There's plenty to do outside here, and a trip to Quidi Vidi should be high on your list. Pronounced "kitty vitty" but known locally as "the Guy," it's a tiny fishing village outside the city center that sets new standards for the word quaint. Tucked into a rocky defile behind Signal Hill and built around a narrow inlet of sea, the place is extremely photogenic -- a great stop on foot or by bicycle, but rather difficult to reach by car. The village consists mostly of compact old homes (including the oldest home in St. John's, but there's now also a microbrewery).
To get there, follow Signal Hill Road to Quidi Vidi Road, then turn right onto Forest Road. From here you can easily connect to Quidi Vidi Lake, where St. John's Regatta is held the first Wednesday in August, as it has been since 1826. Look for the trail leading to the lake from near the entrance to Quidi Vidi, or ask locally.
Huge Pippy Park (tel. 709/737-3655) is on the city's hilly western side, adjacent to the university. It measures more than 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) in all, a mixture of developed recreation facilities and attractions and quieter, undeveloped natural areas. Kids tend to like it a lot. The popular park is also home to the city's campground and its Fluvarium, as well as miniature golf and regulation-size golf courses, picnic tables, playgrounds, and hiking trails.
The Grand Concourse (tel. 709/737-1077) is an ambitious project to create an extensive network of walking trails throughout the metro St. John's area. More than 112km (70 miles) have been completed to date, and while none are open to bikes, this is a wonderful resource you should take advantage of for a stroll. Two of the best sections are the loop around Quidi Vidi Lake (an almost 4km/2 1/4-mile circuit that should take you less than an hour) and the 3km (2-mile) Rennie's River Trail (perhaps 40 minutes) running between Pippy Park and the lake. Ask for a current map of the Concourse at the tourist information center, or check the trail's website (www.grandconcourse.ca) for aerial and mapped views of the trails.
Charging Up to the Battery
When in St. John's, the one must-do hike for serious hikers (but only if you're not afraid of heights) is the North Head Trail, which runs from Signal Hill to an improbable cluster of small buildings between the rocky face and the water called The Battery. Don't tackle this walk unless you are reasonably fit, though; while short (a little more than a mile), it's steep throughout, and very steep in places.
Here's how to get there. On foot, follow Duckworth Street between the Hotel Newfoundland and Devon House, then bear right onto Battery Road. Stay on the main branch (a few smaller branches may confuse you) as the pathway narrows, rises, and falls while skirting a rock face. First you reach the so-called Outer Battery. The former fishermen's homes here are literally inches from the road -- and not much farther from the water -- and most have drop-dead views of The Narrows and the city skyline. There's a whimsical, storybook character to this section.
At the end of the Battery, you'll cross someone's front porch (it's okay), and from here the trail gets serious. It runs along The Narrows, past old gun emplacements, up and down hundreds of heroic sets of steps, then along narrow cliffs that drop away clear to the ocean. (Chains are bolted to the rocks as handrails in one place to keep you out of the ocean; use them.) Still sure you want to do this hike?
Now the trail ascends an open headland before looping back and starting a final climb up Signal Hill. After some time exploring and soaking up the view, you can save time on your return by walking a paved road back downhill to Duckworth Street where you began.
Allow about 2 hours total, assuming you began in the vicinity of the Hotel Newfoundland.
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.