With so many stunning beaches on Prince Edward Island, it’s easy to forget that PEI also has one of Canada’s most historic, picturesque, and easily walkable cities. Our family made Charlottetown, PEI part of our itinerary on a summer road trip from Halifax to Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, and we’re so glad we did! Here are our top recommendations:
Family Activties in Charlottetown:
Explore Confederation Place:
Province House is where it all happened, way back in 1864. The building is currently closed due to a 4-year, 21 million dollar conservation project, but in the meantime, there are tons of fun summer activities for visitors taking place on the grounds of this National Historic Site.
In true interactive Parks Canada-style, families have the opportunity to dress up in period costume against a green screen, while your photo is taken by a Parks Canada interpreter. Your photos, with a choice of four backgrounds, get emailed to you! After the photo shoot, kids can clamber through a larger than life 1864 sculpture. Fun!
See Anne of Green Gables: The Musical
Now in its 52nd season, Anne of Green Gables, The Muscial has made it into The Guinness Book of World Records for the ‘Longest running annual musical theatre production’. This show is a must for any visitor to Charlottetown and great for kids.
Watch Anne and Gilbert Fall in Love
For a more off-broadway experience, go to The Guild Theatre to see the highly acclaimed Anne and Gilbert at the smaller Guild Theatre on Queen Street. We haven’t seen this amazing show, but we can’t wait. Read the Trip Advisor Reviews, and you’ll see what I mean!
Take a Tour
There are a couple of options for tours around Charottetown including The Harbour Hippo Land and Sea Tour, and the Big Blue Bus Tour, but when we visited, enjoyed exploring by foot. If that’s your choice too, look out for these helpful guides, like Austin (pictured below), who give out directions and brochures to tourists in the city centre.
Go Mouse Hunting
Kids will love this mouse-themed scavenger hunt! Following the success of Prince Edward Island author David Weale’s book, The Meaning of Crumbfest, the city of Charlottetown erected 9 tiny little bronze mouse statues across the city, creating a treasure hunt for kids. Embark on a quest to find them all, or happen upon them by accident, like we did!
Where to Eat with Kids in Charlottetown:
Lobster and Seafood at Water-Prince Corner Shop
For delicious fresh seafood and great service, try Water-Prince Corner Shop, named for its location at the corner of Water and Prince Street. We started with steamed mussels, followed by the 1.5 lb lobster dinner (so fresh!). We all sampled the award-winning fish chowder, and the kids devoured a very reasonably priced children’s portion of breaded haddock and french fries. The staff even presented a fun lobster demo for the kids. (Did you know that male lobsters have “hard bits”?)
Water-Prince Corner Shop is busy, due in part to the buzz it has received from TV shows like ‘ You Gotta Eat Here‘ and Regis and Kelly. Tip: Request an outdoor table, and be patient: it’s worth the wait!
Terry’s Berries Food Truck
You can’t miss Terry’s Berries Food Truck (the truck is bright pink!) at the corner of Water and Great George.
For lunch, we has a couple of smoothies and the totally divine Salt Daddy Lobster Melt, which was big enough to share. Highly recommended. Move over, Water-Prince. Terry’s is going to be The Next Big Thing in Charlottetown! (Note: Terry’s Berries is open during the summertime only!)
Cow’s Ice Cream
Cow’s Ice Cream has been voted the Best Ice Cream in Canada by Reader’s Digest. There are two locations in Charlottetown, plus the Cows Creamery outside of town which offers free self-guided tours! We recommend the Peake’s Wharf location for a great waterfront vibe.
For a true PEI flavor, try the blueberry ice cream or the PEI Apple Crisp. And don’t forget to stock up on these hilarious (calorie-free) Cows t-shirts and souvenirs!
Before you hop back in the car, fill a bag with wild and wonderful candy from the Freak Lunchbox on Queen Street. Despite the fact that we already have a Freak Lunchbox in our hometown of Halifax, my kids went crazy here, and consider this wacky candy store one of the highlights of our summer vacation. Aren’t kids just so…freaky?
Where to Stay With Kids in Charlottetown:
Formerly a CN hotel, the Rodd Charlottetown retains much of its original charm. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a guest there in the 1990’s, staying in room 310, now a honeymoon suite. Splash out a book one of the 5th floor suites, which are only steps away from the Rodd’s rooftop garden, offering a stunning view over the city, or stay in a regular room, many of which retain original Art Deco features.
The thing we liked best about our stay at the Rodd Charlottetown was the excellent service (Thank you Oliver!).
The second best feature of this historic hotel? To my son’s delight, The Rodd Charlottetown is located right next door to the Charlottetown Fire Station!
If you don’t mind driving 5 minutes, The Rodd Royalty is just 5 minutes by car outside of the city centre. Why should you stay there? Oh, only the 105 foot-waterslide!!
There are plenty of cool, boutique hotels in Charlottetown, including the award-winning Great George, a complex of rooms, suites, “hideaway suites” and self-catering condos, located in the heart of the city. We didn’t stay at the Great George on this trip, but only because we’re saving it for the weekend that we go away without the kids!
When visiting PEI, don’t forget to spend a couple of days exploring the quaint, walkable, historic and great-for-kids city of Charlottetown. Hopefully, our recommendations have given you a few ideas for family fun in The historic city of Charlottetown.
All photos by Helen Earley unless otherwise noted.
Thank you to Tourism PEI for their hospitality.