This year our national neighbors to the north celebrate their 150th anniversary and we’ll be celebrating with them as they do. Each month we’ll focus on one part of their magnificent country and share it with you. From the sky-high trees and brown bears in British Columbia to the kitchen parties and salmon streams in the Maritimes, our toast to Canada will give you well over 150 reasons to make this the year you take the trip. This month we’re exploring tiny towns and Viking lore in Newfoundland.
Canada 150: Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador are having a moment.
Canada’s easternmost province has long attracted nature lovers, but in recent years its popularity has grown to include a big pop-culture following as well.
From the jet setting, celebrity clientele that have developed a passion for the decadent pleasures of Fogo Island, to the art lovers who fell in love with Tony-Award winning musical Come from Away, the true-to-life depiction of Canadian compassion for those stranded after 9/11, tourists of all stripes are finding what they’re after on The Rock.
Whether you choose to explore Gander, St. John’s, or Bonavista in the east; the French Shore, Corner Brook, or Norris Point in the west; or the rocky coast of its provincial partner Labrador in the north, the only thing you’ll find is missing is enough time to see it all on one visit.
The City: St. John’s
If there is such a thing as a big city vibe in Newfoundland, St. John’s is it. The province’s capital city is also the country’s oldest. Wander its narrow streets, pop into the shops run by locals, and enjoy the city as an easy entry point to all things maritime. Hike Signal Hill for views that have stood the test of time. Succumb to the fishing-town feel of historic Quidi Vidi Village Plantation. Or wander along Jellybean Row—so named for the brightly colored houses that dot the waterfront. Your big-city fixes will come by way of the incredible art at The Rooms (the province’s largest public cultural space, and home to the provincial art gallery), fantastic dining (try Mallard Cottage and Raymonds) and local pubs on George Street that are perfect place to get your official welcome to Newfoundland—a “pucker your lips and kiss the cod” Screech-in.
Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Go
Weather and space: It’s cooler than you might find in other areas of the country this month, but not so cold that you’ll need your mitts and boots. Fall offers smaller crowds and greater access to some of the destinations that are hotbeds for summertime visitors.
Family Favorites: If you’re traveling with little ones, you’ll be rewarded with plenty of options to keep them engaged. At the Bonne Bay Marine Centre in Norris Point, they can get hands-on with a giant sea snail or spiny urchin. The teaching and research center operated by Memorial University is a great educational opportunity and at the Newfoundland Insectarium, where exotic butterflies and insects from around the world make for a fun-filled afternoon.
Road Trips: Fall weather is perfect for a scenic drive out along the Viking Trail, where you can stop and explore the small towns on the Western Shore, home to incredible stories of individuals who sacrificed, made bold decisions, and affected an entire province. Among the must-sees: The Greenfell Interpretation Center, a museum and home in Saint Anthony that tells the story of the English doctor whose life’s work was to improve the medical care to the area’s impoverished coastal inhabitants. His efforts eventually led to the creation of hospitals, schools, and orphanages across the region. Also worth a peek is The Bennett House, a registered heritage structure in Daniel’s Harbour that was the home of Nurse Myra Bennet, the “Florence Nightingale of the North.” This intrepid woman was the only medical professional for a nearly 200-mile range for more than 50 years.
The Quirky Fun of the French Shore: Continue the history lessons in the tiny town of Conche at the French Shore Interpretation Centre, where the French Shore Tapestry—an over 200-foot long, hand-embroidered panel—tells the history of the region with all the humorous and rambunctious style Newfoundland is known for.
Lighthouse Visits: Each lighthouse that dots the shoreline of the island has their own incredible story and many even allow you to venture inside to learn about the families who originally ran them. Such as Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse on the edge of Gros Morne National Park in beautiful Rocky Harbour (built in 1897) and the Rose Blanche Lighthouse (just east of Port aux Basques), which are sure to be favorites.
Why It’s Great Other Times of Year
The Water: With waves crashing all around the coastal harbors, travelers should make a point to get out on the water. BonTours on Bonne Bay offer fantastic views of the national park, as…