Newfoundland Staycation Blog 2020

We’re going on a Newfoundland staycation. Fortunately, Newfoundland has had a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases. The government is slowly allowing businesses to reopen, many with special rules in place, and making it possible for locals to enjoy a vacation in their own backyard this summer.

Since much of Newfoundland’s economy is based on tourism, with roughly half a million tourists visiting the province each year, many businesses are worried they may not make it through the 2020 season. It’s for this reason that a Newfoundland staycation is being encouraged. Some may still decide not to, or may not be able to, open for the season.

All large events and festivals for 2020 including Iceberg Alley, George Street Festival, and the Royal St. John’s Regatta have been cancelled. Regardless, Newfoundlanders are well-known for making the best of things. Give us a case of beer, some bologna, and a campfire, and we’re as happy as a clam.

Newfoundland Staycation 2020

So in that spirit, we’re taking Newfoundland Times on the road. Starting this June, on the first day of summer, we’ll be heading out on an island-wide road trip and documenting our journey.

Which businesses will be open? How will the accommodations be? Will our Airbnbs cancel last-minute and will we be forced to sleep in our car in the parking lot of a Riff’s? If so, will we be arrested for not having an on-board toilet facility?

The province was expected to be in Level 3 for the entirety of our journey, though it now appears that we’ll move into Level 2 as of June 25th. Provided that happens, all except a few days of our trip will take place in Level 2, meaning bars and even more businesses will be allowed to open and we’ll probably find more activities to do. We expect the move to Level 2 will likely ease the minds of nervous Airbnb hosts and other business owners as well.

We’ll be posting updates on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog post regularly. Join in, won’t you? Perhaps you’ll then be inspired and informed to plan your own Newfoundland staycation this summer.

Planning & Accommodations – May 2020

Like any trip, a proper plan for a Newfoundland staycation is needed with accommodations being booked in advance. Due to the evolving nature of rules and restrictions during the COVID situation during our planned trip, camping is off the table. We don’t have an RV or camper and parks weren’t originally supposed to be allowing tent camping during our travel dates.

We’re big fans of Airbnb so that’s our preferred method of accommodation. Not to mention, a lot of hotels in the province were not taking any bookings at the time of planning.

Reserving was fairly straight-forward with a few hiccups.

After choosing our travel areas, it was only a matter of identifying and selecting the places we wanted to book. One would think that any listings still active with available dates for the summer season were fair-game. Most were all right, though we did have a couple who had their listings active, only to then cancel or reject our bookings citing COVID-19 as the reason. We recommend having a contingency plan if you choose Airbnbs as your accomodation(s), even if just being aware that you may have to re-book last minute or sleep in your car.

On the trip, you can bet we’ll be…

And lots more!

Making a List and Checking It Twice – June 2020

We’ll be staying in a variety of accommodations in towns and communities of varying sizes. Planning and logistics are important, especially when staying in more rural locations such as a cabin where a grocery store may not be just around the corner. Is there fresh drinking water? Do you need a cooler with ice to keep your bologna and burgers cool? How is your beer supply?

To be as prepared as possible, we’ve created a buy/bring list to reference when packing. We’ll try to purchase as many things before departure as we can, taking advantage of supermarket sales in the weeks leading up to the trip. The list includes cereal, hot dogs, bologna, beer, cutlery/dishes, bum wad, fly coils and fly dope, a frisbee, warm clothing, bluetooth speaker, and more. We’ll bring along an inflatable mattress just in case of any last-minute accommodation flops due to unpredictable Airbnb hosts.

We’re quickly nearing the departure date, and happy about the news that most of our trip will fall under Level 2 instead of 3. This will allow a lot more opportunities to patronize local businesses and find activities to do. Keep checking back for new updates! Also, view this post to see the latest on what’s open.

Final Day Before Departure – June 20, 2020

We’re excited to be hitting the road tomorrow! As well, a couple of the Airbnbs we had doubts about and thought they may cancel last minute have come through and appear to be confirmed. We’re much less expecting to sleep in the car now, but anything is still possible.

Check out a picture of just some of the fun snacks we’re bringing along.

The Cabin Life – June 22, 2020

Our first couple of nights were spent enjoying the simple cabin life, about 90 minutes outside of St. John’s in the Goobies area. Goobies is well-known for the Irving Big Stop restaurant and gas station with the big moose statue. Though many people stop into this business, many may never have actually driven into Goobies to check it out.

Liquor, cookies, and some scratch tickets.

There’s not a whole lot to see! No tourist attractions here. Goobies is an unincorporated town consisting of essentially one road with some houses, a church, and a couple of truck repair shops. Not far from there are a good number of cabins, along with a river for salmon fishing. This is all along the beginning of the Burin Highway, known as Heritage Run.

Why didn’t we stop somewhere more “exciting”? Well, a cabin anywhere is all you need, the location is not important. Bring some great snacks, some food for the BBQ, and relax. We had a great time and even built a fire in the woodstove because it got chilly at night. You can’t beat the smell of a woodstove fire at the cabin and kicking back with some satellite TV.

Where are we headed next? Check back soon to find out!

On the Road Again – June 23, 2020

Most of today was spent traveling as we headed from Goobies to Western NL.

Along the way we had made some plans to stop and check out some local take-out spots but ended up disappointed since some had adjusted their hours or were not opening at all due to COVID-19.

We showed up to this spot for lunch but it was not operating on normal hours.

After admitting defeat and resorting to chain restaurants, we found even Mary Brown’s was still drive-thru only, and landed at KFC. Something struck us as odd here. KFC had marked many tables as “closed” to allow for social distance space between people. However, the “open” tables didn’t appear to be cleaned. The nice, clean “closed” tables couldn’t be used.

Hopefully as restrictions continue to ease, this will be less of an issue, but it’s good to be prepared and know that you may have to alter plans on the fly! As long as your accommodations are confirmed then that’s the most important thing. So far our confirmed bookings have been great.

Now we’re ready to enjoy this heat wave with some quality beach time.

Level 2 – June 25th, 2020

It’s the big day, Newfoundland moves into “Level 2” which allows the opening of gyms, bars, cinemas, and other businesses, all with restrictions.

Not only has the Newfoundland government announced a “Stay Home Year 2020” campaign to encourage staycations, but they’ve also said we’ll join an “Atlantic Bubble” on July 3rd meaning residents of the Atlantic provinces can travel to other Atlantic provinces but not have to self-isolate after doing so.

We’ve enjoyed some beach time in Western NL in the beautiful town of Pasadena. Since there isn’t much in the way of bars or other restricted businesses, we’ll have to get back to you on what it’s like to visit those establishments. Pasadena does have one restaurant/bar on the beach but up to this point it has not been open. We did try to patronize Subway and they told us to get outside because the lineup inside was too big, so we left. Mary Brown’s also had a lineup but we didn’t bother waiting around.

The heat wave happened at a great time since we were hoping to be on the beach. Pasadena is a wonderful place and great for biking around town. The people are friendly, too! There aren’t a whole lot of “attractions” if you’re looking for those, but it’s a great place to spend a couple of nights. We even cooked up some local beef burgers on the BBQ!

How West Can You Go? – June 26th, 2020

Pasadena was incredible but we must be moving on. Today, we headed further west. First, stopping in Corner Brook for lunch. We’re happy to report that one of our favorite pizza spots, Sorrento, was open for business! Staff were wearing masks, they had some normal COVID rules in place, but nothing that affected the dining experience. It was business as usual and the pizza was delicious.

We’ve wanted to support local businesses but so far have had a bit of a tough time with places on reduced hours or closed completely, even though it seems in Level 2 they’re certainly able to be operating, even bars.

Red Rocks / Table Mountain

The Edge of The Island – June 27, 2020

Hotel wraps TV remotes in plastic.

We find ourselves in Port Aux Basques for a couple of nights! No, we’re not joining the Atlantic bubble on the ferry, we’re staying put on the island – but being careful not to fall off the edge!

For this stop, we’re in a hotel. The hotel is operating, although it appears we may be the only guests, or at least one of very few.

They are taking precautions due to COVID-19, including shutting all public areas such as the bar, dining room, washrooms, etc.

We were able to grab a delicious fish & chips at Alma’s in the Grand Valley Mall. Staff wore masks and tables were spaced.

We’re not personally worried about COVID-19, especially in these less populated areas. Newfoundland has 0 cases as it is. But, since this is a height of concern for many people who are considering a staycation, we’re sharing the details to help support the tourism industry.

Beautiful Harbour Restaurant and 1Ton Pub & Grill, not open for business.

Again here we had trouble finding any local bars open, even though regulations now permit them to do so. We’re not sure, there may not even be any bars left in Port Aux Basques. It’s hard to tell when visiting a new place during such a time. We saw some but couldn’t tell if they were permanently closed or only temporarily. We found a Facebook post from St. Christopher’s Hotel stating their bar is now open with a capacity of 20, but their VLT’s wouldn’t be active until next week. VLT’s and the bar area/tables will need to be sanitized after each use. The ALC says video lottery could resume in Newfoundland as of June 25th.

Playgrounds in Port Aux Basques were still closed during our visit.
Only a single vendor was open at Scott’s Cove Park. At this time only food vendors were permitted to open.
The beach was open, just with a warning sign. It was a bit breezy for the beach today.
Port Aux Basques Railyway Heritage Center remaining closed until further notice even in Level 2.

Hopefully as the summer progresses more and more businesses will open up! We were glad to finally support some local restaurants this week, and will continue to explore. Perhaps there’s a risk to some who feel it’s better to stay closed, rather than open and lose money. A Facebook post on the Railway Heritage Museum’s page indicates that they are remaining closed this year.

Centralizing – June 29th, 2020

Spending some time in Grand Falls-Windsor we’ve found many more businesses open, and even tried out a couple of restaurants and a bar. VLTs were open as well and the staff were cleaning them after use.

One restaurant had some hand sanitizer at the door and tables spaced, otherwise it was business as usual. Another didn’t seem to have much of any rules or practices in place. We liked it! By far it appears that chain establishments (both food and retail) have, and are enforcing, the strictest policies.

Papa’s Sweet Shop in Grand Falls-Windsor

Our next and final destination is where we’ll spend Canada Day.

On the Avalon – June 30th, 2020

The final stop of our Newfoundland staycation is back on the Avalon. We spend most of today driving, with a stop for lunch in Clarenville. We tried to check out Rod’s Restaurant and support local but they were at capacity, which seemed to be no more than half a dozen tables. After waiting for 10 minutes with no end in sight, we had to move on. It’s a shame since some others in the line told us about how great their fish and chips are. They also expressed frustration with the delays and restrictions in place and couldn’t stand around all day.

We dropped into the nearby A&W for a quick bite instead. They were taking COVID-19 precautions with limited tables, plexiglass at the counter, staff wearing masks, and only 1 person allowed in the washroom at a time. Service was efficient, and we liked that the staff was actually around coordinating and cleaning tables promptly. All in all they were ensuring as little disruption to customers, while taking care with COVID-19 precautions.

Happy Canada Day – July 1, 2020

Traditionally we spend Canada Day in a shed or in the yard, celebrating our great country. This year, as the final stop on our Newfoundland Staycation, we’re in a camper in a gravel pit and it’s fantastic. The awning came in handy during all the rain, but the temperature was nice, so we were able to sit outside for the day and take it easy.

That’s All Folks – July 2, 2020

Our Newfoundland Staycation has come to an end, but hopefully you plan on taking one next!

Overall, aside from a few hitches with Airbnb bookings and unexpected businesses being closed, it was a smooth trip and plenty of fun!

We began planning this back before government was encouraging staycations, so some hosts were a little more apprehensive which led to cancelled bookings before we departed. All of the hosts that did accept our bookings were great, and we assume that now things are probably a little easier.

We were a little surprised at the number of restaurants and businesses that remained closed during our travels, as we were hoping to spend a little more at local establishments. Many tourist destinations were closed as well.

Even in small towns you can have fun. Our strategy was to stay 2-3 nights at most in a single area. The exploring alone is fun, and there’s never any time to get bored. Newfoundland still has lots to see and do even with some establishments deciding not to open because of COVID-19.

There’s plenty of summer left. Get out and enjoy!