Our family just returned from a road trip around Nova Scotia. While there, we decided that we really couldn’t travel all that way without at least taking a peek at Prince Edward Island.
So in our typical fashion, we decided to cram as much as we could see in 24 hours. While we were glad we did it, our conclusion was that Prince Edward Island is worth much more time than this! It was actually our overall favorite of the trip. If all you have is one day, you can definitely enjoy yourself, but a longer stay would be better. Hopefully, we will be able to return again and explore this island a bit slower and in more detail!
Crossing the Confederation Bridge
Since we knew we were going to have limited time on Prince Edward Island (PEI), we decided to spend the previous night in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is only an hour away from the Confederation Bridge. While the bridge is quite scenic from a distance, don’t expect any awesome views while you are on it. The bridge is very long, almost 13km, and unless you are driving a semi or are in a bus, the wind barriers are just a little too high.
Also be aware that while crossing the bridge into PEI is free, you will have a rather large toll of (Canadian) $50.25 on your way back out. Alternatively, you can make a car reservation for the ferry to Nova Scotia for $84.
We were quite happy with our selected activities, but it would have been easier to spread out over more than one day. On our this Prince Edward Island itinerary, the highlights included:
- Start at the Confederation Bridge and drive the scenic coastal route to Cavendish.
- Visit the Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish.
- Drive the scenic coastal route through Orby Head in Prince Edward Island National Park.
- Walk on North Rustico Beach and visit North Rustico Harbour and North Rustico town.
- Drive to Charlottetown via the Covehead Harbour Lighthouse.
- Spend afternoon and evening in Charlottetown.
- Take morning ferry from Wood Islands to Nova Scotia.
The Drive to Cavendish
Since we were headed towards Cavendish, we decided to take the scenic coastal route and were able to stop the car and admire the bridge from the side of the road.
In general, the scenery on PEI is incredible! While the above purple flowers are native to Canada and Alaska, they have also spread to Iceland, where we also enjoyed photographing them. While somewhat invasive, they are quite pretty!
The colors on PEI in July continued to amaze us. The grasses were brilliantly green, the flowers lush and beautiful.
Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place
Traveling on Canada Day (July 1) turned out to have a lot of benefits. Our first surprise was that the Green Gables Heritage Place was free on Canada Day!
On regular days, expect to spend $8.50/$7/free for adults/seniors/youth.
Upon entry, we quickly realized that the museum was for true Anne enthusiasts only! If you want to see Lucy Montgomery’s typewriter or want to learn the complete history of the book series, expect to spend some time in here, but we just spent a few minutes before heading outside.
Once outside, you can see the beautiful setting that inspired the Anne of Green Gables books.
The Green Gables House is quite cute, and you are likely to hear little girls squealing when they find Anne’s bedroom or other items significant to the books.
Back outside, you can explore a couple of different paths described in the books: Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Wood Trail.
If you want to spend more time in Cavendish, there are a ton of Anne and non-Anne options for activities. Since we only had 24 hours on PEI, we chose what we thought the highlight would be, then moved on.
North Rustico Beach, Harbour, and Town
While I had heard a lot of good reviews for Cavendish Beach, we had also heard a lot of good things about North Rustico and decided to try walking on North Rustico Beach instead.
The Drive to North Rustico Beach
On the way to North Rustico Beach, we had intended to drive through Prince Edward Island National Park, but the GPS re-routed us onto the main highway. If you add Orby Head to your GPS directions, this is less-likely to happen. In any case, once we made it back inside the National Park, the views were amazing!
Similarly to the Green Gables Place, we got free admission to the park for Canada Day! For the rest of the year, expect to spend $8.50/$7.25/free for adult/senior/youth.
North Rustico Beach
Eventually, we made it to North Rustico Beach. The reds sand and rocks were beautiful!
Since we didn’t visit Cavendish Beach, we don’t know which was better, but we were quite pleased with our choice! One other observation was that the beach areas in PEI seemed to be fairly uncrowded, even on a national holiday.
North Rustico Harbour
Eventually, we made it to North Rustico Harbour, which also has a cute lighthouse. We thought about stopping for lunch, but it was a little early.
Our initial plan was to continue onto the boardwalk to North Rustico, but we were getting a little worried about both time and energy levels, so decided to walk back to the car and drive into North Rustico.
One thing I had wanted to do was to rent bikes and ride from North Rustico Harbour to Cavendish Beach. If we ever go back, this will still be high on our list of activities!
Upon arrival in the town of North Rustico, the parking situation quickly reminded that it was Canada Day. Canadians were thrilled to be allowed to congregate for this holiday after two years of cancellations! We observed, but didn’t spent a lot of time in the crowds.
We thought about having ice cream, donuts, or sausages for lunch, but all we really wanted was fish. Unfortunately, it ended up being a choice of an expensive buffet style lobster dinner – for which we were not nearly hungry enough, or waiting for a parking spot back in North Rustico Harbour to open up, which we also weren’t excited about. So we decided to drive on and try to find something on the way to our next stop.
Eventually, we stopped at fish and chip place on side of the road. Once we added a little salt, it was some of the best fish and chips that we had ever had! The restaurant also advertised that they use fresh PEI potatoes to make their fries – quite good! The fish were battered with a really nice dill-infused batter. As a bonus, it was also a nice setting for the picnic tables.
Covehead Harbour Lighthouse
We weren’t quite done exploring the Prince Edward Island National Park, so we continued on towards the Covehead Harbour Lighthouse.
We had parked further down on the beach and thoroughly enjoyed our walk to the lighthouse on the beach, and our walk back to the car on the bike trail by the road.
From here, our goal was to get to Charlottetown, but this time we made sure that we stayed on the scenic route through the National Park. Beautiful! Make sure you watch out for the “animaux sauvages” (sounds scarier than “wildlife”)!
Tim Horton’s for Canada Day
Feeling a little worn out, we decided to stop by Tim Horton’s for coffee and donuts. Tim’s is an ubiquitous Canadian chain, so it seemed appropriate on Canada Day.
On arrival to Charlottetown, we thought we would have 2 hours before the Province House National Historic Site closed, but when we double checked the website, we found that it was temporarily closed for conservation work. Probably for the best since we had already overpacked our day.
We checked into our hotel, Rodd Charlottetown, and from here, we decided to wander through the downtown to the waterfront.
We admired St. Dunstan’s Basilica on the way.
Next up was the Confederation Landing Park, which was quite pleasant!
From here, we ended up doing a lot of backtracking for the rest of the day – sometimes it happens when you don’t carefully plan your route. We realized that the best way to Victoria Park was back through downtown.
On arrival to Victoria Park, we wandered on the path by the water.
There was another Canada Day celebration in the park. On the walk there, we kept hearing a siren that was a little to irregular to be a tsunami warning, so I joked that it was a kid being annoying. Sure enough, there was a line of kids standing outside a police car, waiting their turn to crank the siren.
We decided to take a different route back to our hotel, and found some nice forested paths.
After resting a bit at our hotel, we headed back downtown for dinner. We were really excited about a particular restaurant, but ended up being seated next to a kid with a hacking cough (not just a few times, but seemingly every 30 seconds). We asked if they had an outdoor table, but they could not accommodate us, so we decided to move on.
We decided to head back to the water and try the lobster poutine. Our 15-20 minute wait turned in 50 minutes! We almost left and found something else, but then our food finally came out. It was over-salted and felt a bit mediocre, but I suppose that’s can happen on a holiday weekend. The Subway lobster roll (Canada only) may have been a better bet, although we never did end up trying one.
Since our hotel was right next to St. Peter’s Cathedral, we decided to stop by.
Exhausted, after a 27,250 step day, we went back to the hotel to crash and enjoy the view from our room. We actually saw fireworks over the harbor from our hotel room, which was a nice end to the day.
Here is a map showing highlights from our time in Charlottetown:
In the morning, we got a hotel breakfast, then headed out for the Wood Islands Ferry Terminal.
Not being sure how strict the ferry terminal was on the “arrive 40 minutes early,” we left a bit too early. Fortunately, there was a beautiful park at the Wood Island Lighthouse, right next to the ferry terminal where we could keep an eye on arriving cars and head over at a more appropriate time.
We enjoyed the tranquility for a bit, then headed out to the ferry terminal.
Boarding our car went quite smoothly and we enjoyed our last views of Prince Edward Island.
The next time you travel to Canada, consider a roadtrip through Prince Edward Island!
Keep reading our travel blog for more road trip ideas!
Here are some more posts from this Canadian Maritime Provinces trip:
I’ve always wanted to visit Prince Edward Island! Thank you for sharing.
We were planning a road trip to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia this summer, but both of our cars are too old for a trip this long and car rentals are outrageous!
If we did go, I had planned to go to PEI.
Some of my ancestors had to evacuate New York City with the English during the American Revolution and they settled on PEI.
Maybe next year. Your photo make the place look great!