Tucked between mainland Canada and Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island is a speck in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but you could spend a (pretty relaxing) week exploring its beaches, bucolic countryside and laid back towns.
Using the historic Dalvay-by-the-Sea inn as a base, you can take in the sites by car, boat and bike.
Built by Alexander MacDonald, the former president of Standard Oil and partner of John D. Rockefeller, in 1895 in the Queen Anne Revival style, the inn features graceful gables, a wrap-around porch and an enormous stone fireplace in the lobby. There are no TV, radio or Internet connections, with the exception of one “business center” computer.
Perched on a grassy hill overlooking a freshwater lake and across the road from the red-sand Dalvay Beach in Prince Edward Island National Park, the inn transports visitors to a more genteel time.
Here are a few ways to while away the days on this patch of paradise:
1) Rent a bike at the inn and head west along the beach path for spectacular views. Swim at several glorious beaches, wander among the dunes and don’t miss Richard’s “just caught” seafood at Covehead Wharf.
2) Even if you’re not an “Anne of Green Gables” fan, it’s a delightful 30-minute drive to Cavendish where you can spend a couple of hours exploring the home and grounds where the fictional Anne Shirley roamed.
3) The hiking trails that lace Prince Edward Island National Park in Greenwich are particularly beautiful. Meander through woodlands and walk along floating boardwalks that lead to spectacular dunes. There are plenty of birds and rare plant species to be spotted.
4) The Haunted Mansion (hauntedmansionpei.ca) in Kensington is totally campy, but good for a laugh.
5) With about 30 courses, PEI has some of the best golf in North America. There also are plenty of opportunities to kayak and fish.
At the Dalvay-by-the-Sea Inn:
-You can play tennis, croquet; canoe/kayak on the lake or just relax with a book on one of the many Adirondack chairs that dot the lawn.
-Breakfast, lunch, ‘High Tea’ (from 2- 4 p.m.) and dinner in the four-diamond restaurant with a view of the lake are all memorable meals. The renowned sticky date pudding with toffee sauce featured in Gourmet mag is a must, even if, like me, you don’t particularly like dates or toffee.
Know before you go:
Dalvay-by-the-Sea is open mid-June though mid-September.
Air Canada, United, Delta and Continental fly to Charlottetown in about 3 hours. From there, it takes about 30 minutes to drive to Dalvay-by-the-Sea.
$199-$299, for 2, includes breakfast. Cottages $379-$399 for two with full breakfast.