These days, Prince Edward County is more of a hot spot than a hidden gem. A haven for ex-pat Toronto chefs and artists, it’s become a great bridge between the luxuries of city life and the comfort of cottage country, and in turn, the perfect place to spend some time this summer.
With vineyards as far as the eye can see, mouthwatering restaurants, and one of Ontario’s best beaches, we can certainly see the appeal.
The Drake Devonshire
From the minds behind Toronto’s chic Drake Hotel comes … another Drake hotel. But instead of being a stone’s throw from Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, this one, located in the heart of Wellington, is a short walk from a 1,500-acre beach. Like its big-city parent, the Drake Devonshire is a carefully crafted experience, this time pairing fine dining and a top quality bar with fantastic art, outdoor cornhole, and even a ping-pong room. Even if you’re not staying at the attached inn, the Drake Devonshire is worth a visit.
It wouldn’t be wine country without a little cheese, and luckily Prince Edward County has more than a few spots to stop and sample. Stock up on curds at the Wilton cheese factory, then head for a charcuterie spread at 5th Town Artisan Cheese.
It’s a bird … it’s a plane … no, it’s a bird
Fancy yourself a bit of an ornithologist? Lucky for you, Prince Edward County’s Bird Observatory is an incredible resource for bird watchers, even when the actual observatory itself is closed. Bring some binoculars and you might be lucky enough to spot a rare bird before it migrates for fall.
Bank on some beach time
Sandbanks Provincial Park is the perfect place to spend a day with your family. Its pearly white sand is ingrained in many of our childhood memories, and its in-lake dunes (or sand banks), make it easy to get out in the water without losing your footing. Just be sure to bring a hat or sun umbrella—there’s not a ton of shade to be found on this beautiful stretch of beach. And bring a picnic basket; you’re going to spend the entire day here, so why not pack a lunch?
And speaking of lunch …
Prince Edward County takes its food seriously, and as impressive as its restaurants are, its farmers markets aren’t far behind. If you’re packing a picnic, or just looking for an easy snack to eat on the dock, then consider driving from the Wellington Farmer’s Market to the Blueberry Patch in Waupoos. The round trip should have you plenty stocked for lunches through your stay.
Stretch it out
Whether you’re a regular just trying to keep your routine of sun salutations steady or a curious newcomer looking to finally try your first vinyasa, why not take a yoga class at Consecon’s Fat Frog Yoga studio. There, you’ll stretch your muscles, centre yourself, and maybe even get a good sweat going. With all the wine and cheese you’ll be having, it’s worth the drive.
Go on an antique roadshow
There’s more than a few great shopping spots in Prince Edward County, but we’re partial to Bloomfield’s curiously named antique store, Dead People’s Stuff. If you can’t find anything there, The Local Store is a few minutes down the road in Picton, while MacCool’s Reuse is only a few minutes farther south (and even on the same road!).
Take a cooking class
Take advantage of the County’s burgeoning and blossoming foodie culture with a cooking class at From the Farm. Whether you do it on your own, with a group, or with the family, they offer regular group classes and private lessons that, after only a few hours, will have you making everything from hot sauce to fine Italian dining. If you’re a serious foodie, they also offer an all-day “culinary adventure” that takes you to local farms, helps you pick ingredients, and teaches you how to cook a fully customized menu.
Lake on the Mountain
As perplexing as it is breathtaking, the Lake on the Mountain is a natural marvel that sits 60 metres above Lake Ontario. Steeped in myth, this beautiful blue body of water is known to the local Mohawk peoples as the Lake of the Gods, and to this day there are debates on how the lake itself was formed. Geologists think it might be a sinkhole. Some say meteors made it. But regardless of how it came to be, we think it’s worth the uphill walk.
Two scoops are better than one
Nothing says summer like a few scoops of ice cream, and Slickers Ice Cream shares a strip with a number of top notch shops and walkable spots. Located right on Picton’s Main St., it’s not far from the beach, the Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area, and other local favourites. If there’s a close second to getting around town in a Volkswagen Tiguan, it’s probably a slow saunter with a cone in hand.