P.E.I. is so much fun in the summer — there's always something to do.
But unless you've budgeted for it, summer fun can also get expensive in a hurry — with rounds of golf, food, ice cream, concerts and plays.
Here are a few suggestions for free activities that will get you and your family out and about and enjoying what P.E.I. has to offer without breaking the bank. Thanks for your suggestions on Facebook.
1. Go walkabout
Find or make a walking tour of a city — Charlottetown has the adorable Eckhart in the City tour. Find the little bronze mice statues scattered around town. Download the brochure here.
Go check out Summerside — it has so many lovely historic homes and gardens. Visit the gift nook in the MacNaught History Centre at 75 Spring St. for a self-guided walking tour publication. Georgetown and Souris, P.E.I., have lots of cute nooks and crannies, wharves and public beaches to discover too.
2. Pool time
The pool and splash pad at Victoria Park in Charlottetown are free and are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 7:45 p.m. in the summer. There's a great play area next to the pool too.
The pool at Simmons on North River Road in Charlottetown is $2 per person and has open swims daily from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.
There's also a free public pool in Kensington, P.E.I. — check out the town's website for hours of operation.
3. Hike and a picnic
The rolling hills, wooded hiking trails and huge free picnic area in Strathgartney provincial park 20 kilometres outside Charlottetown are stunning in summer and fall.
Nearby Bonshaw provincial park has hilly wooded trails, a picnic area and a beautiful new playground.
Greenwich in P.E.I. National Park has kilometres of trails through the woods and floating over the water to the rolling sand dunes, as well as indoor and outdoor picnic areas. Take your bicycles and try a longer trail. You will need to have or purchase a pass to the national park, however — unless you go Saturday, July 21, when the park is free.
Volunteer at a farm or garden. MacPhail Woods in Orwell, P.E.I., is "always looking for volunteers" says project co-ordinator Gary Schneider. Call (902) 651-2575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org before you go.
The Legacy Garden in Charlottetown welcomes volunteers to help weed, harvest and do other garden chores. If you're interested, call the Farm Centre (902) 892-3419 or Farm Centre manager Phil Ferraro (902) 969-3111. Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. till noon are harvest time in what's called the Goodwill Garden, which provides food for charities — if you help out, you get to take some home.
August 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Island Nature Trust is looking for volunteers to help eradicate invasive purple loosestrife from the DeRoche Pond Natural Area. Volunteers can canoe the pond and pull loosestrife, or stay on land.
Call the office at (902) 892-7513 or email email@example.com if you'd like to help.
5. Photo challenge
Challenge your family and friends to take the best photo of a sunset, a butterfly or a flower. Do it in your neighbourhood or plan a little tour around your topic.
A great spot for this is the gardens at the P.E.I. Preserve Company, which are free to enjoy.
6. Free museums and art exhibits
There are lots of free exhibits to be found — the Confederation Centre of the Arts gallery is free — and air conditioned!
Just across the street visit the Gallery at the Guild downstairs where there's always something new.
You can get free admission to any of P.E.I's seven provincial museum sites this summer with a Discover PEI Heritage pass, available on a first-come, first served basis at P.E.I.'s public libraries.
In Summerside at the Eptek Centre, take in the newest exhibit Behind the Panels: Selected Works by Various Island Comic Book Creators. They also have lots of demo days with local artists who will show patrons how they create their painting, rug hooking, quilting and more — see the centre's Facebook page for a schedule.
Gar Gillis has a cool little village of buildings he has made from bottles on his property in Point Prim which is free to visit — donations are welcome for the IWK Children's Hospital. While you're there, drive to the point and walk on the lovely beach there.
The historic and beautiful churches St. Paul's Anglican Church and St. Dunstan's Basilica in downtown Charlottetown are both open daily and admission is free although donations are welcome.
7. Play games
Get friends together for some outdoor games like Frisbee or hide and seek. If the weather is inclement, dust off your old board games or play charades inside.
8. Paint outdoors
Grab whatever painting supplies you already have and gather in a park or yard to paint the scenery.
9. Free concerts
There are many places to find free music and entertainment across P.E.I. including daily concerts at Peake's Quay in Charlottetown. Some of P.E.I.'s best-known entertainers perform including Eddy Quinn, Joey Kitson, Kendall Docherty, Gord Belsher and Richard Wood along with Keltic Kids. For a weekly schedule check out their website.
Just up Great George Street in the Confederation Centre's outdoor amphitheatre, the centre's Young Company puts on an energetic daily musical show telling the story of Canada called Aqsarniit.
Over in Rustico on P.E.I.'s North Shore, there's free music every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 in Seawalk Park. Expect P.E.I. bands including Gypsy Soul and Kim Albert and Faces. Check out the town's Facebook page for the schedule.
At the Village Musical Acadien every weekday at 1:30 and 3 p.m. local band Gadelle and guests play Acadian folk tunes on the terrace. Admission is by donation but there's no pressure to do so, organizers say. The venue also has 100 per cent free kitchen parties every Friday night from 8 to 10 p.m. with different musical guests.
Up the road in Skinners Pond, P.E.I., there's free live music every day from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Stompin' Tom Centre.
10. Free events at the library
Besides getting a library card and checking out some summer reading, there are lots of free things to do at P.E.I.'s public libraries all summer.
Check out the service's Facebook page here. Take in readings, poetry slams, escape rooms, crafts and more.
11. Free movies
Every night all summer except Sundays, watch Signatures: A Canadian Spectacle Under the Stars projected on the side of the Confederation Centre at 10 p.m. It's a 15-minute show featuring iconic moments in Canada's history and glimpses of the nation's many people and landscapes, and runs till the end of September.
After Signatures at 10:15, films by P.E.I. filmmakers are being showcased in Projections on the Plaza, including Bluefin, Rainbow Valley, Queen of the Crows and Mabel's Saga. Check the event Facebook page for what's playing when. Projections also runs till the end of September.
12. Yap and yarn
Enjoy knitting, sewing, felting or hooking but crave some company?
Belfast Mini Mills in Belfast, P.E.I., has a free "yap and yarn" every Thursday. Just bring whatever fibre-related project you're working on and hang out in air-conditioned comfort in their colourful and charming store as long as you want, the owners say — just bring your own food/snacks.
13. Learn to play spoons
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1 p.m. this summer at the Seawalk Park in North Rustico, Brendon Peters is teaching free spoon lessons.
Peters is a local musician and member of the Avonlea Show Band. Spoons are provided!
14. Cool rides
Check out the cool cars or show off your own at the free weekly Cruise-In at Red Shores in Charlottetown, Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m.
All makes, models and years of cars, trucks, jeeps, vans and motorcycles are welcome.
15. Take in a powwow
There are at least three powwows on P.E.I. in August — on August 14 and 15 the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. has its 10th annual powwow in Charlottetown at Confederation Landing Park.
August 18 and 19 take in the Native Council of P.E.I.'s 26th annual powwow at the Panmure Island powwow grounds in eastern P.E.I.
On August 25 and 26 Lennox Island First Nation in western P.E.I. will hold its annual powwow.
Everyone is welcome to these events, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Enjoy drumming, dancing, traditional Mi'kmaq art and food.
Find a complete list of powwows in Eastern Canada here.
16. Clam digging
Grab a bucket and shovel and head to a beach to dig your own clams!
There are rules including a maximum daily limit of 100 clams. Check out the rules here and this map to see where you can dig.
17. Sea glass hunting
Danielle Martell suggested sea glass hunting as a fun solo or group activity — challenge your friends to find the most pieces or the rarest colour, which is red.
Try some of the beaches mentioned here. Beaches at West Point and Blooming Point are also good sea glass hunting grounds, Martell said.
Rearrange your furniture, camp in your backyard, look through your old photo albums, walk on the beach, call a friend (yes, on the telephone!), visit a nearby farm, read outdoors or just grab a coffee and people-watch in downtown Charlottetown. Take time to enjoy P.E.I. this summer — it'll be over all too soon.
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