Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada

“I miss Newfoundland.” Clara said to me just the other day.

“Which part?” I asked

“All of it.” She responded without hesitation.

I knew exactly how she felt. I miss it too.

I couldn’t let our trip to Newfoundland pass without sharing a recap of sorts with you. Although I could sit down and talk your ear off all day about this lesser-known corner of Canada, I’m going to try to stick to our top highlights.

I’ve tried to pair it down to my absolute favourites photos and yet this post is still a mile long. We loved it; we truly did.

Cape Spear lighthouse || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Cape Spear historic lighthouse, NL

As I shared snapshots from our visit on social media, a great many of you asked about family travel in Newfoundland. How did we do it? Was it safe? Were the kids bored? The easy answer is that it is just like traveling with kids anywhere else: be open to adventure, remain flexible, pack snacks and have fun.

Sure, we were in wild, remote places and almost never had cell phone reception, but it’s still Canada, and about the most friendly and welcoming province in the country.

Signal Hill || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Signal Hill , St. John’s

Our days were divided up between hiking and beaching. Okay, and eating. Some days it felt like all we did was go from meal to meal. There’s so much delicious food to be had in Newfoundland!

We had glorious weather for most of our travels. On sunnier days we found a cove to explore and on cooler, cloudy days, we hiked. At first around St. John’s (it’s hilly!) and then further afield to the Bonavista Peninsula and the Baccalieu Trail.

Jelly Bean Row | Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Jelly Bean Row . St. John’s, NL

A typical day started with breakfast at our rental followed by an outing for great coffee. The essentials! Fixed, Two Whales and Trinity topped the list for us, and Neil’s Yard in Bonavista wasn’t too shabby either.

We generally spread a picnic in a park or on the side of a hill for lunch. Armed with a small pocket knife, I carved up meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables and put together sandwiches for the little hikers and swimmers.

Dinner was either cooked in our AirBnB or VRBO or in one of the restaurants on my lengthy list of good eats.

Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Signal Hill, St. John’s

We loved the war history in St. John’s. Our boys are old enough to understand and places like Signal Hill really captured their imaginations. Art gallery/museum The Rooms was a short walk from our AirBnb and on a rainy afternoon we took in a powerful exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

We ate well in St. John’s. A 2-hour lunch at The Merchant Tavern, fish & chips at various outposts, baking and salads from Fixed, and a highly memorable brunch at Mallard Cottage.

Mallard Cottage brunch

Oh la la. Located in picturesque Quidi Vidi village, this restored farmhouse is one of the warmest restaurant I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining. The food was absolutely stellar – and with a garden, a smoker and the entire ocean out the back of the kitchen, I’d expect nothing less. Add Mallard Cottage to your bucket list of global good eats.

quidi vidi village || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Quidi Vidi Village, St. John’s

Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Quidi Vidi Village, St. John’s

Bonavista Peninsula

The sun as shining as we wound down the hill into historic Trinity, having made our way from St. John’s by rental car.

Trinity, NL || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Trinity, NL

I’m not much of a painter, but the view here made me want to open a paint pad and start mixing watercolours. Wild lupins, a charming town, ocean blues and a lighthouse in the distance – Trinity definitely knows how to charm their travelers.

We made our way to the brick-red house on the water in the photo above. We had coveted reservations at the world-renown Artisan Inn and didn’t want to miss pre-dinner drinks on the sunny water-front patio.

Twine Lodge, Artisan Inn, Trinity, NL | Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Twine Loft at Artisan Inn, Trinity, NL

Driving into picturesque Trinity feels rather like stepping into a dream, and the dining experience at Artisan Inn’s Twine Loft certainly continues the reverie. It’s an intimate room, with just a handful of tables and a small kitchen off to the side. Our beautifully set table looked out onto the gentle waves of Fisher Cove and the menu displayed promised great things to come.

Dinner Twine Loft Artisan Inn Trinity Newfoundland || Simple Bites

Twine Loft at Artisan Inn, Trinity, NL

Since we were so close to Elliston, the root cellar capital of the world, it made perfect sense that the meal began with a velvety apple and turnip soul paired with warm bread and herb butter. Our children opted for the salad and happiness abounded.

Service was smooth and subtle, with very little time between courses. Our mains arrived piping hot: fresh local cod prepared ‘en papillote’ for the children and I; maple Newfoundland blueberry chicken for Danny. Both were outstanding – perfectly seasoned and cooked. A rare silence fell around our table as we savoured every bite.

Artisan Inn Trinity Newfoundand

Twine Loft at Artisan Inn, Trinity, NL

Later there was dessert – warm partridgeberry bread pudding with screech sauce – coffee and hand-made chocolates. The children skipped out to play on the pebble beach next to the restaurant while we savoured both dessert and the dreamy moment. The entire evening was one of the highlights of our trip – and really, our entire summer.

Next time we’ll book enough in advance to snag one of the charming little vacation homes that Artisan Inn offers. They do fill up quickly!

Fisherman | Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Local fisherman in Old Bonaventure, NL

After Trinity, it was on to Old Bonaventure for us, an almost hauntingly quiet little fishing community with a drop dead gorgeous view no matter the weather.

Here we were charmed by the friendly and generous locals, who heaped fresh fish upon us and gave us tips for the best views and hiking trails.

Sauteed cod|| Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

I pan fried the buttery fresh cod with herbs from the kitchen garden in my rental and we feasted. Have I mentioned yet that my children love fish? That certainly came in handy on this trip.

Old Bonaventure | Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Old Bonaventure, NL at the end of the day.

Skerwink Trail | Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Skerwink Trail, Port Rexton, NL

It was grey and drizzling the morning we hiked the stunning Skerwink Trail but we welcomed the cloud cover and set out on the 5.3 km trail in good spirits anyway. I wasn’t prepared for the epic views and stopped every five minutes to have a little freak out and snap approximately 837 photos.

Hike Skerwink | Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Skerwink Trail, Port Rexton, NL

The trail was well maintained and clearly marked, however, much of it was along the edge of one drop off or another! We kept the children very close, even holding hands as we made our way along the more treacherous parts. It was worth every step; I can’t recommend this hike enough.

Whale watching lunch on the Skerwink trail || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Whale watching lunch on the Skerwink trail, Port Rexton, NL

We checked into Two Whales after the hike for coffees, hot chocolate and carbs, before heading back to our rental for a pasta supper and game night.

Bonavista || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Historic Bonavista was where we explored Dungeon Provincial Park, watched fireworks, climbed to a lighthouse, ate Sweet Rock ice cream and much more.

Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

We discovered a spectacular trail to Kings Cove lighthouse, and ate pizza at Bonavista Social Club (although just between you and me, it was dreadfully disappointing, despite the beautiful setting).

Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Hiking in Dungeon Provincial Park, NL

Slightly further afield, we braved the rain to visit the Puffins in Elliston early one morning, and then hustled back to Mifflin’s Tea Room for hot tea, partridgeberry pie and fresh, hot toutons (deep fried bread dough) with molasses.

Mifflins || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

The kids had worked up quite an appetite racing around Elliston in their eagerness to discover and explore as many root cellars as possible (they found twenty!). Fortunately a mug of hot chocolate and a sticky touton can bolster anyone’s energy.

Ellison root cellars || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Meanwhile, I pointed my camera at the stormy sky and, with the sun on my back, captured one of my favourite images from the trip.

Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Elliston, NL

Over lunch, the boys sketched out plans for their own root cellar, back home.

Baccalieu Trail

Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Although we were sad to leave the beautiful Bonavista Peninsula, the beaches we discovered along the Baccalieu Trail were far superior. We logged a few sunny days in a row here,  where the kids chased the surf and I actually had time to read a book on the beach.
Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

This delightful spot wasn’t on any of our maps, but locals directed us to what they call ‘Overfalls Beach’ in Western Bay. We had the place to ourselves, which was, again, a little dream-like.

Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Hiking in Bay de Verde, NL

I already wrote about our hike in Bay de Verde and our foraging adventures. This was just one more rainy day that turned absolutely beautiful by lunchtime.

Brigus || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

Brigus, NL

Brigus was charming and begging to be explored, but we pushed on to St. John’s and picked up a picnic lunch at the quirky Rocket Bakery. Our final destination before flying home was Cape Spear, a.k.a the end of the continent.

Cape Spear || Family travel in Newfoundland, Canada | Simple Bites

After running around exploring the place – two lighthouses, gift shop, the guns and bunkers of Fort Cape Spear and more – we spread a picnic supper on the most easterly point in North America. Looking out over open ocean toward Greenland, Iceland and Ireland, we couldn’t help but feel swept up in the significance of this rock under our cross-legged selves. The edge of Newfoundland….of Canada…..of the entire continent.

Typical to The Rock, the weather changed quickly, and storm blew in. We made our way to our hotel…and a few hours later, to the airport. We left Newfoundland changed; charged for more adventures and determined to return again one day.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. What lovely photos of stunning sites, appetizing meals and an adorable family! Reminds me of many places in my state, Maine. It has been a lovely, though too dry summer. Sounds like you all knew exactly how to have a wonderful, family vacation.

  2. Gorgeous photos and travel story. Looks like the kids had a fantastic time. Thanks for the personal intro to Newfoundland!

  3. Sounds (and looks!) like a fabulous vacation. Lovely photos. I hope I get to make my way there and PEI someday.

  4. Thank-you for sharing your trip to Newfoundland with us! 2 yrs ago we visited many of the same locations (loved Trinity and Cape Spear!) but missed others, such as Elliston. We are aching to return, and will use this post to help us plan. You summed it up perfectly; you do leave Newfoundland changed. It is a spectacular place with wonderful people, a Canadian treasure.

  5. What a wonderful article I really enjoyed it and love the pics. We are planning a trip to Newfoundland next summer so now I am really anxious. The only thing I didn’t see in your article was how long you went for? How much time did you need to see all you saw and did you stay in one location?

  6. Jacquie Lester says:

    Aimee, thank you for sharing your adventures in NL; it is one of our favourite provinces to visit. We lived in St. Anthony ( northern tip of NL) for almost 2 years and I agree with you “friendly and welcoming.” If you go again I highly recommend venturing north to Viking settlements, whales, icebergs and more exceptional hospitality.

  7. My husband and I spent a lovely several days in Newfoundland about 24years ago. We’re hoping to return one day, too. It was one of our favorite parts of the 2wk camping trip through Maritime Canada. We especially enjoyed seeing L’Anse aux Meadows, the boat trip in Gros Morne National Park, and O’Brien’s puffin/whale viewing boat trip in Bay’s Bull.

    It does sound like the food is much better than we remember, though. I recall a lot of badly cooked spaghetti bolognese, broasted chicken, and capelin fritters!

  8. Hey girl I would love to go there! Such beautiful pics! Glad y’all had fun!

  9. Wonderful people, land and food. I only had time to see half of The Rock and definitely want to go back. Did you have the Cod’s tongues and cheeks? I went during Soiree year and was lucky enough to stay in an Inn that was celebrating Christmas in June as part of the celebrations. Had mummers and dancing to round off the Newfoundland Jigg’s dinner.

  10. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us…I have lived in this province for most of my life and was so pleased to see you travel beyond the usual spots. You likely got a glimpse of our life that the majority of visitors never do. This means you encountered a few of the hundreds of dialects that exist across the province. So I have to ask…did you have any issues with oral communication? I know I do, especially around the Baccalieu trail.

  11. Loved reading your stories about this province! We’re itching to go there, I am so intrigued by the photos and the stories you shared. Looks like such a memorable place. XO

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