Canada’s littlest province brings big attractions to the table, from the setting of a global best-seller to one of the world’s longest bridges.
Confederation Centre of the Arts
In 1864, a small group of elected officials gathered in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to discuss becoming a nation. That important moment in time is memorialized and honored in the Confederation Centre of the Arts, which puts the best of Canadian artistic talent on display. Covering a full city block, the center comprises an art gallery and five theaters, so visual and performing arts both have a permanent place in those walls. Enjoy an authentic PEI experience and watch Anne of Green Gables - The Musical, the longest-running musical in the country. If you’re visiting in the summer, stop in at the Charlottetown Festival, a musical theater event the center has hosted since 1965. The art gallery, meanwhile, hosts traveling exhibits in addition to a permanent collection that includes the best Canadian works in traditional arts forms, photography, digital media, installations and more.
Green Gables Heritage Place
When you bring up PEI, for millions of people around the world the first thing that comes to mind is Anne of Green Gables. If you want to really experience this province, a stop at the Green Gables Heritage House is a must. For fans of the story, this is the house where it all began, the house that inspired the setting for L.M. Montgomery’s novels. Walk through the rooms of the Victorian home, restored to the period of the late 1800s, and picture yourself as the red-headed girl. Experience farm life in the barn, granary and woodshed. Stroll the ‘Haunted Woods’ and ‘Balsam Hollow’ trails described in the book. And if you haven’t read the book, the Green Gables Heritage House still provides a unique look back at a period in time on this beautiful island.
Prince Edward Island National Park
What’s an island vacation without a little swimming? The 37-mile Prince Edward Island National Park captures the beautiful north shore of the province, including the many picturesque white and red-sand beaches. And you may need to take a dip after spending the day hiking, cycling, golfing, or geocaching. The park also hosts the Greenwich Interpretation Centre, which features 20 interactive and multimedia exhibits about the region, and the 10,000 years of history that shaped it. If you didn’t manage to do everything in one day, you can always pitch your tent, relax by a campfire, and set off for round two in the morning.
Greenwich, PEI National Park
While we’ve already talked about PEI National Park, one specific area, Greenwich, deserves a mention of its own. Greenwich is home to the biggest sand dunes in the province — a delicate ecosystem that is extremely uncommon in North America. An extensive trail system and a floating boardwalk allow you to explore some of the 900-acres of dunes at your own pace. Then, take some time to relax on Greenwich’s soft sand beaches, or pay a visit to the Greenwich Interpretation Centre, which brings to life 10,000 years of human history in the region.
If you think your local bike path is cool, just wait until you visit the Confederation Trail. This 270-mile walking, cycling and snowmobile trail is a former railroad route that runs from one tip of Prince Edward Island to the other. Confederation Trail is essential exploring for anyone who loves the outdoors. Cyclists flock to the trail every year, and there are a number of local guides and tours which ensure you’re as comfortable as can be on two wheels. Regardless of how you’re traveling the trail, over 1,900 geocaching sites are located along the route, making for a fun challenge if you’re in the mood to explore. The trail also touches a number of waterfront communities, so you can hop off, have a meal, live like the locals do, and climb back on your bike. Ditch the car and experience PEI in a different way.
Victoria Row is a popular shopping destination in Charlottetown. Historic Victorian buildings line the cobblestone road, which is blocked to cars in the summer, making it a hub of pedestrians hoisting both shopping bags and doggy bags. Restaurants open up their patios so diners can enjoy the great weather while listening to the many musicians who set up along the street. A multitude of shops and boutiques provide you with a huge variety of locally-produced wares, whether you’re in the market for a souvenir or just in the mood to browse.
Basin Head Provincial Park
One of the best beaches in Canada is located in Basin Head Provincial Park. What’s not to like about a nine-mile white sand beach whose waters are actually quite warm in the summer? The beach is often dubbed the “singing sands,” because the fine sand squeaks as your feet press into it. Locals here love to jump off a small bridge into a small water channel that divides the beach, so keep an eye out. After a day on the beach, visit the Basin Head Fisheries Museum for a look back in time at the history of local fisheries. Before beachgoers dominated the area, it was fisherman who would hunt their catch right off of the shores.
West Point Lighthouse
If you’re bored of the usual hotel rooms, The West Point Lighthouse is an active lighthouse and inn that definitely provides a unique setting in which to rest your head. Located on a beach behind sand dunes, the almost 70-foot-high lighthouse was built in 1875 and stands out for its great ‘zebra’ paint job and square structure. In the early 20th century, the lighthouse helped guide ships and airplanes through winter storms. Now, its tower and keeper’s quarters provide interesting sleeping arrangements and unrivaled views of the Northumberland Strait to lucky visitors.
The eight-mile Confederation Bridge is an absolute feat of engineering, and is the longest bridge in the world that spans ice-covered waters. Locally known as the ‘Fixed Link,’ the curved bridge connects Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick and the rest of Canada, allowing visitors to drive to the island rather than forcing them onto ferries. If you’re not travelling by car, a shuttle takes passengers and cyclists across the bridge 24/7.
The Links at Crowbush Cove
If you’re a golfer, the Links at Crowbush Cove is a beautiful golf course overlooking the sand dunes of PEI. The course has earned high praise from those in the know: it was named one of the top two in Canada for value by SCORE Golf Magazine and was given a five-star rating from Golf Digest. It’s not hard to see why. The beautiful setting combines with a challenging but enjoyable course comprising nine water holes and eight dunes holes. Golf icons like John Daly and Mike Weir have played the course; now it’s your turn.