In 1768, Lieutenant John Cartwright, while following the Exploits River through the Exploits Valley, named the waterfall he found "Grand Falls". In 1905, the town of Grand Falls was established as a new town using Garden City principles expounded by Ebenezer Howard. Worried about the impending war in Europe, Alfred Harmsworth (Baron Northcliffe) began looking for an alternative source of newsprint for his family's newspaper and publishing business. During their search for a suitable location to build and operate a pulp and paper mill, Harold Harmsworth and Mayson Beeton, son of Isabella Beeton, the author of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, discovered Grand Falls. The site had great potential due to access to lumber, the possibility of hydroelectricity and a deep-water port available in nearby Botwood. The Harmsworths and Robert Gillespie Reid, owner of the Newfoundland Railway, formed the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, and the mill was opened in 1909. Workers came from throughout the colony and the world to help develop the new area. At that time, only employees of the mill and workers from private businesses were permitted to live in Grand Falls. Other people settled north of the railway in a shack town known as Grand Falls Station, which became Windsor, named for the English Royal Family.
Grand Falls-Windsor can be accessed via Trans-Canada Highway 1. There are several exits, the first coming from the east being Grenfell Heights, second Union Street/Lincoln Road; third being Cromer Avenue and the fourth being Victoria Street/Main Street W/Station Road. They all lead into different parts of the town.
It is approximately 95 km (1 hour) west of Gander, 240 km (2½ hours) west of Clarenville and about 430 km (4 hr 45 min) west of St. John's. On the other hand, the town is 210 km (2 hr 15 min) east of Deer Lake, 265 km (2 hr 45 min) east of Corner Brook, and 475 km (5 hr) east of Port Aux Basques, when travelling on the Trans-Canada Highway.
The nearest airport is Exploits Valley (Botwood) Airport in Botwood. The nearest international airport is Gander International Airport, approximately 100 km east of Grand Falls-Windsor.
Because of Grand Falls-Windsor's curved and somewhat confusing nature, if you are new to the town a map could be useful. While the town is marked very well with street signs and attraction signs everywhere, it still may not be enough.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Route 1 runs through the middle of town, with exits for Main Street, Station Road, Cromer Avenue, Union Street, Grenfell Heights and New Bay Road. Main thoroughfares in the town include Lincoln Road, Cromer Avenue, Main Street, High Street, and Scott Avenue, though this list is not exhaustive.
- Mary March Provincial Museum, 24 Catherine St, ☏ . Early May – early Oct: M-Sa 9AM - 4:30PM, Su noon - 4:30PM. Exhibits about the Beothuk people, geology, regional industry and natural history. A locomotive of the Newfoundland Railway which was closed down in 1988 can be seen in front of the museum. $2.50.
- The Salmonid Interpretation Centre, 100 Taylor Drive, ☏ . Daily 8AM-8PM. Exhibits on the history, biology, ecology and habitat of the Atlantic Salmon. Visitors can view the fish through underwater windows as it travels upstream to the spawning habitat and take in the view of the Falls and nesting seagulls. Restaurant and gift shop.
- Harmsworth Hall. It was constructed by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company (AND) in 1929. The hall houses the offices for the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor. The hall has a wood frame with a brick exterior and stands two storeys tall. It has roof trim moulding, copper flashing and large arched windows that overlook High Street, the main street in Grand Falls. It has concrete lintels over the doors and windows, and the centre portion of the hall features a peaked roof.
- Exploits Valley Salmon Festival. Mid-July. A five-day summer festival that has featured performances by Aerosmith, Smashmouth, the Tragically Hip and the Eagles. A gospel concert, a softball tournament, a salmon dinner (of course), a pub crawl,
- Gorge Park, 1A2 Scott Ave. Walks along the Exploits River.
- Rafting Newfoundland, ☏ . Four whitewater rafting trips offered on the Exploits River. $120-150.
- 1 Exploits Valley Mall, 19 Cromer Ave, Windsor, ☏ . M-W 9:30AM-5:30PM, Th F 9:30AM-9PM, F 9:30AM-9PM, Su noon-5PM. Being the Grand Falls-Windsor area's only shopping centre, it has department stores such as Wal-Mart and Bargain Giant along with restaurants like Jungle Jim's and clothing stores all in one building.
- Valley Restaurant, 19 Cromer Ave, ☏ . M-W 8AM-6PM, Th F 8AM-8PM, Sa 8AM-5:30PM. Diner: fish and chips, hot turkeys dinners, burgers and fries.
- Sara's Diner, 7 Church Rd, ☏ . Tu-Th Sa Su 7AM-2PM, F 7AM-2PM and 4:30-7PM. "All-day breakfast" (but they usually close by 2PM, so it's not really available "all day"), burgers, fish, etc.
- Juniper Kitchen and Bistro, 48 High St, ☏ . M-Th 11AM-2PM and 5-9PM, F 11AM-2PM and 5-10PM, Sa 10AM-2PM and 5-10PM, Su 10AM-3PM. Fine dining. Mains $13-39.
- Kelly's Pub, 18 Hill Rd, ☏ . Daily 9AM-3PM. Live music, dancing, cold beer, cocktails.
- 1 Sanger RV Park, 1 Scott Ave, ☏ . Large lots with services – electric, water and sewer hookups. The comfort station features free, private showers. Other services include laundry facilities, social centre, horseshoe pit, shuffle board and walking trails along the river. Early Jun to early Sep. Wheelchair accessible.
- Hotel Robin Hood, 78 Lincoln Rd, ☏ . Air-conditioning, and free WiFi throughout the hotel. A continental breakfast is included. Doubles from $120, 4-person suites from $136.
- Carriage House Inn, 181 Grenfell Hts, ☏ , toll-free: . Free Wi-Fi and breakfast, guest laundry facility, air conditioner. From $71.