Throughout these uncertain times, we can’t help but dream about all the things we’re missing while we practice social and physical distancing. Although no one can say for sure when we’ll be able to get out and about again, there’s no harm in dreaming of brighter days doing our favourite things, right? Here’s just a few of the many things we can’t wait to do once it’s safe to do so!
We’ve been lucky to still be able to acquire many of our local goods in safe and unique ways by ordering online or calling in advance, but a (in-person) trip to the market is a treasured ritual by many locals and visitors alike. It’s the place to get our farm-fresh produce and other goodies, have a delicious snack or lunch, and socialize with all kinds of friendly folks. Whether it’s the classic Charlottetown Farmers’ Market on Saturdays (and Wednesdays in the summer), the open-air Downtown Farmers’ Market on Queen Street (on Sundays in the summer), or Founders’ Food Hall & Market (open year-round) down on the waterfront, the options are pretty awesome for relaxed market experiences.
Although we’ve been fortunate that many local artists continue to provide entertainment from the comfort of our homes during this crisis, there’s nothing like seeing (and feeling) a show first-hand. While we don’t know what this will look like yet for this season, there’s always live entertainment to found – whether it’s on street corners or in public parks, Charlottetown’s performing arts scene has whatever we need to make our hearts sing. And fingers crossed places like the Confederation Centre of the Arts, The Guild, and The Mack will go ahead in some capacity. Nearby “Always-On-Stage” is a summer staple on Victoria Row, where musicians can be found playing live music from morning ’til night. And of course, there’s always find local, live music on tap at the city’s bars and pubs, including The Old Triangle, Fishbones, Olde Dublin Pub, PEI Brewing Co., Water’s Edge, Baba’s Lounge, Hunter’s Ale House, The Gahan House, Piatto Pizzeria, Next Door Lounge, Marc’s Lounge, and John Brown Richmond Street Grille.
A sure sign of summer is when the stretch of Richmond Street between Queen and Great George gets closed to vehicles and transformed into a pedestrian street and outdoor entertainment venue. Victoria Row (affectionately referred to as ‘The Row’) offers the perfect patio-ing experience, with restaurants serving up fresh seafood, local brews, and people-watching perches all along this buzzing pedestrian street. In search of a bird’s eye view? We love hitting up local fav Fishies on The Roof, Charlottetown’s only rooftop patio. Needing a quick break from touring around? The colourful picnic table at the end closest to Great George St are equipped with checkers pieces to inspire a spontaneous match!
Oh, how we miss our dear shopkeepers & makers! Many of them offer online shopping options, but nothing beats shopping in an actual store or boutique. Some even have working studios located within their boutiques, like Garnish Jewellery, Kuriosities, Green Eye Designs, Urban Daisy Eco Boutique, Happy Glass, and Northern Watters Knitwear, which really enhances the experiences of shopping directly from the makers themselves. And against downtown Charlottetown’s stunning backdrop of red brick and waterscapes? It’s the best. Must-visits on Queen St. include JEMS Boutique, Luxury Market Consignment Boutique, Liquid Gold Tasting Bar, Colour Blind Boutique, and Blooming Lupin. During the summer months, we can’t wait to head to the waterfront for more shopping bliss at Peake’s Wharf, where storefronts like My Little Stash, Cool As A Moose, and Art on the Quay tempt us with jewellery, artwork, souvenirs, clothing, and other treasures.
If there’s anything that has us longing for PEI normalcy more than having a seafood spread and a cold beer by the water, we’d love to know. Hankering for a lobster dinner? We recommend Lobster on the Wharf where the waterfront deck views are on point. For a casual drink and local eats, check out The Cork & Cast, PEI’s first floating restaurant. Got gourmet pizza cravings? Trick question – who doesn’t? Nimrods’ at Peake’s Wharf has you covered. Peake’s Quay Restaurant & Bar also offers a sprawling deck, cool cocktails, and a large menu that’s perfect for #SundayFunday. Nearby Brakish! has several craft beer options & appetizers while their ‘BrakYard’ lawn games will keep the whole family entertained. And for the best place to watch the boats come and go with a cocktail hand, check out the upper deck of Salt & Sol!
It’s now the perfect time of the year to tune up our bikes and get out to explore the gorgeous scenery. From Charlottetown, it’s easy to access the Confederation Trail, which features over 400 kilometres of cycling and walking trails that span the Island from tip-to-tip. There are also many hiking trails beyond the city limits, like Bubbling Springs in the PEI National Park (once it opens), MacPhail’s Woods near Orwell Corner, or Winter River Trail just passed Jewell’s Country Market. Of course, the Victoria Park boardwalk is also a great place to get some fresh air within the city and take in the gorgeous harbour views of the Charlottetown Harbour. Bike shops like MacQueen’s Bike Shop and Outer Limits Sports have curbside drop-off & pick-up available for all bike repairs and purchases.
While our local craft breweries have all been doing a fantastic job of accommodating our needs during this difficult time, some of us can’t wait until we can actually go for a pint at our favourite tap room. Charlottetown’s burgeoning craft beer and cider scene pays homage to the Island with aptly named beers, such as the PEI Brewing Company’s Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale, quirky Islandisms under the bottle caps at Upstreet Craft Brewing, and seasonal brews at The Gahan House that showcase local ingredients. New in the east end of town is Red Island Cider, who strive to tell a story with each pint of clean, hand-crafted cider. And we can whole-heartedly say, it goes down very smooth.
Exploring the Island by car is a treat on its own, especially if your route takes you along one of the Island’s three beautiful coastal drives: Points East Coastal Drive, Central Coastal Drive, and North Cape Coastal Drive. Although each of these coastline-hugging drives has its own special flair and feel, they all showcase the Island’s stunning red cliffs, pristine waterscapes (complete with classic lighthouses!), and sweet pastoral scenery. Regardless of where you decide to take your road trip, you can be sure you’ll happen upon marvellous scenery, friendly locals, and postcard-worthy villages all throughout the Island.
Trees, parks, squares, and gardens are an enduring and treasured part of Charlottetown’s landscape, vital to the relaxed, natural atmosphere we cherish. The city’s crown jewel of green spaces, Victoria Park is a 40-acre park located along the western end of the city’s waterfront. It features a lengthy waterfront boardwalk, 7-acres of quiet wooded area and trails, eight lit tennis courts, three ballpark diamonds, a skateboard park, a brand new playground, a swimming pool, and a very popular splash park. And although the boardwalk remains open, we can’t wait to have full access to this glorious space once again!
Of course, once the weather gets warm enough and the National Parks re-open, a day (or every day) at the beach is an essential part of Island life. With plenty of white sand and red cliff beaches within a twenty-minute drive, Charlottetown is the perfect home base from which to set out on your beach day adventures. If you’re partial to dog-friendly beaches close to Charlottetown, check out Blooming Point, Tracadie Bay, Argyle Shore, or Kinlock Beach. And for those looking to experience the beauty of the PEI’s National and Provincial Parks, look no further than Brackley Beach, North Rustico, Greenwich, and Basin Head.