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Downtown St. John's

In downtown St. John's, the oldest city in North America, you will find jellybean row houses, George Street, the War Memorial, Terry Fox Memorial, old stone buildings & churches, Harbourside Park, and more. The historic and cultural flair of downtown St. John's makes it a popular destination for visitors to eastern Newfoundland. With limited parking opportunities and several one-way streets, it is best, if possible, to tour downtown St. John's on foot.

There is a line of cars on both sides of the street in front of these three-story homes in downtown St. John's.
Downtown St. Johns is considered the oldest area of the city.

Jellybean Row Houses

Downtown St. John's is quite popular with visitors who wish to see the Jellybean Row houses. Interesting enough, there is no one district known as Jellybean Row and these colorful, row-style houses can be found in many areas. Many people are intrigued by the houses and many stories exist as to how they evolved. Here are some theories:

  1. The houses were brightly colored so that loved ones at sea could identify their homes as they were returning home.

  2. The Great Fire of 1892 burned down much of downtown St. John's and homes had to be constructed quickly to provide shelter for the residents. With limited paint on hand and transportation slow, people bought whatever paint they could find to paint the houses.

  3. The brightly colored homes were meant to generate cheer during times of despair.

  4. The houses were brightly colored to enhance tourism and were a part of the branding of Newfoundland.

Many theories exist but one thing remains clear: guests to Newfoundland love visiting, & photographing, these cheery-looking, brightly-colored, row houses nestled in the heart of downtown St. John's.

These attached houses in hues of of blue, yellow, red, and orange are collectively called Jellybean Row houses.
Jellybean Row Houses in downtown St. John's.


On a sunny day in downtown St. John's, fog can be seen on the tree-covered cliffs beyond the Jellybean Row houses of downtown St. John's.
In downtown St. John's, fog can be seen on the cliffs beyond the Jellybean Row houses of downtown St. John's.

On a street in downtown St. John's, there are brightly colored, blue, red, yellow, green, and purple Jellybean Row houses.
On a street in downtown St. John's are brightly colored, blue, red, yellow, green, & purple Jellybean Row houses.

Stone buildings & old churches in downtown St. John's

During your adventure in downtown St. John's, take time to explore the amazing old stone buildings and churches. Much of the St. John's downtown district was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1892 and, following this, many buildings that were rebuilt were constructed of stone. Because Newfoundland was a British colony at that time, many of these old stone building bear a resemblance to European structures.

Gower Street United Church in downtown St. John's is a heritage structure in downtown St. John's built with red bricks and Romanesque style construction.
Gower Street United Church in downtown St. John's has a Romanesque architectural design.

The Anglican Cathedral in downtown St. John's is a stone building  with a Gothic Revival style architecture.
The Anglican Cathedral in downtown St. John's has a Gothic Revival style architecture.

The Basilica in downtown St. John's has high archway and religious statues on its walls.
The Basilica in downtown St John's is a Romanesque Revival style architecture.

Newman wine vaults is an old stone building with arched ceilings and doorways. It has historical value as the only accessible historic wine cellar remaining in Newfoundland.
Newman wine vaults in downtown St. John's has a Georgian revival style architecture.

George Street

George Street is a popular tourist attraction that is renowned for its two blocks of culturally rich restaurants, bars, and pubs. The district hosts the George Street Festival annually over the course of one week in the summer during which many different entertainers perform in a lineup of outdoor performances (Tickets are sold for the event).

George Street is a pedestrian only district with outdoor entertainment and culturally rich bars, restaurants, and pubs.
George Street is a pedestrian only district with outdoor entertainment and culturally rich bars, restaurants, and pubs.

Pedestrian Mall in Downtown St. John's

The outdoor pedestrian mall operates during the summer season in downtown St. John's. Restaurants, bars, and vendors set up along the sidewalks of Water Street and Duckworth Street, accessible only to pedestrians.

The pedestrian mall in downtown St. John's is a pedestrian only zone featuring bars, clothing boutiques, & restaurants.
The pedestrian mall in downtown St. John's is a pedestrian zone featuring bars, clothing boutiques, & restaurants.

Musicians set up their musical equipment on red picnic tables along the pedestrian mall on Water Street, St. John's.
Enjoy outdoor venues with restaurants, pubs and even a busker station at the pedestrian mall, downtown St. John's.

St. John's war memorial

The St. John's war memorial is located in downtown St. John's, NL. It pays tribute to WW1 servicemen.

Statues of the St. John's war memorial in downtown St. John's, NL, Canada
St. John's war memorial honors Newfoundland servicemen who served in WW1.

Harbourside Park

Harbourside Park is a family friendly, outdoor, venue located across from the St. John's war memorial and overlooking the ocean. During the summer months, Harbourside Park hosts free "concert at noon" entertainment events by local performers.

A Canadian flag flutters in the wind near a tall tree aside Harbourside Park's information center, downtown St. John's.
Harbourside Park overlooks St. John's harbour in downtown St. John's. See outdoor concerts during summer season.


Spectators sit in outdoor seating looking at a musical performance in downtown St. John's overlooking the ocean.
Harbourside park concert at noon showcases outdoor musical performances overlooking the ocean.

Terry Fox Memorial

The Terry Fox memorial is located at 1 Water Street in downtown St. John's, NL. For those unfamiliar with Terry Fox, this teen, stricken by cancer, embarked upon a "marathon of hope" to help raise money for cancer research. The trek was supposed to take him across all of Canada, beginning in Newfoundland and ending in British Colombia. However the cancer spread to his lungs during his marathon and he could no longer continue his journey beyond Ontario. In his memory, many cities across Canada host an annual Terry Fox Run the proceeds of which are donated to cancer research.

A statue of Terry Fox stands in front of an inspiring quote at the Terry Fox memorial site.
Visit the Terry Fox memorial site, downtown St. John's, Newfoundland.

Boat watching experiences

Many people travelling to Newfoundland enjoy a visit to St. John's harbour to watch huge ships, cruise ships, and maybe even a submarine, come to port. Sometimes, from atop Signal Hill, a Parks Canada official dressed as a 19th century serviceman will fire a three gun salute to large cruise ships departing St. John's.

Several downtown St. John's businesses and homes frame this image of a submarine docked at a wharf at St. John's harbour.
Enjoy boat watching, possibly even a submarine docked next to the wharf in St. John's harbour.

Passing the cliffs of Signal Hill on the left and Fort Amherst on the right, the Caribbean Princess cruise ship leaves St. John's harbour for open seas.
The Caribbean Princess cruise ship leaving St. John's harbour.

The Canadian coast guard is docked at a wharf in St. John's harbour overlooking downtown St. John's, NL.
The Canadian coast guard is docked at a wharf in St. John's harbour overlooking downtown St. John's, NL.

Passing Signal Hill on the left and Fort Amherst on the right, an offshore supply vessel is exiting the narrows at St. John's harbour.
An offshore supply vessel is exiting the narrows at St. John's harbour.

Please continue to follow my blog as I showcase more amazing tourist attractions in eastern Newfoundland.


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