Hi there, Tour Coordinator Katie here! There are so many reasons to fall in love with Prince Edward Island (PEI). I have been lucky enough to live on PEI for almost my entire life and I really couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I live in St. Peter’s Bay which is a rural community 45 minutes east of our capital city, Charlottetown. Most days I experience the most breath-taking sunsets, scenic drives, and coastal views that anyone could ask for. This leads me in to our “Top Ten Reasons to visit Prince Edward Island in 2019”.
1.The people and the culture
We have some of the most amazing individuals here on PEI. Whether they are born here, or they are certified “CFA’s” (Come from Away’s), we are just a bunch of proud Islanders. I always encourage visitors to take the time to chat with locals. The best part, even if they don’t have the time to chat, they will make the time to chat. This plays a huge roll to our culture. We are very much a laid back, go with the flow, type of culture. You’ll notice that no one is ever in a rush to get to where they are going, they almost always have a big welcoming smile on their face, and to be honest, they are probably going to ask you “who’s your father” at least once during the conversation.
I think everyone on the Island is a local ambassador. We are very proud of our farmers, fisherman, and local entrepreneurs. Take our local guides for example! They share their love for Prince Edward Island professionally. Check out their Bios HERE to get to know them a little bit.
The Island’s food scene is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I moved away in 2009 and when I moved home in 2010 the restaurant scene exploded. Not only are there many excellent restaurants in Charlottetown, there are many restaurants and eatery’s outside of the city. Whether you are looking for fresh local seafood, contemporary restaurants, or higher end family style dining, we honestly have it all!
Let’s start in Charlottetown, Hopyard Beer Bar, this bar and restaurant opened a few years ago and everything on their menu is $8.00 and up. If you are feeling adventurous, we recommend ordering the whole menu as they are small plates and great for sharing. You have a wide selection of local beers on tap and guess what, you control what vinyl is being played. Is fresh local seafood or lobster dinners more your thing? Check out Water Prince Corner Shop on you guessed it, the corner of Water and Prince Street. There is always a line, especially on days where cruise ships are docked in port so prepare accordingly!
If we venture outside the city there are so many hidden gems, that it is hard to only pick a couple! Let’s head down-east to Point Prim. Not only is Point Prim home to the Island’s oldest lighthouse but it’s home to Point Prim Chowder House. The chowder house is located along the shore and offers stunning views of Northumberland Straight. The restaurant itself is conveniently located between Wood Islands and Charlottetown which makes an excellent stop on your way to Charlottetown if you take the ferry over. Now off to the South Shore to Victoria-by-the-Sea. Victoria-by-the-Sea is home to many great dining options like the Lobster Barn and the Landmark Café (featured on the Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here”). However, I would like to highlight the new kid on the block, The Grand Victorian Tea and Oyster Room. They are open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm. Their Team Room is located in a historical decommissioned United Church which is turned into an extravagant wedding venue on weekends.
Seriously this is just a taste of what the Island has to offer in the culinary department. For more resources on the culinary scene visit: https://canadasfoodisland.ca/.
3.Wine, Spirits, & Craft Beer
When you think Prince Edward Island, does your mind automatically go to wine, spirits, and craft beer? No, didn’t think so. Well if you like craft style beverages you’re in luck. The wine, spirit, and craft beer industry has taken flight (get the pun there?) over the past few years and trust me you will not be disappointed.
Matos Winery located in St. Catherine’s, PEI is a family owned and operated business. They have various wines and spirits available for purchase on site including a Strawberry Chardonnay, Wild Berry Gamay, and Orange Liqueur.
Rossignol Estate Winery located in Little Sand’s PEI minutes from the Wood Islands ferry terminal. Rossignol Estates creates award winning fruit table wines and the property houses a wonderful art gallery with pieces created by the wine maker.
Island Honey Wine Company located in Wheatly River and situated on a lovely lavender farm is sure to delight all your senses. The owners, Charles and Laura, moved to Prince Edward Island after visiting and experience the Island way of life. They have Wildflower Honey Mead, Haskap Mead, Lavender Mead, Apple Cider Mead, and Nectar Sweet Mead.
Deep Roots Distillery is located just outside of Charlottetown, PE. The Beamish family-run orchard is operated by Mike Beamish on their family property. They have many different products including Maple Liqueur and Spiced Apple Liqueur and they sometimes have a small batch of Absinthe available to purchase on site.
Riverdale Orchard and Cidery located in Riverdale, PE near Bonshaw Provincial Park. Riverdale Orchard opened in 2018 and in their first season of operation have won four separate awards at the Atlantic Canada Beer awards in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Gold – Cider of the year; Gold – Standard Cider and Perry; Gold – New cider house of the year; and Gold – Cider house of the year).
In Charlottetown, you can find the PEI Brewing Company. In 2016, they were the recipients of four gold medals at the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference. A bonus, they are both a brewer and distributor of all-natural craft beer.
Upstreet Craft Brewing is also located in Charlottetown and their beer selection ranges from light and refreshing to dark and full-bodied. Their philosophy is that their locations (they also have a location in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia Upstreet BBQ Brewhouse) are gathering places to come together with friends, to meet your neighbor, and to celebrate camaraderie over beers and a few laughs.
The newest brewery on the block is Copper Bottom Brewing located in Montague, PE. They are a husband and wife team who both share a love of music and, of course, beer.
Our Lighthouse and Winery Tour East is the best option so that you can see these sites and sometimes we can even sneak in Copper Bottom Brewing.
Growing up I was a lobster fisherman’s daughter (you can’t get much more Island than this), the salt water runs in my veins. Did you know on PEI, you are never more than 20 minutes from the ocean? We are surrounded by AMAZING red and white sand beaches. A few of the more popular ones are Basin Head Provincial Park, Cavendish Beach National Park, and Greenwich Beach National Park. My favorite is Skinner’s Pond Beach on the western end of the Island. Skinner’s Pond was home to the Canadian singer and song writer, Stompin’ Tom Connors.
You may be lucky and find a few treasures (sea glass, sea shells, wishing rocks) along the way. Pro tip: ask a local where their favorite beach is and I guarantee you will not be disappointed by their suggestion. Why not see our red sand beaches to switch it up? Join our South Shore Magic and Confederation Bridge Private Tour for that.
The Island spans over 5660 km which of course leaves lots of space for stunning coastal drives, rolling hills, and lush green countryside. The Island is broken up into 3 coastal drives, The North Cape Coastal Drive, The Central Coastal Drive, and The Points East Coastal Drive. A year ago we reached out to our clients here on the Island for their favorites in each coastal region and we created a blog called “Tip’s from Locals”.
In each of these regions you can find a variety of Island scenery. One of my favorite places on the Island for a view of the ocean beating against the red sandstone cliffs is along the TransCanada Highway between Bonshaw and DeSable towards the Confederation Bridge (there’s an example of what we like to call “Island Directions”.) I won’t give you the exact address, but when you’re driving along, I promise you’ll know!
Another favorite from both our Driver-Guides and Step-On Guides is located inside the Prince Edward Island National Park. The lookout is called the Oceanview Lookoff and boasts picturesque views of the red sandstone cliffs, the powerful Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the pink sandy beaches of Cavendish.
6.Attractions and Experiences
I’ll be honest, I am not sure where to start with this one because there are so many excellent attractions and experiences that can take place here on PEI. It really depends on what you are looking for and what you are interested in. From stunning hiking trails in our National Parks, to theatre, arts and culture, golfing and culinary there is sure to be something for everyone.
Prince Edward Island is known for its golf. There are over 20 courses on the Island and each of them are different levels of difficulty. We also have abundant farmland so visiting one of our different farmers or producers can be a lot of fun. Take The Great Canadian Soap Company as an example. You can see their product on site AND meet the producers and stars of the show: the goats.
I previously mentioned the food here on PEI is outstanding, well there are a few activities and experiences that you can take part in. Do you have an inner foodie? We may be Canada’s smallest Province, but we are also Canada’s food island. From chip shacks to high class fine dining, there is something for everyone. PEI is home to the Culinary Institute of Canada and is one of the top culinary schools in Canada. They have a full-service dinner restaurant on site which is managed by graduates of the programs in the summer and run by the students (under the guidance of chef instructors) in the winter months. They also host Culinary Bootcamps in the summer. Another hidden gem is The Table located in New London, PE. The Table offers dinning, cooking classes, and hands on experiences all within local ingredients. For high class fine dining, a visit to Chef Michael Smith’s, Fireworks Feast is worth the drive to Rolo Bay, PE.
There are so many more I could touch on, but I think that deserves a blog of its own!
7.Anne of Green Gables
When I am talking to folks on the phone about PEI, I often get asked, who is this red-haired girl everyone is talking about? This red-haired girl is Anne of Green Gables, a fictional character, created by well-known Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The fictional character, Anne, has become an icon for the Island. There are many sites dedicated to her and the author here on the Island, this includes Canada’s longest-running musical. Are you an Anne Fan? If so make sure to book on our Anne of Green Gables Adventure Private Tour to see all the amazing sites related to Anne and her author.
Prince Edward Island is the perfect family vacation destination. With miles of sandy beaches, warm oceans, bustling parks and our welcoming culture and atmosphere, we know that this is the place for your family.
Families have the opportunity to explore the outdoors, experience family friendly theatre options like Anne of Green Gables, or taking in one of the many experiences offered to families like experiences like our Great Sea Glass and Seashell hunt.
We’re an Island right, so there is bound to be some form of relaxation here. Whether you are looking for a one of a kind yoga studio like Modo Yoga in Charlottetown, PE or Now and Zen in Stratford, PE or excellent spa service at spas like Pure Spa then this is the spot for you!
Not to mention the miles and miles of sandy beaches that are meant for roaming and finding the perfect spot to read or sun bathe.
We are very lucky here on the Island to have some world-class accommodations and hidden gems hidden among popular well-known chains. In Charlottetown there are properties like The Great George Boutique Hotel, which is home to the Island’s only “Clef d’Hors” concierge, Ian Cheverie and the Sydney Boutique Inn and Suites, which is housed in the historic Notre Dame Convent. Charlottetown is also home to some amazing Bed & Breakfast properties like the Dawson House and each of the Fairholm Properties.
Outside of Charlottetown, I suggest the Inn at St Peter’s which overlooks the beautiful St Peter’s Bay as well as the Inn at Bay Fortune which is operated by Chef Michael Smith and his wife Chastity. We include a visit to Dalvay-by-the-Sea on our Island’s Finest Private Tour which is a beautiful stop you don’t want to miss.
In closing, you can tell that I really like to showcase about what our Island has to offer! There is no shortage of things to do and we cannot wait to share it with you!