In Grand Falls-Windsor
The Salmonid Interpretation Centre (tel. 709/489-7350; www.exploitsriver.ca), across the river from the mill, is a good little detour. Finding the place is a bit of a trick, but the center is more interesting than you might think. Not only will you get a good view of the rocky gorge through which the river tumbles, but you can also watch Atlantic salmon laboring up the fish ladder -- which is not a "ladder" in the conventional sense, but rather a series of concrete pools linked by short waterfalls that leads to a holding tank. The fish are counted before one final gate is opened and they continue their upstream journeys unhindered. Inside, you descend to an observation area below to watch the salmon through aquariumlike walls. The fish are surprisingly majestic, though the exhibits themselves are a bit dull. The restaurant here offers basic and reasonably priced meals.
The center is open mid-June to mid-September daily from 8am to 8pm. Admission is C$3 adults, C$2 for seniors and children.
Back across the river in Grand Falls is the Mary March Regional Museum at 24 St. Catherine St. (tel. 709/292-4522). It honors a Beothuk Indian who was captured in 1819 at Red Indian Lake; she died of tuberculosis after a year in captivity. The museum also describes Newfoundland's 5,000 years of inhabitation, from early Maritime Archaic Indians on through the Paleo-Eskimo, Beothuk, Mi'kmaq, and (eventually) Europeans. Intriguing artifacts such as ancient stone gouges and the geometrically incised game pieces and pendants of the Beothuk are displayed. The museum also offers a perspective on the local pulp and paper industry, and the coming of the railway. It's open from late April through mid-October, daily from 9am to 4:45pm. Admission is C$2.50 adults, free for visitors under 18.
As you reach Twillingate's harbor on Route 340, you'll arrive at a "T" intersection at Main Street. You can turn right or left; both directions merit exploration.
Turning left leads to the north island, Long Point, and the region's most prominent lighthouse. Along the way you'll pass the Twillingate Museum & Craft Shop (tel. 709/884-2825; www.tmacs.ca) housed in a 1914 white clapboard building that was formerly the rectory of St. Peter's Anglican Church. Inside the handsome home you'll find displays of goods that might have been found in this community late in the 19th century, such as hooked rugs, cranberry glass, dolls, and fashions. There's also a display of local artifacts from the Maritime Indian culture and a display about Georgina Stirling, a local soprano who was once the toast of European opera houses (performing as Madame Toulinguet); she's buried nearby at St. Peter's Church, by the way. The museum houses a decent gift shop with a little selection of hand-knit sweaters, food products, and local history books. It's open daily from May through October, 9am to 8pm. There's a small admissions charge.
The road to Long Point passes through a few tiny communities before entering undeveloped barrens riven with coves and cliffs. Seabreeze Municipal Park has picnic tables and dramatic hiking trails along the cliffs. The rusted equipment in the meadows is from a short-lived copper mine that operated here briefly in the early 20th century, while the tracks of ancient lava flows in the cliff faces will interest rockhounds.
A few minutes' drive beyond the park is the Long Point Lighthouse, Twillingate's must-see destination. The red-and-white, milk bottle-shaped lighthouse, built in 1876, isn't open to the public but you can park along the cliffs and enjoy the sweeping views from these high headlands. (Unfortunately, antennae and microwave towers share the headland with the light, making it a poorer photo than you'd expect.) Whales and icebergs can often be spotted from this point.
Back in town, turning right at Twillingate's main intersection takes you on a winding road through clustered homes along the harbor's edge and onto the south island. In a mile or so you come to the Auk Island Winery (tel. 877/639-4637; www.aukislandwinery.com), which has produced fruit wines here since 1998. Among the varieties available here are blueberry (the most popular), dogberry, gooseberry, partridgeberry, and strawberry-rhubarb wines. You might think they taste like Kool-Aid, but they don't. You can learn about the process and pick up bottles at the retail store; call ahead if you want to take a tour, as there's no set schedule but they can often accommodate you for a small charge.
Beyond the winery, the road slims down to one lane (be careful here) and passes through even more thinly populated areas en route to French Head (which rubs up against Burnt Island Tickle; yes, really), and some interesting rock formations that look like people and animals, before it finally ends. Ask locally about the hiking trails that ascend hills and cliffs around here (you can buy a map in town); some offer stunning views and, in season, profuse berries for the picking. Just be sure to respect private property where posted.
The Trans-Canada Highway skirts the southern edge of the downtown, which isn't really worth a detour. This commercial center is mostly a cluster of cheerless shopping plazas and fast-food joints, a place to stock up on supplies on the way to Twillingate or Terra Nova National Park. The hotels, restaurants, and gas stations are situated on the Trans-Canada Highway.
You'll also find the North Atlantic Aviation Museum (tel. 709/256-2923; www.naam.ca) on the Trans-Canada. In fact, you can't miss it -- it's the hangarlike building with the butt-end of a plane sticking out of the side. A couple of historic planes can be viewed on the grounds, including a Tiger Moth and a handsome firefighting plane. With its emphasis on aviation arcana, this museum is chiefly of interest only to confirmed airplane buffs. It's open from 9am to 6pm daily in season (the season varies each year). The cost is C$5 for adults, C$4 for seniors or children age 5 to 15, and C$16 for families.
Just east of town, look for a sign directing you to the poignant Silent Witness Memorial above Gander Lake. This memorial marks the site where a cargo plane carrying members of the U.S. 101st Airborne home for Christmas went down shortly after takeoff in December of 1985 -- a report later concluded icing on the wings probably caused the crash, but the report was not conclusive. The plane was returning from a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East; all 256 on board were killed -- still the worst aviation disaster ever on Canadian soil. The breathtaking view of the lake from the crash site, as well as the heart-tugging sculpture of a serviceman holding hands with two young children, makes visiting this memorial an especially bittersweet experience.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.