When I was a little girl, I remember tuning into the Disney Channel and being captivated by the story of Anne Shirley as she made her way to Avonlea. Soon, I was hooked on the series “Avonlea,” and enjoyed the adventures of Sarah Polley, Felicity and Felix. Prince Edward Island (PEI) looked like a magical place, and I wanted to go. The red cliffs, the dunes, the illustrious Dalvay by the Sea, and the big city of Charlottetown. I’d resolved to go there someday.
Fast forward almost 30 years, and after traveling the globe, my partner bought us plane tickets to Halifax for our anniversary because he knew how much I wanted to go to Nova Scotia and PEI. (I mean it’s right there, we’re so close, we have to go.) Time for this trip was short, and April is not the greatest time to visit because many attractions are closed. Let me tell you, if our visit in April is any indication of travel during other times of the year, you’re in for a real treat. It’s so much fun!
The Confederation Bridge was a bit intimidating, but once you’re on it, it’s fine. We stopped briefly at the Shops at Borden Carleton before driving to Victoria where we stopped for a few photos. We then drove along the coastal route and visited two national parks – Argyle Shore Provincial Park and Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site. Of course because it was off-season, the services were closed, but it was still very enjoyable to just walk around.
We then arrived in Charlottetown and checked into our hotel, the Sydney Boutique Inn and Suites. The manager was so friendly, and the property was beautiful – large rooms with chandeliers and a nice view overlooking the park. While in Charlottetown, we visited a few stores like Anne of Green Gables Chocolates. We went twice – the chocolate-covered maple cookies were so good! And Lily who worked there was so friendly. We also visited Cool as a Moose for their souvenirs and apparel. We became a fan of the store in Quebec City, but the Charlottetown location had a really good selection of merchandise. After dinner, we walked to the Beaconsfield Historic House and the waterfront. I always love looking at architecture styles of homes in the various neighborhoods.
On Day 2, we awoke to a light snow outside the window in Charlottetown. After breakfast, we took off to explore the island before our 2 p.m. private tour of the Anne of Green Gables house. As we got out of town, I was shocked at just how much snow there was on the ground. It was absolutely beautiful!
Along the way, we stopped at Prince Edward Island National Park. I loved seeing Dalvay by the Sea. Stunning. I imagined what Anne and the characters of Avonlea must have thought of the place. And, we enjoyed our little snowball fight. We continued driving along the coast making various stops along the way. Seeing the lighthouse at Brackley Beach and the entire coast line in the snow was really cool. Cavendish Cliffs was an amazing contrast of the red sand cliffs with the snow. It was gorgeous. Photos just don’t do it justice. I’ve never experienced snow on a beach either and that was something special. We continued driving around the area – saw Lucy Maud Montgomery’s grave and Rachel Lynde’s home.
Our tour of the Anne of Green Gables House was just as I expected it. We learned about the area Lucy Maud Montgomery lived in, a bit about her life, and learned how the home was an inspiration for her most famous book. Then, we walked around the Haunted Woods. It was so magical seeing the house and the property in the snow.
Back in Charlottetown we had dinner at a local brewery, visited a few more shops, and played Doc’s trivia at Hunter’s Ale House. While we came in 4th, we had a blast. The people were so welcoming, the wait staff friendly, and Doc made trivia fun. We really met some cool people in Charlottetown and PEI and I was sad to leave.
So what are my tips for visiting PEI?
• I think going during the summer or fall would be more ideal, but don’t let off-season deter you. Sure not all of the attractions are open, but you can still explore the island without the crowds and see the beauty of the island.
• Talk to the locals. (They’ll probably talk to you first.) They’re wonderful and very friendly. You will learn more about all that Canada has to offer.
• Ask for restaurant recommendations. I think we missed the mark here. While I did have a tasty lobster roll one of the nights, I think there were probably better places.
• Visit St. Dunstan’s Basilica. It’s so beautiful inside.
• Be open to getting off the beaten path and exploring. Driving around PEI is so fun.
• Rewatch Anne of Green Gables before visiting.
• Have fun!