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Five Reasons To Drop Everything & Visit St. John's!

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Destination St. John’s believes the top 5 reasons to visit our great city and surrounding areas are; our food, our entertainment, our natural wonders, the hiking and walking trails and our people. We wanted a little support in that theory so we asked our local ambassadors to help us out. Here are the winners of our Tourism Contest suggestions for hidden gems. If you want to read all the entries and learn more about the great destination from the locals you will find them here!

1. Our Food
The dining experience in St. John’s is uncomplicated yet sophisticated, nouveau yet traditional. It’s got that modern eclectic urban feel with flavours from around the world, but it’s built on traditional ingredients. Berry picking, wild game, traditional meals and recipes: what are the top food-related reasons to visit St. John’s? We’ll let local foodie Ann Caines speak to that – she had our mouth watering with thoughts of Bakeapple Jam:

“I would suggest Bakeapple jam. Also known as cloudberries, these tangy orange berries are found only in marshlands and they have an extremely short growing season (mid- to late summer). Since they’re such a rarity, bakeapple dishes can be hard to find. But if you’re willing to scout out some homemade food stands by the side of the road or a farmer’s market, you can easily find bottled jars of sugary, slightly sour bakeapple jam.”

 2. Our Natural Wonders
St. John’s is not only scenically stunning, but it’s also a place full of natural wonders: icebergs drifting along coastlines, groups of whales frolicking, migratory seabirds nesting on cliffs, and caribou roaming. Our provincial flower – the pitcher plant – can be found, among other wildflowers like rare orchids and plants, in bogs and marshland. With so much natural beauty ot was tough to narrow it down to the best of the best, but intrepid explorer Sabrina Alani gave us a hand:

“While hiking the Deadman’s Bay Path of the East Coast Trail (not remotely as menacing as it sounds) a few yeas ago, my Dad brought me to one of his favourite spots: Freshwater Bay. If you’ve been there you’ll know what I’m referring to and for those of you who have not, I’ll elaborate. The Freshwater Bay Barachois is a mass of flat stones that provide the only footpath across the water. As I understand it, this barachois was a result of several natural forces culminating into a means of safe passage when the tides are tranquil. What is so iconic is that you are essentially walking on an open channel of the Ocean along a relatively thin path of boulders (some unstable and slippery the closer they are to the water) and there is water to your right and to your left as you make your way across. Pausing to take it all in is a necessity. Additionally, If you are a fan of laughing at yourself this also provides an opportunity for you to place yourself (or your hiking partner) at just the right angle so that, when photographed, it appears as though you are walking on water. As with all things adventurous, however, proceed with caution and breathe it all in.”

3. Our Entertainment
No matter the time of year, there’s always something exciting going on in and around St. John’s. Music, theatre, art and even our own TV Show: what are the locals’ favourite ways to stay entertained in the capital? We suggest taking a page out of music-lover Janine Bursey’s traveller’s guide:

“Entertainment in St. John’s is phenomenal year-round, but it’s the summertime entertainment that’s the best. I love the outdoor concerts, the festivals on George Street and the patio gigs at happy hour when the sun and a cold drink make for the world’s best combination. Over the last few years two awesome experiences stick out in my mind: 1. “Up the Pond” with Shanneyganok and (my favourite guests) The Joel Plaskett Emergency. It was the best of the east coast with a view of Quidi Vidi – what more could you want? 2. The free show on the George Street main stage last Canada Day. It was an all ages daytime event that was awesome – so good to see young and old enjoying the holiday together.”

 4. Our Hiking & Walking
Surrounded by 29,000 kilometres of coastline, there’s certainly no shortage of coastal hiking and walking options. We asked locals to be a tour guide and take our travellers on a journey to their favourite footpath and to divulge the secret spots where the berries are plentiful. Hiking enthusiast Christeena Caines spilled the beans:

“One of the best and scenic places to pick blueberries is right here in St. John’s between Signal Hill and Quidi Vidi. You can start off at Signal Hill and walk to Quidi Vidi, picking blueberries along the way. Enjoy the fantastic scenery as you fill your bucket with berries.”

5. Our People
Beautiful vistas, unique culinary pleasures, and unique architecture are just tiny slices of an urban experience that will feel like no other. But it’s the colourful characters that are most memorable, in a place where strangers quickly become friends, and the local vernacular has you smiling and scratching your head all at once. Who better than a Newfoundlander to tell you why our people make St. John’s so special? Take it from Elaine Browne:

“We were recently visiting from Ontario and decided to ring the doorbell at the firehall on the corner of Parade St. We basically asked if we could come in and have a tour. In the typical Newfoundland fashion, we were welcomed in, without hesitation! Fireman Shawn showed my 8 year old son and I around and even introduced us to the fire chief! We took many photos and he answered our many questions! We learned about the hovercraft and the bucket rescue on the new truck! Fireman Shawn even had the student put on the oxygen tank, mask, and protective clothing. It was a wonderfully educational and an interesting tour! If we get chosen to win, we ask that you give this to Fireman Shawn for welcoming strangers in the traditional Newfoundland fashion!”