Sandbanks Provincial Park
Photo by marevos imaging/Shutterstock.com

5 ways to unwind in Picton, Ontario

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Picton, the largest community in South Eastern Ontario’s historic Prince Edward County, is a picturesque location for a relaxing getaway. Packed full of heritage sites and stunning natural landscapes, this friendly little town is sure to charm every single one of its visitors. If you’re in need of restful respite from your daily burdens, Picton will definitely deliver.

 Where to rent a cabin

West Lake Willows cottage

Photo courtesy of westlakewillows.com

The lakeside cottages at West Lake Willows are the perfect option for Picton visitors who want to steer clear of overcrowded hotels. Located on the shores of West Lake, they have eight waterfront cottages available for rent, which all feature gorgeous wrap-around decks built for soaking up sunshine and basking in warm breezes. Each cottage is air-conditioned and comes equipped with satellite TV, a barbecue, picnic tables, and a kitchen with all major appliances. You’ll get the charm of cabin living without the hassle of roughing it. Boat rentals are readily available and fishing fans can sign up for guided lake tours. But the best part of staying at West Lake Willows is the short walk to the largest freshwater sand bar in the world—the famous dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Where to get the best view

Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park
Photo courtesy of prince-edward-county.com

Lake on the Mountain is a fantastic view and a magical mystery tour rolled into one! Located on top of the mountain, overlooking the Bay of Quinte, this odd little turquoise lake is quite the local legend. It flows down into the bay below, but geologists can’t figure out why its water levels remain constant despite the fact that it has no visible water sources. Why doesn’t the lake simply drain into the bay? Is it fed entirely by underground springs and where do they originate? Is it just one big giant sinkhole? While you ponder the mystery you can admire the brilliant waters and the panoramic view. There are 7 km of trails to hike or bike, with plenty of lookout points to snap some truly spectacular photos. 

Where to take a dip

Sandbanks
Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.ca

Nothing beats the outlet beach in Sandbanks Provincial Park for swimming around Picton. With two gorgeous beaches that have shallow safe waters, it’s considered one of the most swim-friendly spots in the country. The water is crystal clear, the sand is blindingly white and the backdrop of rising dunes is incredible. Outlet beach, which joins East Lake to Lake Ontario, is a family friendly location with a Caribbean atmosphere. It’s a great place for sunbathing and picnicking, but also popular with canoeists and kayakers.  Sandbanks Beach, on the Lake Ontario side, is a little more remote – for people who prefer some privacy. The waters are a slightly wilder, but still ideal for swimming. Both beaches have designated dog areas to accommodate people who vacation with their pooches. 

Where to go on a hike

Sandbanks Provincial Park
Photo by marevos imaging/Shutterstock.com

The majesty of Sandbanks Provincial Park also tops this category. You just can’t beat a stroll up and over sand dunes of this caliber. There are staircases built into the steepest dunes to make the journey a little less arduous and slippery. But there’s much more to see here than just sand. The Dunes trail leads hikers through the unique dune habitat, including wetlands that support unusual plant life. The Woodlands trail takes people into another section of the park, through forested areas and old farm pastures. The Cedar Sands nature trail is a scenic stroll along the outlet river, offering great views of the marshes.

Where to have a pint

The Painted Peppercorn
Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.ca

If you’re a fan of locally sourced cuisine, The Painted Peppercorn in an excellent choice. While you sip your local brew you can enjoy a delicious, fresh dish from a rotating menu that’s vegetarian-friendly. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and the restaurant doubles as a gallery for local artists. If you’re in the mood for a traditional pub, hit up the Acoustic Grill, which serves up local and mainstream beers in a fun, rowdy environment that revolves around live music from local musicians. For those who prefer pints of cider to beer, the County Cider Company will really hit the spot. It’s a winery and brewery with a great restaurant, where you can sip cider and nibble on wood-fired pizzas in the middle of a beautiful vineyard.