How to enjoy St. John’s like a local

Jim Byers, Special to Postmedia Network

Sep 12, 2017

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET

ST. JOHN’S – This is one of the best destinations in Canada, a city with a real sense of place. The setting is magnificent, the people remarkable and the food scene is getting better all the time. Toss in gorgeous houses in colours that would make a rainbow envious and you’ve got a remarkable, one-of-a-kind city.

Here’s a look at how to enjoy St. John’s like a local.

DOING

Locals and tourists both enjoy a walk or hike along The Battery, where colourful wooden homes cling to rocky, cliffs that rise steeply from one of the world’s great harbours. You’ll pass homes in shades of Golden Gate Bridge orange and sunny side-up yellow as you stroll along admiring the views of the water. The trail to Signal Hill snakes along the cliffs and then follows a series of stairs that go up and up and up some more to Cabot Tower, where the views of the city and out to the Atlantic Ocean are astounding. Another great walk is from Quidi Vidi to the end of Cuckolds Cove Road, where you can find a short trail that reveals amazing coastal views. Be sure to check out Quidi Vidi Harbour, too.

[embedded content]

The Rooms is a magnificent museum on a hill; a gorgeous, modern and airy structure that tells the story of Newfoundland and Labrador. You’ll find wonderful displays on natural history and native and European history in the province, as well as thought-provoking modern art. One of the pop-up exhibits they had recently focussed on Newfoundland slang, with a young girl who holds up cue cards and makes you guess what they mean. I found out that if you have a scoff and a scuff you’ve had a time. (A scoff is a meal, a scuff is a dance and a time is a fun evening). The museum offers great views of the city, as well. 

George Street is said to have more bars per square centimetre than any street on the planet, and almost all feature live music at night. Kelly’s is a low-key spot where you’ll find a good number of locals. I find the beer selection better and the ambience nicer down the street at Birdie Molloys, a more traditional-looking Irish pub. Try them all and pick your own favourite.

DINING AND DRINKING

The Merchant Tavern is a trendy spot in an old banking hall, filled with a smartly dressed, young crowd. The Hawaiian poke comes with perfect spice and crushed Macadamia nuts for a nice crunch. The cod is sweet and tender, and the drinks menu features options like the Bonavista Buffalo, with bourbon, espresso-infused Campari, pineapple and ginger beer. 

Mallard Cottage is a beautiful, spot in the Quidi Vidi area with weathered floors, high ceilings and big windows. The brunch menu features crazy-good pastries and sweets, but we opted for the flaky pork pie and the sensational spicy pork tacos. 

Ches’s is a Newfoundland institution, a fish and chips spot that began in 1951. There are locations all around, including one on Kenmount Road in St. John’s. The fish was excellent and so were the fries (two pieces and a generous serving of chips for $14). You can order your fish with dressing (like stuffing), gravy and fried onions if you want to flirt with danger. 

YellowBelly is a craft brewery on Water Street, right across from The Merchant Tavern. The Fighting Irish Red Ale has a nice, mellow malty flavour. Happy Hour pints were just $4.65 when I was there, and they have a nice outdoor patio. 

Chinched Bistro is a small, vibrant dining spot in a new downtown location. The pork shoulder is cooked for days and then heated in a skillet with oil, lemon and brown sugar. The miso chili roasted cauliflower is fabulous. 

SHOPPING

Water Street has a great mix of goods and funky stores. Johnny Ruth and Living Planet is a bright, cheery spot with Newfoundland dog shirts, pretty pillows, vanilla-cassis candles and more. Next door is Relic, with Blue Jays and Expos socks, Herschel backpacks and caps, Burton sweats and more. Twisted Sisters is right after that, offering lovely books, locally-made jewelry and cool shoes, including rubber boots in shades of pink, canary yellow and deep sea blue.

Duckworth Street has several cool shops. Fred’s Records offers outstanding vinyl and CD’s from the likes of Muddy Waters, The Beatles and The Tragically Hip. Livyer’s Antiques has old ceramic plates, puppy dog salt and pepper shakers and books from the likes of Neil Young. Rosie Row offers pretty jewelry, cat watches, ceramic yellow pineapples (doesn’t everybody need one?) and lots more. Newfoundland Chocolate Co. serves up a variety of excellent sweets wrapped in paper that features St. John’s row houses.

FOR VISITORS: Murray Premises is a beautiful downtown hotel with old stone walls, thick, wood beam ceilings and more. Our room had a monster spa-tub in the living space and a fireplace. There’s breakfast in the morning, and they have a lounge with coffee, fruit and biscuits all day long. The JAG hotel is a fun downtown property with large rooms, a nice bar and rock and roll photos all around. 

DEAL OF THE WEEK Air Transat has specials on for a variety of vacations, including flights from Toronto to Athens for $833 return and to Tel Aviv for $951. 

END NOTE: Jim Byers is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Email: jim@jimbyerstravel.com. Instagram: @jimbyerstravel1. Twitter: @jimbyerstravel

This post was originally published on this site

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

You must be Logged in to post a comment.