A guide to a Prince Edward Island (PEI) road trip
Prince Edward Island (PEI) is the smallest of the Canadian Provinces, however what it lacks in size, it makes up for in grandeur. The rolling hills, rural towns and picturesque farms make a PEI road trip unforgettable. [NOTE: PEI road trip map below]
PEI is where the land and sea collide at your table in culinary delight. The fertile farmlands and rich sea life provide a palate-pleasing experience. While food may take center stage on Prince Edward Island, there is so much more to experience. In this PEI road trip guide I will provide a number of ideas for you to consider.
I arrived on PEI from New Brunswick, crossing the Confederation Bridge, which is located nearly in the middle of the province. There are only two other ways to get to the island, by air into the capital city of Charlottetown, or, by ferry, which is located at the southwestern part of the province. [Note: The ferry only runs from May through mid-December.]
PEI ROAD TRIP DAY 1
The border town of Borden-Carleton is on the other side of Confederation Bridge and a good place to grab something to eat or fuel the car. I stopped by the Handpie Company, which seemed a bit familiar. Not the place, but the name “Handpie.” It finally came to me…handpie is a term used in the wildly successful novel and T.V. series, Outlander, a series of books and T.V. shows I have an affinity for. If you’re not familiar, a handpie is especially a hot pocket filled with savory deliciousness.
From Borden-Carleton, head north, toward West Point. Along the way stop by:
- Kool Breeze Farms (late summer, early fall they create an elaborate corn maze)
- Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Church is the islands oldest. This church towers over the magnificent shoreline backdrop and is home to a graceful graveyard.
- West Point – The beaches and lighthouse museum will keep you busy for a couple of hours. The West Point Lighthouse is also a great place to stay the night.
- Not much in way of a town or nearby restaurants, but not far from the lighthouse is The Catch Kitchen and Bar. The food menu is limited and just okay, but the setting sure is nice.
PEI ROAD TRIP DAY 2
From West Point, head along the coast to North Cape, the very northern tip of PEI.
- It can be quite windy here, so hold on to your hat. North Cape is home to Canada’s National Wind Energy laboratory and there is a trail along the shore on which you can walk and see some of the windmills. There is also an interpretive center with an aquarium to explore in the same vicinity. If you visit the gift shop in the interpretative center, they will give you a ribbon saying you were at the most northern part of the island. If you present this ribbon to the most southerly part, you will receive a surprise. The beach in this area is a rusty red color and quite fascinating.
- Stop in O’Leary to check out the Canadian Potato Museum. You can’t miss the massive potato sculpture at the entrance. This museum is dedicated to the delectable spud. The museum is actually pretty interesting, displaying potato-related machinery and agricultural artifacts. You can even order some potato items in their café.
- Continue driving south to Victoria by the Sea and explore this storybook village.
- Take a stroll through Fort Amherst National Historical park.
- Depending on the time of day, I suggest dinner at the Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery. They have delicious seafood and pub favorites right on the wharf. If you’re into Lobster Rolls, they have those too.
- Head to the capital city of Charlottetown. I highly recommend staying at the Great George Hotel. Make this your home base for a few nights.
PEI ROAD TRIP DAY 3
The Great George Hotel makes the perfect home base to explore the PEI capital city of Charlottetown and its surrounding areas.
- On PEI, it’s all about farm fresh food. To learn more about the sea-to-farm food on the island and to see how they weft and warp the ingredients together, I suggest heading to New London to check The Table Culinary Studio, a stupendous experience that provides visitors an opportunity to learn where and how local foods are grown and harvested, while also discovering how to blend these locally sourced ingredients into a masterful meal. Essentially, The Table Culinary Studio showcases an experiential agritourism workshop that delighted this epicurean.
- After having a delicious meal at The Table, explore the area of New London a bit. Don’t miss stopping at the village near French River.
- Then, stop by the Cape Tryon Lighthouse. The views are simply breathtaking and you’ll enjoy the coastal trail along the edge of the cliff, which allows for a number of different vantage points.
- If you’re familiar Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables, you’ll want to stop by the place that inspired it. Don’t miss a chance to walk through the Haunted Woods, a scene from the novel.
- If you’re into outdoor adventure, you may want to stop by Rustico Bay and go kayaking. Even if you’re not interested in kayaking, Rustico Bay is still worth exploring.
PEI ROAD TRIP DAY 4
If you stay at the Great George Hotel, they have some bikes available and I would highly recommend grabbing one to explore the fantastic city of Charlottetown.
- Ride down the boardwalk to Victoria Park, where the views of the harbor are simply fantastic.
- There are other parks around the city and often festivals and farmers markets to explore, and the best way to do it is on a bicycle.
- You may also want to go kayaking or paddle-boarding along the gentle shoreline of the historic Hillsborough River, where you’ll see the beautiful Victoria Park coastline, historic homes and lots of fowl.
- After a bike ride and getting freshened up, I would suggest taking a stroll down Victoria Row (a pedestrian-only street), just a few hundred yards from the Great George, where you’ll find an array of restaurants and pubs. Just around the corner on Queen Street you’ll also find many great restaurant choices. Sim’s Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar, Terre Rouge and Local 343 are all great choices for dinner.
PEI ROAD TRIP DAY 5
- Drive to the other side of PEI and explore the Confederation Trail and scenic lookouts. One of the best ways to explore the area on a bike (or walk), from Summerside up to North Cape. Scenic Lookouts also dot the drive at West Cape, Urbaineville, Seacow Pond and Grand River.
- If there is one thing you have to do on a PEI road trip, it is to visit the Greenwich PEI National Park. You will be enamored by this area and will want to spend half a day here, so if you don’t have time on day 5, push it to day 6. From the scenic walking trail, to the massive and unique floating boardwalk, to the fabulous beaches, this is an area you will want to not rush. The beauty is so awe-inspiring, and the setting, so peaceful.
- Nearby lodging will be in Georgtown, a sleepy little fishing village with a charming bed and breakfast called the Georgetown Historic Inn.
PEI ROAD TRIP DAY 6
- If you stay in Georgetown, don’t miss a stroll through the Macdonald Memorial Gardens, a particularly beautiful place to spend some time.
- There isn’t a whole lot to see or do in Georgetown, but there are some nice photos to be taken of the fishing shacks. While I was in town the Taste of Georgetown was going, an annual celebrity chef event absolutely worth attending.
- Point Prim Lighthouse. Built back in 1845, the Prim Point Lighthouse is the first and oldest lighthouse on PEI. With a large football field-sized grass park surrounding the lighthouse and stunning shoreline, it was easy to spend a couple of hours. There are many lighthouses on PEI, but Prim Point was my favorite.
- If you’re hungry, I highly recommend the Point Prim Chowder House, the only place around to eat. The outdoor seating right on the waters edge and the fantastic gastro food made this one memorable experience.
Depending on how much time you have, you could explore some areas of PEI I have not mention, or, you could catch the Wood Islands ferry to Nova Scotia. Or, you could make your way across the Confederation Bridge and explore New Brunswick.
If you have any questions about doing a PEI road trip, please leave a comment below. If you’ve ever been to Prince Edward Island, please share some of your favorite places or things to do.