Canada's easternmost city crams a lot into its relatively small package. This city of about 350,000 historically has played two major roles: as a gateway for immigrants and as a military outpost. While those roles are no longer the focus, their heritage remains an important part of the culture of this charming community.

Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia (Latin for New Scotland), which is virtually surrounded by water. The city itself faces the Atlantic Ocean, and various activities (a maritime museum, harbor tours on historic vessels and sailboats, kayaking, amphibious tours) take advantage of the setting.

Along the waterfront, shipping and naval warehouses have been converted into block after block of boutiques, restaurants, and pubs. The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is now open to the public and available for participatory group events, along with Pier 21, a national historic site and stepping-off point until 1971 for some 1.5 million immigrants to Canada, and the adjacent new Cunard Centre.

With the naval influence, it's perhaps no surprise that Haligonians are serious about their drinking. Concrete evidence of that is the prominence of Alexander Keith's Brewery, reportedly the oldest working brewery in North America. The facility schedules group beer tastings and tours, complete with entertaining guides in 1863-era dress.

Halifax also is home to a number of hotels that are all within relatively easy walking distance of one another and the convention center. Several of them, including the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, Westin Nova Scotian Hotel, and Prince George Hotel, are in the process of upgrading both guestrooms and public spaces.

Weather in Halifax is mild year-round, but the area does see an above-average share of fog — which can close the airport. Flights from New York are just over two hours.