant we could indulge in a variety of cheesecakes from Sweet Hereafter (@Sweet_Hereafter).  Also thanks to @HalifaxSalseros for teaching us to salsa so we could properly groove to Zulca Moon.

Clearly we are pretty big on documenting everything, and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to document the day in photos than Tanya Shields (@TanyaShields).  She, Jimmy and Ebony did an incredible job of capturing all of the important moments and the vibe of our wedding, right down to the shot of us together with a Metro Transit bus passing behind us.  You can check out her online gallery of the day here.

We’d like to thank @BishopsLanding and @Ristoranteamano for letting us do our shoot in the same neighbourhood where we first lived and where I proposed to Gillian on the waterfront.  Also a big “thank you” to @BishopsCellar for lending us the champagne glasses.

If you’re interested in checking out the play by play of the day, look up #DnGWedFest2012 on Twitter.  Thanks to all of our friends for live-tweeting!

I know we’ve said it already, but one more HUGE thanks to Tanya Shields. She not only did a fantastic job on the day, when we told her about this blog post she went to work picking out some perfect shots to go with this article.  All photos in this post are her lovely images.

*We are always looking for guest bloggers to help us cover our fantastic region.  If you’re interested, please email localtravelerns@gmail.com or send us a message on twitter, @gillianwesleyns or @drewmoorens.

Bus Route #60 – Eastern Passage

23 May

Welcome to our second installment of day-trips and vacation spots in HRM accessible by bus (and bike!). Today we’ll chronicle the #60 Bus Route to Eastern Passage.

Note for cyclists: We’ve added distances from the Bridge Terminal in brackets next to each location. The trip is pretty flat for the most part, with sparse bike lanes.  There are some great coastal views along this route.

Downtown Dartmouth: (0.9km)
From the Bridge terminal, the #60 route first takes a scenic tour of Downtown Dartmouth. If you aren’t up for a long day-trip, you can get off early and explore some of Downtown Dartmouth’s awesome offerings including Alderney Landing, Two if by Sea, and Celtic Corner.  These stops will be better covered on one of our upcoming bus routes, but are worth mentioning for any trek through Dartmouth.

If you haven’t tried their croissants, get to the Dartmouth or Halifax location right away. Its a must-try spot in HRM.


NSCC Centre for the Built Environment
: (3.2km)
A few more stops will take you to the NSCC’s Centre for the Built Environment. Why is a community college a worthwhile stop on a day-trip? The NSCC’s Built Environment Campus is no ordinary school.  As one of the greenest buildings in the province, the campus features the first Cold Climate Living Wall, two interior soil-less living walls, a living roof, and a number of other cool green features. Sign in at the visitors desk and take a quick peek at this unique space.

John’s Lunch: (3.7km)
From NSCC, take a short walk over to John’s Lunch. John’s might not look like much from the outside, but this little restaurant has gained a big name for itself with their fish and chips. It was recently named the Best of Fish and Chips in The Coast’s “Best of Food” guide for the second year in a row.  Stop in for lunch, you’ll be happy you did, and even happier for the short walk before this large indulgence. http://www.johnslunch.com/

Shearwater Aviation Museum: (7.6km)
Even if you think you have no interest in planes, we highly recommend stopping at the Shearwater Aviation Museum. The museum is home to 15 heritage aircrafts, including a rebuilt Fairey Swordfish Mk. II and a WWII vintage biplane. It also houses over 12,000 artifacts such as uniforms, aircraft tools and insignia, and a collection of aviation art.  While there, make sure you check out the flight simulator to get a feel of what it’s like to be in the cockpit. Entrance is by donation. The space is also available on a limited bases for event rentals, and would make a truly unique space depending on the event.

To find out more, or check out the hours of operation, click here.

Fisherman’s Cove: (10km)
I remember visiting Fisherman’s Cove when I was much younger and thinking it was a world away from the city. Today, I’m sad it took me so long to realize just how close this HRM gem is. The #60 drops you right at the entrance. Keep your eyes out for the fish mural.

Fish mark the spot for Fisherman’s Cove


From the mural, walk straight a few meters and you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of a mini-paradise. Start with a walk along the boardwalk, and check out the amazing views of Lawlor Island.  This is also a great spot for a leisurely Kayak trip.

There are a few small beaches in Fisherman’s Cove, not all are okay for swimming due to strong currents so pay careful attention to signs.

After building an appetite, check out some of the awesome eateries including Boondocks and Wharf Wraps, or grab a beer at the Fisherman’s Cove Alehouse.

You can also check out some of the boardwalk shops, including The Fisherman’s Cove Gallery, run by 10 local artists.  Stop in and browse, and talk to one of the artists.

There is so much to see in Fisherman’s Cove. It is everything you could hope for in a board walk; ice cream shops, novelty stores, lobster shacks, whale watching excursions and even a ferry to McNabs Island. We recommend spending at least half a day to take in the beauty.  If you really fall in love with the area, you can always spend the night at the ‘Inn on Fisherman’s Cove”.

Hartlen Point Forces Golf Course:
Up for a game of golf? The #60 takes you within walking distance of the Hartlen Point Forces Golf Course. Take the bus to the tip where Shore road and Caldwell Road meet, then walk 10 minutes down Shore Road. The course is owned by the Canadian Armed Forces, but is open to the public. We don’t know much about golf, but we hear this is a challenging course.  Green fees start as low as $18. There are also rentals available on-site if you don’t want to drag your clubs on the bus. Check out the golf course here.

Silver Sands Beach Park: (15.1km)
The #60 bus route ends at Samuel Danial Road, but if you are a biker, we suggest packing your bike and making two extra stops. The first is Silver Sands Beach Park, a 3k journey from the end of the route.  This unique and quiet area is a great spot for a semi-private picnic with a view.

Not the best spot to lounge in the sand, but it does make an awesome picnic spot.

Rainbow Haven Beach: (18.2km)
A 7km trek from the end of the #60 route is one of the better beaches in Nova Scotia, Rainbow Haven Beach. Get off the #60 at Samuel Danial Road, and bike along Cow Bay Road then Bissett Road. Beach amenities include change houses, a canteen, showers, flush toilets, beach volleyball nets, and boardwalks. From bus to bike, you are looking at about an hours journey, a worthwhile trip to lounge on Rainbow Haven.  A note to first time visitors, this beach was slow on the day of our visit in May, but Rainbow Haven fills up fast on a hot summer’s day. Get there early to score a spot on the sand.

Click Route_60 to get the schedule.

Help us build our next route:
We’ve been inspired by the crowd-sourced Twitter account, @celebrateNS and would like to invite you to share your favourite places in HRM and the route you use to reach it.  Walking trails, community centres, watering holes, panoramic vistas, local shops are all welcome additions to preferred destinations.  Comment on this post, or email us at localtravelerns@gmail.com.

The Holman Grand – Charlottetown

18 May

Back in January, work found us staying at The Holman Grand in Charlottetown, PEI (http://www.theholmangrand.com/). While I have frequently used the Holman as an event space, this was our first opportunity to stay on-site.

The Holman makes an impression from the moment you pull in. We arrived after dark to find the building illuminated in multi-coloured lights.  The main lobby has a clean, modern feel, with sleek furniture, unique floral arrangements and multiple mini fish displays along the front desk.

After making our way to the 9th floor, we had our first peek at a unique hotel feature:

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Inverary Inn – Baddeck

6 May

We recently spent two nights at the Inverary Inn as part of a conference. It was the off-season (March), a time when Inverary remains open, but with limited food services, and no water activities. The Lakefront restaurant, paddle boat and kayak rentals, and most of the town of Baddeck that we would have loved to explore were closed for business. Continue reading

Glasgow Square

21 Nov

As a more than occasional event planner, it is always exciting to experience a new venue. That excitement is tenfold when the reason for experiencing a new venue is due to a gathering of some top-notch local musicians. Such was the case Friday night when we headed to The Green Room in Glasgow Square for the intimate CD release of local musician Steven Bowers.

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Muir Murray Winery

31 Jul

Wolfville and Kentville are lovely spots to plan a day-long get-away over the summer. A 45 minute drive from the city and you are surrounded by farmers markets, U-picks aplenty, and most importantly, winery’s.

Last Sunday, my sister, her good friend and I headed to Wolfville to check out Muir Murray Winery. Muir Murray is a relatively new winery to Nova Scotia. It officially opened on July 3, 2009. The owner is a former surgeon who moved to Nova Scotia after retiring at 51. Today, the winery has received awards for both a number of their wines as well as from the Halifax Chamber, taking silver in the Best New Business of the Year category at the Halifax Business awards.

We were delayed getting out of the city (that too-good-to-resist David’s tea deal held me up), so we missed the official tour. Lydia, the representative on site that day, helped us make our way around the extensive list of wines. The wines were organized from dry to sweet in each category. I started with a sweeter wine, thinking I would end up favoring the dry but my first sample ended up taking the cake. The winning white was Riches of Life, made from “Riesling” grapes. The website describes it as being rich with nuances of citrus, tropical fruit, honeydew melon, and a hint of minerality. I found it to be light and clean tasting, lovely to drink on it’s own but I can see it pairing well with some cheese or seafood. I purchased both the Riches of Life, and a 2010 Ice Wine called Solstice Ice.

Since we missed the tour we did a bit of self directed site seeing. The property was beautiful, and we saw a wedding tent set up from a wedding in the vineyard the previous day. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

If you plan to head up for a visit, wine tours start at 11, 1 and 3 from May to September. You can sample without taking the tour. Your first 5 samples are free, excluding their ice wines which are $5 per one ounce sample.

Chocolate Lake Hotel

21 Jul

While I never had the opportunity to stay at the old Chocolate Lake Hotel, I have heard many a story from my parents of its less than hospitable conditions. So, when it was suggested to me that I take a look at it for a wedding, I was skeptical. I have put off viewing it for three months based on old impressions, but after having countless people tell me how wonderful the location, rooms, food, pricing etc etc etc were, we gave in and scheduled a visit.

Weddings are the stereotypical most important day of your life, so it stands to reason that when choosing a venue you need to really love a place. Those first impressions can sometimes get in the way of an otherwise lovely spot. Surprisingly, within a few minutes, our lovely hostess Kaela had whisked the negative thoughts from my mind. She gave us an extensive view of the property, peppering in bits of information and past wedding stories. The tour was a true experience, surpassed only by the viewing of the marital suite.

Chocolate Lake reserves its wedding suite for only the best of occasions, leaving the room looking like it was only just built. The large living area held a long bar complete with sink and fridge. There were two large TV’s (but what good are they on a honeymoon…), a two-person counter top in the bathroom and a large jacuzzi right next to the kingsized bed. Perfection.

This is where the outdoor ceremony takes place

What we liked:

Clean, new facilities

Friendly Staff

Coco the Dog (check him out @TheHotelDog)

Full Floor Rental for the reception

Soon-to-be released decks overlooking the water

Improvements:

The 13 room rental requirement to book the space

Parking (it is free but for a very large wedding I can see it getting tight)

The hotel is worth the rental just for Cocoa the dog, and with the view, the ample space and the great staff, The Chocolate Lake Hotel certainly deserves consideration when planning an NS wedding.