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Travel to the Edge of Canada for a Weekend in This Cool City

What to eat, see and do in St. John’s, N.L.

Cute boats and little white, brown and red buildings line the coast of St. John's, Newfoundland

St. John’s, N.L., may be at the far east of Canada, but it’s a hub of great music and shopping, and even better food. Here’s the best way to spend a weekend there.

Day 1: Go iceberg hunting

Icebergs near the coast of St. John's, Newfoundland 

Check in at the stylish Alt Hotel St. John’s overlooking the busy harbour. Head to Fixed Coffee & Baking for partridgeberry squares and something caffeinated before an Iceberg Quest boat trip to look for icebergs, humpback whales, puffins and seabirds.

If you return hungry, fine-dining institution Raymonds has tasting menus showcasing locally foraged and sourced ingredients, but head chef Jeremy Charles also helms buzzy Merchant Tavern, where vinegar pie with Tetley tea ice cream is a must. Do a music crawl along pub-packed George Street, taking a small detour to Water Street and the intimate Black Sheep, which features live bands daily.

Day 2: Explore historic spots

A man with a beanie and two women sit inside an adorable historical spot enjoying delicious food 

Start the day in Quidi Vidi, a historic fishing neighbourhood, for brunch at Mallard Cottage, where the cod cakes are divine and the cake table is delicious temptation. Wander over to Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. for their Iceberg Beer and to Quidi Vidi Village Plantation to see artisans at work in tiny studios that double as shops.

Climb up to Signal Hill National Historic Site for a little military history, then hike the North Head Trail down rocky terrain back to the hotel. Linger over dinner at Chinched, especially local mussels or charcuterie and the signature pig-ear “fries” tossed in buffalo sauce.

Day 3: Check out the iconic colourful houses

Red, blue, yellow, light blue and pink buildings line a street with iconic colourful houses in St. Johns 

Wake up before dawn to watch the sunrise from Cape Spear Lighthouse at the eastern edge of Canada, then explore The Rooms. It’s the province’s largest public cultural space—and also has a wonderful café. Then find Jellybean Row, which is slang for any cluster of colourful houses. The nickname stems from an iconic tourism campaign that used three Kimberly Row houses, but homes along Prescott and Gower streets are now the most photographed.

Next, browse the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador, a gallery and shop featuring work from artists across the province, plus bakeapple jam from Dark Tickle Co. Or shop Posie Row & Co., a collective of local businesses housed in one four-storey building. If it seems strange to have a final East Coast meal at a tapas bar, order the croquetas de bacalao and brandada de bacalao made from local salt cod at Boca, and it will all make sense.

This story originally appeared in the spring 2019 edition of CAA Magazine.

Looking for more East Coast ideas?

Watch our video about what to do along the Bay of Fundy coast and read about unique spots in P.E.I.

Image Credits: Courtesy Of Newfoundland And Labrador Tourism, Gregor Bender/Getty Images, Courtesy Of Mallard Cottage, © Copyright Barrett & Mackay Photo