12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on Prince Edward Island
A Micmac First Nations legend tells how the god Glooscap painted all of the world's beautiful places, and then dipped his brush in every colour and created Abegweit, his favorite island. Holidaymakers now know this beautiful place as Prince Edward Island: Canada's smallest province and one of its loveliest. The island beauty and rural charm lies in PEI's gently rolling farmlands, scenic white sand beaches, and eroding red sandstone cliffs. And thanks to its position in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the island has pleasantly moderate temperatures.
1 PEI National Park
Prince Edward Island National Park occupies much of the island's central, northern coastline. Three sections of the park offer beaches, wildlife watching, outdoor activities, historic buildings, and "Anne of Green Gables" attractions. Campgrounds and picnic areas cater to families and outdoorsy vacationers.
Near the soft sands of Cavendish Beach, Anne fans enjoy visiting the iconic Green Gables House as well as Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish Home. The Cavendish area also has a frenzy of high-profile attractions, amusement parks, and golf courses.
In the park's central portion, Dalvay-by-the-Sea historic house was once a regal summer home and is now a hotel and restaurant near Brackley and Stanhope Beaches. At the eastern end of the park, the more isolated Greenwich area has a beach and boardwalk trails that are well suited to bird watching for the park's 300-plus species.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near PEI National Park
Charlottetown has a Victorian-era charm and a surprising small town feel. Heritage buildings, including the ornate St. Dunstan's Basilica and elegant Beaconsfield Historic House, line the city streets. The Confederation Centre of the Arts is the city's major cultural hub with an art gallery, museum, and theaters. The must-see "Anne of Green Gables" musical is performed each summer season. Across the street from the center sits Province House National Historic Site, which hosted the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 to discuss confederation. PEI didn't actually join the union until 1873.
Contemporary restaurants and shops selling ice cream and souvenirs add a modern, vacation feel to the PEI center. A lovely pathway fronts the harbor and leads out to Victoria Park, the location of historic fortifications at Prince Edward Battery.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Charlottetown
3 Editor's Pick North Cape
North Cape is the more rugged side of Prince Edward Island, and a scenic drive passes through farmlands and follows an eroding, rural coastline to the province's northernmost point. Intense winds make the blustery cape an ideal setting for towering turbines, turning the abundant wind into energy at one of Canada's leading wind test institutes. North Cape Interpretive Centre has exhibits that explain the process. Nature trails and the North Cape Lighthouse are near the wind farm.
Address: 21817 Route 12, North Cape
Summerside is the second largest city on Prince Edward Island. The island's western hub has a number of historic buildings, a picturesque waterfront district, and a vibrant cultural scene. In the city, the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada presents summer outdoor concerts of Celtic music and dance, while Eptek Art & Culture Centre introduces local history and pieces from island artisans.
Delving into Prince Edward Island's past, the Acadian Museum reaches back to 1720 and the first European settlement on the island at Port La Joye. Another unique museum, the International Fox Museum and Hall of Fame, traces the history of trying to breed foxes in captivity. Its displays are housed in the Holman Homestead, the former residence of a mercantile magnate.
5 Confederation Centre of Arts
Opened in 1964 as a monument to Confederation, this cultural institution houses an art gallery, museum, and two theaters. The Confederation Centre of the Arts presents the "Anne of Green Gables" musical each summer, part of the annual Charlottetown Festival. It's just across the street from Province House National Historic Site, the famed setting for the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, where the idea of Canada was born.
Address: 145 Richmond Street, Charlottetown
6 Points East Coastal Drive
Points East Coastal Drive explores the eastern end of the island where beautiful beaches, rare dune systems, and lighthouses mark the coastline. At the scenic drive's end, East Point Lighthouse has an elevated vantage over mixing tidal waters. Red foxes are a common sight in the area.
Other sightseeing attractions along the drive vary widely. Orwell Corner Historic Village recreates a late nineteenth century setting (including a historically furnished farm, shingle mill, church, store, and community hall). Elmira Railway Museum, once the end of the line for the island railway, displays photographs and artifacts from the rail-era. The museum also features a recreated stationmaster's office and ladies' waiting room.
7 Confederation Trail
When the trains stopped running in Prince Edward Island, it opened up a new opportunity: for a 273-kilometer gravel trail that crossed the island from end to end. The main trail runs from Tignish in the northwest to Elmira in the east. Smaller trails branch to Charlottetown, Wood Islands, and the Confederation Bridge in Borden. The flat and well maintained routes are open to walkers, runners, and cyclists. And as the trail was originally a rail bed, there are no steep hills and no more than a two percent grade.
8 Basin Head Provincial Park
This beach and provincial park on Points East Coastal Drive is an action-packed spot. First time visitors delight in scuffing their feet along the sands to try and create a distinct "singing" noise, and the squeaky beach is nicknamed Singing Sands.
Giant Irish Moss, a food additive, grows in the tidal lagoon behind the dunes. The entry point to the lagoon is a popular swimming spot. Also located in the provincial park, Basin Head Fisheries Museum presents exhibits about Prince Edward Island's inshore fishery.
Address: 336 Basin Head Road, Route 16, Basin Head
9 Wood Islands
The Wood Islands ferry is a favorite way for visitors to head home from a Prince Edward Island vacation. The island link crosses the Northumberland Strait between Wood Islands, on PEI's southeast coast, and Caribou, Nova Scotia. A small lighthouse in Wood Islands Provincial Park has exhibits about the area's seafaring history and serves as a lookout point.
Address: 173 Lighthouse Road, Wood Islands
Borden-Carleton is the first town visitors reach after crossing the Northumberland Strait via the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick. The town's feature attraction is the view of the majestic, 12.9-kilometer bridge that's the world's longest over freezing water. The concrete span provided a permanent link to the mainland when it was completed in 1997, fulfilling a promise made when PEI joined Confederation in 1873.
A tiny fishing village, Victoria-by-the-Sea enchants with its waterfront fish shacks, colorful take-out stands, and small lighthouse. The red sandstone cliffs along the Northumberland Strait coast are constantly eroding, which has resulted in expansive red-sand flats at low tide. A theater, chocolate shop, and fishing wharf are favorite tourist attractions in the friendly community.
12 The Bottle Houses
More than 25,000 glass bottles form the walls and design features of the light-filled buildings known as The Bottle Houses. A quirky artist and builder, the late Édouard Arsenault used colored bottles to construct a six-gabled house, a hexagonal tavern, and a chapel furnished with pews and an altar. It's all built from glass and cement.
Address: 6891 Route 11 Boîte 53, Cap-Egmont