In Port au Choix
The town's chief (only, really) attraction is the Port au Choix historic site. But if you're coming to town, also be sure to find the former archaeological excavations at Philip's Garden, an adjunct to the historic site. Reaching the garden requires a short hike (there are actually two separate trails, one of which involves 120 rather steep steps) over low limestone cliffs splashed with rust-orange lichens. It doesn't take much to imagine the ancient community of Dorset peoples who lived here 2,000 years ago, Eskimo-style -- they hunted and skinned local harp seals for food and clothing, and ate berries and birds that still thrive here today. Just like the Maritime Archaic peoples before them, these Dorset disappeared from the area around 1,300 years ago, and nobody yet knows why; perhaps they migrated too far north with the seals as weather warmed and couldn't survive in a new environment.
Whatever the case, it's a fascinating little detour (you can even very faintly discern the outlines of their dwellings in the grass if you look hard enough). Ask for directions to the garden at the historic site's visitor center.
In St. Anthony
It was a Frommer's reader who tipped me off to Northland Discovery Boat Tours (tel. 877/632-3747 or 709/454-3092; www.discovernorthland.com). Paul Alcock uses his family's fishing boat (idled by the dwindling local fisheries), the 15m (48-ft.) Gaffer III, to give travelers a local's-eye view of the local landscape. The 2 1/2-hour tour might take in everything from humpback whales and dolphins to eagles, massive icebergs, and rare Arctic terns. You might even enter a cave or sample the unique taste of an iceberg's ice. Departing from the dock just behind the Grenfell complex , the tours run three times daily from mid-May through late September. They cost C$50 per adult, C$25 per child age 13 to 17, C$20 per child age 5 to 12, and C$8 per child children age 2 to 4.
If you don't have the time for a full tour, head out to Fishing Point Park at the end of a dirt road at the mouth of the harbor, a remote point with stunning little views. With the right timing and luck, you can view icebergs and whales from the rugged, rocky bluffs here and never leave land. Cold and windy? Grab a bite at the park's cafe and use the cafe's binoculars to ogle in safety.
Back in town, you can also visit Tea House Hill, where local hero Wilfred Grenfell is buried , in about 20 minutes or so; it has splendid bay views.
The town has one super-corny attraction, which feeds off the Viking-tourism frenzy. That's the live entertainment at the Great Viking Feast Dinner Theatre at Leifsburdur (tel. 877/454-4900 or 709/454-4900). Inside a replica sod hut -- the "only sod-covered restaurant in North America," a dubious distinction if there ever was one -- up to 85 diners feast on Jigg's dinner (boiled meat and potatoes), moose stew (yes, really), cod tongues, and baked cod, all while being amused by a crew of boisterous faux Vikings. The show is staged nightly from July through early September (reservations required), and costs about C$35 per person. Corny, hokey? Sure is. Filling and unusual? That, too.
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.