The Newfoundland Staycation Bucket List
This is the remix. When we were making our travel plans for 2020, Adam and I decided after our trip to Italy in May we would focus on Newfoundland & Labrador travel for the summer, but that was before COVID-19 exploded the entire globe’s travel plans. Clearly, our third trip to Italy never happened (we’re trying for spring 2021), but our Newfoundland staycation road trip plans are still in full swing. Let’s be real, Newfoundland and Labrador in the summertime is THE BEST! We actually get nice weather, there is a lot to do, plus it’s more important than ever that we support our local tourism economy — they’re the ones that are always making us look good to the rest of the world.
Growing up we didn’t take fancy trips to Europe for summer vacation, we took road trips. Our little family of four would pack up the car with snacks, beach toys and rubber boots to head across the island; we went everywhere right up to L’Anse Aux Meadows!
These days, those trips outside the St. John’s overpass are affectionately known as baycations, spending time relaxing ‘around the bay’ which could mean anything from a tiny cabin by a lake to staying in a luxury saltbox. Non-essential travel is allowed here in Newfoundland and Labrador, and I am doing all of the research to plan for a trip across the province. Now is the time to hit the road, take that staycation you’ve been talking about for years! While some accommodations and restaurants have chosen not to open for the summer, there are myriad options to make up an amazing staycation! This list is a combination of bucket list items I’ve already ticked off and new things I’m excited to do this summer.
My Newfoundland Staycation Bucket List
Stay in a Saltbox
Rent a luxury renovated Saltbox on Fogo Island from The Old Salt Box Co or peruse Airbnb for the perfectly perched pad like this one in Burnside, near Eastport’s awesome beaches.
Wake up for the first sunrise in North America
Imagine being the first person on the continent to watch the sunrise with a piping hot coffee and thundering ocean. Despite the fact that I live a short drive from the Cape Spear’s lighthouse, I’ve never done this, and it’s on my Newfoundland staycation bucket list for this summer.
Explore the Root Cellar Capital of the world
The small town of Elliston on the Bonavista Peninsula is home to more than 130 root cellars making it the world capital for these subterranean fridges. It’s also the closest thing you can get to real-life Hobbiton outside of New Zealand. This is a great road trip activity on your way to Bonavista or during your Newfoundland staycation in Trinity.
Go River Rafting in Central
Circumnavigate the Irish Loop
The Irish Loop is a great road trip to explore the Avalon peninsula where you can see lighthouses, whales, and craft shops. Take a boat tour in Bay Bulls, stop at Ferryland’s archaeological site (the Colony of Avalon was established in 1621) or enjoy lunch at Lighthouse Picnics.
Explore Corner Brook
I haven’t visited this west coast city since I was a kid, but we are headed there for a few days in July to stay at the newly-opened Hew and Draw hotel and drink up all the beers at Boomstick Brewing Co., Crooked Feeder and Bootleg Brewing.
Twack around Trinity
A visit to Trinity is a must on my Newfoundland staycation list every year! Strolling around this historic town, getting some chocolates at Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate Shop and a coffee break at Trinity Mercantile is a great way to spend the afternoon. Artisan Inn has a variety of spots to spend the night and while their restaurant the Twine Loft isn’t currently open, their vacation homes, like Admiral’s Lookout where I stayed a couple of years back, are available for rentals this summer! Take advantage while you can, usually these spots are booked up by international travellers.
Sip coffee with a view
Newfoundland is not necessarily known for its coffee culture, but there are some amazing coffee shops sprouting up across the province. Last summer we tried the Quintal Cafe in Bonavista for the first time while Bear Mountain Coffee in Clarenville, Darkstar Coffee Roasters in Carbonear and Norton’s Cove Cafe in New-Wes-Valley are on my list to try this summer.
Spend the weekend in Sandy Cove
For some reason, even townies don’t know about all the sandy beaches in Newfoundland! Sandy Cove and Eastport have a gorgeous sandy beach and we spend a weekend there with my family every summer, but there’s also Salmon Cove, Lumsden Beach, Cape Freels and Sandbanks Provincial Park in Burgeo which has white sand beaches that rival the Caribbean.
Marvel at the fjords
I’m most excited to tick of this Newfoundland Staycation bucket list item. We’re heading to the West Coast in July to do some hiking in Gros Mourne National Park. All the trails and visitors centres aren’t quite open yet due to COVID, but enough are to marvel at those fjords.
Stay in these Eco Pods
Last summer we were lucky enough to be some of the first guests to stay in the Eco Pods owned by Russelltown Inn & Vacations Homes. This is definitely one of the most unique places I’ve stayed in Newfoundland and a great spot for a Newfoundland staycation. Read about my weekend by the ocean here.
Have a feed at a food truck
In the past few years, the St. John’s food truck scene has exploded into a delicious bucket list in its own right! I had the delicious task to write an article about St. John’s food trucks last year for CBC and can’t wait to eat at my old favourites in St. Johns, but Newfoundland Comfort Food Truck in Corner Brook, Spud Nados in Indian Bay and Stage Grub in King’s Point are on my Newfoundland staycation bucket list this year.
Visit L’Anse aux Meadows
Roadtripping the Great Northern Peninsula has been on my Newfoundland staycation bucket list for years and I’ve wanted to revisit L’Anse aux Meadows since I was nine years old. Well, this is the summer to finally visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site at the northernmost tip of the island is the only officially authenticated Norse site on the continent.
Hand-pick your dessert
Grab an old margarine container head out into low-lying brush for some berry picking for pies and crumbles — did you know that there are more than 15 varieties that grow here? July is prime for blackberries and raspberries while August through September is blueberry season while partridgeberry (known to the rest of the world as lingonberry) season comes later. You can also venture to Lester’s Farm for their strawberry U-Pick in July!
I’ve never been a tent camper, that is until I discovered glamping at Ome in Burlington. We had the best weekend cooking over an open fire and lounging in the comfy beds in the oceanside tents at Ome (here are all the details from our trip). Other glamping spots on my Newfoundland staycation bucket list for this summer include The Homestead Adventures in New-Wes-Valley and Humber River Off Grid Tours near Deer Lake
Just add water
While our Atlantic ocean waters are too chilly for doing laps most days, a Newfoundland staycation wouldn’t be complete without jumping into the pond on a hot day! On the Bonavista Peninsula, Catalina’s Lookout Pond Park boasts the “best natural swimming area anywhere” and it’s pretty freaking great.
Return to Dildo
We have spent a couple of really fun weekends in Dildo, but since Jimmy Kimmel made this little town an international superstar my Newfoundland staycation bucket list now includes snapping a pic under the new town sign! You can read about our visit to the awesome Dildo Brewing Co. here and if you’re looking for a place to stay, the George House B&B is the place to be — Todd’s hospitality and big breakfast are like none other.