Cape St Marys Ecological Reserve
Saint Brides, NL A0B 2Z0, Canada, map
This ecological reserve is home to the most accessible seabird colony in North America so it is popular amongst birders. Youll find thousands of gulls, razorbills, black-legged kittiwakes, northern gannets, and cormorants. Beyond the birds, there are trails to explore along the dramatic coastline.
Taste Test The Local Beers
Newfoundland has no shortage of craft breweries, with the majority of them being in St. Johns. This small capital is popping with craft beers and breweries opening to keep up with the demand thats hitting across the province. Some of the most popular breweries are:
- Quidi Vidi Brewery
- Yellow Belly Brewery & Public House
- Storm Brewing
These are just the microbreweries, there are even more that arent local such as Mill Street. The best way to try as many beers as possible is to do a St. Johns beer tour, complete with your own Newfoundland Beer Diploma.
Basilica Of St John The Baptist
The Roman Catholic basilica is considered one of Newfoundland’s most architecturally important buildings. The Basilica of St. John the Baptist, built between 1842 and 1892, is in the form of a Latin cross, with slender twin towers 46 meters high. Its most notable artistic features are its beautiful ornate gold leaf ceiling and some fine statues. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima in one of the transepts was a gift from Portuguese sailors who were fortunate enough to survive being shipwrecked on the Banks. The basilica is now a National Historic Site.
Address: 200 Military Road, St. John’s, Newfoundland
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Stroll Through Quidi Vidi
Last but not least, the little seaside fishing community of Quidi Vidi is a worthy stop. Located on the north side of Signal Hill, its home to the now-restored Quidi Vidi Battery, which overlooks the inlet, as well as the popular Quidi Vidi Brewery, which makes Iceberg Beer! Its simply a small scenic place that attracts photographers from all over. Its also home to quite possibly the oldest house in British Canada, which was built in 1740 and lives inside the fort.
Am Starting The Irish Loop
After the sunrise we made our way back to the JAG Hotel to nap and have a proper breakfast. Once we were filled up and hopped on coffee once again, it was time to hit the road. This time, we were to drive parts of what’s known as the Irish Loop one of the main roads of the Avalon Region that covers the eastern shore.
With a few taps of the screen we let GPS be our navigator and promptly started jamming to our road-trip tunes . Just as it was when we drove to Cape Spear, we left behind the city and were soon greeted with tall trees, smattering of lakes, rustic houses, and charming towns.
By 9:45AM we made it to our pitstop, the Irish Loop Oceanside Chalet which is now part of Celtic Rondezvous, a cottage rental property in the area of Tors Cove and Bauline East. I could just picture myself here with family and friends, BBQ-ing on the deck, and taking in the crisp ocean breeze, jagged rocks jutting out from the water, and protected bird islands that feel like are only a stone’s throw away.
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Head To Freshwater Road For The Best Fish N Chips
Fish n chips is serious business in Newfoundland and everybody here has their own opinion about which restaurant is best. Most pubs and restaurants do fish n chips very well, so dont stress too much about missing out. However, two of the most famous places are conveniently located steps from each other on Freshwater Road: Chess, which has five other locations around Newfoundland, and Leos. Try one, walk half a block to try the other, and decide for yourself which is best!
Vacation Rentals In St Johns Nl
Another option for family-friendly accommodations in St. Johns would be to go the vacation rental route. Both VRBO and Airbnb offer some great house and apartments rentals in St. Johns. There are some excellent properties to choose from in the colorful Jellybean Row area of the city, which is just a short walk from the harbour and many excellent restaurants.
Jellybean Row, St. Johns
For something unique, check out this VRBO rental in a former Light Keepers home with views of Signal Hill.
Learn much more about the city of St. Johns, Newfoundland at:
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Get A Taste Of Village Life At Quidi Vidi
If you dont have time to get outside St. Johns to see Newfoundlands scenic fishing villages, Quidi Vidi is the next best thing. Located north of Signal Hill, Quidi Vidi is a historic village nestled in a rocky harbor. While it has become a popular tourist spot due to its postcard views, it is still a functioning fishing village with boats coming in and out of the harbor throughout the day. It is also home to an artists colony, hiking trails, and a microbrewery housed in a former fish plant.
Nightlife In St Johns: Bar Crawl On George Street
Boasting a downtown core clustered with bars, nightclubs and live music venues, St. Johns comes to life at night. And unlike many places in Canada, the bars in St. Johns stay open until 3 AM.
If sampling a piece of Newfoundland culture is what youre after, head to the Shamrock City Pub on Water Street or OReillys Irish Newfoundland Pub on George Street, where traditional live music will fill your ears as you sip on the finest Irish whiskey or a pint of beer and indulge in something from the diverse food menus.
Looking for the nightlife staple of downtown St. Johns? Look no further than the Duke of Duckworth on Duckworth Street. With a vibrant atmosphere, one of the largest selections of draught beers and the best fish and chips around, the authentic pub will make you want to stay out until morning.
Special thanks to the staff at the Comfort Inn Airport in St. Johns, NL for their suggestions.
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Hike The East Coast Trail
One of the best things about St. Johns is that youre never far from nature. The East Coast Trail is a series of 26 connected trails going all the way from Pouch Cove to Cappahayden. There are even a few trails that run along the waters edge through the city. If youve never hiked through the woods with a simultaneous view of the ocean, I highly recommend it.
Stand At The Edge Of North America At Cape Spear
Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site is the most easterly point in all of North America. Its home to the second lighthouse built in Newfoundland in 1836, which is now the oldest surviving lighthouse in the province. The site is accessible year-round, but tours and exhibits of the lighthouse are only open from May to October, daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
If youre an early riser be sure to catch the sunrise at Cape Spear. Its also a popular spot for whale watching in the summer and spotting icebergs in the spring. Cape Spear is a great place to go hiking try the section of the East Coast Trail which stretches from Cape Spear to Maddox Cove .
Address: Blackhead Road
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Things To Do In St Johns: Nightlife
I highly recommend a night out in St. Johns on George street! Its a well known street, lined with bars ,which is closed off to cars. You should look into getting screeched in there, which basically means you have to kiss a cod and do a shot of screech to become an honorary Newfoundlander. Its really fun and I highly recommend it! Ask your hotel where they are having screech-ins and theyll direct you to the bar.
If you are looking for a quieter pub atmosphere, I recommend The Ship pub. Its located in a laneway called Solomons Lane, just off of Duckworth and its a great place for local music and art events. Its not the fanciest pub but its very friendly and casual and I think it really represents what St. Johns is all about.
Salt Pond Beach & Ram Head Trail
If you want to see some beautiful scenery of St. John without much effort, head to the southernmost point of the island and visit Salt Pond Beach. In addition, you can do some hiking here see below. This is a quiet, serene, and excellent place to enjoy the peaceful outdoors and the beauty of the island without the crowds.
Salt Pond Beach is an isolated beach that requires a short 5-10 minute hike to get to. Its a locals favorite, but in general very quiet and you wont find many tourists here. The scenery is nice and the beach provides various opportunities to snorkel, swim, and tan in the shiny rays of the sun. Its the perfect place to visit if you want a break from the hustling, bustling life of the more popular places on the island.
The beach also has a few picnic tables and an outhouse, making it an ideal picnicking spot. However, there is not much shade, so you may want to bring an umbrella along if youre planning to spend some time here.
Two hikes start at Salt Pond Beach Drunk Bay Trail and Ram Head Trail. Drunk Bay is just a short hike of less than half a mile, whereas Ram Head Trail is somewhat more challenging and a bit longer. In any case, you can easily do both of them in combination with Salt Pond Beach in 2-4 hours . Count more time if you are planning to go swimming and snorkeling.
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Getting To St Johns Newfoundland
You can get to St. Johns Newfoundland from anywhere in Canada, major gateways and cities, in the USA and Northern Europe. Airlines like Air Canada, Air Canada Tango, and Air Canada Jazz operate regular air service to Newfoundland and Labrador, with connections available from all major centres in the United States and Canada.Air Transat offers charter flights from Toronto to Newfoundland and Labrador during the summer months.Air Canada Jazz, Provincial Airlines and Air Labrador provide regular service within Newfoundland and Labrador. Air Labrador also offers flights through St. Anthony to many Labrador points, while Provincial Airlines also offers flights to St. Pierres French island.
Approximate travel times to St, Johns by air:Boston 3 hours Halifax 1 hour 30 min.
There are a year-round vehicle and passenger ferry service provided by between North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. The crossing time is about 6 hours.
From mid-June to mid-September, an additional ferry operates between North Sydney and Argentia in eastern Newfoundland (45 kilometres from Route 1 and 131 kilometres from St. Johns. The crossing time is 12-14 hours.
Lastly, there is a coastal boat service from St. Anthony to some 40 isolated villages as far North as Nain, Labrador. The one-way trip takes about 12 days, and the freighter service does not carry cars.
How To Get To St Johns Newfoundland
There are multiple ways to get to St. Johns depending on your mode of transportation. The city can be reached by car from anywhere in the province with a well maintained main highway, the Trans Canada Highway, that connects major spots in the province. If driving through the Maritimes there is a year-round ferry that departs from Sydney, Nova Scotia and docks in Port aux Basques, which still requires driving to St. Johns.
The most common way to get to St. Johns is by flying with direct flights from many cities in Canada and the UK.
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Mingle With Locals At A Festival
St. Johns residents are extremely friendly and will welcome visitors with open arms to any of their festivals. Mingle with the locals and enjoy one of their fabulous and fun festivals or events.
There are festivals all year in the city, though the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, Royal St. Johns Regatta and Nickel Independent Film Festival are arguably the most popular of them all.
The St. Johns International Womens Film Festival is also great, especially if you are interested in independent films made by women. Other festivals include the George Street Festival, the Victoria Park Lantern Festival, the Festival of New Dance and Mardi Gras.
Explore Downtown St Johns
This is the historic core of the city, as well as being one of the most modern areas of St. Johns. It is an eclectic area that all visitors should explore.
Downtown St. Johns sits just north of the harbour. It is the entertainment, business and tourist centre of the city home to numerous restaurants, hotels and office buildings.
Walk down George Street at night to enjoy the citys nightlife or Water Street to enjoy shopping and dining. Water Street is also a National Historic Site of Canada, though there are other historic sites all over this area of the city.
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Reef Bay Trail In Virgin Islands National Park
There is more to St. John than just multiple, gorgeous beaches. And one of the must-dos is to explore Virgin Islands National Park on foot. There are numerous hiking opportunities in the park and the majority of the hikes are short and easy .
There are also some historical sites like the earlier-mentioned plantation ruins that you can discover along the trails. Its also a great opportunity to see all sorts of birds. The most popular trails for bird watching are the Salt Pond Trail and the Reef Bay Trail, which is considered the best hike on Saint John.
Reef Bay Trail is one of the longer and more strenuous hikes on Saint John, but it also offers the biggest variety of sights. Its an in-and-out steep hike of about 2.5 miles each way with a 900 ft elevation difference. You walk down to the sea and have to climb back up on your way back. Luckily, theres usually some breeze that makes it more bearable on the way back.
On the way, you pass various sugar plantation ruins, some of the oldest and tallest trees on the island, stone walls from cattle grazing, and ancient rock carvings by pre-Colombian Taino people. There is also a waterfall that is nicest during the rain season. At the end of the hike, you reach a secluded beach, where you can go swimming and snorkeling . Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins here are also not to be missed. You may also get lucky and see some birds and wild animals along the trail.
Where To Eat In St Johns
Theres no shortage of good restaurants in St. Johns and we highly recommend you try seafood when visiting anywhere in Newfoundland. Another popular thing in Newfoundland is wild game, such as rabbit and moose. We highly recommend talking to locals and getting ideas for where to eat. But to start you off, here are some popular options.
Terre Restaurant & Café: If you have the budget and are looking for the latest place in town, Terre Resaurant is a great place to check out. Located within the Alt Hotel, this restaurant serves up small unique dishes such as Grilled Quail, Raw Diver Scallops, and Beer Can Chicken for the Table. Keep in mind that the servings are quite small, so I would expect to budget close to $100 per person, maybe more if youre going to sip on one of their signature cocktails such as their Rhubarb Cosmo or Whisky Collins. Reservations are recommended.
Peaceful Loft: This is probably the first vegan restaurant I have ever eaten at but I am so happy we found this place. The owner is from Macau, China and absolutely loves Newfoundland. He might just be the friendliest person Ive ever met and just a pure joy to be around. He believes in good vibes, which is why he chooses vegan. No harm to any living thing. Even if you love meat like me, his food is excellent and he is a great guy to meet. Try the lotus paste buns. Mmmm. Located at 250 Duckworth Street.
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Blackhead One Room School
Located between downtown St. Johns and Cape Spear, the Blackhead One Room School is a beautifully restored school and church originally constructed in 1879.
The museums friendly guide offers visitors a tour of the school bell that the teacher would ring to call students to class and a choir of vintage wooden desks. A wealth of family history is stored in the genealogy exhibit, which includes a self-guided tour.
Blackhead One Room School operates seasonally from July to August 10am to 5pm, Thursday to Monday. Tours available upon request year round.
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