By the middle of February, our RV was purchased and we knew that we would be staying at Jellystone Park in Borden-Carleton come May, but we didn’t think we’d be moving to PEI before that. However, on a typical, cold February afternoon, I received a phone call from a company that I had interviewed with back in November. They were calling to offer me a position that would start at the end of March. This meant that we had to move to the Island prior to moving into our RV which we were absolutely ok with. What we were unsure of was spending a month in Summerside – the city where the job was.
When Kate and I previously lived in PEI, we lived in Charlottetown, a beautiful city with lots to do, see and eat. We loved living in Charlottetown, but while we lived there, we sort of became snobs about the city of Summerside. Summerside gets a bad rap with many unfairly calling it Scummerside. To the outsider, Summerside is a fairly quiet city, with considerably less to do than Charlottetown. It also doesn’t help that it was named one of the worst cities in Canada to live – again, kind of unfair.
We didn’t know what to expect when we moved to Summerside. All we knew was that it was only going to be a month. If it was unpleasant – it was only a month. Boy, we were surprised…big time! We quickly fell in love with Summerside. When we arrived, the city was still transitioning from winter to spring. The days were very cold and windy but we still managed to have a very nice month in Summerside.
The highlight of Summerside is without a doubt the 6.5km Baywalk which starts behind Wendy’s and extends along the shore and finishes at Green Shore. Along the way, you will be treated to views of the city, the Indian Head Lighthouse, and the beach. Every morning and evening, we would take Bella out for walks along the Baywalk and if our timing was right, the tide would be out quite far allowing us to venture on to the red sand and let Bella run about. It was truly a beautiful place to enjoy a nice, peaceful walk while watching the sunset.
Our secret about the Baywalk that we want to pass onto you is that if you’re adventurous, it’s more than 6.5km long. At the end of the trail, there’s a little red sand cliff that you can slide down, taking you onto the rocky shoreline. From here, you can walk and walk, depending on how far the tide is out and absolutely no one else is there. On a clear day, you can also sneak a peak of the Confederation Bridge from this viewpoint. It’s tiny looking, but it’s there to see if you want to venture where many don’t go.
Compared to Charlottetown, Summerside definitely doesn’t have the variety of restaurants to enjoy but that doesn’t mean they don’t have great food. We were in Summerside during the month of April which coincided with PEI Burger Love – a month-long celebration of insanely delicious burger creations. This year there were 72 restaurants across the Island that participated. Believe it or not, there were some people that tried all 72 burgers. That was not us, however, we managed to try a couple of burgers from some of the restaurants in Summerside including the Lobster House and the Starlite Diner. Both are nice restaurants with the Lobster House being situated by the water and the Starlite Diner offering a nostalgic diner feel.
While both of these restaurants were great, the highlight of our dining experience while in Summerside was without a doubt Michael’s Pizzeria. A friend from work had told me it used to be so good but had gone downhill. One night while I was working, Kate gave it a try. She told me when I got home how good the pizza was. I was still a bit skeptical based on my friend’s review. The next weekend we ordered a large pie from Michael’s and ever since it’s become our weekend tradition. It was and continues to be some of the best pizza I have ever had. That’s saying a lot. I love pizza and even if it tasted like cardboard, I would still likely find a way to enjoy it. With Michael’s pizza, it’s amazingly cheesy, the crust is perfect and the sauce is light. It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. When you visit Summerside, you must have Michael’s pizza. Just order a simple cheese and pepperoni. Keep it simple. You’ll be amazed.
Often after enjoying some slices of Michael’s, even though we were stuffed, we would still desire to have dessert. Even though it was a chilly April, we frequented Sunny’s Dairy Bar, located along the waterfront. Sunny’s serves ADL (Island Owned) ice cream and it is fabulous. We would usually order their version of the DQ Blizzard and without a doubt, Sunny’s is way better. The ice cream is the creamiest ice cream we’ve ever enjoyed. It’s a fantastic spot in the summer. You can grab yourself a cone or a split and enjoy the view of the sunset along the water.
Walk the Historic Streets of Summerside
The draw of Summerside is certainly the waterfront, however, don’t ignore its historic streets. Often when we would walk Bella, instead of walking along the Baywalk, we would switch it up and just walk around the streets close to the downtown core. Kate absolutely loved doing this because of the multitude of large, historic houses that are situated in Summerside. We would be walking along and frequently tap me on the shoulder and say, “Adam – look at that one, it’s beautiful”. I would look and sure enough, there was another massive, historic house. Quite contrasting to our current situation in our tiny space. It’s neat though to walk by those houses and try to think back to when they were likely first constructed and how the people back then would live.
What Else Can You Do?
We were only in Summerside for a month, so we definitely only scraped the surface of what the city has to offer. Not to mention we were there at the beginning of spring. During the summer months, Summerside is a busy, tourist stop for many. If you plan on coming to the Island, here are some other attractions that you can enjoy.
The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada
This is one of those activities Kate and I really want to enjoy this summer. The College of Piping is a facility where traditional Celtic piping, drumming, and step dancing are taught. This summer, the college is also putting on their Highland Storm fast paced performance three nights a week in their outdoor amphitheatre.
Linkletter Provincial Park
Just a few minutes outside of Summerside is Linkletter Provincial Park. We visited once before the park was open but it appears to be a beautiful spot to go for a walk or even camp. If you are visiting the Island and want to stay the night in Summerside, but want to get out of the city, this would be a great spot for you and the family to enjoy a few peaceful days.
This is a pretty fun spot. It’s very quiet in the off season but during the summer, it is packed with tourists. Spinnaker’s Landing is a waterfront marketplace featuring colourful buildings that hover over the water giving it a very traditional fishing village feel. Here you can nab your typical Island souvenirs, enjoy some buskers, take a Segway tour or grab a bite to eat.
While Summerside typically doesn’t get the praise Charlottetown does, it still is a fantastic city that you must enjoy while visiting the Island. Beautiful walks, piping and some of the best pizza you’ll ever have – what more could you want?
Have you been to Summerside before? What was your highlight? Comment Below!