Eastern Newfoundland: A Road-Tripper’s Guide

Many tourists book their tickets to St. John’s or Deer Lake or Gander, and then announce that they’ve set aside a week to “see Newfoundland.” Newfoundland, for the record, is huge. Not huge like Paris is a huge city, huge like it will take all day (if you start early) to get from one side to the other and there are actually things to see in the middle so you can’t just ‘do it’ in seven days.

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View of the Battery, St. John’s, from Fort Amherst

That being said, there are plenty of things to do and see in seven days, and if you divide up the province, they can even be done well. This itinerary will cover the easternmost side of Newfoundland to get a taste for the cosmopolitan city life, as well as the small-town, quaint bits.

St. John’s

Fly into St. John’s International Airport, located about 20 minutes from downtown. If you’re lucky, the pilot will take you the scenic route, coming in over the ocean and the cliffs. Spend at least three nights in the city, if you can, to have enough time to see the sights, particularly if hiking is part of your plans. Take in various outdoor activities, including Signal Hill (from the Battery walk, and via the road) and Quidi Vidi Lake. Watch the sunrise from Cape Spear, the easternmost point in Canada, or coming in the fall to see the leaves at Rennie’s River Trail and Bowering Park.

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Have brunch at Yellow Belly Brewery or the Fifth Ticket on Water Street, pick up souvenirs and local goods in the independent shops on Duckworth Street, and take in a show at LSPU Hall or at the Arts and Culture Centre. Dinner at Get Stuffed, Blue on Water, The Fish Exchange, or any of the other many restaurants downtown will leave you satisfied with local flavours and products, many of which are sourced directly from the producers, farmers, and fishermen.

Visit The Rooms museum for Newfoundland history, and the Craft Council on Duckworth for locally, and lovingly, made arts and crafts. Visit one of the many historical churches in downtown St. John’s, and get your picture taken in front of the jellybean-coloured row houses (just head up from Duckworth, away from the harbour, toward Gower Street, King’s Road, or others). And if boats agree with you (they don’t with me) by all means head down to the harbour and take one of the highly thought of tours to see icebergs, whales, and various other oceanic sights. Let me know how it is – I’ll be on land with a coffee (at Coffee Matters, Fixed, or The Rocket!).

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Spend a day touring the Avalon Peninsula. From St. John’s, you are minutes from Middle Cove, Outer Cove, and Topsail Beach. Various East Coast Trail starting points dot the peninsula – visit their website for these details.

Trinity

You’ll want at least two nights in Trinity, to accommodate both day trips and the various activities in town. The main highlight of Trinity is Rising Tide Theatre Festival, a summer festival of Newfoundland classics and historical pieces, featuring a majority of Newfoundland actors. Spend a day at the Festival to take in the Pageant – a roving theatrical production outlining the history of Trinity and the surrounding area – the dinner theatre,  and a main stage production in the evening. If you wish to meet the actors, or locals, they can most likely be found at the pub – you’ll find it. Trinity Coffee Company is roasting small batch coffee in a very small town, and you’ll want to pick one up before heading off on the Skerwink Trail, near Port Rexton, an award-winning hike with spectacular views of the ocean, cliffs, wildlife and sea stacks.

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Accommodations in and around Trinity are lovely, and limited – so book early, particularly if you’re traveling in August and September. Stay right in Trinity at the Artisan Inn, or at Fisher’s Loft in Port Rexton, just a few minutes down the road from town.

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Port Union

This historical town plays an interesting and important role in Newfoundland’s past, and the Fisherman’s Protective Union. The entire town appears locked in the early 1900’s. Tour the factory building and see the printing press, as well as archived pieces and historical tools and household items in the museum. The surrounding area is picturesque and worth visiting once you have explored the town itself.

 

Elliston

One of the highlights of Newfoundland is wildlife. If you didn’t get a chance to see any puffins on your boat tour in St. John’s or Trinity, don’t miss a stop at Elliston. Bring your own binoculars, or, once you’ve parked your car on the side of the road, borrow a pair once you get there. You will be able to see the puffins – birds smaller than you might imagine – on the adjacent rock. Bring a blanket, or sit in the grass and enjoy the view. Stay all day if you wish – it’s not remotely corporate, and no one will ask you to leave. Traveling to Eastern Newfoundland - One Red Phone Box Travel Blog

Bonavista

Bonavista is day-tripping distance from Trinity, or another spot worth spending a night, depending on your schedule. First on the agenda is a tour of the Matthew, a replica of John Cabot’s ship, appropriately located at his first landing place. From Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site, you may be able to spot an iceberg, and you’ll get a taste of Newfoundland history in the quaint downtown.

Take in the cliffs, the fishing boats, and the rugged coastline, before heading twenty minutes down the coast in the direction of Newman’s Cove to Bonavista Social Club at Amherst’s Cove for lunch (open during the summer, only). The self-sufficient restaurant produces and grows their own products for breads, soups, salads, and pizzas.

Even more?

Eastern Newfoundland

If you manage to cover this segment of Newfoundland in a week, you’ll have been very successful (and potentially overwhelmed). But, if you still want more, carry on west to Gander, Fogo Island, Twilingate, and Terra Nova National Park. I would recommend taking as much time as you possibly can free up to see as much of the province as possible. Nothing you see will be remotely close to mediocre, and may even make you question your eyesight. Seeing that many cool things in a week can have that effect.

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Autumn in Bowring Park, St. John’s Newfoundland

Sorry everyone. This whole full-time student meets blogger life is getting away from me, and so the schedule has gone out the window! But with an influx of American readers this morning – hi guys! – I thought it was time to share some of the gems of Newfoundland- an underpopulated, natural wonder. Plus, I don’t leave the house any more, so I have to dig back in the archives for some adventures to share with you (36 days to end of term!).

This past Thanksgiving weekend (that’s in October here in Canada – a decent amount of time from Christmas) we finally got the chance to visit Bowring Park, right here in St. John’s. I know, you’d think having lived here for almost three years now I would’ve been able to get there, but without a car in this lovely city there are some things that are almost impossible.

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Autumn is of course one of the most beautiful times to visit Newfoundland. September whether is almost always somewhat kind of predictably occasionally sunny, the leaves are turning (before they get snowed on) and everything smells like the ocean. Approximately 5 km from downtown St. John’s, Bowring Park is accessible by bus, but of course easier by car! The 200 acre park is connected with the Grand Concourse, a network of 125km of walking trails all across the city. This is not to be confused with Bannerman Park, in the heart of St. John’s, which is also excellent but very much not the same thing (I make this mistake every. single. day).

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During your visit, don’t forget to feed the ducks at the pond, and visit the Peter Pan statue, the Caribou Monument and Beaumont Hamel Memorial, see the swans, and peek over all of the bridges.

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Spending winter break in St. John’s? Try these activities in the city! 

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Leaf-Spotting in St. John’s

If you follow One Red Phone Box on Instagram, you’ll have seen a whole whack of photos of a magical place that actually resembles fall scenery, and you will not have believed that they are actually pictures of Newfoundland. St. John’s autumns usually go something like summer-summer-summer-snow, with a glimpse of autumn leafery before the ice and sleet and fog and flurries cover them all up. This year we have had real, honest to goodness fall weather, with days warm enough to be outside. The trees aren’t confused, and the city looks good. Novel.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram (@oneredphonebox), firstly whyever not?! and secondly, here are some of the photos you have been missing, plus extras of the beautiful fall scenery and the Rennie’s River Trail in St. John’s.

St. John's Leaf Spotting, Newfoundland Canada

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Want to see more of this beautiful city? Try these outdoorsy things in St. John’s!

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St. John’s: Top 6 Winter Study Breaks

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Where is your favourite leaf-spotting location? Leave us a note in the comments!

 

Don’t Visit St. John’s Without Doing these Three Outdoorsy Things

St. John’s, Newfoundland: the edge of the world, the eastern-most tip of Canada, and one of the most picturesque places in North America. There are enough views and experiences to have in this gorgeous city to keep you going for days – and many weeks if you want to visit the rest of the province. But don’t leave Newfoundland’s historic capital city without doing these three outdoorsy things!

Hike the Battery trail up Signal Hill, and take the road back down:

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The Battery trail leads walkers through a small neighbourhood, and then onto the rocks at the entrance to the harbour.

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As you can see, the views are spectacular, and you may catch sight of a ship coming in, guided through the Narrows by a pilot boat. On the way back down from Signal Hill, go via the road to enjoy the ponds and the Geocentre, and maybe find some wild blueberries.

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Go to Quidi Vidi Village and the Artists’ Plantation:

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Completely walkable, the loop around Quidi Vidi Lake and then to the village proper is a classic St. John’s experience. Get your sports and your art all in one day – take in the Regatta on the lake, and then get a taste of Newfoundland art and speak to the artisans at the Artists’ Plantation in Quidi Vidi.

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Walk part of the Rennie’s River Trail:

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The City of St. John’s is covered with trail systems, and the Rennie’s River Trail is my favourite.

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Accessible from many places throughout the city, I particularly like the section between Bonaventure Avenue and Kings Bridge Road.

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