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Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

Illinois
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Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

I keep reading how "dead" the island is after Labor Day and am wondering if most of the stores, restaurants, etc will be open near the end of September when we will be visiting. I don't mind not having crowds, but want to make sure there will still be plenty to do while we are there.

One poster had said that Cavendish "closes down" after Labor Day. Is that correct?

Thank you for any information you can provide.

Kuujjuaq, Canada
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for Prince Edward Island
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1. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

It depends really on where you are staying Purccy. It may have been me who said Cavendish basically closes down after Labour Day. That is mostly the case I am afraid. Prince Edward Island, and Cavendish especially, has a large tourism industry and it is largely seasonal. All throughout the countryside little shops and restaurants will be closing their doors by mid-late September. That's not to say not one place will be open, just the bulk will be closed. However, if you're in Charlottetown you won't see a major difference in closures. There are tons of restaurants that are open year round as well as the vast majority of shops. There's a reasonably sized population in Charlottetown that can support these businesses through the winter. On the other hand, places outside the capital are depending on tourists and therefore have no choice but to close off season. What are you hoping to do while here in Prince Edward Island? I can give you some suggestions maybe.

Edited: 11 June 2013, 18:59
Illinois
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2. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. We are thinking we would drive to Basin Head for singing sands, St Peter's Bay, PE National Park, Cavendish, Kensington, Victoria and Charlottetown. We plan to just drive and stop when and wherever we want and at the end of the day, find a place to stay, then continue on the next day. We are hoping there will be a lot of available accommodations at that time of the year, so we don't have to book ahead and make it to a certain location. Is that foolish?

Lunenburg, Canada
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3. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

Hi IL!

September is the best time of year for visiting Prince Edward Island, provided you're not expecting to swim in the ocean and you're not planning on kiddie attractions.

In September, days are still long, with sundown around 7 p.m. even near month end. There's no chance of snow, although some mornings you might see the first frost late in September.

The stories about Prince Edward island becoming dead in September are nonsense. To be sure, after Labor Day, kids are back in school, so a lot of family vacations are done, but most attractions stay open in a shoulder season. Businesses have to pay taxes and mortgage payments 12 months of the year, and can't afford to close on Labor Day if they can still get customers. Many will operate on shorter hours, for example closing at 5 p.m. instead of 8. Let me give three examples:

- PEI National Park. According to its website, services are offered until October 18th, after Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (which falls on October 14, 2013, same as Columbus Day). For that matter, you can always enter the national park, even when nobody is there. The only difference is that there won't be a ranger in the toll booth to collect admission.

- Green Gables House, Cavendish. Closed in September? No, tours are offered right through October.

- The one I expected to have to tell you is not available is the Island's famed lobster suppers, offered in halls and church basements in summer. So I checked the New Glasgow Lobster Supper, one of the best known. It's also open right through Canadian Thanksgiving. Definitely check out a lobster supper if your travels take you near one.

Why is September such a good time to visit? The crowds are gone. You don't need to fear the motels and cottages being all booked up, and off-season rates may be offered, a relief from the jacked-up prices of high summer. The weather is still pleasant, usually dry and crisp, not muggy. The biting insects that plague PEI in July and August are gone. The leaves are starting to turn, offering splendid colors against the red soil and blue of the ocean.

Happy travels!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

Edited: 03 July 2013, 20:30
Illinois
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4. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

Sounds like we don't need to book accommodations ahead of time -- that's great! Looking forward to driving, exploring and stopping when we're ready for a good night's sleep. Thanks for all the detailed information!

We will have to eat at the Lobster Supper -- YUM!

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

I'd say PEI, outside of C-Town, really closes down after Thanksgiving...

Kuujjuaq, Canada
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6. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

I think capetian paints an overly optimistic picture for the state of things post Labour day. While I agree with some of what he says, I completely disagree that September is the best month to visit (depending on what you want to do of course). September is not a beach month at all so I don't think going to Basin Head would be ideal. You're better off going to Greenwich where there are walking trails, pontoon bridge over wetlands, and a beautiful setting to walk on the beach.

Capetian is referencing government run attractions as evidence that most places are still open. That's not at all the case with private-run spots contrary to what he has said. I can tell you for a fact that the bulk of seasonal places are closed by mid-September with the exception of most places in Charlottetown. Yes, there are the few places like New Glasgow lobster suppers that stay open because they are catering to LOCALS that time of year, not tourists. I know several people who make that particular lobster supper an annual event off season because they tend to drop the prices. Many of the lodgings are run by people who work from September-May and take the summers off to run a little B&B for example.

I don't want to tell you nothing will be open because there will still be places going. I am however telling you to temper your expectations and be aware that many of the great seasonal places will be closed. There are lots of little restaurants that do indeed operate on a seasonal basis and will be closed the 1st week of September. On the other hand if you're an avid golfer and stick to the bigger restaurants, especially in Charlottetown, you should be fine. As stated, the typical Anne attractions will be open but the rest of the smaller places will be closed. I worked at a couple restaurants when I was younger and I can tell you for a fact that is the case.

Edited: 04 July 2013, 22:30
Illinois
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7. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

We won't be swimming at the beach, we're going to Basin Head to "hear" the "singing" sand and that's it. We are not golfers. The main reason we are visiting the island is to "see" it, not go shopping. Not at all interested in the Anne attractions. We have heard PEI is a beautiful place and are anxious to see the great scenery. Thanks for your advice.

Boston...
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8. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

My first trip to PEI was in the last week of September. Was it beautiful? Yes. Where there things to occupy us? Yes. Was it our best trip there ever? Definitely not. Would I recommend going that time? I guess it depends. The Island most certainly isn't closed that time of year, but it does come with a certain set of challenges - particularly in Cavendish. Stores and restaurants will definitely be closed in that area but if you're willing to drive to nearby North Rustico (ten minutes) this isn't a huge issue. I highly recommend Kindred Spirits Country Inn in Cavendish. Their rates will be lower in the off season (as will most other inns) and they will be exceptionally helpful in assisting you find local entertainment. Green Gables/Lucy Maud Montgomery homestead can easily take up the bulk of a day when you factor in walking through the Haunted Wood and Lovers' Lane. Unless things have changed drastically in four years, most of the shops will be closed, but you can still do plenty of shopping in Charlottetown.

This time of year, I think it would be safe to go without a lot of inns booked, but I would, at the least, have a few ideas of places that you wouldn't mind staying and confirm that they are open. My main hesitation there wouldn't be so much in finding a place to stay as in missing out on an Island experience. Part of what I love about going there is getting to know the innkeepers and the property over a few days time. The locals are part of PEI's magic, and I've really enjoyed having an Island home base to return to.

I agree with the poster who said you may want to reconsider Singing Sands for Greenwich. The "singing" part of the beach is a pretty good walk from the parking lot, and I actually found it a little underwhelming. The beach is lovely, but that can be said for most PEI beaches. I highly recommend going out to the east cape, though, and Souris/Basin Head is on the way, so may as well do it, I guess :) .

Speaking of the east cape, are you familiar with the coastal drives? The Island is broken down into four easy to follow coastal drives which make just going out and exploring very manageable. Grab an island map and follow the little signs and you'll be all set.

As has already been mentioned, most everything in Charlottetown - including many of the theatre productions - will be up and running.

I've been there in late Sept, late August, and just returned from late June/early July. Late August was definitely my favorite, but each one had its own distinct charm. You'll have a wonderful time.

Kuujjuaq, Canada
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9. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

Fferffee hit the nail on the head with that post. I couldn't agree more with that was said and that's exactly what I was trying to convey. The famous "singing sands" are actually sand that squeaks a little as you walk, nothing more. For you to even hear it properly the sand can't be packed down at all. That time of year foot traffic is sparse and the cooler temperature mean the sand will be far more compacted. If you want to go by all means have a ball. I doubt you'd be impressed though. Greenwich offers more in terms of walking and scenery. Basin Head is more of a summer destination for laying out in the sun and swimming/jumping off the pier there.

Illinois
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10. Re: Stores, etc open near end of Sept?

I've viewed/heard the "singing sands" on YouTube, so I don't have any high expectations -- just figured as we're driving around the island and stopping to take in the wonderful ocean views, we might as well go "squeak" it. I am familiar with the coastal drives and we plan on doing at least 2 of them.

Our trip is actually beginning in Boston, then Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, Maine and Massachusetts, including Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, then back to Boston. As you can see, we don't like to stay in one place very long -- we enjoy the drive and seeing what we can along the way. It's certainly not for everyone. We originally thought about taking the trip because we want to see the New England fall foliage, then decided since we were going to Maine, we might as well go on out to PEI and make a circle back, hitting a few highlights of each location. Thanks for all your thoughts and information -- can't wait to see the island and everything else!

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