St John's is the oldest permanent colonial settlement in North America with fishermen building here in the early 1500s, to process the very plentiful fish and have shelter from storms.
We've put the easiest/closest items first, so you can capture the essence of St John's history and locale, and those fortunate enough to stick around longer, well, they get to enjoy St John's even better!
The best time to watch icebergs in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador is usual May and June, sometimes icebergs can be seen even in July and August. The best time for whale watching is June through August.
The first day you are visiting St John's, focus your attention on the heritage sites and attractions downtown and along the waterfront:
Start downtown at the waterfront at Harbourview Park, to see the harbour and Signal Hill on its northern edge.
Walk uphill to the Newfoundland War Memorial, commemorating the sacrifices of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the first World War, head south on Duckworth Street into the city's shopping district, with its many colourful painted storefronts.
Visit the Newfoundland Provincial Museum, with its many artifacts of the province's 500 year history. Across the street is the St John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral, dating back to 1843.
at Beck's Cove turn toward to water and visit Murray's Premises a restored trading house with shops as well as the Newfoundland Science Museum.
Head up Bishops Cove one block to cross George Street the home of the city's nightlife, and another block to the St John's' city hall, the Transportation-Canada highway's Mile Zero marker (there's another one 7811 km away in Victoria, BC) , and Mile One Stadium, the city's cultural centre (it hosted the Juno music awards a little while back).
Wind uphill on Barter's Hill and then right on LeMarchant Rd for 3 blocks to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's headquarters and museum
Across Bonaventure is the Basilica Cathedral of St John the Baptist, begun in 1841 for the city's Catholic worshippers.
Head east on Military Rd to pass Bannerman Park (with an outdoor pool) and the Colonial Building and Provincial Archives, home to Newfoundland's colonial and then provincial legislature since 1850
Across Bannerman Rd, you can take a tour of Government House, the home of the Newfoundland Lieutenant Governor and representative of the Queen of Canada since 1831
Right beside it is the Commisariat House historical site, with the 1821 house of the military Commissary General, restored and furnished to its 1830s glory.
On this day, you can wander a bit further away, enjoying the larger area in and around St John's
Head south on Water Street, and turns into Blackhead Rd, Route 11 and follow the signs to Cape Spear, the most easterly point on North America
Head Blackhead Rd, but turn left on Route 11 to Petty Cove to see and old-style fishing village
Continue along Route 11 to Goulds, which is home to Lakeview Downs, eastern Newfoundland's only horseracing track
Head north on Route 10, Bay Bulls Rd, and after the #2 expressway, take the Waterford Bridge Rd along the Waterford River & recreational pathway into town (it turns into Water St) and head north through downtown until you get to the end of Water Street.
Head long the bottom of the slope along Battery Road to visit the Battery and Fort Chain Rock, which defended the St John's harbour, along with Fort Amherst on the opposite shore (you could have got there by turning off Water, just before downtown)
Head back on Battery Rd and then turn right (uphill) on Signal Hill Rd to visit Signal Hill national historic site, from where Marconi sent his famous trans-Atlantic radio signals about a century ago. There are a number of points of interst her, including the Johnson Geo Centre, the Battery (noon gun), the Interpretive centre, Cabot Tower, and the viewpoints overlooking the Atlantic and St John's Harbour
Head north from Signal Hill toward Quidi Vidi. At the bottom of the hill, you'll find a pretty village, the historic Quidi Vidi Battery, which defended the northern sea access to Signal Hill
Head west on Forest Rd along the south site of Quidi Vidi Lake to visit the St John's Regatta Museum and pass St John's Memorial Stadium (you can loop around the park along the Boulevard on the lake's north shore)
Head north on the Torbay Rd until the Torbay Mall on your left, then turn left onto MacDonald Dr. You'll pass Kenny's Pond on the left and Kent's Pond on the right, both poplar for wintertime skating. The road changes its name to Prince Phillip Dr at this point and you'll see Cabot College on the left and on the right you see Confederation Building, where provincial government offices are located.
Across Allendale Rd (we'll come back to this in a bit) on the left are the Memorial University Art Gallery and the Arts & Culture Centre, "ground zero' for the city's fine arts scene.
On both sides of Prince Phillip are the grounds of Memorial University, the Maritime's largest post-secondary institution. Turn left at Westerland Rd to pass the Aquarena, the university's recreational complex.
A kilometre further west is the Avalon Mall, the province's largest along with the Empire Studio 12 cinemas, making this a good are to stay indoors if the weather turns foul.
Turn left again on Elizabeth Ave, and left again onto Allendale Rd, to head up to C.A. Pippy Park, the city's largest green space. Visit the Fluvarium and see what aquatic life in a river is like. The park has a campground, a golf course, the Memorial University Botanical Gardens, and has numerous ponds, picnic grounds and hiking & recreational trails. The university's Marine Institute is also here in the park.
If you have additional time on your hands, here are a couple of ideas for short out of town excursions:
Take Logy Bay Rd north to Torbay, and head up the coast to Pouch Cove and Cape St Francis
Take Portugal Cove Road west to Portugal Cove, with its historic cemetery, and take the Ferry to Bell Island, with its abandoned iron mines and World War II wrecks
Head west on Topsail road to Conception bay South and visit Topsail Park, and a number of sailing clubs and beaches in this relatively protected part of the coastline.
For longer trips, see the Nearby towns and attractions portion of FoundLocally