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Prince Edward Island’s Sandspit great for kids and the kids at heart


As the song says, it’s funny how time slips away

It’s funny how you can set out on a mini-vacation with big plans to stuff every single minute with one exciting activity or another and then reality takes hold.

Those plans often fall by the wayside very quickly, especially when multiple attractions are competing for your time. This is what you will find in Cavendish, P.E.I.

This year, I promised myself that my family and I would get to multiple venues and do so many things that we would definitely need a vacation from our vacation. The truth is that we got sidetracked and spent most of it going up, down, and around at Sandspit Amusement Park. But can you blame us, really, when an attraction map which covers the area from North Rustico, west to Stanley Bridge, lists 118 different activities, shops, accommodations, art shops, and eating establishments?

Let’s back up a bit first though, following a smooth crossing of the Northumberland Strait on the MV Confederation, the drive to Charlottetown was highlighted by a sighting of the world’s smallest highway construction crew. At one point on our journey, we were stopped along the road by a flagger and signs that warned of tarring ahead. They didn’t lie. However, they also didn’t say that it was just one guy putting tar on the road, without even a truck or co-workers to be seen. At the other end of the “construction” zone was the other flagger. Score: flaggers 2, construction crew 1.

In the Queen City, we sought out lunch and stopped at a British-themed joint for a bite. My burger was very good, and the fish and chips were done well too, but the service was different. It wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t good, it was just strange. I got the feeling that the workers, all of them, were on their first days on the job and they weren’t really sure what to do. Either that or they were burglars who were in the act of robbing the place, and when customers started to come in, they decided to serve them to keep up the charade.

At the end of a delightful drive across this beautiful province, we made our way to our cottage and settled in for a bit. Our duplex cottage was vacant on the adjoining side, so we had no neighbours, which is nice because you never know who you’re going to get saddled with.

By way of illustration, let me relate this anecdote. About 9:30 p.m., there was this tremendous thump on the outside wall of the second bedroom in our cottage. We went to check and found two adult males lingering there, and one of them getting to his feet.

“We’ve got people trying to sleep in here,” they were told.

“Oh, sorry, we were just playing tag.” Two grown men. In the gloom of deep twilight.

Just down the road from our cottage, Sandspit was great as usual. We went up and down on the Cliffhanger so many times that I think I’m shorter now. The Ferris Wheel provided a perfect vantage point for viewing the entire park while the bumper boats made a big splash on us and the bumper cars were shockingly fun.

For a bit of a break and a slower pace, I wandered over to Cavendish Grove, which is part of the national park. The grove itself is peaceful and shady, and there are also plenty of walking/hiking trails to help you stretch your legs.

Avonlea Village, nearby on the opposite side of Route 6, is a quaint and enchanting replica town. It features many trendy shops and restaurants. The schoolhouse in which Lucy Maud Montgomery taught for a year has been moved there and is now a gift and craft shop, while the church she attended is a burger restaurant. I don’t know what Anne Shirley would have made of that, but I’m sure she would have had a strong opinion and wouldn’t have been shy about expressing it. Burgers, chocolate, lobsters, doughnuts, or wood-fired pizza, make this a great place to spend some time while strolling the wooden sidewalks.

Speaking of wooden sidewalks (what a segue!) the Cavendish Boardwalk was captivating as usual with its mixture of shops and restaurants, which is a common theme here. Of course, when on the Island … eat Cows ice cream. And that’s exactly what we did. Twice. I highly recommend the Peanut Butter Cup cup. It’s peanut buttery goodness at its chilly best.

This year’s visit to Cavendish (as opposed to last year’s jam-packed weekend) we finally made it to the beach. It was great for relaxing on the sand and provided great photo ops and ice-cold water. Swimming was out, for me at least, wading wasn’t too bad once the numbness set in and you couldn’t feel the cold on your legs. Overall though, it was a beach to be savoured and is bookmarked for our next trip as well.

Route 13 took us back into Charlottetown for Sunday afternoon in time for the weekly farmer’s market on Queen Street, where we browsed the many vendors exhibiting a wide variety of wares and tastes. Our destination was Peake’s Quay for a relaxing lunch overlooking the busy boardwalk and harbour.

Following a tasty meal, we visited Victoria Park to let the kids frolic — there’s not really any other word for it — on the new $1 million playground there. This accessible facility is truly astounding and a testament to the money which comes from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program. It’s nice to see where those dollars go, and it really means something when they ask for a donation at the checkout when you’re buying motor oil and hockey pucks.

If you’re going to Cavendish anytime soon, or even in the distant future, set aside more time than you think you’ll need because every minute will be well spent.

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