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.
Download The Outdoorsy Map illustrated by Kelly Panacci
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.
Plan Your Fall 2021 Visit to Prince Edward County 🍁🍂🎃🍎🍻🚲
Prince Edward County may be known for its summers, but Fall in The County has so much to offer travelers of all kinds. Whether you want to get outdoors, reap the benefits of harvest season or simply get into the spirit of the Fall season, we’ve got something for you.
As with every trip to The County, your experience will benefit from a little bit of forward planning. While the Fall is definitely quieter, after a busy summer Prince Edward County businesses change up their hours of operation, so as always we recommend calling ahead or checking social media for the most up to date information.
Please note that public health travel advisories and orders are changing frequently during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please consult our COVID-19 Essential Info page for the latest updates.
Book Your Accommodation
While there is more availability to plan a last-minute trip in the Fall, we still recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment. Explore some of The County’s rental accommodations or if you prefer to camp when it’s quieter (and free of mosquitos!) Sandbanks Provincial Park is open for camping through to the end of October. Whatever you decide, book now so you have the perfect home base for your Fall adventure. Want to visit Sandbanks for a Fall walk? Day-use Vehicle Permit pre-booking continues until the end of the season, so be sure to book up to five days in advance of your planned visit here.
Experience Arts and Culture
Craving a little culture? The County has it in droves. Take a tour of the Arts Trail, a self-guided driving tour and signature experience of professional year-round artist studios and galleries. If you love a peek behind the scenes the annual PEC Studio Tour is on from September 24 – 26 this year, which will take you into the studios of more than 40 artists in the region. Also, Ontario Culture Days Creatives in Residence Alchemy – a Hillier-based artists’ residency – will be taking guests on guided tours of their Table Settings installations and community initiative. Check out the event listing on the Culture Days website for more information and to register for this free event.
Fall is also a great time to immerse yourself in the storied history of The County and there’s no better way to do that than at our museums and historically significant sites. Step back in time with a visit to Macaulay Heritage Park, take in the pioneer village at Ameliasburgh Heritage Village, or go for an autumnal stroll through the beautiful Glenwood Cemetery – your options are endless!
RELATED: History Takes Flight: A Walking Tour of Macaulay Mountain Heritage Park & Birdhouse City
Savour Fall Flavours
Fall is harvest time, and there’s no better time to sample locally grown flavours at Prince Edward County’s local restaurants and farm stands. Be sure to plan a visit to a farm or two before heading home to take home a County bounty to enjoy, store or preserve. Want a farm-to-table dining experience where the distanced travelled is–quite literally–nil? Book a harvest supper at a local farm, like this harvest tasting experience at Quinta Do Conde or the Harvest Dinner Under the Stars at Vicki’s Veggies.
It’s the thick of harvest season at local wineries, but you can still visit their tasting rooms and bottle shops. Be sure to book your wine tours in advance to avoid disappointment. While you will have to wait a while to sample this year’s grape harvest, expect to see some breweries like featuring beers using this summer’s local hop harvest. Not that into hops? Cozy up with a dark beer in front of a fire pit at one of the region’s many breweries. Parsons Brewing Company is even bringing their own take on Oktoberfest to The County on October 2nd, with specialty brews available for the occasion. If the taste of Fall you crave is more apple-forward, go on a self-guided cider tour or hit up Campbell’s Orchards for some pick-your-own fun.
Hit the Trail
While cycling is an activity enjoyed all year round in The County, the Fall offers the perfect conditions for experienced and recreational cyclists alike. With the roads being quieter than they are at the height of summer and the temperatures cooler, it’s the perfect time to hop on your bike and explore.
The Millennium Trail is one of the best ways to get across The County by bike. Connecting Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Hiller and Consecon, this 46 km, mostly flat trail can get you pretty much anywhere you want to go with just some minor diversions on County roads. Check out this helpful Google Map complete with trailhead and intersection information, and a blog with all of the insider details to help you plan your journey.
RELATED: How to do a Prince Edward County Wine Tour Without Driving
Take in the Views
Want to take in the Fall colours on your trip? Be sure to add Slake Brewing to your itinerary. With their hilltop location, sprawling outdoor space and many fire pits – not to mention their great beer – it’s one of the best places in The County to take in the view.
Another great way to take in The County’s Fall colours is to go for a drive (or a cycle!) down some quieter County roads. The “back forty” of many rural and agricultural areas are forested with maple trees and the roads are lined in Staghorn Sumac, whose leaves turns a brilliant red in early Fall, giving you stunning autumnal colours throughout the season that are a feast for the eyes when on a scenic drive. We’ve mapped out a few popular scenic routes here.
Prepare for the Chill
As we all know, Fall is sweater weather. But when preparing for a tour around The County we recommend that you bring more than just a sweater. While indoor dining will be possible with your Proof of Vaccination, many establishments will be keeping their patios open throughout the Fall for those who prefer to dine outside to enjoy the weather and to maximize capacity for diners and visitors to craft beverage establishments. Come prepared with extra layers and maybe even a blanket or two so you can stay comfortable outside as the weather gets cooler.
So what are you waiting for? Book your Fall trip today and discover the joys and gems of Fall in The County.
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Cycling in The County 🚲
Prince Edward County is well-known to cyclists. Its rural roads, gentle geography and pastoral settings are perfect for recreational cycling. Popular routes include wine country and amazing waterside vistas.
If you bring your own bike you’re set to hit the road; if not, County Bike Rentals, Ideal Bike, Closson Road Cycles, East Lake Electric Bike Rentals & Sales, Pedego Electric Bikes and Westlake Ebikes can help with all your rental needs.
If you’re ready to buy, need a quick tune-up or or want to stock up on cycling accessories, Bloomfield Bicycle Company is the place to go. The Bloomfield Bicycle Company’s Guide to Cycling in the County is also comprehensive and includes routes, mileage, elevations and places of interest. Routes are between 40 and 65 kilometers. Here are a couple worth trying:
This 60 km loop circles from Picton along Picton Bay towards the Glenora Ferry. At the top of the hill, Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park has a spectacular view across Adolphus Reach to the ferry dock on the other side. The path continues above the narrow waters of the Reach, across the most easterly point of The County at Cressy and turns back west following the shore of Prince Edward Bay through Waupoos and past County Cider, Waupoos Winery and Waupoos Pub. The return into Picton features woods, meadows and farm fields — classic County countryside.
When you’re out in this direction, stop in at Schoolhouse 77, a restored one-room schoolhouse from circa 1875 where you’ll find cold drinks, snacks and a “corner-store corner” for those emergency needs. There’s a bike rack and Schoolhouse 77 provides free use of their tire pumps and basic repair tools. You’ll also find picnic tables, free water bottle refills and a dog-friendly space!
Western Wine Route
The flat terrain of this 40 km route is excellent for novice cyclists. Fuel up in Bloomfield with breakfast at the The Saylor House Cafe or Bloomfield Public House. Cycling counter clockwise, this route will take you past several County wineries, including Keint-He, By Chadsey’s Cairns, Sandbanks Winery, Rosehall Run, Casa Dea, Domaine Darius, Sugarbush and the added bonus of the local distillery, Kinsip. Stop in for a rest and refreshment. (Just remember to keep alternating between wine and water!) The return to Bloomfield features the spectacular vistas of the famous sand dunes, and the peaceful shoreline of West Lake.
Big Island Route
This 55 km local favourite is said to be a “cyclist’s dream route through rolling countryside.” Big Island itself features 8 km of pristine Bay of Quinte shoreline. In the spring, much of the route is lined with exquisite-smelling lilacs and for the past few years has been part of the route for the Lilac Ride. There are few tourist sights on this route to distract from the pastoral setting. The Green Point Route, traveling further into Sophiasburgh and over to Three Dog Winery, can be added for another 30 km of Bay of Quinte shoreline and rural roads.
This hilly 40 km route goes deep into the heart of wine country. In addition to a dozen wineries and vineyards – including Hinterland, Closson Chase, Lacey Estates, Gravel Hill, Broken Stone, Old Third, Hillier Creek, Harwood and Redtail – you can cycle to SHED Chetwyn Farms and get up close and personal with the alpacas, or take in the delightful aromas at PEC Lavender Farm. At the halfway mark at Consecon, Tabersnack offers a poutine bonanza and fresh, simple and tasty food. The serene shore of Lake Consecon completes the route.
If you are visiting Sandbanks Provincial Park, cycling this 65 km route is a perfect way to safely see the park, the surrounding countryside, and the quiet ease of East Lake. In addition to the park, the backroads of this route reach as far as Base31, the site of the old Camp Picton wartime air base, and the delightful hamlet of Milford. And of course, a stop at Black River Cheese is mandatory. Lilacs, sugar maples and asparagus are abundant on this route.
Cycle to the Point
Not all routes are circuitous; some just go there and come back. Prince Edward County is famous for its many points and headlands jutting into surrounding waters. Perhaps the most famous is Point Traverse in the South Shore of the County. Notorious for shipwrecks a century ago, it is now a must-see for birders who visit the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Along the way, Little Bluff Conservation Area features a 20 meter high limestone bluff and panoramic views of Prince Edward Bay, but if water snakes aren’t your thing, you may want to skip this stop!
Cycle Year Round
County cycling isn’t all summer tours and fall trails – the winter-hearty will be happy to know you can rent fatbikes locally from Ideal Bike and hit the mean (snowy) streets and trails even in the colder months.
Whatever your pleasure, The County can accommodate with cycling routes that feature shoreline, hills, woodlands, and farm country.
How to Do a Prince Edward County Wine Tour Without Driving 🚗
A wine tour (or beer or cider tour) is an iconic County experience. But being the DD while your friends giggle into their bubbly can be a drag. Here’s how to book a tour and/or a guide who’ll help you discover handcrafted wines, inventively brewed beers, deliciously dry ciders, sweet and surprising mead, not to mention the spirits on offer at the distilleries.
PLEASE NOTE: COVID-19 containment measures are keeping us hopping – new announcements about what’s open are being made every day. Please call ahead to be sure activities are still available. Find essential COVID travel info here.
Let someone else do the driving
Cronkie’s Tours Plus lets you set the route; they provide the vehicle and driver. They can accommodate from one to 15 passengers for a wine tour.
Prince Edward County Wine Tours takes you to four or five wineries on a half-day tour or seven stops for the full day tour. It’s more than just a ride, it’s an insight into the history of the region, the wineries, the grape growing process and what makes the wineries unique.
A wine tour with Sandbanks Vacations & Tours is led by guides who determine your wine preferences, then design a route to suit, taking in some of the The County’s hidden gems.
Or have County vintages come to you. Sommelier Jay Whiteley will arrive at your door with everything needed to take you on a private wine tasting adventure in the comfort of your holiday home. He’ll lead you through a 90-minute tasting of six of The County’s finest wines and share the stories behind the wines and the history of winemaking in The County.
RELATED: Summer 2021 Visitor Checklist
Go for something totally unique and book with Vintage Car Wine Tours. Sam Grosso’s been collecting classic cars for years – he’s got Lincolns and Chevys and Oldsmobiles from the 50s, 60s and 70s in classic and candy colours. Take the backroads in style!
A County Experience focuses on private, bespoke tours, exploring wineries, breweries, farms, artisanal cheese makers and great dining experiences. Guide Chris Pengelly will take guests behind the scenes, or bring the scene to them. He’ll also lead customized tastings in the comfort of your vacation accommodations.
The County Wine Tours takes in more than just wine. Focusing on the features of Closson Road – where you can find The County’s main concentration of wineries – tours include stops at four to five wineries, a minimum of 12 samples and a stop at Prince Edward County Lavender and SHED alpaca farm. They can also do a wine tour by bicycle.
RELATED: Reserve Now, Relax Later
Zac and Luhana Littlejohn run a farm-based workshops focusing on culinary pursuits like the lost art of sourdough fermentation, but they also offer County wine tours that can be customized and come with an optional picnic to complete the day.
Half and full-day tours are offered at Tina’s Wine Tours, which includes visits to award-winning wineries to sample incredible wines and learn the history of wine-making and how grapes are grown here.
Sommelier Ian Nicholls leads County Sips tours, starting in Kingston taking in five County wineries. With a wine expert at the helm, you can expect to learn about The County’s terroir and what goes into produce an award-winning vintage.
Two wheels and a corkscrew
A bicycle tour can be one of the best ways to see The County and if you’re interested in a spin around Hillier‘s wineries, you can see and taste quite a lot without having to pedal too far. Greer and Closson Roads are the epicentre and Closson Road Cycles starts you off in the middle of things. You can do a self-guided tour moving at your own pace, or join a guided tour that will take you to three or four wineries.
County Bike Rentals will bring the bike to you, and collect you when you’re done, taking the guess work out of how to get back to your accommodations. Rentals include a helmet, lock, light, map, water bottle and emergency road service, with folding bikes and mass rentals available for big groups.
RELATED: Insider tips for a Summer County Holiday
Bloomfield Bicycle Co. is a meeting place for cyclists living in and visiting The County, with group rides of varying skills offered throughout the week. Their website also has a wealth of information on cycling routes and they produce the hugely popular cycling map of Prince Edward County. In addition to bike sales, they also offer bike rentals from Bloomfield.
Ideal Bike in Wellington can get you outfitted with all you need for a self-guided cycling tour of The County, and can tune up any problems that might arise with your own set of wheels. They’re also a source for fat bikes, if serious trails or winter riding is your thing.
If the sound of a bicycle appeals, but not the actual pedaling, consider a hybrid electric bike from Pedego Prince Edward County. Pedal as much as you like or twist the throttle to add a bit of extra push and see as little or as much of The County as you like. An e-bike can help you get up the hills or the windy roads of Waupoos. There are 16 bikes available, including a tandem bike, and a lesson to be sure you’re competent/comfortable operating the bike. Their location is conveniently next to the newly refurbished Millennium Trail, which provides an off-road corridor to travel the entirety of The County.
If you’re looking for electric bike rentals closer to Sandbanks, East Lake Electric Bike Rentals and Sales has your back. Theyruns out of the old East Lake Canning Factory on County Rd. 11 just two minutes down from Sandbanks Provincial Park and they sell and rent speciality Daymak electric bikes and mobility scooters. They also offer weekly bike tours on Saturdays.
Just east of Wellington is Westlake EBikes, which rents and sells a variety of E-Bike types. Their rental bikes are designed to be comfy enough to use all day, and capable enough to go anywhere in PEC. The bikes can be booked via their website, and picked up next day or they can deliver them to where ever you would like to start your journey from.
Cyclists share the road with vehicles, other cyclists, pedestrians and even tractors in our neck of the woods. Anyone operating a bicycle should take the same precautions as if they were driving a car when it comes to navigating the roads and alcohol consumption. Always wear a helmet, keep hydrated, obey the rules of the road and call your rental company or a taxi if you need a pick-up.
The County Carriage Co. offers wine tours via horse-drawn carriage, a scenic way to take in the beauty of the vineyards, shorelines and rich history of The County. ‘Nuff said.
Hail a taxi
Taxis can be chartered for a tour in advance – keep in mind that you’re in the country, so there’s really no such thing as “hailing a taxi” but taxi details are worth keeping on hand even if you’re headed for dinner and want a drink or two with your meal.
Cronkie’s Cab Company covers The County, as does Terry’s Taxi and Taxi Guy. They’re all familiar with the various wineries and can help you decide where to go.
Walk to the local watering hole
Staying in town? There are a few spots where you can walk to craft beverage businesses or even the nearby pub that carries County products and go on a virtual tour from the comfort of your table.
In Picton head downtown to The County Canteen or Acoustic Grill for local and seasonal offerings of beer, wine and cider. Hartleys Tavern doesn’t disappoint with its wine list either! If you’re up for the 4km walk you can do a walking tour of Parsons / Prince Eddy’s / 555 Brewing Co. Black Prince Winery is on the western edge of town but worth the trek to nosh on their wood-fired pizza and try samples from Canadian Vinegar Cellars onsite. Off the Sandy Hook exit on our beloved roundabout you can stop in to The Waring House for a ‘County Sampler’ on weekends – reserve your spot! Or keep trekking for Barley Days Brewery. If it’s hot, reward yourself with a brain-numbingly cold cider slushie from Crimson Cider.
Those staying in Bloomfield can duck over to Matron Fine Beer to try what’s on tap or pick up takeout cans. Or get what’s local and on-tap at Flame + Smith or the Bloomfield Public House Market.
Anyone staying in Wellington is spoiled for choice with East & Main, La Condesa and Drake Devonshire each highlighting locally sourced bevies on their menus. Bonus: Midtown Brewing Company is right in the centre of town.
Whether you’re getting to and fro via horse or your own two legs, remember that The County’s wine, beer, spirits and cider are about the terroir – not getting tanked. Refuel with plenty of water throughout the day, indulge in the wide variety of local eateries popping up at almost every winery/brewery, and don’t feel badly about not drinking the whole tasting flight – that’s what the spittoon is for. And never drink and drive.
Content updated May 2021