The Rooms Art Gallery
In recent years, St. John's has become a burgeoning tourism destination. The city’s unique combination of old and new attractions range from historic sites to a growing number of modern folk-rock acts and metropolis-worthy hot spots. Here’s a rundown of the must-sees and must-trys.
As (arguably) North America’s first European settlement, Newfoundland boasts some of the continent’s oldest and most important historic sites. In the town of Ferryland, a one-hour drive from St. John’s, check out the Colony of Avalon. An archeological dig has discovered thousands of artifacts from Lord Baltimore’s 17th-century British enclave; the most impressive finds (including a tidal-flush stone toilet) are displayed in the interpretation centre. Take a guided tour through the ruins, which continue to be uncovered, and learn about this gateway between the New World and the Old World.
Opened just this summer, The Rooms brings together under one roof the provincial museum, art gallery and archives, offering a portal into Newfoundland and Labrador’s past. Even the building speaks of the city’s history. Although it has an über-modern loft-like feel, the Rooms is modelled after the shacks European settlers set up along the coast to catch, cure and ship codfish. The museum showcases the natural landscape of the province, while the gallery features rotating and travelling exhibitions of both local and international artists.
Colony of Avalon: off Provincial Highway Route 10 in Ferryland, 709-432-3200
The Rooms: 9 Bonaventure Ave., 709-757-8000
Located on Water Street, one of the city’s main drags, Bridie Molloy’s is a traditional Newfoundland-style pub. Recipes are representative of the culture and landscape, from the seaside town’s staple of fish ’n’ chips to the widespread incorporation of local game. Those with more adventurous palettes should try the moose bourguignon, rabbit pie and pan-fried cod tongues, a local fave. It’s also a great place to catch live traditional Newfoundland Irish music while sipping a pint from the nearby Quidi Vidi microbrewery.
Gypsy Tea Room’s cosmopolitan fare is an eclectic, multi-ethnic mix that ranges from classic Mediterranean to Thai. Signature dishes include the Indonesian chicken satay and the roasted salmon with shellfish ragout. On Saturday nights, the tables are pushed back and the dancing begins, with DJs spinning house music. Don’t leave without trying the Gypsy Cocktail, a mix of raspberry vodka, Grand Marnier, cranberry juice and fresh lime. Delish!
Bridie Molloy’s: 5 George St., 709-576-5990
Quidi Vidi: 15 Barrows Rd., 709-738-4040
Gypsy Tea Room: 195 Water St., 709-739-4766
St. John’s is packed with luxe yet homey B&Bs, but the Park House Inn boasts a historical grandeur like no other. Built in 1870, the Park House is a Second Empire-style mansion that has housed several affluent families and even a few prime ministers. The standard rooms are quaint, but the crowning jewel in this throne is the executive suite, which features a queen-size four-poster bed. The separate bathroom boasts a Jacuzzi and fireplace – all the entertainment you need. The staff is exceptionally cheerful, serving up delicious two-course breakfast delights like French toast with fresh fruit salad.
Blue on Water
Celebrating its first anniversary this October, Blue on Water is a chic boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown St. John’s. Rooms are petite but stylish, with soothing neutral tones and cool, clean lines. On the main floor, the hotel’s restaurant serves up some of the city’s top gourmet cuisine, with an emphasis on local seafood. This is definitely the spot to try fresh St. John’s lobster! The beautifully lit restaurant bar is also a great place to mingle with local sophisticates and other jet-setting types. An excellent choice to start the night.
Park House Inn: 112 Military Rd., 1-866-303-0565
Blue on Water: 319 Water St., 1-877-431-2583
(Cathleen Anderson is a freelance writer in Toronto.)
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