Experience Maple and More in Prince Edward County this March
Emerge from winter with us this March in Prince Edward County. From maple harvest celebrations to a new Winter Wine Festival, there is plenty to enjoy with the whole family. Read on to get all the details and plan your March getaway today!
PEC Maple Madness
PEC Maple Madness is back again to help celebrate the sweetest time of year in The County. Visit a sugarbush, taste delicious maple delights, and stay over in some sweet accommodations to make for a maple-y getaway every weekend in March. With more than 60 participating businesses, there will be opportunities to experience maple at every turn!
Participating sugarbushes include Waupoos Estates Winery, Walt’s Sugar Shack, Three Dog Winery, County Shores Farms, Sugarbush Vineyards, Justin’s Maple Syrup, Campbell’s Orchards, and Nyman Farms. In addition to learning about the maple harvest and sampling straight from the source, you can expect pancake breakfasts every Saturday and Sunday at Waupoos Estates, pancake and sausage breakfasts at Walt’s Sugar Shack, self-guided tours through the woods at Justin’s Maple Syrup (hiking boots or rain boots recommended), educational Maple Walk & Talks through Murray’s sugarbush at Campbell’s Orchards, and more!
After visiting a sugar bush, taste the Maple Syrup in action at local establishments. Why not start with a maple-y wine tour at Three Dog Winery, Sandbanks Estate Winery, Lacey Estates Winery, Rosehall Run, Huff Estates, Norman Hardie Winery, Karlo Estates, The Grange, Closson Chase Winery, Broken Stone Winery, Harwood Estate Vineyards, Trail Estate Winery, Hillier Creek Estates Winery, Redtail Vineyards, or Stanners Vineyards. These participating wineries have lots of maple deliciousness on offer to pair with their wines, like maple shortbread and maple cheese from Black River Cheese at Sandbanks Winery, all-you-can-eat vegan pancake brunches at Karlo Estates, and maple salmon gravlax with maple-infused wine cocktails at Rosehall Run.
Distilleries, breweries, and cideries are getting in on the fun as well, with Clafeld Cider House, Barley Days Brewery, Kinsip Distillery, Midtown Brewing Company, Prince Eddy’s Brewing, Matron Fine Beer, Gillingham Brewery, Parsons Brewery, 555 Brewery, All My Friends Beer Co., and Loch Mor Cider serving up tasty maple beverages and accompaniments. Head to Kinsip for Maple Whisky and Whisky Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup, to Loch Mor for limited edition Maple-infused Pommeau (aka apple port), or stop at Matron Fine Beer for delectable maple cinnamon buns.
Finally, stop for a bite to eat at participating Maple Madness restaurants and food producers, which include The County Canteen, 7 Numbers Picton, The Waring House, Fifth Town Cheese, The Drake Devonshire, J&W Farms, Stella’s Eatery, Sand & Pearl, Cressy Mustard Co., PECish Baking, The County Chocolatier, The Village Bake Shoppe, and Sprigglen Meat Market. Enjoy maple-y menu items like Polenta Arancini with Maple Cheddar & Prosciutto at 7 Numbers, French Toast served with a caramelized apple + cranberry compote, Perth bacon, Chantilly cream, and hearty dose of Nyman Farms Maple Syrup at Drake Devonshire, or a Maple Salmon BLT on PECish Bread from Sand & Pearl, which you can find at Gillingham Brewing on March 4&5, PECish Baking Co. on March 11, 18 and 25, and Slake Brewing on March 12, 19, and 26.
With so much to experience during Maple Madness in March, make a weekend of it and stay with us here in PEC. Maple Madness is serving up some sweet accommodation offers including The Waring House, Places in PEC, Eliken House (PEC STA License # ST-2019-0256), Everly Inn, Sandbanks Vacations, Indergaard Farm Stay (PEC STA License #: ST-2021-0001.), Twin Birch Suites & Cottages, Pleasant Stays Guest House (PEC STA License #: 2022-0089), The Lakeside Motel, Pettit House, County Charm Vacation Home (PEC STA License #: ST-2022-0132), Picton Bay Hideaway (PEC STA License #: ST – 2021-0168), Lock 6 Lodge, and The Owens House (PEC STA License #: STA-2021-0115).
🛌 Discover Sweet Accommodations Offers for Maple Madness 🛌
Be sure to follow PEC Maple Madness on Instagram and Facebook to learn about all the offerings from participating businesses throughout March and visit their website to plan for your perfect maple getaway in The County.
Elévage: PEC Winter Wine Festival
Raise a glass to winter in wine country with Élevage: PEC Winter Wine Festival from March 11-12, 2023. What is Élevage? Derived from the french meaning “raise up,” Élevage refers to the time in winemaking between fermentation and bottling – typically in winter – when wines begin their maturing process and make their way to being ready to enjoy. This makes it the perfect name for a Winter Wine Festival in PEC, and this is one you won’t want to miss, with more than 21 local producers of wine and cider coming together to create a memorable weekend of wine and culinary experiences.
Élevage will take place at seven local wineries and cideries, each playing host to 2-3 other wineries and one chef who will be cooking up delicious bites inspired by our long history of fermentation and preservation. Tickets are $64 for general admission, which includes 12 drink samples and 3 food samples, with additional sample tickets available for purchase on-site. They also have a zero-proof admission option for $40 which includes 3 food tickets. Get your tickets here.
Spend the weekend working your way through the host locations and tasting food from local chefs, more than half of whom are of Indigenous descent, including 4 Mohawk Chefs from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. These locations include:
- Casa Dea Estates Winery, with Hillier Creek Estates and Three Dog Winery, alongside Chef Rachel Bies
- Closson Chase Vineyards, with Broken Stone Winery and Hubbs Creek Vineyard, alongside Chef Nicole Maracle
- Grange of Prince Edward, with Hinterland Wine Company and Lacey Estates Winery, with Chefs Nathan Thomas and Matt Demille
- Huff Estates Winery, with Lighthall Vineyards and The County Cider Company with Chefs Leah Hannon (Stella’s Eatery) and Lee Arden Lewis
- Karlo Estates Winery, with Keint-he Winery and Vineyards and Gravel Hill Vineyards, featuring food pairing by Karlo Estates Winery
- Loch Mór Cider Company, with Sugarbush Vineyards and Trail Estate Winery, featuring Chef Rebecca Hunt (Picnic PEC)
- Rosehall Run, with Morandin Wines, Sandbanks Winery, and Stanners Vineyard, with Chef Chavis Maracle
Looking for somewhere to stay during Élevage? Drake Devonshire is the official accommodations partner for the festival. Just call 613-399-3338 for bookings and mention Élevage – ticket holders will receive a complimentary bottle of PEC sparkling wine at check-in!
Get your tickets to Élevage today!
Maple in The County
Maple in The County is back and in person for the first time since 2019! Come out for this family-friendly festival and wrap up a month of maple festivities by experiencing the maple harvest at 5 beloved County sugar bushes over the weekend of March 25-26, 2023. Participating sugar bushes include:
- Hubbs Sugarbush/Sweetwater Cabin will be serving up their 45th annual pancake breakfast featuring fresh maple syrup. Lumberjack shows are back this year, and you’ll have a chance to purchase their small-batch, hand-made maple products like stirred sugar, maple butter, soft sugar candy, and more.
- Fosterholm Farms invites you to visit their 7500 tap sugarbush, which has been in operation since 1924! Come see how maple syrup is made and take a walk through the woods and tuck in to a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast with unlimited maple syrup. Meals are just $15 and take place inside their sap house beside the woodfire. There will also be plenty of maple goodies available for you to purchase at their wheelchair accessible facility.
- Vader’s Maple Syrup is exicited for you to visit their 2500 tap maple production – a family tradition since 1910. Tour the Sap House, observe our 3’x14′ evaporator in action, take a scenic walk overlooking East Lake, and learn from informative maple displays, and photos. Maple syrup, hand crafted maple butter, maple sugar and whisky barrel aged maple syrup available for purchase. You can also enjoy freshly made maple taffy on a stick and maple kettle corn!
- Head to Loha Farms for an all-day indoor pancake breakfast, after which you can enjoy a walk in the sugar bush, visit the animals in the barnyard, and watch how maple syrup is made in our sugar shack. A portion of their proceeds will be donated to Picton Memorial Hospital. Be sure to bring your rain boots!
- Come stop by our sap house at Roblin’s Maple Syrup and take in the picturesque views of Long Reach. Observe how they transform raw sap into pure maple syrup with their reverse osmosis and energy efficient combination wood/wood pellet fired evaporator, sample a flight of different maple syrup grades, enjoy maple butter on an english muffin, maple pulled pork on a bun, along with many other mouth-watering maple treats and products for sale.
For more information about Maple in The County, check out the website or follow the festival on Facebook.
Experience arts and culture in PEC this March with some exciting events and exhibits. Swing by Oeno Gallery for their “Conversations” Exhibition, which explores artsworks that “speak to each other,” through multiple panels or pieces. Featuring artists Milly Ristvedt, Shayne Dark, Aron Hill, Benny Katz, Paula Murray, John Paul Robinson, Alice Teichert, Julia Reimer, Derya Ozparlak, Kevin Robb and Peter Hoffer, you won’t want to miss this one! Meanwhile, on Picton Main Street, Arts on Main Gallery opens their Awakening Art Show on March 3, which will feature new works from local artists in celebration of spring.
If you want to try your hand at art, there are a few opportunities coming up this month you’ll want to register for. Every Tuesday night give life drawing a go with Salon Life Drawing at Karlo Estates, or you can sign up for the County Arts Lab’s Art for Equity event on International Women’s Day. Finally, if you want to bring home some handmade maple memorabilia along with some delicious wine, sign up for the Maple Leaf Mosaic Workshop at Broken Stone Winery.
Want to go beyond maple with your culinary adventures in The County? We’ve got you covered. In addition to the regular menus at our numerous restaurant offerings, you also don’t want to miss these special foodie events. Here mid-week? Wednesday Wing Night at Jackson’s Falls featuring Big Mike’s BBQ’s delicious smoked wings is a must try experience. Also at Jackson’s Falls you can enjoy brunch from Chef Chris Wylie every weekend – be sure to call in advance to book a table!
Here for the cheese? Plan to come in early on Friday throughout March to experience Fondue Fridays at The Eddie. This unique experience allows you to nosh on warming cheese and chocolate fondue in the quaint setting of a beautiful barn. If you haven’t gotten enough of molten cheese, be sure to head to Lighthall Vineyards on Sunday March 12 and Sunday March 19 to taste their homemade raclette alonside their stellar wines.
Coming up in April
Planning ahead for a visit in April? Here’s some of what you can look forward to next month:
Countylicious returns for its spring edition from April 12 – May 1! Enjoy 3 weeks of spring-inspired, three-course prix fixe menus at great prices from restaurants you know, love, and have been dying to try! Check out Countylicious.ca for more information in the coming weeks!
Easter at The Eddie
Get in the festive spirit at The Eddie with their annual Easter Egg Hunt and Sunday Brunch on April 9! Book your tickets now!
A Bucket List for Winter in Prince Edward County ❄️☃️
We’re going to let you in on one of our best-kept secrets: winter in Prince Edward County. Sure, it’s colder and quieter, but for us those are just added benefits that make for some unforgettable experiences. For the uninitiated that may need some convincing, so keep reading to discover our bucket list for an incredible winter experience in The County.
Note: this bucket list might not be accomplished in a single weekend getaway, but maybe that calls for making a PEC winter getaway a tradition. Or better yet, book a longer stay to enjoy a whole week of winter fun in The County. Discover unique and luxurious accommodations our website here.
1. Snowshoe at a Winery
There are so many reasons to love The County in winter, and one of them is the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the crisp and refreshing air before tucking into a cozy wine tasting around the fire. This is made possible at Sugarbush Vineyards and Three Dog Winery, where their private trails allow for you to experience a part of PEC not typically open to the public.
At Sugarbush Vineyards, you’ll find a 2.5 km snowshoe trail though their sugarbush and vineyard. You can rent or bring your own snowshoes, and your fee includes a wine tasting, hot chocolate and cookies by the fire. They trails are open most weekends during the winter, but be sure to check in advance before arriving.
At Three Dog Winery they offer a guided hike through their snowshoe trails most weekends throughout the winter. For $30 you will get a snowshoe rental for your guided tour, two glasses of wine, and a light snack. Spots are limited so be sure to book in advance on their website.
As with all winter experiences, snowshoeing is subject to the weather, so keep your fingers crossed for lots of snow! 🤞
2. Hit the Ice at Parsons
One of the great things about Prince Edward County in wintertime is that there is plenty of fun to be had for the whole family, and one of these hubs for winter family fun is Parsons Brewing, where kiddos and kids at heart can take to the covered rink, sip hot chocolate and make s’mores by the fire. Stick around for their delicious Argentinian-inspired food menu (or come early for Sunday brunch!) and of course their extensive list of handcrafted beers.
To have this winter experience, be sure to follow Parsons Brewing on Instagram for updates about the opening of their winter rink. As with snowshoeing, this experience is subject to good winter weather, so hope the cold weather sticks around so we have as many weekends of skating fun as possible.
3. Get Cozy on an Outdoor Patio
Sure, it’s great snuggling up indoors next to a fire, but there’s something equally as great about embracing the chill, bundling up and enjoying some locally-crafted beverages by the fire pit. Gillingham Brewing in particular has a fantastic outdoor patio with fire tables and heaters to ease some of the chill, that goes perfectly with their handcrafted beers, wine from neighbouring Domaine Darius, and frequent oyster pop-ups. But whether at Gillingham or many of Prince Edward County’s wineries, breweries and cideries, this is an essential part of the winter experience in The County. Bonus: it’s family and pup-friendly, with space for kids to enjoy the snow and the ability for pups to join you on your County outings.
🐶 Related: Pet-friendly PEC 🐶
4. Enjoy a Main Street Stroll
Whatever the weather, a stroll along one of The County’s main streets should be on your list. With delightful shops, delicious restaurants and plenty of quaint cafés to satisfy whatever craving you have. Looking for some ideas?
- In Picton, discover contemporary homewares at Kala Home, stop in for a quick lunch at The Royal Hotel‘s Counter Bar (don’t forget to grab a cannoli for dessert), and pick out the perfect winter read for you or the kids at Books & Company.
- In Bloomfield, add a little Scandi to your skincare regime at Scandiskin, discover contemporary Canadian art at Guildworks, and warm up with lunch off the vegan menu at Bermuda.
- Meanwhile, over in Wellington design your own vintage-inspired jewellery piece at Anice Jewellery, stock up on green-living essentials at GOOD Place, and grab a pint and a bite at Midtown Brewing.
5. Take a Coffee (or Cocoa) Break
When you’re spending so much time out in the cold, it’s always a treat to head inside for a bit of a winter warmer. Luckily, The County has lots of options for you and your kiddos to get warm with a coffee or hot chocolate. Speaking of kids, if you have them you definitely want to head to Beacon Bike+Brew in Picton where their kid-friendly play area is perfect to keep them entertained while you relax with a brew. Also in Picton you’ll find Lily’s Café (connected to Books & Company), the Bean Counter Café, and Luso Bites, where you’ll find a whole host of delicious Portugese delights (including pastel de nata!) alongside a large coffee menu. If tea is more your speed, don’t miss Savon Du Bois, whose apothercary is sure to provide the perfect remedy to a chilly day. Other coffee spots include Bloomfield Public House as well as Bloomfield Beauty Co., GOOD Place, Piccolina Mercato and Consecon Honey House Café.
☕ Related: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee☕
6. Visit a Winery
If you want to learn more about winemaking in Prince Edward County straight from the source, a winter visit to some local wineries should definitely be on your list. Not only are the cozy vibes inside the tasting room unmatched, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to chat with tasting room staff – and in many cases the winemakers themselves – about making wine in The County and the terroir that makes it so special. Who knows, you may even get a taste of a new release! For more information about our local wineries be sure to explore the wine section of our website, or check out PEC Wine’s newly updated website and app to help plan your perfect tour.
7. Enjoy a Leisurely Brunch
When you have a day of wintery outdoor adventures planned, there’s no better way to start your day than with hearty brunch. Luckily, winter in Prince Edward County is brunch season, with many spots offering seasonal brunch menus in addition to our already popular brunch offerings. Here are some delicious brunch experiences you will want to have this winter:
- Creekside Café won our hearts with their stunning brunch menu when they opened last summer, and the good news is that they’re still at it this winter, and with new menu items to boot. Brunch starts up again this Saturday, so don’t miss it!
- Come for the weekend and stay for the brunch starting January 15 at Jackson’s Falls Country Inn. Not staying at the inn? That’s okay – you’re invited too! Just be sure to make a reservation in advance.
- Head to Karlo Estates for their bubble brunch every Sunday – all-you-can-eat vegan pancakes, handcrafted sparkling wine, and a cozy barn setting – what more could you want?
- Run to Parsons Brewing to experience their seasonal brunch menu before enjoying a wintery pint by the fire and a skate on their outdoor rink (weather permitting).
- Check out the new breakfast menu at The County Canteen featuring deliciousness such as an epic breakfast burrito and an indulgent breakfast poutine.
- They’re available all year round, but we’d be remiss not to mention the decadent brunches at the Drake Devonshire, The Royal Hotel, and Picton Harbour Inn.
8. Hit the Trails
There’s nothing like a walk in the forest after a snowfall. Luckily, Prince Edward County has lots of options to get you breathing that winter air between brunch, wine tasting, and your next indulgent County meal. Here’s just a few:
- Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area is a great stop for a walk after spending the morning in Picton. With access from Macaulay Heritage Park, this Quinte Conservation area has a large trail network that allows for you to customize your routes. Be sure to download a map and wear appropriate footwear as the path can be wet in places in mild weather, though with a fresh cover of snow it’s a dream! If you’re looking for an easier stroll or if you just want to take a look at one of The County’s loveliest community arts projects, be sure to check out Birdhouse City, which is located on the edge of the conservation area.
- Sandbanks Provincial Park really shows off in winter with six trails to choose from of varying lengths and difficulty. From snow on the beach on Dunes Trail to quiet, riverside moments on Cedar Sands, you’re bound to stumble upon countless magical “are we in Narnia?” moments for your memory bank. Head to the Ontario Parks website to learn more about accessing Sandbanks in Winter, and don’t forget these crucial safety tips:
- Stay off the lake. Shore ice can be very precarious and it’s not worth the risk.
- Start your walk with plenty of time before dark to help ensure you get back to your car safely.
- Dress appropriately. Winter boots. Layers. Gloves and hats. This is no place for sneakers!
- The Millennium Trail runs the length of The County and is just as much a major artery through the area in winter as it is in the warmer months. Cross country skiing, fat biking, walking, and snowmobiling are just a few ways you can enjoy this public linear park.
For even more travel inspiration, be sure to follow us on Instagram and use #PrinceEdwardCounty to share your PEC winter experiences with us!
Insider’s guide to summer holidays in Prince Edward County
Updated May 12, 2022
The summer of 2020 had its moments, and in 2021 we changed things up a bit to make for a better experience for everyone, through 2022 and well beyond. Here are some insider tips to make your summer experience in PEC a great one.
Not visiting in Summer? That’s okay – in fact, it’s great! Many of these tips still apply and the knowledge will still be helpful as you plan your trip.
Wellington Rotary Beach
Visitors using Wellington Rotary Beach will be charged $10 per person on weekends and holidays starting Saturday May 21, and seven days a week in July in August. to enter up until September 19th. Access is free as of September 20th. You are welcome to bring your own food, but cooking devices must be left at home. There will also be two food vendors on site. There is no reservation system, so it’s first come / first served.
Want to avoid all that? If your swimming skills are decent, consider hiring a charter and use it to get on the water. You can find charter companies and more ways to get on the water here: https://www.visitthecounty.com/do/boating-fishing/
RELATED: Reserve Now, Relax Later
Wellington Rotary Beach Boat Launch
The ramp at Wellington Rotary Beach will have limited access on weekends and holidays. The ramp will be unavailable for launch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boats returning to shore during those hours will still be able to leave the water using the ramp. These limits on ramp hours are to help manage parking, visitor volumes and safety at the beach.
Parking fees at Boat Launches
Like last year, there is a $20 parking fee for vehicles with trailers, and a $10 fee for vehicles alone, at all municipal boat launches. That means kayakers, canoeists and SUPpers will need to pay $10 to park at a municipal launch. Single-day parking permits can be purchased through the Mackay Pay app. The list of pay zone numbers for the boat launches can be found online, or posted at the launch. Single-day permits are also available for in-person purchase at the Edward Building or any library branch.
Hot tip: Download the app from MacKay Pay. It’s the paid parking system used across The County. Pay by app in rural or remote areas; pay by machine in Picton. Find it at Google Play or the Apple Store.
If you’re intending to make frequent use of municipal launches, you may consider purchasing a season’s pass, good for the entire 2022 calendar year, for $100+HST. Permits can be purchased online on The County’s website, or in-person at the municipal customer service desk at The Edward Building (280 Picton Main Street, Suite 103), or at any Prince Edward County Library Branch. Permits will be mailed to the buyer, or can held for pick up at the Edward Building or any PEC Library Branch by request. Permits can also be purchased in person at the Edward Building or any library branch. Please have your name, number, address and email at the ready, as well as the licence plate for the vehicle you’ll connect to the pass.
RELATED: Summer 2022 Visitor Checklist
New No Parking Zones
Fines of $400 are now being applied to several areas where parked vehicles presented challenges to the flow of traffic and/or access for emergency vehicles. See the maps, below, for more detail. Please adhere to posted instructions on signs. These No Parking zones are active seasonally, from May 1 – October 31.
Disobeyed parking signs and got a ticket? Pay via https://www.thecounty.ca/residents/make-a-payment/parking-tickets/.
Unless you’re booked into a campground, skip setting up a sneaky tent or stealing down a sideroad with the RV. Fines have increased to $500, and additional bylaw officers will be out enforcing these rules. Book ahead, or look north to our friends in Bay of Quinte. They’re a nature enthusiast’s paradise, and they’ve got lots of ideas for where to camp here.
Little Bluff Conservation Area has re-opened, with an improved parking area, signage, dedicated staff, washrooms and an entrance gate. Fees to enter Little Bluff are $15 per vehicle during the summer months and return to normal rates after Labour Day. However, the conservation area will close once at capacity and the parking lot holds just 30 vehicles.
Daily Vehicle Permits are back at Sandbanks and North Beach Provincial Parks for 2022. If you visited last year you will be familiar with this process, but if you’re visiting for the first time or need a refresher, read on.
Daily Vehicle Permits must be booked in advance for day-use access to The County’s Provincial Parks and can be booked up to 5-days in advance of your visit. Guests will be turned away at the gate if sold out, so we highly encourage you to take advantage of this service to avoid disappointment.
Fun Fact: Sandbanks was sold out approximately 60 days between mid-June and August last year. North Beach was sold out 30 days.
If you are a season’s pass holder you still need to book a Daily Vehicle Permit in advance, but this will be free of charge. For non-season’s pass holders regular rates apply daily. They are available for booking at North Beach 5 days in advance of its opening on June 11. Daily Vehicle Permits are already available for booking at Sandbanks. So…
✅ Book up to 5 days in advance online at reservations.ontarioparks.com
✅ Secure a permit for each vehicle that will be visiting the park.
✅ Reserve whether you plan on visiting the beach or walking the trails.
✅ Book a Daily Vehicle Permit even if you are a season’s pass holder.
✅ Explore beyond the beach. Browse things to do in PEC here.
❌ Visit the park without booking a Daily Vehicle Permit in advance, especially on weekends from mid-June through August.
❌ Choose to come to Sandbanks or North Beach for a spontaneous day trip.
❌ Get turned away. Book in advance.
To reserve your Daily Vehicle permit head to reservations.ontarioparks.com and click the Day Use tab.
Like last summer, Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park will have dedicated staff on site to enforce parking. To park for up to two hours, the fee is $3. To park up from two to four hours, the fee is $6.50.
For info on beach closures and other updates, follow Sandbanks, North Beach, Quinte Conservation, Wellington Rotary Beach and Glenora Ferry.
Maps for Public Washrooms, Picnic Areas, Information Spots
Wanna know where to go when you gotta go? We’ve got a map for that. Find more info here: visitpec.ca/washrooms/
Wanna feast al fresco? We’ve got a map for that too. Find more info here: visitpec.ca/2020/06/24/where-to-picnic-in-prince-edward-county/
Ready for a ride but not ready for the road? We’ve got a trail for that. The Millennium Trail goes clear across The County, a total of 46 km. It’s a former rail bed, so it’s mostly flat, and has been rehabilitated by a remarkable team of volunteers to fairly smooth too. Find a map of its highlights here, and a blog with everything you need to know here.
Try The County way of life
Last summer was hard on everybody. A few visitors got fed up and frustrated and did things we wished they hadn’t. As a host community fearful of the COVID virus, sometimes we weren’t as welcoming as we’d normally be. The pandemic got to all of us. This summer, our goal is to “Be More County,” and we hope you’ll try it too.
What’s that mean?
Be more County by:
• Slowing down. On roads, through a meal or through the day
• Spreading friendly vibes by doing the neighbourly thing: wave in traffic, give tractors and cyclists space on the roads, share the sidewalks
• Leaving park paths, shorelines, forest floors and waterways better than you found them
• Remembering that farms, parks and beaches are carefully managed eco-systems, not just awesome Instagram backdrops
• Remembering that sound travels beyond tables and fences, across tasting rooms, landscapes and bodies of water… and even in the dark
• Being patient, flexible and kind
And hey, if you can wait to visit, you WILL be rewarded. Fall is when The County truly shines. Consider a mid-September or October visit, when the humidity drops, the bugs go away and the crowds thin. Trust us: it’s magic.
Reserve Now, Relax Later
reservation res·er·va·tion/rezərˈvāSH(ə)n/noun: an arrangement whereby something, especially a seat or room, is booked or reserved for a particular person
All indications point to a busy summer 2022 in Prince Edward County. Even though things are returning to some sense of normal, it is still essential to pre-plan your visit.
While capacity limits are back up and most COVID-19 restrictions have been removed, reservations remain a good idea wherever possible. The County is a buzzing place, and not just because of the local bees!
While we do our best to keep on top of opening hours, it continues to be best to check in with businesses themselvesCheck social media posts, or direct message, email or call to make sure that your destination is open and check whether a reservation is needed.
RELATED: Insider tips for a summer County holiday
Make a dinner reservation
Don’t wait to be hungry before you find a place to eat. If you’ve booked a place to stay this summer, start locking in your dining reservations. You can try OpenTable or calling/messaging restaurants directly with your dates. Some restos take reservations only, while others first-come first-served. Even if planning for a meal of takeout or curbside pick, call ahead – many restaurants sell out early, especially on weekends. Lack of planning may result in unnecessary hangry. (Also, see our map of picnic areas, in case dining out means literally eating outside.)
Book a Tour
Make a reservation for a Vintage Car Wine Tour! Join Sam Grosso for a bespoke wine tour in the vintage car of your dreams. The former owner of Toronto’s Cadillac Lounge has found a new calling and will take you on a 4-winery tour in a beautiful automobile from his fleet of vintage cars. Bring your fave playlist and rock the tunes in chauffeured style! For more tour options – including horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, luxury vehicles or taxis – click through to our blog on tours.
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.
Book Some Beach Time
If you’ve booked a stay here, you’ll need to plan your days because attractions, including Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas, are expected to continue to be hot spots throughout the summer. Book a day-use permit for Sandbanks or North Beach Provincial Parks. This can be done up to five days in advance of your trip, and guarantees entry. (On a hot, sunny weekend in July, August or September, don’t even consider heading to Sandbanks or North Beach without a permit in hand! The beach closes when full and every season, thousands of vehicles are turned away.)
Please note that for the 2022 summer season, entry to the Wellington Rotary Beach will be $10 per person, 7 days a week in July and August. Entry to Little Bluff Conservation Area comes with a $15 parking fee that can be paid at the gate or through Pay by Phone. Free entry at Wellington Rotary Beach returns September 30th and parking at Little Bluff returns to standard rates after Labour Day Weekend.
During peak summer months, beaches and outdoor spaces are especially busy and thousands of unprepared visitors are turned away every day. Do not head to the beach without a reservation (where possible) and checking these channels in advance:
- Sandbanks and North Beach – Check SandbanksPP on Twitter
- Wellington Rotary Beach – Check Prince Edward County on Twitter or Facebook
- Little Bluff and other Conservation Areas – Check Quinte Conservation for closures and other information.
RELATED: 2022 Visitor Checklist
Experience The County
Get to know The County on a deeper level by spending time with farmers, foragers and artists who are keen to share their love of land and local.
The Bloomin’ Welly Alpaca Trekk shows guests what they wouldn’t normally see on a farm tour, encouraging visitors to connect with the land and the animals and see how they work together. There’ll be plenty of time to spend with the alpacas, and guests will also be encouraged to keep a keen eye for how Noble Beast Farms works to create a welcoming environment to native flora and fauna, and give back to the land.
Bees and Blooms, offered by the Curious Goat General Store, lets guests see the world through a bee’s eyes, highlighting how the hive works together and pollinates the plants that put food on our tables. Guests will taste honey collected through the season, make their own bee balm, and plant or harvest from The People’s Garden, depending on the season. Guests have the option of adding a County-proud charcuterie-forward brunch.
Equine Soul Session invites guests to slow down at Heal with Horses, a non-profit therapeutic centre. Guests will walk back to a clearing in the woods, where they’ll be introduced to tree meditation and horse activities, including delivering a massage to the horses using special grooming gloves and special techniques. This is a powerful experience, surrounded by these huge but gentle beasts! This is about horse encounters, country food and quiet walks.
PAUSE at Melt Studio Gallery. Pause starts with the Japanese tradition of shin-rin yoku or forest bathing. You’ll be led on a meditative nature walk by a local herbalist who will help you to connect to nature, identifying local plants, and teaching you about their medicinal and healing properties. The idea is that you will feel a sense of calm and clarity that will inspire a piece of art that you create yourself. After your nature walk, you will then return to Melt studio, where you will compose a collage encaustic painting under the guidance of Susan Wallis, an experienced encaustic artist. You’ll create an original art piece using items collected during your walk.
See a Show and Take in Some Tunes
Entertainment is back in The County! There are shows galore planned for this year, from live music and comedy to the Festival Players’ chockablock season. Check out our event listing for a full round-up of reservable activities for your visit.
Go for a Float
See the sights of Picton Harbour with Captain Larry or Captain Mike at Picton Harbour Pontoon Boat Tours. There are plenty of sailing and charter options available if you’re aiming to get on the water. Check out our blog on ways to go beyond the beach.
For kayaking and canoeing, make a reservation with Cabin Fever Kayaks or PEC Kayaks and refer to our blog on where to canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard for where to get on the water.
Ride a Horse
Book a trail ride with Diamond J Ranch. Enjoy a scenic mountain ride through fields and woods overlooking Picton Bay. They cater to families and groups, and inexperienced riders are welcome. Pony rides are available for the little ones. Farm tours can also be booked at Lamb’s Quarters Farm in Picton and Campbell’s Orchards on the shores of the Bay of Quinte.
Tee up a wine tour
Hoping to set up a tasting tour of County wineries or cideries? Download the new Wine Explorer app from the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association. The app can match your personal wine preferences with bottles on offer at local wineries. It also includes detailed profiles, as well as lists of unique – and bookable! – wine activities and elevated tastings. Discover which wineries will welcome your dog.
Escape Camp Picton
If you truly want to escape, we’ve got you covered! Escape Camp Picton, located at The County’s authentic WWII era gunnery training school, is launching an outdoor escape room in 2021, plus two indoor escapes for you and your bubble. This unique escape room takes inspiration from its location – blending heritage, history and an unforgettable game experience.
Looking for more ideas? We have lots of trip planning information here.
By Sue Hierlihy (Updated April 2022)
How to ‘Experience’ The County
Want to go beyond the tasting room or dining room and dive deep into The County? There are plenty of workshops and experiences to help you get immersed in art, agriculture, food, beverage, nature and history.
A couple highlights:
Littlejohn Farm is run by Zach and Luhana Littlejohn, a couple with deeply green thumbs and a commitment to sustainable living. At their farm just outside of Picton, they offer farm-to-table workshops in charcuterie, sourdough, cheese making and pickling. Zach, a trained chef and sommelier, usually puts his skills to use with a back garden dinner following the class.
Quinta do Conde is a farm-to-table experience offering slow, Mediterranean-style dinners where almost all the ingredients come from less than 100 metres away. Joaquim and Amor have an impressive operation, with a summer camp that connects kids with agriculture, a fully stocked farm stand (where there’s olive oil on tap from their small orchard in Portugal!) and a pop-up sandwich shop in the summer.
Food & Beverage
The Old Third is a winery/cidery that’s offering a behind-the-scenes tour with their winemaker and dinner at their home, at a table that’s essentially in the lake.
Black River B&B is run by two former employees of the Royal Ontario Museum and they do a decadent High Tea that comes with a side of history about glass and ceramics, featuring their own extensive antiques collection.
Spark Box Studio offers print-making and screening workshops, as well as a new lithography workshop. Their studio is an Instagrammer’s dream and their screen-printing workshop based on iconic County buildings let’s you put a piece of The County on a T-shirt, tote or papryus. Tiny Regent Theatres for everyone!
History & Heritage
There’s a new Escape Room at Macaulay Heritage Park and the puzzle hinges on the true story of Reverend William Macaulay neglecting to pay his servants. Guests have 60 minutes to scour the museum for clues to help a servant find a treasure hidden in the historic house. If you’ve ever wanted to step back in time and handle all the artifacts, this is for you!
Cabin Fever Kayak is a new kayak rental place on the Black River, a burgeoning neighbourhood of The County where you’ll find cheese, art, farm stands and farm-to-table feasts only a paddle away.
PEPtBO, or the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, is offering “South Shore Safari” tours, a chance to get out and spot the flora, fauna and feathered friends of The County with an expert guide. The County is a birder’s paradise, with the South Shore recognized as an Important Birding Area due to its position as a way-station for migratory birds crossing the lake. In spring, we’re awash with warblers and 140 species of birds. In fall, owls and raptors touch down.