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Newfoundland in a week

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We're planning a week-long trip to Newfoundland (first time) in late-July. We see two main options: either we do the West and North (Gros Morne-L'Anse aux Meadows-Labrador Coastal Drive/Battle Harbour) or the South and East (St. John's/Avalon, Bonavista, Trinity). Which would you recommend to first-timers? Up to now we've mostly researched the west-north option. I'm looking for recommendations for the south-east option, particularly suggestions for a couple of places (maybe three?) to stay as "base camps" for day trips. We're looking for nice mix of nature (hiking, birdwatching, whales) and history/culture. St John's seems like an obvious choice, but how much daily driving would we need to do to for day trips around Avalon?

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