This article originally appeared on the Newfoundland and Labrador website.
Sometimes you just want to experience something different. Something a little left of off-kilter, away from the everyday. That’s something you can always depend on when it comes to Newfoundland and Labrador: there’s always something there to surprise you. There seems to be a creativity infused into everything, and that includes the places they share with their visitors.
Salt box houses
There are many quaint B&Bs, inns, and vacation homes across the province, and staying in traditional salt box home is a must when travelling to Newfoundland and Labrador. Named for its shape, the salt box resembles the boxes that were used for shipping salt to the province during the cod fishery. The salt box traditionally has a shorter steep roof line in front and a longer steep slope in back. These one-and-a-half-storey houses grew in popularity between 1865-1920, and can still be found all over the province.
The Old Salt Box Co.’s houses definitely stand out. The Old Salt Box Co. provides its guests with modern furnishings and a slew of amenities mixed with authentic antique pieces such as claw foot tubs and those iconic picture windows. They are really something else.
Nestled in the craggy cliffs of Quidi Vidi village, the Inn by Mallard Cottage is next door to the renowned Mallard Cottage restaurant, which has quickly become a favourite gathering place for explorers and locals. There are two guest houses influenced in design and aesthetic by the vernacular architecture of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Each house has 4 guest rooms, all creatively appointed with the best furnishings from the past and present. Time slows in Quidi Vidi village, creating space for spontaneity and adventure, so you never quite know what your days will entail.
Traditional inns and B&Bs are also where you can have unique cultural experiences with locals. Coastal Cottages, vacation homes on four acres of ocean frontage, offers a "shed experience" where you can build an "ugly stick" and enjoy a traditional get together of song and dance. If you like lobster, then the Schooner Inn's lobster adventure is for you. You get to learn lobster cooking and eating techniques as you bake fresh homemade bread with the owner and take part in a traditional kitchen party.
If you’re looking for something that’s really far off the beaten path, the Torngat Mountain Base Camp and Research Centre offers its visitors an experience they won’t soon forget. It’s located 200 kilometres north of Labrador’s most northerly community Nain. Out here, you will catch a glimpse of an untouched land filled with wildlife – including polar bears. Don’t worry though, the base camp has experienced bear guards and guides to ensure your safety at the camp. There are also helicopter tours available to get a bird’s-eye view of these spectacular mountains. If you want to enjoy some time on the water, there are two boats of note up there. One is called What’s Happenin’? and the other is Nothin’ Much. How funny is that?
Parks Canada offers a glamping (glamorous camping) experience in the form of oTENTiks, a permanent canvas and wood framed tent with plenty of amenities that enhance the classic camping experience. Here, you can relax in comfort without sacrificing the serenity and rejuvenation that camping in the wilderness provides. Parks Canada currently offers glamping at Terra Nova National Park in Newman Sound and Malady Head. While in Gros Morne National Park, you can glamp in Trout River, Berry Hill, Green Point, or Shallow Bay campgrounds. Malady Head in particular offers another level of serene seclusion, and includes woodstoves to keep you warm on your glamping adventure.
If roughing it seems a little out of your range of experience, but it’s something you’d love to work towards, Parks Canada and Mountain Equipment Co-op have teamed up to educate people on the ins and outs of being a happy camper. Learn-To-Camp allows people from all walks of life, age, and physical ability to enjoy and learn more about one of the great pastimes in this province. Folks will have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors on one of the most recognizable landmarks this province has to offer – Signal Hill. You can learn valuable skills like how to set-up a tent, or how to cook outdoors. If this is something that tickles your fancy, why not check it out? You just may get a roasted marshmallow out of it.
If your version of roughing it includes heated bathroom floors, then perhaps Fogo Island Inn is more your speed.The Inn is situated on Fogo Island, one of the four corners of the earth. This Norwegian-style luxury accommodation gives guests a wide open panoramic view of the North Atlantic. And the food? The food is amazing. In fact, the restaurant at the Fogo Island Inn recently won the enRoute award for one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in Canada. That’s just the tip of the iceberg with this Inn. There’s so much to experience there – everything from food foraging, to furniture building, to cod jigging. You’ll never be bored, that’s for sure.
The Doctor's House is a secluded 10-room luxury resort on 100 acre ocean front estate, and is only one hour from St. John's. Once owned by one of the province's prominent doctors, the home was recently converted into a resort filled with secret gardens, farm animals, and spa treatments. Also known as a prime wedding destination, the Doctor's House offers a wide range of experiences for its guests.
If you've never wanted to stay in a lighthouse inn overlooking the ocean, you soon will. Think of it this way: a deserted island, icebergs and whales passing by, and staying in a beautiful historic structure.
Quirpon Lighthouse Inn in northern Newfoundland and Labrador allows you to do just that. The lighthouse was built in 1922 along the shores of “Iceberg Alley,” the stretch of Atlantic between the coast of Labrador and northeast coast of Newfoundland. If massive icebergs aren’t your thing, and we know they are, then just remember that whales are also a constant on this stretch of water off the coast of Quirpon.
Cape Anguille Lighthouse Inn is another idyllic and inspiring destination. Situated in a beautiful corner of western Newfoundland, the Atlantic Ocean provides the temperamental backdrop to the peaceful landscape, dotted with horses, rare birds, and sheep wandering the meadows and hills.
If you want to make a trifecta lighthouse visit, Point Amour Lighthouse in Southern Labrador also offers lighthouse accommodations at Max's House. It was the residence for the very last Light Keeper Max Sheppard and his family. Besides exploring the historic property and the 530 million-year-old geological formations, it's also an ideal location for viewing whales, icebergs, seals, and sea birds.
If waterfront accommodations have always had a special place on your bucket list, then we have some great places for you. The allure of the tides and the sound of surf lulling you to sleep is certainly a unique way to experience Newfoundland and Labrador. By staying at a fishing premises, you'll get a feeling of the rich history of the people that lived next to and off of the ocean for centuries. From Chart House on the south coast of the island in Recontre East, to Battle Harbour and the Whaler's Station Waterfront in Southern Labrador, a stay on the water will be an experience you won't soon forget.
The fact of the matter is, in a place where you expect to find the unexpected, there’s no end to the unique places you can stay. Even though all of these places are distinct, they all have one common theme, they are all filled to the brim with something Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are famous for – good old-fashioned hospitality. So, whatever your taste, you’re bound to find something if you’re adventurous enough to step off of the beaten path.