The decision was easy enough to make. I’ve dreamed of visiting Prince Edward Island since I was a girl and as my own girls have gotten old enough for Anne of Green Gables, the time seemed right. Brian’s love of all things Canadian and the mutual love the whole family shares for shellfish sealed the deal. So we made the nearly 20-hour drive from Charlottesville (broken up with a brief stay with dear friends in New Hampshire) to a perfect, spartan cabin near Little Pond on PEI’s sparsely populated eastern end.
The beauty of PEI is striking. Rolling hills, tidy little farms, and breathtaking cliff and water views are everywhere. We fell in love. We wound our way along the two-lane roads out to our little cottage in the middle of nowhere. We were a 30-minute drive from the nearest tiny town, and even getting to the main road was a haul, but part of PEI’s majesty is the sense that it’s at the edge of the world, and we were glad to have the solitude.
Brian, the girls, and I found Charlottetown, the capital and largest town on Prince Edward Island, to be a quaint and welcoming city. Victoria Park offers beautiful water and city views, and the city itself is full of impeccably maintained turn-of-the-century architecture. Victoria Park also has a huge playground and an adjacent pool that’s open and free to everyone. Our kids had a blast there.
We ate lunch at the Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar and enjoyed their inventive dishes and the staff’s welcoming attitude.
Though the family ate out occasionally, we mostly cooked at home on our cottage. On outings, we’d bring a cooler so we could stock up on groceries. Sourcing local, pasture-raised meats is important to us, and we were impressed with the products from Butcher and Butcher.
The tiny town of Cardigan was a (relatively) quick drive from our cottage, so we visited a couple times. At The Old Train Station Farmer’s Market, we met two really cool local farmers who sold us some of the best lettuces I’ve ever eaten, and also ended up chatting with a local painter, beekeeper, and others. Inside the building was the welcoming Polehouse Cafe serving coffee and small snacks. Later in the trip, we stopped at Cardigan Lobster Suppers for the whole lobster supper thing and it was everything we could have hoped for.
Souris was another town we stopped in frequently. It’s tucked alongside the northeastern side of the island and has sweeping views of the water and the jutting cliffs on the island’s eastern side. We ate lobster rolls at the aptly named Lobster Shack and got ice cream from a place nearby. Later in the trip, we stopped at 21 Breakwater for dinner. We didn’t have a reservation and were kind of windblown after a long day, but the staff was incredibly accommodating and fit us in. The meal we had there was definitely the best of the trip – we feasted on mussels, fish and chips, and poached haddock.
We enjoyed the sweeping landscapes and wide beach at the Souris Beach Provincial Park.
Green Gables Heritage Place and the Cavendish Region
Because we were staying on the east side, we only spent a day in the more populous north side the island. While there, we visited the L.M. Montgomery Homestead site and the Green Gables National Heritage Place. Though Green Gables itself was beautiful, I found all the woodland walks surrounding the adjacent properties to be the real attraction. The Haunted Wood was merely a forest, and not even a dark one, and while Lovers Lane did seem to have more dappled light than an ordinary stretch, it was also just a woodland path next to a little stream. Still, the ordinary beauty of these spaces demonstrated the power of L.M. Montgomery’s imagination and the world she brought to life in the Anne of Green Gables Series. It was pretty magical.
Some notes on traveling in Prince Edward Island:
- Internet access is not widely available outside of tourist ares. We ended up using the internet at the Charlottetown Public Library and in the Visitor Centers throughout the island.
- While internet service isn’t great, phone service is. We were able to use our phones to navigate even in the most remote parts of the island. My provider limited my data, otherwise I could have easily used a mobile hot spot to access the web.
- The mosquitos were a little overwhelming. Be prepared with every possible means of repellent, especially near the plentiful bays on the island. Though we were buzzed by a lot of mosquitos, they didn’t bite as much as the Virginia mosquitos do. They did make it tough to eat outside, which was heartbreaking since our cottage was right on the water.
- We did a lot of driving on Prince Edward Island, but this was mostly because we were staying in a relatively remote part of the island.