Well, it's hard to get much cooler than Taz Records (1593 Market Street) if you're looking to familiarize yourself with the best music. Ask them to show you local artists among the great vinyl. Start there, then figure out where you're going to eat, drink and take in some live music. This area of downtown, from Brunswick down to the water, is Halifax's nerve centre of great music and food.
Just wandering along Argyle Street you'll pass a dozen eateries, cocktail bars and pubs with plenty to offer. The Economy Shoe Shop (1663 Argyle Street) is a great place to meet people and eat nachos. Bitter End (1572 Argyle Street) is the spot to see the chic crowd sipping cocktails, and if you're looking for a quiet spot to check your email, hit The Blowers Street Paper Chase Cafe (5228 Blower Street) at the end of Argyle. It's upstairs above the newsstand and affords a great view over the street.
Just up the street from there at the intersection of Grafton is Pizza Corner, the collection of pizza joints where late night club and bar-goers go to soak up the booze with a slice or donair. Walking across Grafton you pass Maxwell's Plum (1600 Grafton Street) and its wealth of beer selection and keep going, you'll hit The Wooden Monkey (1707 Grafton Street), renowned for its vegetarian and locally sourced foods.
Looking to hear some music? In the Shoe Shop's basement is The Seahorse Tavern (also 1663 Argyle), one of Canada's oldest bars and Halifax's premiere rock and roll club. Just a few doors down is The Carleton (1685 Argyle Street), offering a classy environment for dinner and excellent live music. If you're looking for the more traditional Celtic sounds, hit The Old Triangle (5136 Prince Street) or The Lower Deck (1869 Upper Water Street), both of which regularly host bands that feature accordions and fiddle. For DJs and dance nights, give Tribeca (1588 Granville Street) or Reflections (5184 Sackville Street) a chance. Art centre The Khyber (1588 Barrington Street) hosts art shows, film screenings and a variety of creative events, and just down from there at the corner of Sackville is wine bar Obladee (1600 Barrington Street), offering an early evening alternative. If you're looking to hear some of the region's best singer-songwriters, you'll need to stroll up out of downtown (or take one of the many buses) into the north end, where The Company House (2202 Gottingen Street) provides a venue for folk singers and acoustic musicians.
If your tastes run to theatre, across the street from The Company House is the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) often showing independent theatre, while the biggest stages in town are at the Neptune Theatre (1593 Argyle Street) showing musicals along with homegrown indies.
And if you'd like to go to the symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia (symphony novascotia.ca) performs at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium (6101 University Avenue). Unfortunately they don't do shows in the summer, so hang onto this for your autumn stroll, too.