An Outdoorsy Weekend in Prince Edward County and Bay of Quinte
This is the first of three itineraries developed in partnership with our friends at the Bay of Quinte Region. Stay tuned for our upcoming Foodie and Wellness itineraries.
Laura Voskamp is a bike shop/cafe owner based out of Belleville (shoutout to The Brake Room), but she grew up in nearby Brighton, making her the perfect ambassador for the Bay of Quinte region. You’ll often find her cycling in BoQ and PEC while brewery hopping, fuelled by coffee, of course. This is her perfect outdoorsy weekend in PEC & BoQ.
Day One | An Afternoon in Brighton & Trenton
Lola’s Cafe | BoQ
Stopping for a coffee is the perfect way to start out your long weekend, making sure that you have the energy you need to enjoy every minute. Lola’s Café is located on the west side of Brighton, right on your route if you’re headed in from the Toronto area. This sunny spot will always have a place in my heart: it was one of my favourite haunts as a high school student! I don’t always get the chance to stop in at Lola’s now that I live in Belleville, but when I do, I always (ALWAYS) get a stack of their famous toffee shortbread cookies to take home. I’ve tried recreating these on several occasions, but there is just something magical about the ones they make at the cafe. Hot tip: make sure to bring a thermos to fill up with a warm drink to take to your next destination.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park | BoQ
Heading south out of downtown Brighton towards the lake shore, you’ll instantly feel quieted as you pass by marshes scattered with water fowl. I recommend timing your visit to coincide with golden hour at the park. It’s easy to find parking at Presqu’ile’s beaches during fall and winter afternoons, plus you can plan ahead by securing an Ontario Parks day use permit online. The park’s trails are open for hiking all year, and the 8km bike loop alongside the main road is the perfect length to get you moving on chillier days. The Lighthouse is an ideal place to stop for a spot of hot tea and dig into your stash of Lola’s shortbread cookies.
Presqu’ile is on Lake Ontario, the shoreline of which is known for incredible ice formations in certain conditions. If you hear rumours about ice volcanoes starting to crop up in the depths of winter, be sure to make a plan to visit the park! But please stay off the shore ice as this is known to be unsafe in winter – keep to the beach!
Coming into the area from the east? It’s definitely worth a stop at The Brake Room in Belleville for coffee, some delicious treats, and to pick up some cool bike accessories before your adventurous weekend. Follow that up with a walk at Potter’s Creek Conservation Area before heading to dinner.
Tomasso’s Italian Grille | B0Q
All that fresh air is guaranteed to make you hungry! I love a good, comforting meal after spending time out in the elements, so after your afternoon walk I’d definitely head into Trenton for dinner at Tomasso’s Italian Grille before heading back to cozy up for the night. Tomasso’s is a favourite amongst Trenton locals: it’s been family-owned for generations and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Bonus: their dishes lend themselves well to take-out if you prefer to eat back at your accommodations. Keep it classic with one of Jim’s Pizzeria’s loaded pies and a Caesar salad, or try a baked pasta dish if you really want to lean into the comfort food season.
Day Two – A Cross-Border Adventure
Trenton Deli & Bakery | BoQ
Make the most of your daylight hours and be sure to get up early the next morning to start exploring. Head into Trenton, where the Trenton Deli been a mainstay for close to 50 years in downtown. It’s another spot I hold near and dear: the deli was a weekly stop for my family while I was growing up. The authentic European deli moved to a larger location and opened a bakery in 2020: more to love!
It’s easy to kill a bit of time perusing their European treat section, where you’ll find snacks to throw in your bike bag for the day and more to take home and stash for later. After you’ve made your selection, sidle up to the counter for a made-to-order deli sandwich (my pick is the Dutchess!) to take along for your afternoon. You can also grab a fresh croissant for breakfast if you get here early enough! Once you’ve packed up your picnic, it’s time to head out of town for some more of that fresh, rural air.
Lower Trent Conservation & Trails and the Old Bank Cafe | BoQ
Just outside of Trenton is a collection of under-the-radar trails that connect the towns of Batawa, Frankford and Glen Miller. If you’re hiking, try the 1.5km Bleasdell Boulder loop. A bike will get you a bit further: you can start at the trailhead on Lock Road and follow this route up to the Old Bank Cafe in Stirling for a warm up. Pedal back down along the Trent River and stop for your sandwich on the waterfront before you get back down to the parking lot. Try this route I drew up on the Ride with GPS app if you’re unfamiliar with the area.
Millennium Trail & Bloomfield Public House Market| PEC
If you want to squeeze in another few hours outdoors, the Millennium Trail is a perfect way to take in the County. The Trail connects with the main County artery, Loyalist Parkway, both north and east of Consecon as well as in Wellington and Bloomfield. The Trail is great for folks planning to bring fat bikes to the County, but as long as the snow isn’t too deep, most bikes with tires over 35mm will be totally comfortable riding on it.
Park in Wellington and head East toward Bloomfield on the multi-use trail. It’s fairly flat and very well-packed, so even though your round trip will be 20 kilometres, it’s a relatively easy ride and you won’t have to worry about any car traffic – though be sure to keep an ear out for snowmobiles in winter and leave room for them to safely pass. Plan your trip to stop in Bloomfield at Bloomfield Public House Market for a warm drink and a snack (check their open hours and be sure to factor in riding time) and then hop back on the trail to head back to the car.
If craft beer is what you’re craving mid-ride, you can also stop at Matron Fine Beer which is located just off the trail in Bloomfield. Grab a floofy pour and warm up next to their fire pits before hopping back on the Trail. Don’t forget to grab some cans to take home!
Midtown Brewing Company | PEC
A winter visit to Midtown Brewing Company is a standard for PEC + BoQ locals. Once your cheeks are rosy from a winter trail ride, you’ll know it’s time for an order of Midtown’s famous fries + a pint of oatmeal stout (my favourites) followed by whatever seasonal features the kitchen crew has going for the night.
Day Three – An Easy Sunday
Picton Explore + Macaulay Mountain Hike | PEC
You’re guaranteed to sleep well after all that time outside yesterday, so take your time in the morning. I suggest calling ahead while you’re getting ready to order your breakfast from The Vic Drive-In in Picton: the breakfast sandwich isn’t messy, so it’s perfect for enjoying in Benson Park tucked just behind Main Street or as you walk down the street for some window-shopping. If you have the time though, the Vic is the most fun place to enjoy a dine-in experience!
Once you’ve scoped out all the windows and finished your sandwich, pop into the shops that strike your fancy. Head into Books & Company where you’ll find a great selection of field guides to amp up your outdoor education. And don’t miss Beacon Bike + Brew, where you can pick up some well-curated pieces to add to your cycling kit and grab another cozy drink before driving to the edge of town for a hike. Park at the bottom of Macaulay Mountain and head up! The trails wind their way up the hill (find the different trail ratings on AllTrails) and in the winter months you’ll be able to see even more of Picton from each vantage point.
Fina Vista Farms Visit | BoQ
When you’re ready to wind your way back out of the County, point yourself north west: destination, Fina Vista Farms. My 🔥 Hot Take 🔥 is that winter is the best season for so many outdoor activities, and horseback riding is one of them. You won’t have to deal with any of the annoying parts of summer trail rides, (read: bugs and humidity!) just dress in your warmest layers and cross your fingers for a light dusting of snow while you ride!
And there you have it! The perfect outdoorsy weekend in PEC & BoQ is complete!
Looking for more inspiration for exploring the region? Read more of our blog and check out the regional itineraries over at bayofquinte.ca. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the next itinerary in this joint initiative with the Bay of Quinte.
Thanks to our friends at Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board and RTO9 for making these joint itineraries possible. Also thank you to local artist Kelly Panacci for providing her talent for the illustrations on this project.