Prince Edward Island
Our trip to PEI was designed to focus on relaxation, solitude, food, opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and oh yes, more great food. It relied on two base camps, starting and ending with Charlottetown, with a stay in Montague in between. Our stay in Montague allowed us to easily tour the eastern third of the Island. This page will hopefully inspire you to check out some of the sightseeing and dining options described below.
You will likely have been driving for quite some time before arriving at the foot of the Confederation Bridge. Just before crossing the bridge, follow the signs to the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre. It costs a few bucks to get ($5 the last time I checked), and will offer a well deserved break, give you the opportunity to fill your lungs with some of the freshest air you may have breathed in some time, and allow you to marvel at the 13km long feat of engineering before you. The short walk to the observation tower will give you a unique perspective of the bridge, while giving you an opportunity to stretch your legs on the way up the few flights of stairs.
Charlottetown & Area
Despite being a capital city, Charlottetown is laid back, and easy to navigate. The only time you will see a crowd here is around showtime for the Anne of Green Gables musical! We rented a great Airbnb apartment right downtown, and this base allowed us to take self-guided walking tours of the city and permitted us to easily get to and enjoy the culinary delights that Charlottetown has to offer.
Our dining experiences in Charlottetown included the Hopyard, where inexpensive but delicious plates were shared with friends from Halifax who rendez-vous’d with us there. This spot attracts hipsters, and offers a wide selection of beer and vinyl’s located next to the self-serve turntables. We also enjoyed dinner for two in the romantic setting provided by the upper floor at the Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar. Our favourite restaurant though, was the Terre Rouge Bistro where we couldn’t resist returning for a second evening while in Charlottetown. There are plenty of reviews on Trip Advisor to check out the places named here, and help you choose among these and other options…
Charlottetown is a great walking city. We explored several city blocks in the downtown core, and favoured the waterfront at Victoria Park for the cool breeze by day, and the park and waterfront at Confederation Landing in the evening where an outdoor piano beckoned passersby to sit and tickle their fancy (or at least the piano keys!). Confederation Landing is adjacent to Peake’s Quay Marina where we boarded the Fairview for an evening sunset cruise.
Charlottetown also has a significant place in Canadian history for it is where the Fathers of Confederation discussed and planned the creation of a new country. What better place to contemplate their work than in front of this beautiful pair of bronze individuals, located just outside the Great George Hotel, who are frozen in time in the midst of a lively discussion, and although unrelated, shared the name John Hamilton Gray.
It’s only a 45 minute drive to Saint-Peter’s Bay. Here we rented a pair of bicycles and took a self-guided tour along the Confederation Trail past the town of Morrell and made our way to St. Peter’s Lighthouse and the beach just over the sand dunes. The very popular Greenwich Beach National Park is just across the harbour from here, but you will quite literally have this entire beach almost to yourselves, and not have to pay an entrance fee. Once you have returned your bicycles, make the short hop over to Rick’s Fish & Chips for lunch or dinner, also in Saint-Peter’s Bay. It’s a very popular destination, but definitely worth the wait for a table.
We also dropped into North Rustico (about a 1/2 hour from Charlottetown) for lunch at the Blue Mussel Café, and a walk along the harbourfront. While you’re out that way, do as we did and visit the Island Honey Wine Company located a few minutes southwest of Wheatley River. Owners Charles and Laura Lipnicki offer wine tastings and are generous with their time to answer any questions you might have about their operations.
Montague & Area
We stayed at a second Airbnb in Montague overlooking the Montague River, and the inner foodie in us could not resist the temptation to visit Chef Michael Smith’s Inn at Bay Fortune. While the experience may be pricey, it’s not every day that you get to visit a celebrity chef on their home turf. Our evening started with a tour of the gardens, and we soon found ourselves enjoying a multi-course dinner with new friends that we made at our large table. This experience more than offset our dinner the previous night at a local restaurant that rhymes with, and the locals refer to as “nasty”. We visited the lighthouse in Souris, a 1/2 hour drive from Montague, after having lunch at 21 Breakwater Restaurant, which did not disappoint.
We could have headed north to Greenwich Beach National Park, but our Airbnb host recommended that we go to Panmure Island Beach and its lighthouse. Again, we were able to enjoy the sun, sand and water in an almost exclusive setting.
The final morning saw me get up at 5:00am to catch the first light at East Point Lighthouse (pictured above). The 50 minute drive in the pre-dawn light was well worth it, even though we then had to pack the car, and gently make the 13 hour trip back home…