Top 10 things to do in Newfoundland & Labrador
One thing an around the world trip will teach you is just how much you have NOT seen in your very own backyard. On our RTW trip, we saw some of the most spectacular sites across the globe, but now, more than ever, we realize how much we took for granted the beauty of our home, Newfoundland and Labrador. Having said that, we know we are not alone.
Maybe we were meant to wait until we could visit and have a greater appreciation for it, which is why in the coming years, we will be experiencing the following amazing things Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer… and you should too.
1. Gros Morne National Park and the Tablelands – West Coast
I’ve been to 37 countries and have spent 2/3 of my life living in Newfoundland and Labrador and have yet to visit Gros Morne National Park. For this, I’m embarrassed. Located on the west coast of the province, Gros Morne’s fjords are spectacular, as is the view from Table Mountain (so I’ve seen in pictures!). When visiting, please don’t just drive through, get out and hike, kayak, canoe, camp and really experience the park. I still have some research to do before I visit this year to ensure I make the most of it.
2. Kayaking with humpback whales – Avalon
Stan Cook Sea Kayaking is a go-to in NL for adventure kayaking on the east coast. Time it right and you’ll paddle alongside whales and icebergs, just a short drive from St. John’s.
3. Iceberg viewing – Twillingate
Tourists flock to NL to see icebergs, but most stay near St. John’s and although I cannot speak from experience, the beautiful, six-hour drive to Twillingate is worth it for the iceberg sighting experience. Massive chunks of ice the size of office buildings sit just a stone’s throw off shore.
4. Hike the East Coast Trail – Avalon Peninsula
This 250 + kilometre East Coast Trail stretches along the rugged coast of the North Atlantic Ocean with ‘umpteen’ routes in varying lengths and difficulties. You can even start your hike from downtown St. John’s.
5. A day (or night) at the beach – Province wide
Yes, our province is known for its spectacular rugged and rocky coastline, but there are some pristine beaches that rival the Caribbean in beauty (unfortunately the water temps do not). There are quite a few secluded beaches scattered throughout the province, so be sure to find the nearest one to you on your next visit or holiday. If you don’t want to venture far from St. John’s, check out Salmon Cove Sands or Northern Bay Sands in Conception Bay!
6. Signal Hill – St. John’s
An absolute must here. Drive, or better yet, hike to the top of signal hill and visit Cabot Tower where the first Trans-Atlantic wireless transmission was received from Cornwall, England in 1901. While up there check out the view of St. John’s below, then ponder across the pond toward Europe, which, by the way, you cannot see on a clear day (although it’s only a 4 hour direct flight with Westjet!).
7. Cape Spear – St. John’s
The most easterly point in North America. You cannot get any closer to Europe when you are here. The famous light house and the relentless waves pounding the red rocks on the coast are simply breathtaking.
8. Shamrock City Pub – St. John’s
OK. This is one if my favourite things to do in St. John’s; have a pint or two at Shamrock City on Water Street. I like to go before the crowd shows up and when the live band is just getting under way. You can enjoy your pint(s) and manage to chat with your friends while listening to traditional Newfoundland music. It really is an authentic St John’s experience.
9. Fogo Island Inn
How would you like to spend a night behind floor to ceiling windows with nothing but the crashing waves of the cold, North Atlantic Ocean in front of and ‘below’ you? Well you can do just that at the architectural masterpiece that is Fogo Island Inn. I have not stayed here, in fact I first heard of it in Air Canada’s En Route magazine. The hotel and it’s restaurant have won numerous awards and if you are looking for the ultimate retreat, this might be just the place.
10. Dine at St. John’s many award-winning restaurants
Don Cherry recently put Mallard Cottage in the spotlight after making some off the cuff comments about Ron Maclean enjoying a seal burger prepared there. I have not eaten here yet, but this place has been all the rage on Facebook, so it’s gotta be good right? They serve up traditional NL dishes in an idyllic location in Quidi Vidi Village.
Raymond’s: We have eaten here and what I remember the most is the peas pudding stuffed ravioli. We were a little hesitant at first, but after tasting, we were embarrassed to have doubted chef Jeremy Charles for even a second. Raymond’s is on the pricier side, but definitely worth a birthday or anniversary visit.
If you are looking for a casual dining experience with lovely staff, great coffee and delicious food, check out Rocket Bakery on Water St. The fish cakes are a must and a go-to for Jess every time we come home for a visit (they are also gluten-free!).
I could go on forever about the culinary scene in St. John’s, it’s come a long way over the last 5-10 years. One last plug, the mussels at Yellowbelly Brewery are amazing!
This is MY list, based on what I would most like to see and do (and eat!)
What are your favourite things to see and do in Newfoundland? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: Special Thank You to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism for use of their amazing photos that so accurately represent the beauty of the province. Visit www.newfoundlandlabrador.com for more information.