Top things to do in Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County, or the county, as the locals call it, is tucked between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The island lake is home of more than 30 wineries and a dozen craft breweries. This is the perfect playground to many Torontonians as it offers access beautiful to lake beaches, great food and great wineries. In this guide, we will share the best things to do, where to eat, drink and sleep in Prince Edward County. The county is very rural and has 3 main towns Picton (the hub), Wellington and Bloomfield. Between the fields and the forests, you will get a glimpse of English colonial architecture as the region was a loyalist hub. Below you will find a complete guide of things to do in Prince Edward County so this can be the perfect weekend getaway for you!
After a long week of work filled with overtime, a deserved relaxing weekend was in order. The county is around three hours drive from Montreal and around 2 hours drive from Toronto so I suggest taking your afternoon off so you don't arrive too late. Wondering how to make the most of your weekend or how to ask days off? Head to my plan from the office section! ;)
Useful Tips for traveling to Prince Edward County
YOU NEED A CAR!
PEC (Prince Edward County) is very sparse and it is not easily walkable. Also, there is also no public transportation; so a car is a must have!
PLAN YOUR ITINERARY WELL
Again, the distances in the county are a bit treacherous so make sure that you plan your day itinerary beforehand so you don't end up driving back and forth.
At every winery, you will have to pay between $5 and $10 for one tasting so keep that in mind for your budget. Also, since you will be driving, I will suggest sharing the tastings if you are two or more.
Things to do in Prince Edward County
The twin-centerpieces of the region are the beaches as well as many wineries and restaurants, putting the county as a top weekend getaway.
The region is home of beautiful lake beaches on the Lake Ontario. The Sandbanks provincial park offers sandy beaches and blue waters that are almost the same as the colour of the Caribbean sea. The park is also known for its golden sand dunes that can reach up to 25 m high. Heads up, the park gets extremely crowded in the summer. The island also offers more secluded beaches where the locals play. Here is a complete list of beaches and watersports. The owner of the inn we stayed told us that beaches get so packed that the entrance to the beaches is denied to new customers due to the high number of people.
If you fall in love with the county, why not consider buying a property with a private beach? Find out more about about owning a unique private beach in the county here. With more than 560 feet of sandy beach and forested areas, this property feels like the perfect private a beach resort to spend your summers. We had the chance to spend the night on the property where we stargazed the panoply of stars and enjoy a natural retreat along the lake.
FOLLOW THE TRAILS
The country has many thematic trails: the loyalist parkway, the millennial trail, the art trail and of course the delicious tasting trail. Each route takes you into a different aspect of the county: gastronomy, arts, history with various vistas and natural landscapes. The trails can be done by bike or by car.
The county has some arts & entertainment venues like the Regent Theater for you to complete your wine tasting experience at night. After you got your artsy dose, head to a spa for the ultimate relaxation or go play golf. The county is also known for bird-watching as it is a migration point for several species. Besides hiking in the Sandbanks dunes, Lake on the Mountain is the most popular one.
Also, the county has full of antique shops, the perfect place to hunt for that rare piece.
Where to eat and drink in Prince Edward County
This destination is a foodie heaven with its panoply of choices for food and wine. Here is the list of the best restaurants, wineries, cider and craft beer. Did you know that Prince Edward Country has been named one of gastronomic capital of Ontario?
The Public House Restaurant
The Public House is the restaurant of Jackson’s Falls inn and it is one of the few restaurants in Canada that specializes in recipes with a Native flair. All the ingredients are locally sourced and wild-foraged fare. The menu changes accordingly to the seasons. The wine and cocktail list highlights local wineries nearby which gives the complete local experience. The restaurant refurbished a one-room schoolhouse of the late 19 century. The decoration is full of details paying homage to the old functions of the building, such as the original blackboard and some maps intertwined with native motifs. This is a must stop in your itinerary!
Our second stop in our tasting weekend was County Cider . This cidery was the first in the county and it opened more than 20 years ago. County Cider has a wide selection of award-winning ciders. All apples are grown locally and the property grows over 16 varieties of apples. In the tasting room, you can enjoy their seven ciders in which some have fruit infusions like peach, pear and oranges.
While you are in the cider house, you can enjoy a meal or a drink at their restaurant that overlooks the lake, a real treat.
Kinsip House of Fine Spirits
The County’s only distillery describes itself as “farm-based, grain-to-glass distillery”. In the distillery , you can do a tour where they explain how they distill and age their liquors. After doing the tour or tasting the products, you can enjoy a cocktail, or two, at their bar near the barn with their funky chickens running around, they are very cute! They offer a selection of Vodka, aged Gin, Whisky and Brandy. We really enjoyed their gin!
Prince Eddy’s brewery
This laid-back brewery is the newly arrived in the county. The surfer vibe brewery has a patio with a beach volleyball court, outdoor kitchen and a stage for live music. They have 8 types of beers, from IPA, to a traditional German sour. The only sad thing is that the brewery closes at 7 pm during weekends so you have to continue to party somewhere else. So order a beer flight either on a mini skate or a mini surfboard and go play some board games while you enjoy your time at the brewery.
555 Brewing Co.
The brewery took its name from the mystery involving The Lazier Murder where 2 men were hanged but we still do not know if they were the ones that committed the murder. The brewery offers beer and wood oven pizzas (with vegan options) which makes the perfect combination.
The artfully designed cafe is the perfect place for brunch. Grab a coffee and enjoy their avocado toast or their chocolate croissants.
Wineries in Prince Edward County
The closeness to the lake and the richness of the soil make the perfect factors for winemaking. The clay soil scattered with rock and shale fragments on a calcareous limestone are the base of the county’s soil which makes similar conditions as the Burgundy region in France, hence making similar wines.
Prince Edward County is the second wine region in Ontario, after Niagara-on-the-Lake.
This winery specializes in sparkling wine, and who doesn’t love sparkling wine? The estate has 3 kinds of bubbles, from dry to fruity. Besides the sparkling wine, they offer Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Rosé, to name a few. Of course, being a lover of bubbles, we bought a bottle of Ceremony, a brut with aromas of poached pear/apple and honeydew, to bring back home.
The Grange winery is located in a beautiful rustic old barn. The estate offers a tasting tour where you can taste 3 different wines while they explain you the winemaking process. While you are enjoying your time at the property, you can do a picnic that highlights local ingredients like charcuterie, cheeses and bread. You can either do the picnic outside by the vines or enjoy the scenery from the inside in the beautiful barn.
Mixing wine processes of the old world with the new world, this winery has a wide range of wines. Plus, they have the most photographed cat in the winery, easily recognizable by it bi-colour head.
Black Prince Winery
This is one of the first wineries in the county and they offer great Cabernet Franc. The winery has already prepared for the legalization of marijuana in Canada and will offer a marijuana wine.
Accommodations in Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County offers numerous B&B. The county does not have many hotel chains but rather boutique hotels and high-end B&B. For our weekend getaway, we chose to stay at the Jackson's Falls Inn . As you read before, the inn has the Public house as a restaurant. While the 9 rooms are not located inside the old school, the rustic buildings are just as beautiful with their teal and red colours. The coach house is decorated with graffiti and muralist artists that give a contemporary look to this historic property. The inside, like the restaurant, has a mix of native decorations with school accessories like the old student desks. While you are enjoying your breakfast, which is as delicious as the dinner, do take the time to talk to the owner, Lee. She is an amazing hosts and will let you you know what are the insiders choices for the best places to enjoy your perfect weekend getaway.
The most difficult choice that you will have to make during your stay in Prince Edward County will be trying to decide which bottles of wines you will bring home, or which restaurant you will dine during your stay.
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Disclaimer: we dined and stayed in Jackson's falls, had a tasting in the Grange, Rosehall Run, Prince Eddy’s brewery, Kinsip and County Cider as their guests. A big thank you! All opinions are my own.
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