St. John’s is the capital and largest city of the province. It is also the oldest city in North America! Because of this, it has a long history and was an important part of Canada’s growth. St. John’s is a cultural center, and this, along with its long history, has made it one of the world’s most popular oceanside tourist spots. Also, its buildings are very different from those in the rest of the country.
There are museums, historic sites, and parks in the city, as well as some beautiful scenery. Basically, no matter what you’re interested in, St. John’s is a great place to find what you’re looking for.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 things to do in St. John’s:
1. Learn about the culture
The Provincial Art Gallery, the Provincial Museum, and the Provincial Archives are all in the same building, called The Rooms. The beautiful building is on a hill with a view of the city, so it can be seen almost anywhere.
Go to The Rooms and you’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of culture. Look at Canadian art made after 1960 as you walk around the Provincial Art Gallery.
Walk through the Provincial Museum, which is all about the province’s cultural and natural history. The Provincial Archives are on the third level. There, you can look at photos, fishing records, British War records, and ship log books, among other things.
2. Look around the center of St. John’s
This is one of the most modern parts of St. John’s, as well as the oldest part of the city. It is a diverse area that everyone should check out.
Just north of the harbor is downtown St. John’s. It is the city’s center for entertainment, business, and tourism. There are many restaurants, hotels, and office buildings there.
Walk down George Street at night to see what’s going on in the city, or walk down Water Street to shop and eat. Water Street is also a National Historic Site of Canada, but there are other historic sites all over this part of the city.
3. Go as far east as possible
Cape Spear is the easternmost point of North America. The Cape Spear Lighthouse, which is the oldest lighthouse in the province, is one of its main attractions.
The lighthouse is a national historic site and has a style of architecture that was very different for its time (it was built in1836). In 1955, the original light was used to rebuild the lighthouse.
During World War II, more changes were made to the area, and you can still see some of them today. The scenery is also very beautiful, which is another great reason to come here.
4. Enjoy a scenic drive
Rent a car and drive along the Killick Coast Trail for a scenic drive. Starting in Topsail, the 55-kilometer drive goes east along the south shore of Conception Bay to Cape St. Francis and ends just outside of St. John’s.
Pass through the town of Paradise until you reach Paradise Cove. From there, you can take a ferry to Bells Island, a historic mining town. From the island’s steep cliffs, you can see amazing views of Conception bay.
Follow Route 21 back to Paradise Cove and enjoy the beautiful scenery. At Pouch Cove, Route 21 meets Route 20. Another beautiful stretch will take you back to the city.
5. Go for a walk along the peninsula
On the Avalon Peninsula, the East Coast Trail is made up of different trails along the coast. There are a total of 26 trails, and the whole network of trails is more than 300 km long.
The length and difficulty of the trails vary, and they go through both historic towns and wild areas. Pass over a suspension bridge, through a provincial park, through ecological reserves, and over beautiful cliffs.
Plan your hike by going to the East Coast Trail website before you leave. Here, you can choose how hard you want your hike to be. It will then show you a list of trails that are right for that level.
6. Look around you
Signal Hill, which looks out over downtown St. John’s, is hard to miss if you are there. In fact, it is one of the most well-known places in the city.
Go to the top of the hill to see the city and the ocean in all their glory. At the top of the hill is the 19th-century Cabot Tower, which you should definitely check out.
Signal Hill also has the Signal Hill Tattoo, which has people dressed up in uniforms from 1795. Even more, the soldiers put on a show of drills and how to fight.
7. Go to the second largest church in Canada
St. John the Baptist Basilica-Cathedral
The Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was the biggest church in the country when it was built. It is now the second largest church in Canada.
In 1855, the church was finished, and it became a symbol of Roman Catholicism in Newfoundland. It is a beautiful basilica in the Lombard Romanesque style. It has a statue of “The Dead Christ” made of Carrara marble by the Irish sculptor John Hogan, the two-ton St. John Bell, and a great pipe organ from 1955.
In the Basilica Residence, there is a museum with religious art and artifacts, historic basilica artifacts, and furniture and decorations that used to be in the rooms of the residence. There are also pictures of St. John’s bishops and archbishops.
8. Take time to relax in a park
There are several in the city, but Bowring Park might be the most beautiful. The park is in a neighborhood called Waterford Valley, which is in the western part of the city.
The Peter Pan statue at the park’s entrance is one of the most important things about it. The statue is a copy of the original statue, which is in Kensington Gardens in London, England.
As you walk around the park, you can also see a lot of other statues. It also has a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a playground.
9. Learn about the Newfoundland Railway’s past.
The Railway Coastal Museum is in the historic Newfoundland Railway station. This museum about transportation opened in 2003. It has displays about the history of the Newfoundland Railway and the coastal boat service.
The museum shows the history of transportation in the province through models, posters, maps, and paintings. It also has a model of a passenger train from the 1940s.
At the Railway Coastal Museum, there is also a place just for kids. They can also have fun at the museum by playing with Lego, model trains, and going on a scavenger hunt.
10. Visit wine vaults
Behind the front of 436 Water Street, you would never guess that there are two great brick and stone vaulted wine cellars. The Newman Wine Vaults have been around since 1679.
After trying to get away from privateers on its way to England, a Portuguese ship carrying port wine ended up here. The port was put away in caves for the winter, and when spring came, it tasted and felt great.
The Newman Wine Vaults were then used to store Portuguese port while it aged. You can go to the vaults now and try some of the delicious port.