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Introducing St John's

Encamped on the steep slopes of a harbor, with jelly-bean-colored row houses popping up from hilly streets, St John's is often described as looking like a mini San Francisco. And like its American counterpart, it's home to artists, musicians, inflated real estate prices and young, iPhone-using denizens. Yet the vibe of Newfoundland's largest city and capital remains refreshingly small-town, with locals happy to share conversation and a sudsy drink with newcomers. At some point, they'll be sure to let you know St John's is North America's oldest city.

Highlights include view-gaping from Signal Hill, walking the seaside North Head Trail and listening to live music and hoisting a pint (or shot of rum) in George St's pubs. Many visitors take advantage of the city's beyond-the-norm eating and lodging options by making St John's their base camp for explorations elsewhere on the Avalon Peninsula. Cape Spear, Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and Ferryland are among the easy day trips.