Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, is just the right size for touring on an easy-paced family vacation. If exploring is your style, you can stay in the center of the island and reach every corner of it in daytrips. Or you can just stay put near one of the long beautiful beaches on the north shore, where the sea water is warmer than any beach north of the Carolinas. On our vacations there, our family chose a mix of exploring and enjoying days at the beach.
Sea and Sand
There’s more for kids and parents to do than play in the waves: At the Beach Hut in Prince Edward Island National Park is a touch tank with sea creatures to meet, and there are nature demonstrations and interactive activities. The red sands are perfect for building sand castles, and you can even get lessons there from prize-winning sand sculptor Maurice Bernard.
Anne of Green Gables
A few minutes from the beach at Cavendish is the “home” of Anne of Green Gables, and everywhere around you’ll meet references and attractions associated with this children’s classic by Lucy Maud Montgomery. You can visit her house at Green Gables Heritage Place, and follow trails through the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow, described in the book. At the Anne of Green Gables Museum kids can take a ride on Matthew’s carriage past the Lake of Shining Waters. In the capital city of Charlottetown, you can see the characters come to life in a performance of Anne of Green Gables – The Musical.
Experience Farm Life
Faring has been basic to the island’s way of life since its first settlements, and its beautiful rolling fields are still green with crops all summer long. Your kids can meet farm animals at Island Hill Farms in Hampshire, where there are nine different varieties of goat, plus alpacas, miniature donkeys, rabbits and others. Along with experiencing farm life, kids can learn about sustainability and how farms support the local community. You might take home some soap made on the farm from the goats’ milk.
Fishing for Fun
One of our kids’ favorite experiences on PEI was always the day spent deep-sea fishing. Several different trips run from North Rustico, taking families out to the rich fishing grounds north of the island. Everyone gets to fish, and kids of all ages love hauling in their own catch. At the end of the trip, the fish are cleaned and ready for you to take back to your cottage or campsite for dinner.
While PEI is filled with lodging of all types, from luxury hotels and B&Bs to self-catering cottages, our kids always looked forward to pitching a tent at the campgrounds in Prince Edward Island National Park, near Cavendish. It’s at the center of the island, where we could reach all the island’s activities and within an easy walk of beaches. The campground at Stanhope has camping cabins called oTENTik, which save having to put up a tent — you can just move right in.