If you only have one day in Newfoundland you are either on an extended lay-over, or you have finished up a conference with a little bit of downtime.
Either way odds are you’re in St John’s.
You may have already seen some of the cities sites with your conference, such as the Rooms, Signal Hill, maybe even the Geology Centre (if not they’d be my first go-to for your day).
If you’re keen to explore a bit out of the city, I would suggest heading over to Quidi Vidi. This small and colourful bay is walking distance from downtown, yet it has the look and feel of a remote outport. If you’re not looking to stretch your legs you can easily grab a cab for around $20 each way.
Quidi Vidi is home to the Quidi Vidi Brewery, Newfoundland’s most famous craft brewery, where you can sample delicious ales and lagers, including the Iceberg Beer, made with water harvested from Icebergs.
After a beer I would recommend heading to the Quidi Vidi Plantation. This beautifully restored fish plantation has been converted into a number of workshops that are home to local artists. The open concept building offers an opportunity to walk around the ground floor exhibit, or wander upstairs to the individual workshops where you may both purchase handmade crafts, or simply watch and learn as the masters are at work.
If you’re lucky enough to have wheels, you should take a drive out to Cape Spear to watch the sunrise. The most easterly point in North America, this National Historic Site is a fantastic place to get some fresh sea air, climb on old canons, and watch out for whales. The ocean is often calmer first thing, making whales and other sea life easier to spot.
If you’re not a morning person, being only 20 minute drive from downtown makes Cape Spear a beautiful spot any time of day.
1 Epic Day in Newfoundland:
Morning – Sunrise is at 5am, so if you’re keen for the morning at Cape Spear you’ll need to be up early!
Breakfast – After some fresh air you’ll want breakfast, and nowhere beats The Rocket Bakery for delicious sandwiches and coffee.
Before lunch – Take a walk or a drive up Signal Hill, or head into the Rooms Gallery.
Lunch – For a delicious vegan option check out The Sprout ($$). If you’re looking for a second, and much larger breakfast, you may be interested in the Bagel Cafe ($$). Alternatively for a light and delicious option in a local hot-spot head to the Georgetown Cafe and Bookshelf ($). The bakery across the road also has delicious treats, should you wish to take snacks on your afternoon walk.
After Lunch – Head to Quidi Vidi. From downtown the walk is 3kms and will take you roughly 40mins. The brewery has scheduled tours so make sure to check with them for times as they have been known to vary. Without a tour you can only get into the gift shop, so be sure to get there on time!
After a beer head to the plantation, meet some cool artists, and buy your friends back home some cool handmade crafts. Also, take some cool pictures. Quidi Vidi is seriously beautiful.
Dinner – Depending on your budget, there are lots of options in St John’s for a delicious dinner. Perhaps the Adelaide Oyster House ($$) on Water Street, with its fresh seafood, delicious cocktails, and craft beer, will entice you. Or if you’re looking for a very classy evening in a heritage building, Raymond’s ($$$) by the War Memorial may be more your style. Though keep in mind for dinner at the award winning Raymond’s Restaurant you will need to book well in advance (I’m talking months) and may need to comply with their dress code.
If you’re more interested in cheap and cheerful then maybe International Flavours ($) on Quidi Vidi road is for you. This family run restaurant feels less like dining out, and more like having dinner at your friend’s house. With one chef in the back, your menu is simple: Lamb, Chicken, or Veg. Once chosen you are handed a plate full of a delicious assortment of traditional Indian curries, just like mom used to make. If your mom was from Kerala. They only make one big pot a day and once it’s gone, it’s gone, so be sure to get their early.
For the veggies and vegans among us, all of these restaurants will happily accommodate. But if you’re looking for something catering specifically to your tastes, you should try out The Peaceful Loft ($) on Duckworth Street. This amazing restaurant from Macau China recreates popular Chinese dishes with meatless alternatives. “I’ll take one BBQ Pork please, but hold the Pork!” Truly delicious, and run by the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. They do take reservations, and can fill up, so don’t be surprised if they turn you away at 7pm because they’re full for the night.
After Dinner – Head to George Street for a drink, check out some live music at The Ship Pub, and go get screeched in at Christian’s!
Quick Coffee: Jumping Bean – various locations, all delicious.
Lunch with a view: Rooms Cafe – delicious fare that rises high above the city, the perfect lunch spot when already in the Gallery as it requires admission into the Rooms.
Seasonal Specials: The Reluctant Chef – dinner menu changes daily based on the morning market.
Fish and Chips: Ches’s – traditional and delicious available at multiple locations.
Pizza: PI – amazing Italian hidden on King’s rd by the War Memorial.
Quirky Bar: The Under Belly – underneath the Yellow Belly Brewery, this part-bar-part-cave offers whiskey and home-brew.
Bit more time up your sleeve?
Why not head to the East Coast Trail for an afternoon hike?
One addition I would make to your trip if you have a little bit more time in St John’s is to try one of the shorter segments of the East Coast Trail. This amazing network of hikes provides uninterrupted views of the East Coast of Newfoundland, offering great whale and seabird viewing opportunities. Many of the trails also weave through outport communities, both current and abandoned, provided a great opportunity to learn about Newfoundland’s complex history.
Two sections we can recommend are:
# 1 The Cape Spear Path, that heads to Maddox Cove. This 10km linear trail can be done either in part, or in its entirety depending on how far you’re wanting to go. Beginning at Cape Spear, the path descends onto a boardwalk through boglands, where you have the chance to see the provincial flower: the carnivorous Pitcher Plant. From the marsh lands the trail follows Motion Bay entering a wooded area before coming into Maddox Cove.
Maddox cove is only 15mins by car from St John’s so if you’re not interested in walking back, you may be able to arrange a taxi collection.
# 2 Beginning about an hour drive from St John’s, the La Manche Village Path is a 5km linear trail that links hikers to the abandoned community of La Manche through a beautiful forest trail. There are many points of interest along this trail, including an impressive 45 metre suspension bridge.