To call George Street legendary might even be an understatement. With more pubs and clubs per capita than any other street in North America, George Street is what brings many people to St. John's, Newfoundland.
While some locals grow tired of its venues, George Street is without question a great way to experience the city’s nightlife in one small setting. And if you happen to get tired of the rowdy crowds and loud music, you can roam the street and make new friends while sampling foods from the local vendors—though remembering your new friends’ names tomorrow might be challenging.
To experience the hottest spots, the legendary pubs and clubs that have been around forever, check out my George Street favourites:
Possibly the most popular bar on George Street, Sundance is great for party-goers of all ages who want to dance in a less upscale environment without a dress code.
Consider Dusk the exact opposite of Sundance. There's a dress code (no sneakers or hats), and the whole club has a more cosmopolitan feel. A live DJ spins all night long, and dancing is a must.
This club has live entertainment, usually of the rock genre with some great local or Canadian bands. While there's no real “rules” inside, it's almost exclusively a place for an older age group to hang out (e.g. late 20s and older).
Here's a tip: Sundance, Dusk and Club One, are all under one roof, so only one cover charge ($8) is required! There's even a small bar between clubs known as The Beer Market. In the summertime, the deck opens upstairs, complete with an outside bar.
Looking for some traditional Newfoundland music and a place to stomp out a jig on the dance floor? O'Reilly's draws incredible Celtic talent and great crowds. The venue is large so it's never too crowded, and enthusiastic clubbers have a blast on the dance floor. Cover charge varies, but it's usually about $8 for live music.
The appeal of Lottie's isn't obvious at first glance (or even first visit). The pub is small, the bathrooms are dirty, and the dance floor literally sags under the weight of the dancers. However, it's a haven for the locals: no cover charge, plus White Russians for under $5. Spend enough time there, and the faces become as familiar as the soundtrack. The Eagles and Bon Jovi never get old!
A mid-sized pub with a great mix of people, from college kids to working professionals. Bands and musicians often play during the weekend, and usually without cover charge. The biggest defining factor of Trapper John's is that it's not only a pub, it's a museum filled with Newfoundland knick-knacks and artifacts displayed on the walls.
The Final Say
There are a dozen other places to explore on (and off!) the street, but for first-timers, I suggest starting the night of at Lottie's with a White Russian or two, doing a “Lottie's loop” (a walk-through the bar), and then hitting up one of the bigger venues.
Downtown starts getting busy around 12 a.m., and clubs stay open until 3 a.m.—or even later. Trust me, Newfoundlanders know how to party. Have fun keeping up with them!