Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island (PEI), holds a significant place in Canadian history as the "Birthplace of Confederation." This picturesque city, known for its historic architecture, vibrant arts scene, and friendly locals, offers a delightful blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. PEI itself, often referred to as the "Garden of the Gulf," is renowned for its stunning red sand beaches, rolling countryside, and lush farmlands. As Canada's smallest province, PEI exudes a warm, welcoming atmosphere that captivates visitors from the moment they arrive. Whether you're a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Charlottetown and its surroundings have something for everyone. The island's compact size makes it easy to explore, with scenic drives leading you through charming villages, past picturesque lighthouses, and along breathtaking coastal vistas. Here are ten things you must do to make the most of your visit to this enchanting city.

1. Stroll Down Victoria Row

Victoria Row, located in the heart of Charlottetown, is a bustling pedestrian street lined with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants. During the summer months, the street comes alive with outdoor dining and local musicians, creating a lively and inviting atmosphere. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely stroll, shop for unique souvenirs, and sample delicious local cuisine. The vibrant energy of Victoria Row is infectious, drawing both locals and tourists to its welcoming ambiance. Street performers often entertain passersby, adding to the delightful experience. This is also a great place to people-watch and soak in the local culture. In the evenings, the area is beautifully lit, creating a magical atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic walk.

Why You Should Go: Victoria Row is not just a street but a vibrant cultural hub. It encapsulates the essence of Charlottetown's charm, making it an ideal place for both relaxation and exploration. Enjoy a cup of coffee at a quaint café, browse through local art galleries, or savor the island’s culinary delights in one of the many restaurants that spill out onto the sidewalks. The unique blend of historic and modern elements makes every visit to Victoria Row a memorable experience.

2. Visit Province House National Historic Site

Province House is a must-visit for anyone interested in Canadian history. This historic building, constructed between 1843 and 1847, is where the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 took place, leading to the formation of Canada. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the events that shaped the nation and explore the beautifully preserved rooms where history was made. Note: It's best to check if the renovation and restorations are over. In the meantime, the Story of Confederation exhibit at Confederation Centre of the Arts, located next door, is an excellent alternative. This exhibit offers an immersive experience with interactive displays and multimedia presentations, providing a comprehensive understanding of the pivotal events that occurred here.

Why You Should Go: As the "Birthplace of Confederation," Province House offers a deep dive into Canada's past. The knowledgeable guides provide engaging narratives that bring history to life, making it a perfect educational stop for visitors of all ages. Don’t miss the multimedia presentations that highlight the significance of the Charlottetown Conference. The building itself, with its grand architecture and historical significance, is a symbol of Canadian unity and progress.

3. Explore the Confederation Centre of the Arts

The Confederation Centre of the Arts is a cultural hub in Charlottetown, offering a wide range of artistic experiences. Home to the Charlottetown Festival, which features the beloved musical "Anne of Green Gables," the centre also hosts art exhibitions, live performances, and educational programs. It's a great place to immerse yourself in the local arts scene and enjoy world-class entertainment. The Centre also houses a national art gallery, showcasing works by Canadian artists that reflect the country's diverse cultural heritage. Throughout the year, it hosts various events, workshops, and performances that cater to all age groups, making it a vibrant community space.

Why You Should Go: The Confederation Centre is more than just a theatre; it’s a testament to PEI’s vibrant cultural landscape. Whether you’re catching a performance of "Anne of Green Gables" or exploring the latest art exhibit, the Centre provides an enriching experience that celebrates both local and national talent. The Centre’s commitment to arts and culture ensures there’s always something new and exciting to experience.

4. Take a Scenic Walk Along the Waterfront

Charlottetown's waterfront is a picturesque area perfect for a relaxing walk. The boardwalk stretches along the shoreline, offering stunning views of the harbor and the city skyline. Along the way, you'll find parks, picnic spots, and opportunities to watch boats and wildlife. It's a peaceful retreat from the city's hustle and bustle, ideal for a morning jog or an evening stroll. For a quieter and unique way to start the day, consider visiting the waterfront early in the morning. The tranquility of the early hours, combined with the beauty of the rising sun over the harbor, provides a serene and refreshing experience.

Why You Should Go: The waterfront area provides a tranquil escape with beautiful vistas and the gentle sound of waves. It’s also a great spot for photography, especially at sunset when the sky lights up with breathtaking colors. The proximity to local eateries and cafes means you can easily grab a refreshment as you enjoy the scenic views. The well-maintained boardwalk and parks make it a perfect spot for leisurely walks, family outings, or simply enjoying a moment of peace.

5. Discover the Charlottetown Farmers' Market

For a taste of local flavor, visit the Charlottetown Farmers' Market. Open year-round on Saturdays, the market features a variety of vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, handmade crafts, and more. It's a great place to sample PEI's famous potatoes, fresh seafood, and artisanal products, while also supporting local farmers and artisans. The market is a vibrant hub of activity, with live music and cooking demonstrations often adding to the festive atmosphere. It's a community gathering place where locals and visitors alike come together to celebrate the island's rich agricultural heritage.

Why You Should Go: The market is a sensory delight, offering a wide array of sights, sounds, and tastes. It’s a fantastic way to experience the local culture and connect with the community. Whether you’re picking up fresh ingredients for a picnic or finding unique handmade gifts, the market embodies the heart and soul of PEI. The friendly vendors are always eager to share stories and insights about their products, making every visit a learning experience.

6. Step Back in Time at Beaconsfield Historic House

Beaconsfield Historic House is a beautifully preserved Victorian-era home that offers a glimpse into Charlottetown's past. Built in 1877, the house features elegant architecture, period furnishings, and fascinating exhibits about the lives of its former inhabitants. Guided tours provide interesting insights into the history and culture of the time, making it a worthwhile stop for history enthusiasts. Note: It's best to check if the renovation and restorations are over. In the meantime, the Story of Confederation exhibit at Confederation Centre of the Arts, located next door, is an excellent alternative. This exhibit offers a detailed look at the events leading up to Confederation, with engaging displays and artifacts.

Why You Should Go: Beaconsfield Historic House is a journey back in time. The meticulously maintained interiors and engaging tours provide a vivid picture of 19th-century life in Charlottetown. The house also hosts various cultural events and workshops, offering additional ways to engage with the local history and heritage. The beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding the house are perfect for a leisurely stroll, adding to the charm of your visit.

7. Enjoy the Outdoors at Victoria Park

Victoria Park is one of Charlottetown's most beloved green spaces. This expansive park offers a variety of recreational activities, including walking trails, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. The park's waterfront location provides stunning views of the harbor, and its well-maintained gardens and open spaces make it a perfect spot for picnics, family outings, or simply relaxing in nature. The park also features a large playground, making it an ideal destination for families with children. Throughout the year, Victoria Park hosts various community events and festivals, adding to its vibrant atmosphere.

Why You Should Go: Victoria Park’s lush landscapes and recreational facilities make it a versatile destination for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking to play a game of tennis, enjoy a leisurely walk, or just relax with a book under a tree, the park’s serene environment offers a refreshing escape. The park’s scenic beauty, combined with its wide range of activities, ensures that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

8. Indulge in Culinary Delights

Charlottetown is known for its vibrant food scene, with a plethora of restaurants offering everything from casual bites to fine dining. Seafood lovers will delight in the fresh catches from the Atlantic, while those with a sweet tooth can enjoy local treats like Cow's Ice Cream. Be sure to try some traditional PEI dishes, such as mussels, oysters, lobster, and the island’s famous potatoes, for an authentic culinary experience. The city’s culinary landscape is diverse, featuring everything from cozy cafes and food trucks to elegant restaurants. Many eateries focus on farm-to-table practices, ensuring that dishes are made with the freshest local ingredients.

Why You Should Go: The culinary scene in Charlottetown is a reflection of its rich maritime heritage. From upscale dining establishments to charming bistros, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Take the opportunity to enjoy fresh, locally sourced seafood and discover why PEI is renowned for its culinary offerings. Don’t miss out on trying the island’s famous potatoes, known for their rich taste and versatility. The city’s food festivals and events also provide a great opportunity to sample a wide variety of local flavors in one place.

9. Visit Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site

Just a short drive from Charlottetown, Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site offers a deep dive into the early history of PEI. This site, once a French and later British fortification, played a significant role in the colonial history of the island. Visitors can explore the remnants of the fort, enjoy panoramic views of Charlottetown Harbour, and learn about the interactions between European settlers and the Mi'kmaq people. The site also features interpretive trails and informative plaques that provide detailed insights into the historical significance of the area. Throughout the year, various reenactments and educational programs bring the past to life.

Why You Should Go: This historic site provides a unique opportunity to explore PEI’s colonial past in a beautiful natural setting. The informative exhibits and scenic trails make it an ideal destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The site also hosts various events and activities throughout the year, offering further insights into the island’s rich heritage. The breathtaking views and peaceful surroundings make it a perfect spot for a picnic or a quiet reflection on the island's storied past.

Charlottetown, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, is a destination that offers something for everyone. From exploring historic sites to indulging in culinary delights, each experience adds a unique layer to your visit. Embrace the charm of this delightful city and create unforgettable memories.

Stay connected with more insights from the vibrant world of Canadian travel at Canada Scenic.

#Charlottetown #PEI #TravelCanada #HistoricSites #LocalCuisine

Jun 20, 2024
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