Canada’s Prince Edward Island, or PEI as the locals call it, is known for lobsters, potatoes, beaches and the famous book, Anne of Green Gables.
A strange combination perhaps for an unassuming holiday destination that appeals to lovers of food, gardens, literature and chilling on the beach.
We only had 1 day to explore the “Garden of the Gulf” which wasn’t nearly enough time, but here are our suggestions on what to do on PEI if your time is limited.
Getting to Prince Edward Island
We were staying in Moncton, New Brunswick for 2.5 weeks which proved to be a convenient base for day trips around the province and beyond.
However you could stay overnight in a small B&B to explore the area.
During one warm summer day while our kids were attending summer camp, Josh and I hit the road with a single destination in mind… Prince Edward Island.
The province of Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St Lawrence, north of the Nova Scotia peninsula and east of New Brunswick.
The drive was a fairly easy ride down the highway before crossing the impressive Confederation Bridge. We pulled off of the highway just before the bridge at a tourism information office to take a few snaps and pickup maps.
Completed in 1997, Confederation Bridge links Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick and is some 12.9km (8 miles) in length. The controversial bridge replaced a longstanding ferry service, and boosted tourism to the island.
While gorgeous views and entrance to Prince Edward Island is free, I will warn you that getting off the island may lighten your wallet more than you’d like. More on that later.
As we drove around the island we were captivated the amazing variety of colours. Beautiful wild purple and pink lupins covered the roadsides and seduced us to pull over without a second thought.
With its flat plains, gently rolling hills, woodlands and white sand beaches, it is easy to appreciate Prince Edward Island’s outstanding natural beauty.
Shopping Or The Beach?
As we headed towards the main attraction and most popular green-coloured house on the island, a small local shopping complex caught my eye. Hungry and in need of a dose of retail therapy, we pulled into the parking lot of the Cavendish Boardwalk.
While I browsed the souvenir shops looking at bags and t-shirts, Josh was devouring the famous local COWS ice cream and fudge.
It was here, in the sunshine, that we indulged in our first “BeaverTail” - A donut-style pastry shaped like a beaver’s tail. Ours was topped with chocolate and banana - sinfully delicious and a must-have on any first-time visit to Canada.
If BeaverTails isn’t a novelty for you, then the beautiful Cavendish Beach is nearby.
After licking our fingers and wiping chocolate from our faces, we carried on to the main destination: Green Gables Shore.
Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908 and I garner most people have read the book, watched the movie or at least heard about it.
Those that did fall in love with Anne must have imagined the scenes she described and longed to visit. Well, I did it for you.
Deep in the heart of Cavendish you will find Green Gables Heritage Place, Avonlea Village, and the Site of L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish home, where the famed writer’s descendants still live.
We arrived at Green Gables Heritage Place where you can find the Green Gables House, several museums, and a little dress-up costume if you’re game.
Entry was only CA$7.80 per adult. Kids under 6 are free.
We got to explore the house and take a meander through the dark, shadowy and aptly named, Haunted Wood.
Once back from our lovely jaunt through the woods we stopped in the old barn for a short free movie about L.M. Montgomery’s life and her beautiful writings. It certainly inspired me to pick up the book. The movie plays regularly in English or French.
Don’t Drive The North Coast
Time was getting short so we finished our chapter at Green Gables and took a drive eastward along Highway 15. Passing through a national park on the north coast of the island, cost us a toll of $8 and disappointingly didn’t deliver the views we were hoping for. My advice is to skip this northern “coastal drive” it wasn’t worth the toll.
Finally we made it to Charlottetown, the capital city of Prince Edward Island. The city was lined with historic buildings, shady pedestrian walkways, and sported a friendly small-town vibe. We found parking on a side street and headed to an outdoor pedestrian mall to enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants.
Our enjoyable late lunch came at a cost, because it was much too soon that time passed on that warm relaxing summer day and we were rushing to jump back in the car to collect the kids from summer camp back in Moncton.
We were hoping to have enough time to cruise along the scenic east coast of the island, but ran out of time. To do that you’ll either need to stay overnight on the island or allow 2 or 3 days to explore further.
Beware The Troll That Lives Under The Bridge… I Mean The Toll For The Bridge
On our way back over the bridge we were stopped to pay a CA$45.50 toll. Ouch! Keep that figure in mind if you are budgeting for a stay on Prince Edward Island. I wish we could have stayed longer and made the most out of that cost, but for 1-day visit it felt a little steep.
Want to stay the night? Find the best places here.
Although if you are a long time lover of the red-haired pigtail girl, Anne of Green Gables, then I guess it might be a small cost to pay to experience a unique slice of literature history.