Today’s guest post was written by Marissa Evans, an editor at Travel-Wise, a website dedicated to providing families with travel inspiration and advice. We have not yet visited Prince Edward Island, so we’re happy to share this quick guide to PEI with you. Have you visited any of these places? What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Quick Guide to Prince Edward Island
When most people refer to the island life they’re likely speaking of some tropical oasis, with days spent lounging on the beach and fruity beverage in hand. While you could certainly spend all day at the beach on this island, you’d be missing out on its wonderful attractions.
There’s a lot more to living the island life on Prince Edward Island, and you’ll soon see what makes it an oasis of its own in Atlantic Canada.
I first visited PEI when I was 10-years-old on vacation with my family. We spent much of our time touring the Anne of Green Gables attractions, as one does on the Island considering the beloved L.M. Montgomery novel is a staple of PEI tourism.
But my second trip to PEI, taken at the beginning of July, was much different. I spent time exploring more of the natural attractions the Island has to offer.
Prince Edward Island is a small but unbelievably lovely province.
Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park
Here we hiked the Greenwich Dunes trail, which takes you through old farmers’ fields and across a boardwalk that stretches over water, before reaching towering sand dunes that flow into a pristine beach. Visitors are not allowed to climb on the sand dunes, but there is a designated walkway that takes you over them so you can access the beach.
It’s an easy hike that I highly recommend. The landscapes are incredible and dunes are massive. I’m convinced that boardwalks always lead to beautiful places.
The park is open June to September. Admission for adults is $7.80 CAD. Kids under 18 are free.
Where to stay – Rodd Crowbush Golf & Beach Resort
Gulf Shore Parkway
The Gulf Shore Parkway is the place to witness the breathtaking landscapes that influenced L.M. Montgomery’s descriptive writing about Prince Edward Island. The parkway is located on the north shore of the Island and runs along the coast.
We drove the west section of the Gulf Shore Parkway, from Cavendish to New Rustico, but you can also take the east section from Brackley Beach to Grand Tracadie.
There are numerous lookout points along the road. It’s here you’ll come to understand why people so love PEI. Rugged red cliffs with tall green grass that wavers in the sea breeze. Red dirt paths lead to quiet beaches. From time to time, a fishing boat sails across the horizon. It’s like a postcard.
A paved pedestrian path also runs along the road, making this a great spot for a family bike ride or walk. Bring your beach essentials because North Rustico Beach and Cavendish Beach are located nearby.
Green Gables Heritage Place
For Anne of Green Gables lovers, there’s no better attraction than Green Gables Heritage Place, located on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. The Victorian house and surrounding farm were owned by Montgomery’s cousins, the MacNeill family, whom she visited as a young girl.
Today you can tour the house and explore the grounds where you can learn about what life on a farm was like over a century ago. You can also visit familiar locales that were featured in the novel such as Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Woods.
Green Gables is open May to October. Admission for adults is $7.80 CAD during peak season (July-August). Kids are free.
Where to stay in Cavendish – Kindred Spirits Country Inn
Located just down the road from Green Gables Heritage Place is Avonlea Village, a re-creation of the fictitious town in the Anne novels. It’s comprised of both heritage buildings and purpose-built structures that bring to life what Cavendish — the town Avonlea was based on — would have been like in the 19th century.
Spend the day wandering the red dirt streets, stop for lunch at one of the restaurants that make use of fresh local produce, and, of course, don’t forget to try a bottle of raspberry cordial.
I’ll be honest, I only recently realized that the Avonlea I visited as a kid wasn’t a real town. It seemed so vibrant and authentic at the time that my memory has fooled me into thinking it was an entire town instead of a small collection of buildings.
Avonlea Village is open June to September. Entry is free.
L.M. Montgomery Birthplace
As Green Gables and Avonlea Village cater more to the books, those who want to learn about the author will enjoy visiting the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace. The house where Montgomery was born is located in New London and has been converted into a museum commemorating her life.
I visited the Birthplace on a whim. We were driving from Cavendish to Summerside in the pouring rain when we saw the sign for the Birthplace. We decided to stop and check it out. I’m glad we did.
I’ve read some of Montgomery’s journals, so I knew a little about her life. Getting a better understanding of her life’s story and seeing some of her possessions was an interesting experience. The house is furnished with period furniture and accessories, giving guests a sense of what life was like back then.
The Birthplace is open May to Thanksgiving. There is a small admission fee.
COWS Ice Cream Shop
I’ve saved the best for last. You can’t go to Prince Edward Island without visiting COWS Ice Cream shop. There aren’t many locations in Canada (aside from PEI there are only locations in Whistler, Banff, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Halifax), so I recommend you take advantage while you are here.
Enjoy flavours such as Cownadian Maple, Gooey Mooey and Udder Finger to name just a few. I’ll admit, it’s a little pricey compared to other ice cream establishments. But the fun flavours are worth it.
The t-shirts and other clothing for sale feature pop culture references with a, you guessed it, bovine spin. One of my favourite shirts as a kid was the ‘Cowy Potter’ shirt I got from COWS. Today, you can find the likes of ‘Cow Wars: May the Force be with Moo’, ‘Riverdairy’ and ‘Graze Moonatomy’.
There are several locations in Prince Edward Island, including Cavendish, Charlottetown, Borden and on the Northumberland Ferry.
While I’ve included a few of the popular tourist attractions on Prince Edward Island, this under-rated province is truly a place of hidden gems. There are so many beaches, lighthouses, independently owned shops and restaurants to be discovered.
Make sure you leave plenty of time in your itinerary to seek out the local haunts of whatever town you’re staying in. I hope you enjoy this exceptional Atlantic treasure.
Author Bio: Marissa Evans is the editor at Travel-Wise, a website dedicated to providing families with travel inspiration and advice to help make their trips a reality. Most of her own trips are spent camping, hiking and trying to find the best ice cream a destination has to offer.