10 quintessential Prince Edward Island experiences you must try

Canada-PEI-Canoe-Cove-6It may be Canada’s tiniest province, but Prince Edward Island on the country’s east coast sure packs a punch, particularly in the summer months. Easily navigable, it’s easy to explore the whole island by car or plant yourself in the capital of Charlottetown and take day trips from there. With untouched beaches, scenic golf courses, fresh seafood and heaps of history, visitors will never run out of spots to explore. Here are 10 things everyone should try in Prince Edward Island.

Explore the red sand cliffs

Driving through PEI’s countryside often means coming across a striking scene: vibrant green plants nestled in earthy red soil, offset by a bright blue sky. The phenomenon is created by iron oxide that “rusts” with exposure to air, creating the rugged, rouge scenery.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

It’s not just farmer’s fields that benefit—in fact, much of Prince Edward Island’s coast is lined with those signature red cliffs and beaches. One of the best spots to see them is the Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site near Charlottetown, which has great lookout points and pretty trails lined with white lighthouses.
Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do Prince Edward Island, Canada things to doCanoe Cove Beach is also well-worth a stop. Located on the south shore, the spot is popular with families thanks to its day-use area which has a playground and is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. Visitors can walk along the sand and head into the bay, which is particularly novel during low tide when warm water pools between the mounds.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

Canoe Cove

Track down Anne of Green Gables

A trip to Prince Edward Island isn’t complete without visiting the spot the island is most famous for: Green Gables Heritage Place, which inspired Anne of Green Gables. Author L.M. Montgomery frequented the area growing up, and often referenced her surroundings in her tales about the vivacious, orphaned red head who has been capturing hearts for over a century.

READ MORE: Tracing the roots of Anne of Green Gables in Prince Edward Island

Anne of Green Gables in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, CanadaToday, Parks Canada manages the site which features a large barn with big red doors, wooded pathways and the iconic Green Gables House. Keep a sharp eye out, and you just might come across Anne herself! Many visitors combine their visit with a tour of nearby Avonlea Village, where the schoolhouse that Montgomery once taught in now sits, along with the church she and her family attended.
Canada-PEI-Green-Gables-House

Anne of Green Gables in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Avonlea Village

Grab a cone at COWS

Freckle-faced Anne may have bragging rights as PEI’s most beloved symbol, but COWS comes a close second. The company has been serving up ice cream since 1983, using fresh cream, eggs and sugar the old-fashioned way resulting in tasty frozen treats.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

COWS Creamery

There was so much demand for their flavours such as Chip Chip Hooray and Messie Bessie along with classic favourites like bubblegum, that COWS eventually opened other locations across Canada. However, the company is still strongly rooted in PEI where it has six locations, including the main creamery in Charlottetown which offers free tours of the production areas and also has a huge gift shop.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

COWS ice cream

Explore the sand dunes

PEI’s sand dunes are perhaps just as iconic as the province’s red cliffs, and are found in spots like the Greenwich section of Prince Edward Island National Park. Home to parabolic dunes which have a half-bowl shape, the area is accessed via the Greenwich Dunes Trail that passes through a forest sheltering the likes of Downy Woodpeckers, Great Horned Owls and red squirrels. The path eventually leads to a picturesque bridge that floats in Bowley Pond, where the dunes can first be seen.

Prince Edward Island PEI best beaches north shore

Greenwich Dunes Trail

After scrambling up a sandy hill, visitors are greeted by an expansive shimmering beach, and will find numerous platforms perfect for viewing the ever-changing dunes which are constantly reshaped by the wind. Read the interpretive signs to learn more about the landscape, relax on the beach, or simply sit back in one of the bright red Parks Canada chairs and enjoy the view.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

Prince Edward Island PEI best beaches north shore

Greenwich Dunes

Eat lobster

It wouldn’t be a trip to the east coast without enjoying some seafood, so keep an eye out for lobster rolls, lobster sandwiches, lobster dinners…you get the picture! Fresh seafood is found all over the island, and notable spots to get your fill include:

The Feast at Inn at Fortune Bay: Every night at 6 pm, the festivities kick off with an Oyster Bar featuring all-you-can-slurp oysters. Dinner starts an hour later and is served up family style, featuring fresh-baked bread, charcuterie, seafood chowder and of course dessert! Reservations recommended.

New Glasgow Lobster Supper: This family-owned restaurant has served up fresh seafood since the 1950s, prepping entrees like the Surf & Turf platter, atlantic salmon, scallops and of course lobster.

Rick’s Fish ’n’ Chips & Seafood House: Located in St. Peter’s Bay, this small restaurant’s specialities include lobster rolls, mussels and meaty seafood chowder, but they’re perhaps most famous for their piping hot, deep-fried sole or haddock fish ’n chips.
Canada-Nova-Scotia-Lunenburg-lobster

Bike the Confederation Trail

Stretching over 434 kilometres, islanders are particularly proud of the Confederation Trail where the main section starts in Tignish and ends in Elmira. The most popular spot to tackle the trail is between St. Peter’s Bay and Morell, which takes about one hour and navigates the coastline, marshlands, fields full of flowers and three little bridges.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

Spotting a fox on the Confederation Trail

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to doInsider tip: Those who find themselves in the north part of the island should check out the Gulf Shore Way. The 12.5 kilometre paved trail between Brackley and Dalvay also passes Cavendish and North Rustico (and this writer thinks it’s even more scenic than the Confederation Trail!).

Prince Edward Island PEI best beaches north shore

Covehead Lighthouse, along the Gulf Shore Way

Sample jam at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company

If you thought you couldn’t get excited about jam, then you’ve obviously never been to the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company. The family-owned business in the idyllic town of New Glasgow has been canning preserves since 1985, and their signature flavours like Raspberry & Champagne and Strawberry & Champagne have been flying off the shelves ever since.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

The Prince Edward Island Preserve Company

The storefront includes a sample area where you can try the different flavours which you’ll inevitably end up taking home (don’t worry, they ship worldwide) as well as a large window that offers a glimpse into the production area. The company also blends loose leaf tea, sells adorable china sets and has a fantastic restaurant overlooking the water, so it’s no surprise that a stop at the Preserve Company is high on most visitors’ lists.
Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

Hit the beach

With 1,100 kilometres of shoreline, it’s pretty much impossible to not build in some beach time during a trip to Prince Edward Island. Couple that with the fact that PEI has a relatively sparse population, and it’s easy to see why finding solitude on an untouched stretch of sand is such a popular pastime in the province.

Prince Edward Island PEI best beaches north shore

Cavendish Beach

As the south part of the island is known for its red sand beaches which are better for looking at than lying on, most people head north to relax on the white sand beaches of Cavendish, Brackley and Greenwich. Those who make the trip to the east side are in for a treat, as beautiful Basin Head Beach has sand that actually “sings” when you walk on it!

READ MORE: The best beaches on Prince Edward Island’s north shore

Prince Edward Island PEI best beaches north shore

Greenwich Dunes

Go to Charlottetown

It wouldn’t be a visit to PEI without checking out the capital, so spend at least a day in Charlottetown. With a laid-back atmosphere even in peak summer months, it’s a great place to learn more about the province’s history, shop or enjoy a live performance. Notable spots include pretty Victoria Park winds along the waterfront, the elegant Beaconsfield Historic House, and pedestrian-only Victoria Row which has great outdoor patios and restaurants.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

Victoria Row in Charlottetown

Hit the links

Given the island’s Scottish heritage, it’s no surprise that PEI is a mecca for golfers. Considered Canada’s top golf destination, the island has more than 30 courses suitable for all skill levels. Popular picks include scenic Stanhope Golf & Country Club, Mill River Golf, and Green Gables Golf Club which winds through the historic site and was designed by the legendary Stanley Thompson.

IF YOU GO:

Where to stay: St. Peter’s Bay on the northeast part of the island is only an hour from Charlottetown, yet feels a world away thanks to its proximity to gorgeous Greenwich National Park. Book a cottage at the charming Inn at St. Peters, which is right on the water, has staff that know your name before you even walk in, and boasts a fantastic restaurant.

Prince Edward Island, Canada things to do

The charming Inn at St. Peters

There’s no shortage of options for those staying in Charlottetown, suiting all needs and budgets. Try The Hotel on Pownal which is just steps away from all of the city’s main sights and also has a complimentary happy hour which includes wine, beer and fresh-baked cookies.

How to get there: Many visitors either fly into Charlottetown Airport or arrive via car by crossing the Confederation Bridge between PEI and New Brunswick. Northumberland Ferries also offers ferry services between PEI and Nova Scotia.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

A guide to Charlottetown, PEI for every type of traveller

The best beaches on Prince Edward Island’s north shore

13 stunning spots on Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail worth stopping for

Tidal bore rafting in Nova Scotia: A wild, salty ride

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia: More than just a lighthouse

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10 things everyone should try in Prince Edward Island Globe Guide explored PEI in collaboration with Tourism Prince Edward Island. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

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25 Responses

  1. Natalie says:

    This is a really great list! It definitely makes me want to head to Prince Edward Island. It looks like there’s tons of beautiful nature with quaint towns that would make it a relaxing holiday 🙂

  2. LeAnna Brown says:

    Wow, the red sand cliffs look beautiful! I never knew that Canada had anything like that!

  3. noel says:

    This looks wonderful, I’ve always wanted to visit the area and you have given me some cool places to check out some day.

  4. Mar Pages says:

    Anne of Green Gables was one of the stories that I really enjoyed reading as a child. I would love to see the inspiration for her story, and hopefully meet Anne herself!

  5. Rosemary says:

    What a great list of unique places to check out in Prince Edwards. You got me with the lobster…yum…yum…yum!! Love how sparsely populated the beaches are. Really seems like the perfect place to visit and unwind. Always looking for cool and unique places to visit, and this just made the list. Thank you 🙂

  6. Maria says:

    This looks like my place to vacation or maybe even live! The landscape is beautiful, the architecture neat and sweet and the food looks delish!

  7. Pam Dyck says:

    I haven’t been to the island in 48 years when I lived there for 2 months. This September I will once again hit its shores to visit my son who I have not seen for 30 years. I am so excited.

  8. Helen Lucas says:

    I live in the UK and visited PEI 3 years ago mostly to learn more about LM Montgomery, her life and work. But I was enchanted by everything else too: the friendly people, the beautiful countryside, the unique atmosphere, it really is like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Thank you for this feature, it brought back great memories and made me long to visit again!

  9. Monika says:

    I’m afraid that so far I’ve associated Prince Edward Island only with Anne of Green Gables, but now I can see there’s so much more to it.
    I’d love to take some photos of red cliffs myself – I guess they look even better when the sun is shining.

  10. Janna says:

    Omg this place is beautiful! I love this! Especially that Red cliffs and canoe cove beach!

  11. karla says:

    Been exploring Canada for a month and my gosh, its really beautiful. Land of nature and I am loving it.

  12. Carol says:

    HI Tamara:
    I’ve been to PEI many times but never in October. Any suggestions for events or attractions that will still be open until Thanksgiving?
    Thanks!!

    • Hi Carol,

      Some tips gleaned from a local: hope this helps!

      “Prince Edward Island is a different place in October than at the high time in August – however fall is one of the best times of year in the province. The streets are quiet and driving in the country is beautiful as the all the leaves turn colour, not to mention all the incredible fresh food that has just been harvested. You may want to focus your activities around Charlottetown, as more of the businesses there are year round operations – then take day trips around our Island to explore the scenery.

      While most summer attractions are closed, the galleries, museums and local artisan stores are still open. In Charlottetown, check out the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, it is a wonderful national art gallery located in the centre of downtown. The centre also houses an exhibit on the first meeting of the fathers of confederation here in Charlottetown. I also love to explore Beaconsfield House, a house from 1877 that is restored and operated as a museum by the province. For a great lunch in Charlottetown I would get a lobster roll from Dave’s Lobster.
      There is always lots to see and do in Charlottetown but a few suggestions for other Island spots in the fall I would visit the Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish. In addition to exploring the era of the early 1900s and the world of Lucy Maud Montgomery they also have a wonderful wooded trail to explore on the site. This is gorgeous in October.
      You can always visit Glasgow Glen Farm, where they make a fantastic local gouda cheese. While on the north shore I would head to the Dunes Studio and Gallery. It is a wonderful art gallery and pottery studio. We have visited many time and always enjoy it. They also have a wonderful café there for lunch and dinner.
      So you can see that there is still lots to do here in October, but it is best that you check the website or call ahead for any place you find interesting, as each seasonal business has its own closing date.
      Hope you enjoy Prince Edward Island in the fall as much as I do”
      https://globeguide.ca/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form
      Read more at https://www.tourismpei.com/askanislander/question/we-are-planning-to-come-to-pei-october-10-17-is-this-a-good-tim#6moCDTRzQ5DFVmGs.99

  13. Mike says:

    Stay off the dunes! Seriously. They’re a fragIle ecosystem and protected. Don’t “scramble” up any dunes. Sheesh.

    • Not sure what you’re referring to Mike- my article reads “After scrambling up a sandy hill…” (which is actually a marked trail). Nowhere does it say to walk on the dunes because you’re right- visitors should not do that!

  1. August 22, 2016

    […] READ MORE: 10 quintessential experiences to enjoy in Prince Edward Island, Canada […]

  2. October 17, 2016

    […] city and serves American/Italian fare, as well as The Gahan House which was founded in neighbouring Prince Edward Island and specializes in handcrafted, east coast […]

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