One Day in St. John’s, Newfoundland

All types of travellers are bound to find wonderful things to see and do in Newfoundland – but what if you only had one day?

There’s a likely chance you’ll want to visit the oldest city in North America and the province’s capital city, St. John’s. Whether you’re in on a conference or your planning a multi-week tour around the area, you don’t want to miss these spots in St. John’s and the Avalon Peninsula:

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Jelly Bean Row – these brightly coloured homes throughout the city are a result of a long tradition where fishermen painted their boats to match the colour of their house as a means of identification. You can still find this practice is some of the smaller villages.

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Signal Hill & Cabot Tower – if you’ve ever watched the Canadian Heritage Moments, you’ll know that Signal Hill is where the first telecommunication transmission from North America travelled “through the air and across the ocean for the first time ever” reaching Europe in 1901. From here you can fantastic view of the city scape, the narrows and the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Rooms – A hub for art, culture and history The Rooms are not to be missed. Enjoy a snack at the cafe on the fourth floor and take in the gorgeous view overlooking the city and harbour.

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Quidi Vidi – This historic fishing village, now a St. John’s neighbourhood, is home to Newfoundland & Labrador’s largest microbrewery, Quidi Vidi Brewing. Quidi Vidi Harbour – known to locals as “The Gut” – is regularly active with local fishing operations.

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Cape Spear – known for being the easternmost point in North America (excluding the Danish-governed Greenland), Cape Spear is a hot spot for shore-side whale watching. During certain times of the year you can even see the puffin, Newfoundland’s provincial bird.

The Regatta – one of the oldest recorded sporting events in North America, the annual Royal St John’s Regatta draws over 50,000 people to Quidi Vidi lake on the first Wednesday in August. Carnival games, local artisans and street-food line the shores of the lake from first thing in the morning to late at night.

Local Tips

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Favourite Souvenir: Nonia on Water Street has the best selection of Salt & Pepper hats. You’re sure to find a gift for anyone in their selection of wool goods – and you’ll be supporting one of over 175 Newfoundland knitters.

Favourite Place to Grab a Brew: YellowBelly Brewery is a multi-level gastropub offering beer for every palate with a deliciously-tailored menu. If beer is not for you, the basement houses a speakeasy with some talented mixologists.

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Favourite Bakery: Rocket Bakery & Fresh Foods always has line but don’t let that deter you from trying the quiche, the sausage rolls, the salads, the bread, or anything else for that matter. Where the trays are actually baking sheets and the food is just like Mom’s, Rocket uses fresh ingredients and is never light on butter.

Favourite Coffee House: Fixed Coffee & Baking – this artisan coffee shop brews one single-origin coffee a day and serves it to your taste. The baristas are always on-point with their coffee art skills, but the bagels are what you really want to go in for.

Hidden Gem

Take a hike around Signal Hill on the North Head Trail. Be sure to wear sneakers as there are some trickier areas. It’s a 1.7km hike and 500 ft descend from Signal Hill to the Battery – including a pass by Chain Rock (I bet you can guess what that is).

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L’escargot

A few years ago, I experienced my first bus tour with Contiki. My friend Nicole and I packed our bags and headed to Europe for an intense 11 day European Horizon tour. It was one of the most “memorable” trips of my life. Our Australian tour guide spoke about history, culture and adventure. We experienced Dachau – the first Nazi concentration camp, Kultfabrik – a village of bars – and everything in between.

At the end, I looked back and thought about all of the crazy things we had done. We started every day on the bus – whether it was 5:30am or 8:00am – with Flo Rida’s Wild Ones blasting over the speakers. One of the best moments was sitting in a little restaurant in the heart of Paris with the group of 40 travellers. The servers came out with trays of escargot, blue cheese and champagne – real champagne. Must like Mary-Kate Olsen’s observation in It Takes Two, the escargot tasted like a garlic brushed balloon.

The blue cheese – something that I enjoy now thanks to this experiment – was unavoidable. Our servers pushed us to place a small crumble of blue cheese on our tongue and chase it with champagne. What a feeling – it was like a rollercoaster of sensation – smooth, sharp, sweet and savoury. To this day, I have yet to recreate the culinary combination of blue cheese and champagne but I remember it well.