Charlottetown is the capital city of Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province. Nestled into Canada’s rugged east coast, PEI is a lush, green island, best known for being the home of Canada’s Confederation, gorgeous red sand beaches, rolling potato fields, and Anne of Green Gables.
Historic architecture, open green spaces, tons of Maritime charm and friendly locals, makes Charlottetown a top destination for an East Coast girl’s getaway, especially between late May and mid-September. Many shops and restaurants are closed during the off-season, so visitors should definitely check out this small city in the summertime.
Keeping up with the historic look and feel of the city, many of Charlottetown’s downtown homes are perfectly preserved heritage buildings that double as Bed and Breakfast Inns. Some of the most beautiful accommodations surround St. Dunstan’s Basilica, a beautiful Catholic cathedral. It’s truly humbling to walk inside and admire the detailed stained glass windows and stone carvings in the ceiling.
If B&B’s aren’t really your thing, there is also a Best Western downtown and several other motels and hotels further uptown.
Get on your walking shoes and explore the old stone streets of historic downtown Charlottetown with its exquisitely quaint shops, and huge outdoor patios. Be sure to check out Anne of Green Gables Chocolates on beautiful Queen Street. Downtown is also where you’ll find the Confederation Centre of the Arts, home of the Charlottetown Festival. A couple different musicals are shown over the course of the summer and many comedians and other stage acts have performed there.
But the show that draws the most visitors is Anne of Green Gables, a musical about Lucy Maud Montgomery’s little red-headed orphan with a big imagination. Now in its 48th season (as of 2010), Anne is a fun show about finding kindred spirits with your best friend and first love.
While you’re in town take some time to explore the largest art gallery in Atlantic Canada, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. Its six exhibition spaces feature contemporary and historical exhibitions year-round. Afterwards stop by Mavor’s for a Starbucks coffee, a delicious meal – or a nice cocktail.
Stroll over to Victoria Row (located behind the Confederation Centre) and enjoy a fancy dessert and some jazz music with the girls at Fishbones.
If the summer heat has got you down, head to the Confederation Court Mall for some indoor shopping. You can also take a tour of Charlottetown on a double-decker bus, which picks people up right in front of the Confederation Centre.
A few streets down from Victoria Row, you’ll find the Charlottetown waterfront, a popular place in the summer for visitors and locals alike. Stop by the home of Canada’s best ice cream, Cow’s, and get an ice cream cone – I recommend one with a chocolate-dipped waffle cone. Check out the cute shops around Peake’s Wharf like How Bazaar!, Coastal Culture, Moxie Soap, PEI Dirt Shirt and – my personal favorite – Bagmania. You’ll need a break after all the shopping so head over to Peake’s Quay for a delicious seafood dinner.
I’ve saved the best for last.
Charlottetown is made for the pub-loving live music fan. Traditional Irish music can be found around town on almost any night of the week at the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse (89 University Ave) and the Old Dublin Pub (131 Sydney St). Fans of rock cover bands should check out Hunter’s Ale House (corner of Prince and Kent Streets) while alternative rock/indie fans should check out Baba’s Lounge (81 University Ave, above Cedar’s Eatery).
For those who would prefer to dance the night away, join the party at Globe World Flavours on Victoria Row. Take a break from the dance floor, order the PEI potato martini, and an appetizer of mussels. Watch the video below to learn how to shuck a mussel like a pro.