Prince Edward Island may be small, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring! This island is packed with things to do and see, and the best way to tackle Prince Edward Island is by car.
You can easily cover the whole island and have plenty of time to stop and enjoy the myriad of things to do in PEI that are food and farming focused. It’s like following a bread crumb trail, just drive following the sign with the picture on it and soon you’ll be traversing the whole island. The island is split up in little sections like puzzle pieces each with a name and picture/mascot making it easy and fun for any child to follow the route. This is one of the things that makes PEI the perfect place for a short driving holiday as you can break it up into little manageable chunks and get to see a bit of everything and every type of landscape.
I took my parents there last summer and we were able to drive all of the scenic routes to some extent and see some of the main sights that appealed to us. But with a week of time, we really only scratched the surface of this experience rich island. There are so many things to do in PEI we barely scratched the surface, but that always gives us a reason to go back! Here were a few of our favorite stops and things to do along PEI’s scenic driving routes.
Points East Coastal Drive (Starfish)
Follow the starfish sign around the Points East Coastal Drive. This was my favorite coastal route thanks to the colorful fishing villages, white sand beaches (they even sing!), and the beautiful PEI National Park and trails.
Follow the starfish sign for the Points East Coastal Drive! My best starfish impersonation – how’d I do?
Things To Do
Don’t miss the Greenwich Dunelands Trail in PEI National Park. It is really one of a kind as you walk on a flaoting boardwalk over wetlands and end at the sand dunes and can spend the day on a secluded beach!
Greenwich Dunelands Trail
The little town of Souris is definitely worth a stop. They have a boardwalk where you can enjoy the bay and the beach or simply stop for lunch and have a fresh lobster picnic by the water! Plus – it’s home to some yummy oysters – Colville Bay Oyster farm is nearby!
Stop at Basin Head Beach for some beach time AND be serenaded by the sand there! I’m not kidding, the sand actually sings.
Basin Head Beach where the the sand sings!
Stop at East Point Light House and climb to the top to see the awesome views from the easterly most point of PEI. There’s a small admission price, but it’s one of the only lighthouses that you can actually go into and to the top!
East Point Lighthouse
Get to the heart of what makes PEI unique – visit the little fishing villages of Bay Fortune and Annandale to see a slice of day to day life. Colorful fishing huts built in rows line the harbors and if you are lucky you may even meet some fishermen out on their boat like we did!
Annandale fishing village
Historic one room school house near Fortune Bay
Green Gables Shore Drive (White House)
Follow the white house with green gables around the Green Gables Shore Drive. Probably the most touristy drive on PEI thanks to the wild popularity of the Anne of Green Gables book series. On some points of the drive near Cavendish it sort of resembled the Wisconsin Dells to me, very family oriented and water park like. But for those who love the book, it’s worth a stop. And if you want to avoid the tourist crowds – then just keep driving because there’s a ton to see along the drive!
Follow the white house with green gables on the Green Gables Shore Drive.
Things to Do
Get hands on farming and cooking at Annie’s Table Cooking Class near New London. Held in an old wooden church that has been redesigned as a large industrial kitchen – book ahead and come hungry! Annie will even take you out to gather your own veggies first at one of the nearby organic farms and then turn around and use those ingredients in your cooking class!
Cook up a feast at Annies Table Cooking School!
Visit an organic farm as part of the cooking class
French River Fishing Village will add some color to your day. This bright and cheery fishing village can be admired from afar along the route or enjoyed up close.
Colorful French River Fishing Village
Drive along the northern coast and beaches and be sure to stop at the Covehead Harbor Lighthouse. You can’t miss it as it has a big Canadian flag painted on it!
Cove head lighthouse proudly displaying the Canadian flag
Red Sand Shores Drive (Red Seacliffs)
Follow the sign with red cliffs along the Red Sand Shores Drive. This is the drive that starts it all as it includes the major point of entry onto PEI, the Confederation Bridge opened in 1997. Once off the bridge and deposited on the island you can catch the REd Sand Shores Drive where you’ll be greeted with rolling hills and lots of farmland.
Things to Do
The Confederation Bridge spans the Abegweit Passage of Northumberland Strait. It links Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick, Canada and is 8 miles long. Prior to 1997 the only way to get to the island was on a ferry. You can stop on the New Brunswick side at a visitor center and learn more about the bridge that you’ll be crossing as well as have a great vantage point to take pictures.
Farm stands along the coastal drives have a small town feel – just take what you need and leave the money…they trust you in PEI!
Self Serve veggie stations
Stop at Rocky Point Lighthouse and Picnic Area and you’ll be treated to a great view of Charlottetown and the star shaped harbor. This is where big cruise ships come in and out so it’s a fun place to take a picnic and just enjoy the boat traffic!
Rocky point lighthouse – stop for a picnic and a great view of Charlottetown
North Cape Coastal Drive (Lighthouse)
Follow the light house signs along the North Cape Coastal Drive. The North Cape Drive is known for it’s Acadian culture. We spent the least amount of time on this route, but we were able to hit the Southern section until a massive storm descended upon us and rained out any views we had. The storm also drove us to find a great little café for shelter and fish & chips and a malt which were a highlight of the day! Even though we ran out of time I had originally hoped to get to the quirky roadside attractions of the bottle house and potato museum, however we sadly ran out of time to visit them.
Follow the lighthouse signs for the North Cape Coastal Drive!
Things to Do
Run through the meadow – you know you want to. As we drove along this route it was filled with wildflowers and meadows. However as you can tell – the ominous clouds are fast approaching!
Meadowlands along the Points North Coastal Drive
Visit the Mount Carmel Historic Church. We stumbled upon this historic gem before the storm. A beautiful cemetery and huge parish church of Mont Carmel that is definitely worth going into and learning about the architecture and Acadian history. Such a huge church for what is left of a small community of 650 people.
Mount Carmel church and cemetery – full of architectural and island history.
Where the Red Sand, Green Gables, and Points East Coastal Drives converge and is the focal point of the Island when it comes to art and food and culture. Charlottetown is the capital city of PEI and home to universities and a beautiful harbor where cruise ships dock occasionally. I would suggest trying to avoid a cruise ship day if possible, if you are looking for the sleepy small town feel.
Things to Do
Confederation Centre of the Arts – Anne of Green Gables The Musical was showing for it’s 50th year. It’s dubbed the world’s longest running musical production. It is an enduring classic told through elaborate sets, modern staging, and charming choreography. I was expecting a small town production, but what I got was Broadway caliber – I was blown away by the production and cast. Plus – before the show go early and check out the Confederation Centre Museum full of great exhibits year around.
Confederation Centre of the Arts – museums, Broadway caliber theater, and more
Province House National Historic Site is the birthplace of Confederation and the seat of Prince Edward Island’s provincial legislature since 1847, Province House National Historic Site stands as a landmark in Charlottetown. Check the visitor center as throughout the summer they have live reenactments of the founding story of Canada – fun and educational.
Founders Hall – where they do daily re-enactments of the Canada’s founding story.
Spend time walking around the town and enjoying it’s quaint feel. Old wooden homes are still maintained and it seems like the whole town is a large flower garden with beautiful landscaping at every home and town corner.
Charlottetown is clearly loved – it’s pristine and filled with flowers on every corner!
Terre Rouge Bistro Marche is the ultimate in farm to table eating. You’ll be greeted by a cool, hip atmosphere and an inventive fresh, local-focused menu.
Fresh and local cured meats, cheeses is a great way to get a feel for the island food culture.
Now you have everything you need to explore the island. Hop in the car and follow the signs!
Disclosure: My trip was hosted by Prince Edward Island Tourism, however all opinions are my own.