Prince Edward Island (PEI) is Canada’s smallest province. It’s the land of Anne of Green Gables, rich red soil, potatoes, fresh seafood, beautiful beaches and colourful small towns. To visit the east coast of Canada and not visit PEI would be a shame, for there is so much to see in this small yet bountiful province.
Cavendish & Prince Edward Island National Park
One of the most famous areas of PEI is Green Gables Shore, the town of Cavendish and Prince Edward Island (PEI) National Park. All three ‘areas’ are intertwined together on the North East shore of the island. It’s a fantastic summertime destination bursting with all the PEI charm and character you’d come to expect from the picturesque province.
what to do
Anne of Green Gables: For Anne of Green Gables fans, the Green Gables area in Cavendish is the destination to come to experience all things Anne, and to explore the world of Lucy M. Montgomery, the author who wrote the beloved Canadian story. Visitors flock to Green Gables Heritage Place to explore the preserved gabled house that inspired LM Montgomery, stroll the grounds like Anne might have, and visit the site of LM Montgomery’s Cavendish home.
PEI National Park: PEI National Park is home to the province’s most beautiful red, sandy beach, Cavendish Beach, the vibrant Green Gables golf course, and plenty of outdoor experiences for every age and preference. During our time in the area, we mainly stuck to Cavendish Beach within PEI National Park, lounging between the red sand dunes and the sea, and only venturing out to get our hands on fresh, local seafood. It’s a peaceful, laid-back seaside paradise, and a perfect destination for a few days of relaxing, eating, and simply enjoying the company of those around you.
Activities for families: If you’re visiting the area with little ones, in addition to the beaches, which on their own can occupy a family for days on end, you can also find small-scale amusement-like parks, attractions and family entertainment in the Cavendish area. These attractions are perfect for children and families.
To get around this area of the island effectively, you must have a vehicle. But in all honestly, driving around is half the fun! We spent a lot of time cruising around with the sunroof open, stopping in small towns, quaint shops & restaurants, and exploring the beautiful countryside.
where to stay
There are all kinds of options for accommodations in the area. There is camping at the Cavendish and Stanhope Campgrounds for those so inclined, and small hotels and B&B’s and cottage rentals scattered across the area as well. We stayed at an inn in the Green Gables area inside PEI National Park called Kindred Spirits Country Inn & Cottages. It was a quaint and adorable spot, and close to everything we wanted to experience.
food & drink
A delicious food scene exists in the area around Cavendish and PEI National Park if you know what to ask for and where to look. You have to try fresh PEI seafood – especially mussels and oysters! When in season, most good restaurants serve shellfish that was pulled from the sea that same day! The taste is incredible! If you’re a seafood-lover (like myself) you must indulge at least once! You’ll also find seafood chowder on almost every menu as well. So worth it.
We found great, no-fuss seafood choices at Carr’s Oyster Bar in Stanley Ridge. It’s a casual joint popular with the local PEI residents that has a large outdoor patio in the summertime. As expected, the seafood was fresh and oh-so-delicious! Scott and I shared 5lbs of fresh, PEI mussels, and ate every. single. one.
Before we left on our East Coast trip, I’d read about PEI potato pie, a layered, scallop potato-like slice of starchy heaven that I desperately wanted to try. It was much harder to find, but when we did… holy was it good! Heavy… but good. We found potato pie at the PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow, a slightly more touristy lunch spot, but the food was good.
Our favourite dining experience in the area was at The Blue Mussel Cafe in North Rustico (15-min drive from our inn in Cavendish/PEI National Park): The Blue Mussel Cafe is a seasonal, casual seafood restaurant located in North Rustico Harbour with a lovely atmosphere and an incredible view. They specialize in fresh seafood and strive to provide food that is as local as possible. We arrived about 7pm for dinner and the place was packed! We waited for a little while before grabbing a seat at a picnic table on their covered patio. It was a cooler night, so they brought us both a PEI wool blanket to keep cosy. We sipped local PEI beer while we downed two pounds of fresh PEI mussels, an order of lobster mac & cheese and scallops with potato salad. For dessert, we shared a slice of PEI blueberry pie. The food was fantastic and fresh, and the harbourside atmosphere made it a great place to spend the evening!
- Island life runs at a slower, less urgent pace from what city folks are used to. That can be a great thing, but if you’re not used to a quieter routine, just make sure you’re prepared. Bring plenty of books, magazines and music for lounging at the beach, but also for in the evenings. Restaurants and attractions aren’t open very late, forcing you to dine earlier, and have more time in the evenings for leisurely activities, like strolling along the beach at sunset or quietly reading in a cosy chair.
- Eat where the locals eat. Or at least eat where half the diners are locals. No one wants sub-par seafood on the East Coast!
- Many people will tell you when visiting PEI that you must participate in a dining experience at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers or something of the like. We didn’t opt for this, as the more reading I did the more I realized that these types of restaurants are epic tourist traps, catering to large tour groups of people and offering sub par seafood and accompaniments. If you want to try it, all the power to you, but better, fresher seafood exists elsewhere… just saying…
*all photos and opinions are strictly my own.