PRINCE ED­WARD IS­LAND: SPOILED FOR CHOICE

Spoiled for Choice

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY SAN­DRA PHINNEY

Canada’s small­est prov­ince is cer­tainly a colour­ful place. Ringed by clear blue wa­ter, P.E.I. in­cludes emer­ald-green fields, iconic red cliffs and beaches blessed with white or pink sand. Like the palette, the va­ca­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties here are var­ied and, as a re­sult, the Is­land at­tracts peo­ple with many dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests.

A FOOD LOVER’S PAR­ADISE

With­out a doubt, Prince Ed­ward Is­land has be­come an in­ter­na­tional culi­nary des­ti­na­tion. All of Sep­tem­ber is de­voted to a “Fall Flavours” fes­ti­val, and hardly a month goes by with­out new restau­rants, food tours and culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences sprout­ing on the scene. There are also places to learn how to cook like a pro, such as The Ta­ble Culi­nary Stu­dio in New Lon­don with pop­u­lar hands-on cook­ing classes. Culi­nary Boot Camps—in­clud­ing one for kids—are a big hit at Hol­land Col­lege, re­garded by many as Canada’s pre­mier culi­nary in­sti­tute. Need some­thing to wash down all that fab food? The prov­ince’s craft brew­eries, winer­ies and dis­til­leries have you cov­ered (www.tourism­pei.com/culi­nary-pei).

NIR­VANA FOR ANNE FANS

Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Mont­gomery, who was born and buried in P.E.I., in­tro­duced her ti­tle char­ac­ter in 1908; in print ever since, her beloved book has sold more than 50 mil­lion copies. But it is not only read­ers who adore the feisty red-haired heroine. Play­go­ers have given Anne of Green Gables—The Mu­si­cal, now in its 54th sea­son, a record-break­ing run at the Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val. Fans also flock to the Cavendish area to visit themed at­trac­tions such as Mont­gomery’s Cavendish home, the recre­ated Avon­lea Vil­lage and,

of course, Green Gables Her­itage Place, which fea­tures the bu­colic 19th cen­tury farm that in­spired her set­ting (www.tourism­pei.com/anne-of-green-gables).

A FAN­TA­SY­LAND FOR FAM­I­LIES

Anne sites aside, the Is­land has a lot to of­fer fam­i­lies. Beach ba­bies, for ex­am­ple, could spend their en­tire trip on Is­land strands, although there are also light­houses to climb, bike and boat trips to take, plus enough en­joy­able fes­ti­vals to fill any cal­en­dar. P.E.I.’s na­tional park and 22 provin­cial parks of­ten of­fer free, fam­i­ly­ori­ented ac­tiv­i­ties. Clas­sic va­ca­tion venues, many of them con­cen­trated around Cavendish, have their own ap­peal: Shin­ing Wa­ters Fam­ily Fun Park, Sand­spit Amuse­ment Park, and Ri­p­ley's Be­lieve It or Not! are all peren­nial favourites. As if that isn’t enough, Ex­pe­ri­ence PEI runs cool hands-on pro­grams that com­bine en­ter­tain­ment and ed­u­ca­tion (www.tourism­pei.com/pei-fam­ily-fun).

MORE IN STORE

And that’s just the be­gin­ning . . . Pretty, com­par­a­tively flat ter­rain, cou­pled with top-notch fa­cil­i­ties, make P.E.I. pop­u­lar with both cy­clists and golfers. Wed­ding par­ties come as well, at­tracted by the post­card-per­fect vis­tas and pas­toral at­mos­phere, while an­glers are lured in by the prospect of catch­ing species that range from brook trout and mack­erel to big bluefin tuna. If danc­ing the night away or shop­ping till you drop are on your wish list, no prob­lem. Love the­ater and mu­si­cal pro­duc­tions? There’s no short­age of op­tions. Want to im­merse your­self in the lo­cal cul­ture? You can tick that box here, too, thanks to a broad menu of in­no­va­tive ex­pe­ri­en­tial ac­tiv­i­ties. So what­ever your pas­sion, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

WHAT’S NEW?

Cana­dian icon Stompin’ Tom is cel­e­brated through ex­hibits and en­ter­tain­ment at a new cen­tre bear­ing his name (www.stomp­in­tom­cen­tre.com).

Af­ter com­plet­ing a $7.2-mil­lion ren­o­va­tion, this year Culi­nary Boot Camps re­turns with new kitchens (www.culi­nary­boot­camps.com).

Thirst quenchers in­clude craft beers from Cop­per Bot­tom and ar­ti­sanal so­das from Day Drift Craft Soda (www.cop­per­bot­tombrew­ing.com; www.day­drift­soda.com). Four types of mead made by the new Is­land Honey Wine Com­pany give vis­i­tors more rea­sons to say “cheers” (www.is­land­honey­wine.ca).

Now open in down­town Sum­mer­side, Hub 223 in­cludes 20 min­i­mal­ist, kitch­enette-equipped “mi­cro liv­ing” suites (www.hub223.com).

Like unique ac­com­mo­da­tions? Tree­top Haven has five tree­house-in­spired ge­o­desic domes in a wooded set­ting (www.tree­tophaven.ca)

Un­veiled last year, Char­lot­te­town’s stylish Syd­ney Bou­tique Inn & Suites mixes her­itage char­ac­ter with mod­ern com­forts (www.syd­neyinn.com).

CITY LIGHTS

Last year’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions only un­der­scored the role Char­lot­te­town played in Con­fed­er­a­tion. Top at­trac­tions like Prov­ince House and Ard­gowan, both na­tional his­toric sites, were cen­tral to the events, while Con­fed­er­a­tion Land­ing and the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre of the Arts—a water­front re­cre­ation area and world-class cul­tural cen­tre, re­spec­tively—re­flect its legacy. But this place ap­peals as much to food­ies as his­tory buffs, thanks to its vi­brant restau­rant scene. Through­out Char­lot­te­town, you’ll also find walk­ing trails, wa­ter­side board­walks and spe­cialty shops (www.dis­cov­er­char­lot­te­town.com).

Although the city of Sum­mer­side is smaller than the provin­cial cap­i­tal, it also

has a bustling water­front re­plete with in­door and out­door the­atres, in­ter­est­ing bou­tiques and eater­ies. Aca­dian in­flu­ences are ap­par­ent here, as are Celtic ones. See the lat­ter come to life each sum­mer at High­land Storm, a rous­ing sum­mer­time show fea­tur­ing bag­pip­ing, step-danc­ing, fid­dling and snare drum­ming that’s held at the Col­lege of Pip­ing and Celtic Per­form­ing Arts of

Canada (www.ex­plore­sum­mer­side.com ).

THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

Be pre­pared to be mes­mer­ized by the rare par­a­bolic dune sys­tem in the Greenwich Dunes sec­tion of PEI Na­tional Park, which also acts as a stun­ning back­drop to an ex­ten­sive trail sys­tem that in­cludes a float­ing board­walk (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/pei).

Cy­clists can pedal from one end of the Is­land to the other, and GranFondo PEI, spon­sored by Cy­cling PEI, is fast be­com­ing a pre­mier event (www.granfondo-pei.ca).

The P.E.I. por­tion of The Great Trail— the Con­fed­er­a­tion Trail—stretches 435 km (270 mi.) from Tig­nish in the west to Elmira in the east, and con­nects to the Is­land’s two en­try points (www.tourism­pei.com/ pei-cy­cling).

Golf en­thu­si­asts agree that P.E.I.’s cour­ses are spec­tac­u­lar. There are more than two dozen to choose from, and they are all within an hour’s drive of each other (www.golf­pei.ca).

Aside from golf, the Is­land is known for its authen­tic ex­pe­ri­ences, in­clud­ing fun with fal­cons, go­ing clam dig­ging or out on a lob­ster boat, help­ing with farm chores, do­ing a GPS ad­ven­ture, or own­ing a race­horse for an evening (www.ex­pe­ri­en­cepei.ca).

Through­out the Is­land there are end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to get up close and per­sonal with na­ture. Kayak­ing, pad­dle board­ing, bik­ing, and bird­watch­ing—to name just a few out­door ac­tiv­i­ties—are of­fered in many re­gions. No equip­ment? Don’t worry; the Is­land has sev­eral out­fit­ters that set you up (www.tourism­pei.com).

HER­ITAGE AND CUL­TURE

The Arts & Her­itage Trail is an Is­land-wide guide for authen­tic P.E.I. cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences with el­e­ments such as mu­se­ums and his­toric sites, per­form­ing arts venues, spe­cial events, theatre, gal­leries, craft shops and ar­ti­san stu­dios (www.art­sand­her­itagepei.ca).

To get a taste of Aca­dian cul­ture, visit Abrams Vil­lage or Roma at Three Rivers for fes­ti­vals, ex­hibits and tours ga­lore (www.vil­lage­mu­si­cal.com; www.ro­ma3rivers.com).

A trip to the Aca­dian Mu­seum in Mis­couche will also in­tro­duce you to the fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of the French pi­o­neers (www.museea­ca­dien.org). Mu­sic and dance have long been em­bed­ded in the cul­ture as ev­i­denced at soirées and con­certs all around the Is­land.

Be sure to visit the Len­nox Is­land Mi’kmaq Cul­tural Cen­tre for pow­wows and other re­lated events, to learn more about the Is­land’s Indige­nous her­itage (www.lennox­is­land.com/at­trac­tions/cul­tur­al­cen­tre; www.ncpei.com/events).

Art in the Open high­lights Char­lot­te­town’s visual arts scene and the Is­land’s di­verse cul­tural tra­di­tions. It also en­gages vis­i­tors and the com­mu­nity in the cre­ation and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of art in its var­i­ous forms (www.artintheopen­pei.com).

MUST SEE, MUST DO

The Fire­Works Feast at The Inn at Bay For­tune is a seven-course meal where ev­ery­thing is cooked in a 7.5-m-long (25-ft.) wood-burn­ing, fire-breath­ing stove that has an in­te­grated smoke­house, hearth, grill, plan­cha, ro­tis­serie and oven (www. in­nat­bay­for­tune.com).

Jigs & Reels pro­vides an authen­tic P.E.I. ex­pe­ri­ence with a world-class mu­si­cian

(J.J. Chais­son—also known as “The Fid­dling Fish­er­man”) on his lob­ster boat. They’ve even had wed­dings on board! (www. fid­dling­fish­er­man.com).

Deep Roots Dis­tillery in War­ren Grove is the first in the prov­ince to pro­duce ab­sinthe, a po­tent green spirit made from care­fully se­lected herbs and pro­duced in small batches. It is shrouded with his­tory and mys­tery (www.deep­roots­dis­tillery.com).

The en­tire world seems to know about COWS ice cream. It’s avail­able at sev­eral lo­ca­tions in P.E.I., but the best place to visit is COWS Cream­ery on the out­skirts of Char­lot­te­town. Sign up for a tour which is ed­u­ca­tional, fun and de­li­cious (www.cows.ca).

SCENIC DRIVES

The 350-km (217-mi.) North Cape Coastal Drive is full of con­trasts. It’s quickly get­ting a rep­u­ta­tion as the Cana­dian Oyster Coast. There is ev­ery­thing here from Mi’kmaq and Aca­dian com­mu­ni­ties to se­cluded beaches and tow­er­ing wind tur­bines (www.north­capedrive.com).

The 253-km (157-mi.) Cen­tral Coastal Drive—which in­cludes Green Gables Shore and Red Sands Shore—cov­ers key Anne sites and much of PEI Na­tional Park, plus com­mu­ni­ties rang­ing from com­mer­cial Cavendish to quaint Vic­to­ria-by-the-Sea (www.cen­tral­coastalpei.ca).

The 475-km (295-mi.) Points East Coastal Drive is dot­ted with light­houses and lined with 50-odd beaches. There are timely at­trac­tions, too—among them Or­well Cor­ner His­toric Vil­lage and Roma at Three Rivers Na­tional His­toric Site (www.pointseast­coastaldrive.com).

FAM­ILY FUN

Kids of all ages love mak­ing sand­cas­tles, and Mau­rice Bernard is the ex­pert in res­i­dence at PEI Na­tional Park. Ask staff when he’s ex­pected to be around or sign up for Ex­pe­ri­ence PEI’s “Sen­sa­tional Sand­cas­tles” pro­gram to get a les­son from the master. If you just want to ad­mire the cre­ations, drop by in mid-July for the park’s an­nual Great Is­land Sand­cas­tle com­pe­ti­tion (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/pei; www.ex­pe­ri­en­cepei.ca/sen­sa­tional-sand­cas­tles).

MALPEQUE HAR­BOUR • SHUT­TER­STOCK/ZELJKA

RAPE­SEED FIELD, GREEN GABLES SHORE • SHUT­TER­STOCK/VADIM PETROV

152,000Char­lot­te­townwww.tourism­pei.comChar­lot­te­town Air­port,8 km (5 mi.) from down­town

CHAR­LOT­TE­TOWN • SHUT­TER­STOCK/DAR­RYL BROOKS

PEI NA­TIONAL PARK • TOURISM PEI/HEATHER OGG

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