Spotlight on St. John's, Newfoundland: local music, craft beer and where to do the best "twacking"

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Have you ever spent time in Newfoundland? The word "unique" is bandied about a lot in travel writing, but it's certainly apt when describing this rugged, beautiful, quirky island off Canada's east coast - "The Rock" as the locals call it. Today our local guide Lisa is joining us to recommend things to see and do (and eat and drink) in the capital city of St. John's.

St. John's, Newfoundland, is a colourful and historic city with lots to see and do. Below are a few of my favourite and inexpensive activities to do while you're in town.

STORIES AND SONG

On the second and fourth Thursday of every month the St. John's Storytelling Circle and Song Circle meet at the Crow's Nest Officer's Club. For a $3 entry, you can enjoy songs and stories of Newfoundland and around the world while enjoying a drink in a World War II era bar featuring a periscope from a German U-boat captured off the shores of Newfoundland. Feel free to listen, sing along or tell your own story.

LOCAL BEER

Night or day, another fun activity is to sample locally brewed beer. First is Yellowbelly Brewery, a restaurant and brewery on Water Street that boasts historic architecture, good food and great beer. Or, if you want to hear traditional music, you'll find it on tap at O'Reilly's Irish Newfoundland Pub on George Street. Next, head to The Ship Inn off Duckworth Street to sample beer from the Mount Pearl located Storm Brewery. Finally, a nice walk to Quidi Vidi Village will bring you to the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company, where you can have a tour plus sample award winning beer. Just leave the car at the hotel.

TAKE A WALK

The Grand Concourse trail system covers much of St. John's and Mount Pearl. Trails wrap around ponds and lakes, follow rivers, link parks and historic sites. My favourite trails would be Long Pond (I'd also recommend a visit to the Fluvarium while you are there), the Southbrook Trail in Bowring Park, and from Signal Hill, the North Head and Ladies Lookout Trails. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring a camera.

TWACKING ON WATER STREET

“Twacking,” a Newfoundland term for window shopping, is a great way to spend a day. Water Street and Duckworth Street boast a number of shops featuring handcrafted Newfoundland products such as mailboxes with St. John's' colourful houses, knitwear, soaps, jams and chocolates. Locally owned shops also feature modern, vintage and refashioned fashion, jewelry and accessories. Take a wander, and maybe stop at a coffee shop for some people watching.

As Lisa says, St. John's is a beautiful city with a rich history. Spend a day, spend a week, you'll still have trouble deciding what to do! With the city's many layers of folk history, culture and its rich natural setting, one thing's for sure: you'll do well to have a knowledgeable guide like Lisa to show you around.
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