Prince Edward County…if you haven’t been…Start the car! Make a point to book a family vacation, play hooky and spend a long weekend or make a day of it. The County awaits! To compile the 100+ things to do, I asked the locals and tourist for their tips. I was overwhelmed by the response….and as I write this article, more recommendations are flooding my inbox…and I will add updates to keep this list up to date.
101 Things (or more) to do in Prince Edward County
I have to admit that I haven’t done ALL the things on this list, but certainly plan to jump in my car soon! For starters… I always recommend getting off Highway 401 and taking the Glenora Ferry. This free ferry ride is less than 10 minutes (check the departure schedule). Mark my words, this ride will reset your pace to ‘County time’. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy being surrounded by water and get the welcoming 2 fingered wave from the ferry driver as you arrive.
Water all around
Be baffled by the geography of Lake on the Mountain. This unique body of water is one of Ontario’s natural wonders defying geographical and geological theories. Ponder its mystery over a drink at the Miller House Café and Brasserie…you can stay overnight here too!
Parks & beaches too
Prince Edward County is synonymous for Sandbanks Provincial Park (photo at right), yet, there are many more beaches to discover: Wellington Beach and Park, North Beach Provincial Park, Westlake Beach. Switch from white sand to smooth pebbles and wander along Little Bluff Beach.
Places to stay – oh so many!
Clarmont Inn & Spa, Merrill Inn, The Drake Devonshire, Waring House, Angeline’s Inn, The Manse Boutique Inn. All of these places have gourmet restaurants too – book a reservation to make sure you get a spot!
Where to dine
Sample County wines at many of the restos including East & Main, Blumen Garden & The Agarian
Visit Angeline’s Inn in Bloomfield & pick up some of their neat postcards with historical photos of The County in years gone by. While you are there, book your reservation for lunch or dinner at The Hubb Eatery & Lounge. You will definitely make delicious memories here!
Craving a pizza? There are several wineries that have a wood oven pizza place including Norman Hardie Winery – the perfect place for pizza and a Pinot Noir (try saying that fast!)
Spend Sunday morning at the Sunday Market at 106 Bridge or brunch made by Chef Michael Hoy. And in the afternoon, enjoy live jazz & al fresco dining on the patio at Huff Estates Winery.
Cuddle baby lambs & explore forest trails to walk off the amazing meal of farm to table cuisine enjoyed at Windhover County – a 140 year old Victorian Farm that has been transformed into a boutique inn.
Take a break from gourmet meals and make your way to the Lighthouse Restaurant at the Picton Harbour Inn – a popular local hot spot for breakfast – best sausages ‘n eggs, mile high pancakes &french toast in town.
Top places for treats & tea: The Vic Café, The Pink Lunch Pail Bakery, Tall Poppy Café, Miss Lily’s
Hands down the best old fashioned doughnuts are at Schroedter’s Farm Market Bakery & Cafe. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, a bowl of homemade soup&sandwiches will hit the spot. There are great gluten free goodies too.
Take a break from visiting wineries and stop in to visit the Pyramid Ferments Gut Hut. A wide variety of artisan made Sauerkrauts, Kimchis and Kombuchas – all using seasonal ingredients – are made in small batches.
Have you tried Maple Cheddar from Black River Cheese Factory?
Think there’s no nightlife in The County? Ha! You haven’t been to the movies at Mustang Drive-In on County Road 1.
Picton’s Main street has got it all. At The Regent Theatre, check out the list of movies, live musical performances & special talks as well as the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival. While you are there, snap a selfie with Sir John A Macdonald. His statue is located in front of the Armory.
Best view in town
The locals share this secret: enjoy the view of Picton from the Millenium Lookout – access it from County Road 22
Ice cream’s finest
Wines, beers, ciders…and more
Pop into The County Canteen– Picton’s first brew pub – stop in for a flight of craft beers. The Acoustic Grill is a great place to see local bands.
Meet the dogs & owners at Three Dog Winery. In the summer they do yoga in the vineyard (the owners that is!) and XC ski parties too.
Ever been to a speakeasy? Click here to find where X marks the spot.
Pop the cork & taste some of the best Canadian-made sparkling wines at Hinterland, Huff Estates, The Grange, By Chadsey’s Cairns & Lighthall Vineyards.
Calling all cider lovers! You’ll want to hit these places for hard ciders made with County grown apples: The County Cider Co. (in photo at left), Bergeron Estate Winery & Cider House, and Clafeld Fruit
Head down at harvest and join in picking grapes at Sandbanks Winery, Half Moon Bay Winery & Broken Stone – something that the entire family can do.
Chat with Bryan at Keint-He Winery. He’ll help you pronounce that!
An open invitation to everyone! Brett French – the brewer at Barley Days Brewery – gives anyone reading this an invitation to drop by to sample his beers…ask for him and he will give you the skinny on how he makes each. And County Road Beer Co. just opened, so be sure to stop in here too!
Prince Edward County is known as a wine region, yet there is a distillery – 66 Gilead – that is neat place to visit & try their Canadian Pine Vodka, Loyalist Gin, rums & whiskies too.
Want some exercise?
A local favorite bike ride is along Big Island Road following the beach on the northeast shore of Prince Edward County as well as along the Loyalist Parkway (Highway 33).
Drive or bike along the Barn Quilt Trail. There are over 100 barnswith painted quilts – neat!
Get running! The day after the annual Terroir Wine & Farmers Market Festival, get your shoes on to do the 10 km Terroir Run that winds through wineries along the way. The Wellington Women’s Half Marathon in June (complete with firemen handing out water along the route!) In October, The County Marathon is a great way to explore the backroads.
…and there is still more!
See a sea of purple at the Prince Edward County Lavender Farm. Tip: plan to visit the Lavender Festival or stop in when the plants are in bloom in mid to late June. Take photos in the gardens, learn how lavender is harvested & the oil is made. If you are lucky – stay at the B&B there too.
Play life size chess in the vineyard at Casa Dea Estates Winery.
The locals raved about –Birdhouse City with over 100 birdhouses of reproductions of historic buildings, whimsical designs & other recognizable structures.
A sign that will make you laugh as you drive by:Dead People’s Stuff Antiques.
Lose yourself flipping through neat books at Books & Company or the cool consignment shop – City Revival – on Main Street in Picton.
Too many galleries to visit in one weekend! Some to make sure to visit: Oeno Gallery (photo at right courtesy of Oeno Gallery) Huff Estates Winery, Love Nest Studios. Follow the Arts Trail to discover incredible local artists along the way.
Crazy about airplanes? Lock-Sloy (aka Camp Picton) is one of Canada’s last intact 1940 British Commonwealth Air Training sites. Driving through here, it is easy to imagine what this place was like in the hay day.
If lighthouses are your ‘thing’, then make sure to visit Point Petre and South Bay Lighthouse – bring some local wine & cheese to have a picnic.
If vintage cars are your ‘thing’, then plan your trip to Prince Edward County to take in the Street Meet in early August. It is a blast reliving the past at this annual car show with over 200 classic cars come from all corners of Ontario and Quebec.
Visit North America’s largest dry stone bridge (in photo at right) at Karlo Estates – made by the winery owner & friends. A great place for a family photo or a picnic.
Sit on the porch at a B&B or your weekend cottage and read Geoff Heinrick’s book A Fool & Forty Acres all about the hard work of getting a vineyard planted in The County.
Take a cooking class at From the Farm. Tell Cynthia that we say hi!
Festivals that will give you a taste of The County: Maple in the County in March, then in May – Terroir where winemakers and artisan food producers are all under one roof. The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in June is a weekend of 100% Canadian artisan cheese (and wine and beer too).
TASTE – Community Grown in September (in photo at left) celebrates the harvest with local wines, ciders and farm fresh goodies. Join the fun at Wassail – a pre-Christmas festival where you sing for your drink. Check www.visitthecounty.ca for a comprehensive calendar.
Dining delight – Countylicious – twice a year, 8 restos offer a prix fixe culinary celebration for $30 or $35 plus grats & tax.
Red White & Blues festival at Rosehall Run features music in the vineyard.
Collect a couple or all 8 of the cool County Posters with neat illustrations of all corners of Prince Edward County to remind you of the fun discoveries you had on your County getaway (photo attached –credit illustration by Marc Keelan-Bishop).
Sisters Jane Rutter & Susan Felton have brought pieces of history & heritage memorabilia back to life at the cool shop called Cannery Row.
Local produce abounds
Only have time for a quick visit?
Go to the brand new The Local Store where all kinds of County treasures, artists & food stuffs are under one roof…in a heritage Loyalist barn.
Send us your tips on PEC!
As you can see, there are oodles of things to do in The County. While only 2 hours from Toronto or 3 hours from Ottawa, it is a place where you can really switch off! In fact, there are over 1000 places where you will probably lose cell phone reception.
Have fun as you discover Prince Edward County & email us with your favorite spots!
Can’t get away? Don’t worry….The County is coming to Ottawa!
Prep for your road trip by attending County in the Capital. Meet the makers from 20+ wineries, cideries, breweries &artisan food producers – all from The County. This is a unique opportunity to Taste & Buy your new favorites
Date: Wednesday April 20th
Time: 7 to 9pm
Place: Ottawa City Hall
Entry: Advance Tickets only: $55 (bring a friend for $5)
This article was written by Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm & will be featured in Ottawa Life Magazine on May 22.