We just got back from a great family vacation in St. John’s, Newfoundland. We were so excited to check out such a unique part of Canada and made sure to take advantage of every minute of our vacation. To help you plan a trip to St. John’s Newfoundland with Kids, I’m sharing my itinerary as well as everything you must see and do while there.
First off, you need to rent a car while you’re there. Traveling with kids means you need the flexibility to come and go as you please. The St. John’s airport has it set up so well that renting a car is very easy. We rented with Budget, however we rented our car seats with Go Baby Rentals. Marilyn the owner of Go Baby Rental in St. John’s is AMAZING to deal with. She met us right at our car in the rental lot at the airport and was very flexible with plans for the drop off and met us again in the lot when it was time to go. (Our luggage wasn’t even in the trunk yet and she was there)
We rented two car seats for our kids from Go Baby Rentals and they were in perfect condition and the kids loved their seats. (Maxwell really loving his seat 20 minutes after we got them)
I made a fun and flexible itinerary for us so that we could account for rain days and other unexpected situations. Here are the must sees and dos while traveling to St. John’s Newfoundland with Kids.
The views at Signal Hill were amazing. It’s a Parks Canada spot with lots of great info and surprising cliffs lookouts. We were only able to catch Signal Hill once without the fog or rain, but I believe we drove to Signal Hill a good 3 times. It’s a 5 minute drive from downtown St. John’s.
Take a boat to see the Puffins
We took advantage of a boat tour with O’Briens and booked the Award Winning Boat Tour. This 2 hour journey is great for people of all ages. Our youngest is 21 months and was clearly the youngest guy there and there were some passengers in their late 80’s. So really it’s made for all. There is a bathroom onboard as well as inside and outside seating and you can mover around the boat without issues. There is a snack bar on board and a very informative tour guide and captain who are happy to answer questions.
It was really cool to see literally thousands upon thousands of Puffins. We didn’t see any whales (I think we just missed that season) nor did we see any icebergs. We did see some amazing cliffs which these pictures do not justice.
You can get screeched in onboard which is a lot of fun as they make you a certificate and give you a hat as well as a shot of screech. I got screeched in holding my sons hand – it’s that family friendly. (screech is a rum and being screeched in means doing a shot of the rum, repeating a saying and kissing a fish – you then become an honorary Newfoundlander).
The boat can get a bit rocky and my husband and I felt a bit off as we were getting closer to shore (once you’re almost at shore the boat rocks a bit less) so I would strongly recommend some thing like candied ginger or gravel if you have a very sensitive stomach.
To leave more about O’Briens check them out here.
Middle Cove Beach
Middle Cove Beach is about 10 minutes north of St. John’s and it totally worth a visit. This pebble beach is surrounded by cliffs making the scenery absolutely jaw dropping.
There are plenty of places to have have a camp fire and we saw a few families setting up for a bbq lunch. Very cool! Our kids LOVED the rocks and were having fun watching the waves crash. This beach is also a great fishing beach as a local was telling us as you can easily see a COD or maybe a squid swim by.
This is the view of the beach from the top of the cliff.
A super cute fishing village with a mini aquarium (we didn’t have time to stop in) and one of the best restaurants called Chafe’s Landing (featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show). This restaurant had the best fish and chips we have ever had. My husband is not a fish guy and he also loved it. They had a great kids menu which came with free ice cream at the ice cream shop next door.
Get out and speak to the local fisherman whiles you’re in Petty Harbour. They will happily sell you the freshest fish right there.
The most eastern part of North American is juts a short drive from St. John’s and next to Petty Harbour. This spot is another Parks Canada site and it’s not to be missed. Lots of places for kids to run around (with caution) and the views are literally breathtaking. The best views are at the lookout which is completely fenced off (seen below – Liam was VERY safe) – we heard this was a recent addition as there had been incidents in the past.
Take a walk over the the lighthouse (fully functioning) and get the mandatory photo op. (obviously).
Johnson Geo Centre
Located right beside Signal Hill the Johnson Geo Centre was a great way to spend a few hours on a rainy day (and yes it rains in St. John’s). For the kids they loved running around to see all the different exhibits and videos.
There is some really cool things to see when it comes to rocks, the titanic, space and interactive exhibits. There is also a kids play area where they can really run around and be kids. This was a real highlight of the stop.
Walk Around St. John’s
St. John’s is super cute! We explored some of the shops and spoke to a few locals. The kids LOVED running alongside the boats which were really close and a huge draw (hey, free and cheap entertainment AND they burn energy, SOLD!) Water Street has some great shops, and George Street is FULL of bars (two blocks to be exact). There are also a lot of colourful house known as the jelly bean houses. Didn’t take long to find a cute row of houses. Harbour Drive is where you’ll find the boats and were we found a lot of parking. The downtown is small compared to Montreal so it was easy to cover a lot of the area with ease. Our 4 year old had no problems walking with us.
Newfoundland Chocolate Company
This is more of a quick stop but you simply must not skip this place. The Newfoundland Chocolate Company has several locations in and around St. John’s. It’s some to the famous sayings chocolate bars and home to THE BEST Chocolate Mocha known to man. I was in heaven when I took my first sip of this amazing beverage. I’m sure it was 1000 calories, but who cares… I was on vacation. I purchased the “Newfoundland sayings” chocolate bars which are a mix of chocolate covered in salted caramel filling (does it get any better? No, no it does not). There is a location on the way up to Signal Hill as well as one located downtown AND one in the airport, so you have lots of options to visit them over and over again! Maxwell thoroughly enjoyed is double chocolate cookie – but the stop was really about me, let’s be honest.
Ocean Science Centre
This was a stop we made on the way back from Middle Cover Beach. The Ocean Science Centre is run by Memorial University and is only open during the summer. Donations are accepted when you visit as there is no real entry fee. There is a cute touch tank with some star fish, crabs and sea urchins, plus you can take a look at the local residents…. the 2 Harp Seals – who unfortunately for us weren’t in the mood to be seen as it was tank cleaning day. They were sunbathing and then shuffled out of view. (Photo above is from the website). Here is what we actually saw:
See, totally not into tourists that day. Apparently though they are chill and will say hi when they are in the mood.
All in all, it’s a beautiful location and we only stayed for about 20 minutes, but definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area.
The last stop I want to mention is Ferryland. This is a small town about 1 hour south of St. John’s. The attraction is the amazing views and a great lighthouse and lookout with some really cute restaurants. We made the drive however the fog rolled in so we didn’t get to see much. We stayed just long enough to stretch our legs and head back to St. John’s.
So there you have it. Traveling with kids is hard, but appreciating Canada makes it worth it. We know they most likely won’t remember the trip but we’ll talk about the silly moments we had there and go through the photos for years to come. It’s was defiantly an amazing trip.
Thanks for reading!