My Rain or Shine PEI Activity List
As many of you know, I moved from Ontario to Prince Edward Island (PEI, or the Island) about 2 months ago.
With clients, draping models, and students visiting the colour studio in the next few months, I thought I’d offer my short list of favourites to keep travel companions delighted that you’ll be another half-hour trying a few more lipsticks.
On sunny summer days, PEI is a Club Med, with various levels of wind, warm(ish) clean water, small distances, and plenty to do. Our little Sandbar of the Sea can be cool or rainy but we don’t mind, some of the best things are independent of weather. Bring a warm jacket with a hood or you may be buying one.
PEI is divided into vertical thirds, for the 3 counties. I live outside Charlottetown, which is in Queen’s, the centre county. King’s is West and Prince is East.
Are you driving? There’s a ferry to the East side from Nova Scotia, but from everywhere else, you’ll be taking the Confederation Bridge, a 9-mile bridge from New Brunswick to PEI. It’s a cool thing to see it coming up in the distance and know you’ll soon be on it. The bridge can be closed to high-sided vehicles on windy days, or be down to one lane, usually a winter thing, so progress may be slow and there’s nowhere to stop. Get gas, use the facilities before. Check bridge status here: https://www.confederationbridge.com It’s a toll bridge where you pay to get off the Island (CN48).
Because I love these places so much, I seldom venture outside my North-South strip, but I know for sure that there are great activities in King’s and Prince counties, with plenty of festivals, strawberry socials, and a lot more. The fun continues into September, with the Shellfish Festival being a huge and sold out event in Charlottetown in late September.
Most of the places below are easily found online or ask the locals. Prepare for directions that sound like, “Take a left on the Cumberland Road, pass the purple house, count to 4, and it’s the next driveway.” There may be 3 driveways to choose from.
Brunch could be the Breakfast Sammy at Brass Shop (aka, Brass Rail) Receiver Coffee down by the waterfront. There’s a second Receiver in Victoria Row (Vic Row), where the Breakfast Bake is great. We go to Vic Row to work (and socialize) and Brass Shop to eat (and socialize) and buy bread. Bring your sunglasses to sit outside in case there are cruise ships in and the indoor seating is taken. How you know the Wifi went out is the music stops.
Point Prim Chowder house. A hour’s drive but this is PEI, it’s a beautiful hour. Look at the Maritime history in the lighthouse after dinner. Reserve and sit outside if possible. If you’re looking for seafood downtown, the Row House Lobster Co. in Victoria Row offers excellent food in a fine dining atmosphere.
Trailside Café. Jazz folk and outstanding food. Buy tickets ahead of time, shows sell out.
Blue Mussel Cafe and Inn.
Seoul Food for Bi-bim-bap, the one with the crusty rice. (Pho Hung for great Vietnamese and Khoaw Pon for that Thai.) These are those places the locals go.
Vic Row evenings. The street is pedestrian in the summer time. There’s plenty to see and do, as well as on Queen Street where Terre Rouge is a dependably good place to dine ( the Brownie dessert is great).
The Dunes café art gallery and gift shop. Reserve for lunch. Walk the gardens. Go early, there’s a lot of beauty to take in, before heading to Brackley or one of the other beaches.
A beach day at Brackley (crowded, lifeguarded, facilities) or Ross Lane (less crowded) or rent bikes and cycle along the beach road, followed by supper at Richard’s in Covehead.
The Boardwalk around Victoria Park at sunset, when you want something beautiful, quiet, and free. Also a good place to orient yourself, with the mouth of the harbour right ahead. You may see a cruise ship come in.
The PEI brewing company, the Upstreet brewery, and great craft beer tours. The Island has several craft breweries with Beach Chair, Red Island, and Blueberry Ale among the local favourites.
On a town day, when you’re grateful for rain to do something not involving sand, visit the Luxury Market Designer and Brand consignment store at 94 Queen St. They carry many labels, modern looks, items in excellent condition, surprising selection and variety, and very fair prices. Mostly for women, but look at the men’s section for sure, and a few things for kids.
Gaudreau Fine Woodworking and Crafts. http://www.woodmagic.ca/Site/Welcome.html . The website doesn’t begin to show the stunning location and crafts. More than wood, although that’s impressive, it’s full of Island crafts and pottery, as well as artists’ prints. I’m loving Susan Christensen at the moment.
Nimrod’s Pizza on the floating dock at Peake’s Quay.
The Pearl restaurant. Beautiful place to end a day of driving along the North Shore, from Stanhope to the lovely village of North Rustico where The Pearl is located.
Galleries with lovely paintings and other works of art: Details in Victoria Row and the Lorimer Gallery, located around the corner and across the street.
Look at Island Trails PEI in the list below. The forest walks at Bonshaw Provincial Park are 15 minutes up the road from our colour studio, free, ranging from 20 minutes to all day long, and easy to Black Diamond. Depending on your hiking experience, you may find the Goat Trail at Strathgartney (same park as Bonshaw, on the South side of the highway) a piece of cake or a very long mile. While one family member has a colour analysis, another can walk in graceful, grateful solitude, accept the Earth’s energy, and give her some of theirs. Win-win.
PEI is child-friendly and kid-inundated, welcome everywhere the grownups go. Islanders love children and often treat them like smart, funny, informal adults. Come to think of it, they treat adults that way too.
Rice Point beach at low tide. The South shore is warmer and warms up sooner in the season. The tides cover more distance making this a beauty of a walkable beach. At low tide, the kids take off into the water and you can watch them run for 20 minutes before you have to worry. Time and tide charts for the week are linked here.
Cow’s Ice Cream at Peake’s Quay after supper. There are locations across the Island. You’ll soon have your favourite flavour, mine being Caramel Moocchiato, though I don’t say no to Wowie Cowie. Strawberry Sorbet and Cownadian Maple are quite fabulous too. After negotiating the ice cream line and Cow’s T-shirts, look at the boats at Quartermaster Marine and sit at a picnic table for the music.
Anne of Green Gables. See the play (bring tissues) at the Confederation Centre. I’m into the double digits for seeing it myself. If you visit Green Gables (at Cavendish), the forest walk at Lover’s Lane is beautiful.
Take the kids to the Shining Waters park for the afternoon. Years ago, my 5-year-old niece ran up to me, dripping wet with hair everywhere, frantic yet euphoric, and as she gobbled her snack, she declared, “Aunt Kisstine, this is my BEST. DAY. EVAH!!” and ran off again with her tube that was bigger than she was. When it’s 85 degrees and the neighbour kids have taken off into the forest to ride the locomotive and you have no idea where yours are, possibly over the hill riding the paddle boats, you think, “The only way this could be better is if I were 8 and a half months pregnant.” You can use Air Miles to buy your way in.
It wouldn’t be summer if the (bigger) kids couldn’t go paintballing on the North Shore. We’ve left them after 4 hours and come back to pick them up. Couldn’t take it anymore and I don’t even paintball.
The Homestead Trail hike (bigger kids). Bring bug spray (or the surprisingly good cream by The Great Outdoors) and a picnic, or have lunch later at the Cavendish Boardwalk. Leave your beach stuff in the car for the afternoon and visit the Homestead beach (less crowded) or Cavendish (completely crowded, beautiful, and life-guarded).
Wednesday or Saturday, visit the Farmer’s Market across from the University (UPEI). Breads, cheeses, meats to BBQ, and a sit-down area to eat (African, Lebanese, Thai, Polish, and excellent coffee and sugared doughnuts made on the spot). Let ’em loose and abandon yourself to the experience. Visit an ATM first. Go early, as in 9AM, if you don’t care for crowds. Open year-round on Saturday, summer only on Wednesdays with fewer vendors.
On a town day, visit Victoria Park so kids can play on the brilliant playground equipment, splash park, swimming pool, or run in the forest. Go back to the Confederation Centre at lunch time for the Young Company outdoor concert, which I believe is a Wednesday and Saturday happening.
Check out the kids’ events at The Guild, Beaconsfield, and if you’re driving, the Orville Corner historical village is a great day out. The Point Prim chowder house (from the list above) is on the way.
Elliot River school in Cornwall has a lovely playground for the smaller ones. With turrets and bridges, it’s like a kingdom. Before you go, run the bigger ones down the road to the high ropes Rise and Climb Adventure Course. On the way back, stop at Tim’s (right behind the Elliot River course), grab a coffee, and head back to the playground (parking is in the school parking lot facing the equipment). As you watch the littles jump and climb, you may be able to have 3 thoughts in a row.
For bigger kids who can manage wilder, colder beaches, bigger surf, and are compelled to jump repeatedly from heights, the beach at Basin Head will be more entertainment than their phones.
Walks in the forest are good for the soul. PEI has hiking and biking trails in abundance. See them at Island Trails PEI.
The Kettle Black has great coffee and good food. Bring 12 kids, rearrange the seating, and let the kids manage their own food. You barely have to think.
Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour if you’re near Summerside. Delicious, homemade, with great sundaes and banana splits and an old fashioned vibe.