If I had to choose just one place to recommend all Canadians visit it would be Newfoundland. Newfoundland's beauty cannot be summed up in a few words. You will feel the strength of the Long Range Mountains, and the depth of the fjords. You will breathe in the rugged beauty of the water crashing against the rocky shores. You will soak in the bustle of St. John's and sigh as you walk along Jelly Bean Row. But most importantly you will feel at once at home wherever you are in Newfoundland and with whomever you speak. Because at the core of what makes Newfoundland such an amazing place is it's people. If what you are looking for is relaxation go somewhere else but if you want adventure, to explore something new and exciting, to see mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, to stand in the spot where Canada begins & ends all at once. Go to Newfoundland.
This was our crazy Itinerary, we only 7 days and wanted to see as much as possible. I'd recommend 10 days if you were doing this trip, or if you are adventurous and your kids are good travelers you can do what we did.
With this itinerary, you're hitting several of the top tourist destinations without having to spend too much time driving each day. It also helps to be staying in the one area for more than one night so you don't always have to pack up and leave again!
Day 1 - Exploring St. John's
We stayed at the beautiful Sheraton St. Johns, which had some great restaurants, walking distance to one of the largest kids playground and splash pad I've ever seen, and a great pool. This was the view from our room. Stunning, yes?
Begin the day with brunch at one of the many local restaurants with kid friendly menus like Bagel Café, Blue on Water, or Smitty's.
Visit some of the main tourist attractions the oldest City in North America has to offer like; Signal Hill, The Rooms Museum, The Basilica Cathedral, Commissariat Provincial Historic Site, Johnson Geo Centre and the Railway Coastal Museum, or the MUN Botanical Gardens. We chose Signal Hill. My recommendation is to go in the later part of the day so you can view stunning sunsets.
In the evenings the Ghost of the Hill Series run, where you can join the dashing Lieutenant Ranslaer Schuyler by lamplight inside the historic Queen’s Battery Barracks on Signal Hill. Step inside, take your seat, and prepare for the thrills and chills as local lore and legends unfold. At the end of the stories the cannons go off. We walked around the area, the other lieutenant that was outside told us some history of the area. I recommend the full activity for families without little ones, but the modified version worked really well for us.
About 10 minutes away from Signal Hill is Petty Harbour, where you can visit the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium which has several touch tanks so the kids can actually hold many different sea creatures. This is a small aquarium but it is worth the visit. The best part is that all the fish are caught in the spring and then released back to the ocean in the fall. Have you ever seen a blue or gold lobster? We did!
After Petty Harbour, continue driving until you reach Cape Spear which is the most Easterly Point in North America. Standing in the spot was such an amazing feeling. I think the best part was that we did it as a family. The weather changes quickly here so you'll want to have your winter stuff in the car just in case :). When we left St. John's we were in shorts.
Day 2 - The Irish Loop
The boat tours in Bay Bulls or Witless Bay is said to be one of the best whale watching and puffin viewing areas in the Province. We did a tour with O'Brien's Whale and Bird Tours. Matthew was our guide and he did a fantastic job of keeping us entertained throughout the tour. We didn't see any whales but learning about the puffins and seeing them up close was awesome! They were much smaller than I anticipated.
In the afternoon we visited the Cape Race Lighthouse which has one of the most powerful lights in the world.
Day 3 - Trinity Bay
We drove approximately 3 hours (270kms) Northwest to Trinity
where we visited some of the local historic attractions like the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Cooperage, the Green Family Forge, The Hiscock House Provincial Historic Site, The Mercantile Building Provincial Historic Site. It's a very small village but was worth the visit, as we wanted to explore as much of Newfoundland as possible.
On our way we saw a sign for Dungeon Provincial Park, how could we not do a detour. We spent much of the time exploring the area which is fascinating. If you are lucky the horses will stop by and visit you.
After exploring around the park we went drove around the air and visited the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse - Provincial Historic Site.
We rented through Airbnb for our accommodations as there are only a few Bed & Breakfasts in this area and they were all sold out.
Day 4 - Twillingate
We really wanted to see icebergs so we drove about 4 hours (310kms) to Twillingate (The Iceberg Capital of the World) just in case there were any sightings, but alas they were all melted.
Even though we didn't see any icebergs it was absolutely worth the drive though because this area is stunning! Very rugged and beautiful. The food was amazing! Some of the freshest fish and chips and other fish dishes I ever had was from here.
In the evening we took a blanket and dinner down by the beach (mostly rocks) and listened to the water crashing against the shore. We rented through Airbnb again and I cannot tell you how accommodating and lovely our hosts where. They set up a bonfire for us on the beach. My daughter collects seaglass and when the host found out she gave my daughter her collection.
There is lots to do in this small town such as the Beothuk Interpretation Centre Provincial Historic Site, the Long Point Lighthouse, the Moreton's Harbour Museum, the Twillingate Museum, or any of the local walking trails
If you are able to, consider taking a day trip to Fogo Island and Change Islands (this is where you will see the Newfoundland Pony Refuge), it's only an hour drive east to Farewell where you can catch the ferry.
Day 6 - Gros Morne National Park
Our last leg of the trip! We drove about 4.5 hours (426kms) to Rocky Harbour which is at the beginning of Gros Morne National Park.
We spent the afternoon taking the spectacular Western Brook Pond Boat Tour through the glacial fjords in the Park. This is a must!
Some other options in the area are: the Bonne Bay Marine Station, the Cow Head Lighthouse, the Jacob A. Crocker House, the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, the Mattie Mitchell National Historic Site, etc. OR visit some of the local sandy beaches along the coast (some options include Shallow Bay near Cow Head or the beach located in Trout River - which happens to be located next to an excellent seafood restaurant)
Day 7 - Gros Morne National Park / Corner Brook
We spent the morning exploring the Tablelands Trail (this trail is very easy for beginner hikers and children as it's only 2 hours to complete and isn't extremely elevated), it's one of the most unique trails in the Park
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and preparing to head to Port Aux Basque where we would board the ferry and make out back to to Nova Scotia.
Newfoundland, we cannot wait to see you again.