My obsession with the East Coast of Canada started when I was watching a Stephen King mini series called "Haven" on the syfy channel (nerd alert). I HAD to go to the cute little fishing village where the series was filmed because those opening scenes looked like heaven on earth! I did some googling and found that it was filmed in a town called Lunenburg outside of Halifax in Nova Scotia.
I made the decision to plan a trip and while doing my research came across photos of Newfoundland and added that to my itinerary as well because they had ICEBERGS!! I am a total California girl, so to some of you this may sound like no big deal, but to me I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
This was my first solo trip ever, and I wouldn't have had it any other way! I got to do exactly what I had been wanting to do and stop and take as many photos as I liked! It was also empowering and made me feel confident and that I could take on the world!
I wish I had more time to explore, but I only had one week....Here is a day to day itinerary on exactly what I did and how to see the best that the East Coast of Canada has to offer!
Day 1 (Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, Blue Rocks): I got in to the Halifax airport in the morning after a red eye flight. I rented a car and drove straight to Mahone Bay, which is a small town of 900 people. The three churches are an iconic photo in that area and the streets are lined with cute shops! I got coffee at a place called The Barn and it did not disappoint!
After an hour or so of walking around the town, I was on my merry way to the town of Lunenburg. It was SO CUTE!! I stayed in my own little tiny house/cabin at the Atlantic View Cottages and the drive up to check in had the most scenic view of the town...this was the view that I came for!
After grabbing a few photos, I went into town. My first stop was poutine and a flight of local beer (super healthy, I know) from The Grand Banker, a restaurant on the waterfront. It was the best poutine I had on my trip! I spent the next few hours walking around town taking pictures of the colorful and beautiful architecture.
I took a side trip to a town called Blue Rocks...it was a photographer's dream! I mean just look at these pictures! I was pulling over every 2 feet!
Day 2 (Peggy's Cove and Halifax): I woke up early to head to Peggy's Cove to see a lighthouse, and if you know me, you know that I love lighthouses, so it was like Christmas morning waking up and heading out here! I had originally planned on going for sunrise, but let's be real, 4:30am is way to early to be waking up on vacation! I got there around 8:30am and was the only person there. This was my favorite lighthouse that I saw on the trip and the fact that I had it all to myself made it that much better! If you only have time to do one thing while visiting Halifax area, do this!
After I had spent my time admiring Peggy's Cove, I went into Halifax to meet two new friends for an engagement shoot (which you can see here). Afterward, they showed me around the waterfront area and we enjoyed lunch at Gahan House. I spent the next few hours walking around the city and explored the public gardens. I asked a local what I should do that evening and he suggested taking the ferry over to Darmouth. It was OK, but I could have done without it as most everything near the ferry drop off was closed. I walked around downtown Halifax a bit more and felt completely safe even at night. The downtown reminded me so much of Wilmington, NC where I used to live, so I felt a bit at home!
Day 3 (Off to Newfoundland): I stopped by a juice bar (helloooo basic Orange County girl) in Halifax on my way to the airport that was on the waterfront. It was healthy, delicious, and the morning views of the water were so peaceful!
I caught an easy flight from the Halifax airport to St. John's Newfoundland. I got my rental car and checked into my hotel - The Courtyard by Marriott. The front desk associates were so helpful and full of suggestions for things that I should do. They raved about the iceberg tours, but unfortunately I got in too late to catch the boat (don't worry...icebergs to come!). Instead I went to Quidi Vidi which is a tiny little village right outside of St. John's. There is really nothing there but a brewery so I had to go in and take a tour and try their famed Iceberg Beer. It was a short event and was really fun!
After my tour at Quidi Vidi Brewing Co., I went for a hike (backwards, I know) at Signal Hill. It was an insanely gorgeous view and a fairly easy hike, so I would recommend this for anybody as it's the best place to get a view of the city!
I wanted to fit everything possible in on my trip so I was pretty on the go the whole time! After my hike I hopped in the car and drove to Cape Spear which was probably about 30 minutes away. It's the Easternmost point in all of North America so being there for sunset was pretty awesome! There is also a lighthouse there as well. If I had more time I would have loved to walk around a bit more as there were trails overlooking the water, but it was getting dark and I was freezing!!
Day 4 (Trinity): This day was my jam. This was what I came for and I was beyond impressed with my time in this small town of around 300 people. I pulled around the corner and was greeted by colorful houses and icebergs everywhere!! It made my insides all warm and fuzzy!
I stayed at Trinity Eco Tours B&B. It was very quaint and nice. There was an old church with a graveyard right out my window which normally I'd think was pretty cool but I was alone, it was stormy, and I was a little creeped out to be honest! The B&B is also a tour company, so I went on their Zodiac Iceberg and Whale Watching tour. It was SO MUCH FUN! They had warned us that it wasn't whale season, but we got super lucky and spotted the first humpback whale of the season! We also saw a million icebergs, a huge colony of puffins, and a few bald eagles! It was pretty chilly even with the suits we were given, but I was having so much fun that I barely noticed until I came back and had to sit in the bathroom and blow dry my feet in order to warm them up a bit!
My next adventure for the day was the Skerwink trail in Port Rexton. You guys!! OMG...this was the most beautiful hike I've ever done in my life! The coastal views were insane (icebergs included)! It was a moderate level hike...around 3 miles but there were a lot of steps so I was a tiny bit sore the next day. The trails were not crowded at all. I would have preferred to see a few more people since I had gotten it into my head that I was going to come across an angry moose. I didn't see any wildlife (phew) and came away with a new love for the Canadian Coast!
It was 9pm by the time I finished, and did not ever think about dinner before I left so by the time I got to my car there was literally no where to get food! Port Rexton Brewing Company was the only place open in probably a 20 mile radius so I stopped in for a flight of beer (I swear I don't usually drink this much beer). This place was pretty awesome! The service was great and I met a couple Geologist inside who were very entertaining to talk to!
Day 5 (Elliston and Bonavista): The drive to Elliston was short and gorgeous (there's really not a bad drive in Newfoundland I have found). Elliston is the puffin capital of the area so I was hoping to snag some good shots, but I didn't see any while I was there! Luckily I saw hundreds on the tour the previous day so I wasn't too bummed, and the views were nothing to complain about either!
Bonavista is a town neighboring Elliston. I went to view their cool looking red and white striped lighthouse and it started to POUR on me so I was soaking wet by the time I got back to my car!
I had lunch at a highly recommended restaurant called Bonavista Social Club. I had a pizza that was delicious! The vibe was surprisingly hip for how tiny the town was and the view was gorgeous as well!
The surrounding area was beautiful so I drove around a bit and saw sheep, horses, and more icebergs!
It was time to head back to Saint John's, so I took the 3 hour drive back and then explored Jellybean Row - the colorful houses that are so well known in the downtown area. I also stopped at Newfoundland Chocolate Company and got souvenirs and the most decadent hot chocolate I've ever had!
George Street apparently has the highest concentration of bars per capita in North America, so I wanted to check it out while I was there. I stopped into Green Sleeves for a bit to listen to some music. This was the first time that I felt super self conscious of being alone on my trip...not because I felt unsafe, I think I just felt awkward being at a bar where everyone else was chatting with friends.
Day 6 (Niagara Falls and Toronto): I had a super early morning flight to Toronto with a (planned) 8 hour layover. I got in around 7am and picked up a rental car and drove straight to Niagara Falls. I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed in how touristy the place was. I took the hornblower cruise and it felt like I was at a Disneyland attraction, not one of the wonders of the world. Don't get me wrong I'm glad I went and got the experience, but will I go back? Absolutely not.
I drove back into the city of Toronto to walk around and get some food. I found out there was a Momofuku noodle bar, which I was stoked about since I had been wanting to try it. It was pretty awesome! My cousin had gone to Toronto a few months before and recommended an Ice Cream shop called Sweet Jesus and after seeing a picture of her fancy and totally instagrammable cone, I had to try it. It was literally the best ice cream I've ever had. Maybe because I was dressed for the 50 degree Newfoundland weather on a 90 degree day, or maybe it really was that amazing!
I made my way back to the airport and got on my flight back to LAX, super bummed that vacation was over! It was an incredible adventure and I am so glad that I was brave enough to travel alone. If you are looking for a vacation that is a little different than laying on a beach drinking margaritas, I cannot recommend Newfoundland enough!!
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!! Whats next on your travel itinerary!?