There's a reason Prince Edward Island feels like a storybook

This Canadian province inspired a children's classic... and makes for an incredible road trip.

  • 9
  • 03:41
  • 160 mi
  • $31
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Created by Kampgrounds of America - May 23rd 2019

If the maritime province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) on Canada's eastern edge feels sort of familiar, don't be too surprised. It was the birthplace of, and inspiration for the author of Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The serene setting for Anne's timeless adventures is one of the many things about Montgomery's work that have appealed to countless readers across generations. Of course, PEI is more than just Anne of Green Gables nostalgia. It has Wes Anderson-esque lighthouses straight out of Moonrise Kingdom, roadside kitsch, campgrounds tucked away in quaint towns, red sand beaches, and one epic national park.

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Cedar Dunes Provincial Park features great stretches of guarded beach perfect for swimming, and an interpretive boardwalk trail that winds through the dunes, but its most iconic feature is the West Point Lighthouse. It's the tallest in Prince Edward Island, at 69 feet tall, and its black-and-white stripe paint scheme makes it easily recognizable. It was built in 1875, put into operation a year later, and manned until the 1960s, when the keeper retired and an automatic light was installed. In 1987, part of the lighthouse was turned into a hotel, and there's also a museum onsite. It features one of the island's most thorough collections of lighthouse info and artifacts, and provides an interesting look at the history of West Point. A lot of lore surrounds the area; be on the lookout for cursed buried treasure, ghost ships, and a Loch Ness-style sea-serpent cryptid.

Idaho and Prince Edward Island might not seem like they have a ton in common, but both regions have conditions perfect for producing potatoes. On PEI, you can learn the how and why of potato-growing at the Canadian Potato Museum. It features the world's largest exhibits of potato-related farm machinery, as well as agricultural and community artifacts. And if all of this tater talk gets you hungry, fear not! Our Potato Country Kitchen is onsite to satisfy all your cravings. If nothing else, stop by to pose for a photo with the world's largest potato sculpture, which stands proudly out front.

Cabot Beach Provincial Park on Malpeque Bay is one of the region's larger parks. Along with the guarded beach area, which is framed by stunning red sandstone cliffs, there's a playground, a little lighthouse, and an activity center, making it a great stop for anyone with kids. The beach itself is nice and sandy and clean, and still has that natural, less-developed feeling. You can also tour the 1794 Fanning School, a unique, two-story building that remained in use until the 1960s. It was moved to the park and restored during the 1990s.

Even if you didn't read the Anne of Green Gables books (and if you haven't, you should!) you can still appreciate Prince Edward Island's quaint "stuck in time" charm at the Anne of Green Gables Museum. The home is a gorgeous 1872-era building once owned by Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery's aunt and uncle. She spent a lot of time here, calling it the "wonder castle of my childhood," and it's not hard to see why the serene, bucolic setting inspired her. In fact, Lucy even chose to have her wedding in this house. There's lots to see in the museum and across the 110-acre property. Artifacts from Montgomery's life adorn the museum, and visitors can take a carriage ride, browse the gift shop, or stroll around the lovely flower gardens down to the Lake of Shining Waters.

You can also stop by the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace, right nearby. It's a charming little home that has tons of excellent information on the life and works of this prolific and influential author. It further sets the scene for the setting Montgomery grew up in, and how it shaped her writing. You can see family heirlooms, a recreation of her 1911 wedding dress and accessories, scrapbooks, photos, letters, and tons more. It also has a great little gift shop, and this museum goes out of its way to host book signings with authors and other events. Take a guided tour if you can; the people who work here really know their stuff.

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After enjoying the beaches, historic homes, and cute lighthouses of Prince Edward Island, take a night to relax, enjoy the idyllic atmosphere and make some memories of your own at the Cavendish KOA Holiday. It's got all of the classic KOA amenities like a dog park, jumping pillow, pool, bike rentals, weekend pancake breakfasts, along with super special features like a petting zoo and a bakery/cafe. The KOA offers Tent and RV Sites and Camping Cabins, along with cozy rental trailers that offer something different for anyone who didn't bring along an RV or tent.

Prince Edward Island National Park is a can't-miss stop when visiting PEI. It's a wonderland of natural features, including rare parabolic sand dunes, barrier islands, popular scenic beaches, sandstone cliffs, wetlands, and forests. The park also has a few cultural gems within its borders, most notably Green Gables, part of L. M. Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site, and the Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site. Green Gables is Lucy Maud Montgomery's childhood inspiration for Anne of Green Gables, and Dalvay-by-the-Sea is a beautiful Victorian mansion. This is one of the country's smallest and most endangered national parks, due mostly to human impact and coastal erosion, so visit when you can, and keep conservation in mind.

The pretty beaches aren't all in the national parks; the provincial parks in PEI are just as excellent. Red Point Provincial Park has a spacious and clean sandy beach, lots of grassy areas, and warm water for swimming (the beach has guards, so it's very safe). The coolest feature of Red Point is its sand. It has a distinctive rusty red hue, and it sings. Singing sand is a rare phenomenon and scientists aren't exactly sure what causes it, but some sand grains under certain conditions make distinctive noises when they rub together. The sand here can make a squeaking or humming noise when you rub your toes into it.

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End the adventure with a relaxing stay at the Cornwall / Charlottetown KOA. It's right outside the bustling provincial capital city, but its secluded, forested, waterfront location feels worlds away. The KOA features a heated pool, an activity center, playgrounds, a jumping pillow, and a dog park, but if you're looking to make the most of the riverside setting, you can dig for clams in the sand on the beach, which is perfect for having a campsite clam boil. You can book a Tent or RV Site, or rent a Camping Cabin, a trailer, or a Deluxe Cabin for more homey accommodations.

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The pastoral, turn of the century charm and ocean breezes of Prince Edward Island are completely alluring. It's quaint, kitschy, and utterly adorable. A road trip around the province's hidden gems and past its gorgeous landscapes will no doubt inspire and amaze.

Banner Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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