Two days ago myself and a friend took an evening walk down Queen street, admiring shop windows and the golden evening light that falls in shafts down streets and alleys, and tumbles down through the now full, vibrantly green leafy branches of lindens, oaks, and ash trees that line Charlottetown’s streets. Most shops have hanging flower baskets above their entrances that are overflowing with brightly coloured blossoms. We passed a busker who enthusiastically shared his guitar tunes on the street corner, and watched tourists from all over the world wander leisurely along as if in a euphoric daze, licking melting ice-cream cones from Cows. On Victoria Row the cafes and restaurants were filled with the laughter of diners speaking every language imaginable while enjoying fresh seafood and local steak, live music and the cool breeze that blows off the water in the evenings. Wandering down to Peakes Quay a long line of boats bobbed rhythmically in the marina, a couple just heading out for an evening sail. Diners on the deck above were enjoying the view of the harbour, and many children were entertaining themselves by climbing on top of the giant COWS ice cream mascot that stands in the square. A musician set up his equipment and started performing while we made our way down to the waterfront and got ice cream cones of our own. We stopped and watched the children dance on the grass while their parents rested at one of the many picnic tables and enjoyed the live music and harbour views.
What struck us was the breathtaking beauty and vibrancy of Charlottetown at this time of year. For a small laid back town it really does have the feel of a much larger city, and there is so much to enjoy outdoors that it really is hard to do everything that our city offers in just a few days. Those of us who live here have plenty of time to fit it all in, but if you are visiting we thought you might like some tips on outdoor experiences that you definitely do not want to miss while in Charlottetown. Our list was a little too long to cover in one blog post, so I thought I would break them down and share our top three below:
1. Victoria Row
Victoria Row transforms from a pretty ordinary one way street open to traffic in the winter time into a happening pedestrian-only thoroughfare that features two art galleries, a handful of restaurants, a café, dance school, coffee shop, a leather store, hand made arts and crafts stores, a sweater store, and of course, the Anne of Green Gables gift store! Live musicians perform in the afternoons and evenings, and the street has hosts the Victoria Row Concert Series, which has featured well known performers such as Joel Plaskett and Matt Mays! Though not technically located on Victoria Row, if you are in the area be sure to nip across the street to the Confederation Centre of the Arts Amphitheatre for the noon performance by Les Feux Follets: the story of PEI’s creation and subsequent settlement. Because of its prime location across the street from the Confederation Centre of the Arts and around the corner from the Arts Guild, Victoria Row is the perfect spot to hang out for some down time in-between musicals!
2. Peake’s Quay
Peake’s Quay is the place to wander for lunch overlooking the harbour, or to enjoy some shopping for local culinary products, bags, art, jewelry or a PEI dirt shirt (dyed with our Island’s iconic red dirt!), a Cows Ice Cream cone, or a leisurely walk along the waterfront boardwalk. If you head down between 2.30 and 4 or 6.30 and 8.30pm you can also enjoy the live music performed daily throughout the summer. Peake’s Quay has picnic benches if you feel like picking up a sandwich on your way down, and a grassy area if it’s time for a nap. It is the perfect destination if everyone in your family is in a different mood. The kids can play on the grass while you browse the shops for gifts to take back home, enjoy a snack or take in the concert series.
3. Victoria Park
Victoria Park is one of Charlottetown’s outdoor gems, boasting 27 acres of wooded area with mature trees, quiet places, and serene walking trails. Located along the mouth of the harbour and bordering lovely residential areas, the park also has tennis courts and baseball fields, a playground, skate park, renovated swimming pool, large open areas for picnics or games, and a boardwalk that is great for a peaceful morning run or a leisurely post-supper stroll. In the evenings thousands of crows take up residence in the tops of the trees, and you can hear them calling out to each other in waves from anywhere in the park. Children will enjoy running or walking along the boardwalk (FYI: there is the popular Kiwanis Dairy Bar half way down the boardwalk, across the street, so consider yourselves warned!) and you can even take your dog with you as long as you keep it on a leash. Be sure to check out the adjacent Lieutenant Governor’s property (where Prince William and Princess Kate stayed!), and the nearby Beaconsfield Historic House.
In the next Discover Charlottetown blog post look out for some great suggestions for unique Charlottetown day trips to help you plan out your itinerary while you are here!
By: Ariana Salvo on behalf of Discover Charlottetown