We have visited the Atlantic provinces of Canada several times over the past 17 years beginning with our first trip to Prince Edward Island the summer that my older daughter was a toddler. The region remains one of our favourite destinations for the laid-back atmosphere, stunning natural landscape and family-friendly activities.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is known around the world as the home of a red-headed orphan named Anne of Green Gables and there is no shortage of family-friendly attractions that celebrate the fictional heroine. One of our favourite things to do on the island is take in a performance of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical which has been playing at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown each summer since 1965. Another option in Charlottetown is Anne & Gilbert: The Musical - a sequel of sorts to the original musical. There are also plenty of Anne of Green Gables attractions to choose from in the Cavendish region which is known as Anne's Land. The best one for kids is Avonlea Village which features a full slate of family-friendly activities over the course of a day and characters from the stories who interact with visitors. (Editor's Note: As of June 2015, Cavendish's Avonlea Village only features restaurants and shops rather than actors interacting with visitors. There will still be musical performances and an evening ceilidh.)
We always spend time in Prince Edward Island National Park playing on the beach and enjoying the relatively warm waters. We also have a family tradition of dining at Dalvay by the Sea, a historic beachfront resort located within the park, on our last night on the island.
It's impossible to visit PEI without indulging in the island's famous Cows ice cream. The delicious ice cream has been made on the island since 1983 using all-natural ingredients and with irresistible names such as Wowie Cowie and Moo Crunch. Trips to Cows have been part of our daily routine each time we have visited Prince Edward Island.
The lovely capital city of Halifax has everything a family could want in a vacation destination. A cruise of the harbour is a must whether it be aboard a Harbour Hopper amphibious vehicle, Theodore Tugboat or a historic schooner. There are also several attractions in the city where visitors can learn more about Canadian and maritime history. The Halifax Citadel, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 are all great choices for families.
The picturesque fishing village of Peggy's Cove, located about 40km from Halifax, makes a great day trip from the city. Most visitors to Peggy's Cove are there to see the classic red and white octagonal lighthouse which is one of the most photographed landmarks in Canada and one of Nova Scotia's most popular tourist attractions. Be sure to exercise care when walking on the rocks though and keep a safe distance back from the edge as the sea can be as unpredictable as it is beautiful. If you are hungry after visiting the lighthouse then head to the White Sails Bakery & Deli in nearby Tantallon for delicious homemade sandwiches and baked goods.
The Bay of Fundy is a 270 km (170 mile) long ocean bay that stretches between the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on Canada's Atlantic coast and is home to the highest tides in the world. Our favourite place to experience this incredible natural phenomenon is at Hopewell Rocks near Moncton, New Brunswick. In order to fully experience the tides it is necessary to spend several hours (or leave and come back later in the day) as there is about 6 hours between high tide and low tide. At low tide visitors can walk around the ocean floor and get a better look at the 49-70 foot high rock formations that have been carved by the powerful tides. At high tide, it's possible to take a guided kayak trip around the rocks or just find an observation point and watch the water rise and quickly fill in the beach where everyone had been walking earlier.
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg on family-friendly places to visit in Atlantic Canada. In each of the provinces, families will find fun attractions, friendly people, and, of course, all the delicious fresh seafood they can eat.
Has your family visited Atlantic Canada? Let us know about your favourite places in the comments below.
Thank you to Expedia Canada for partnering with me on this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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