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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.
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.
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!
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.
What to get up to this February in The County ❄🍷
After a long January, restrictions are gradually easing and The County is reopening, ready for plenty of winter fun. If you have a visit planned this month, if you live in the area and are looking for a fun weekend activity, or if you just want to experience the joys of February in The County second hand, read on.
This information is accurate as of February 1st, 2022. As always, we recommend checking in directly with operators as this information is subject to change. Visit our COVID-19 page for more information.
Reminder: as of January 4th 2022, enhanced vaccine passports with a scannable QR code are required for indoor dining and locations such as recreational facilities. Further to that, some businesses are going above and beyond to keep the community safe, so we ask that individual requirements are respected at all times.
A Vintner Winter
The vines may be resting under a comfortable blanket of snow and earth, but many wineries will be serving up pours in their tasting rooms this February. Be sure to download the PEC Wine Explorer App before you visit to plan your trip and explore Prince Edward County Wineries (and Cideries!) by region, style and more. As always, check in with wineries before visiting via the app or Instagram to confirm operations and open hours, and be sure to make a reservation where necessary. You can also start your planning right here on VisitPEC.ca by checking out the wine section of our website for inspiration.
Hit the Trail
If you’re looking to get outside while you’re here, there are plenty of ways you can do so. Fancy giving snowshoeing a try? Head to Sugarbush Vineyards where you can rent snowshoes for $20, which includes a wine tasting and hot chocolate (weekends only). Or you can participate in a guided 3km snowshoeing walk at Three Dog Winery on weekends throughout February, which includes snowshoes and a glass of wine. Also keep an eye out for foodie pop-ups at Three Dog to complete your experience.
Snowshoeing not your thing? There are plenty of other ways to get outdoors. Why not bring your cross country skis and plan a trip down the Millennium Trail? Or how about pack your best snow boots and go for a winter hike at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area or at the Sandbanks Dunes Trail (the parking lot at Dunes is now maintained in the winter). If you plan to head out in winter, though, be sure to plan your route ahead of time, make sure your phone is charged, dress warmly and ensure you head out with plenty of daylight left – it’s easy to get turned around on trails, especially after fresh snowfall.
Plan an Escape
Escape Camp Picton is reopening for the 2022 season with a special Family Day Weekend event! Join them for an escape between February 11 and 14 and enjoy an extra special post-game celebration with a hot chocolate buffet and a make-your-own puzzle kit to take home with you.
Want to escape Camp Picton from the comfort of home? They also have a handcrafted at-home puzzle box available for purchase – perfect for cozy snow day weekends or evenings spent back at your accommodations.
Hit the Ice
If you haven’t heard, Parsons Brewing Company‘s covered ice rink is open daily for the season and it’s more epic than ever! Whether you want to play some shinny or you just want to skate, this family-friendly activity makes for a perfect winter outing, especially when paired with their rink-side snacks – we’re talking emanadas, grilled cheese and roast tomato soup, served alongside their wide selection of beers and coffee (with Bailey’s!) if you’re feeling the chill. They even have hot chocolate and s’mores kits for the kids (and big kids) who want to have some fun by the fire pit after a good skate. Be sure to follow them on Instagram for daily updates on rink conditions as well as for rink rules.
Speaking of ice, if you are visiting a beach during winter be sure to stay off the shore ice as this is known to be dangerous, even in the coldest weather. Also, unless you are with a guide or familiar with ice conditions in the area, any lake ice should be considered unsafe. Stick to shore and stay safe.
If skating’s not your thing but you’re still chasing classic “apres” vibes and craft beer, there’s plenty of options for you! Gillingham Brewing has a fabulous winter patio setup (complete with Oysters!), Prince Eddy’s will be serving up pours both in and outdoors, Matron Fine Beer has a sweet sheltered back patio, and Slake comes complete with many fire pits to share the warmth alongside their gorgeous views – but don’t worry, their indoor seating is also open if you want the views without the windchill.
Go Back in Time
It’s Flashback February at The County Museums, which means we have plenty opportunities to engage with the history and heritage of Prince Edward County through talks, performances and more. The 2022 event (February 19-27) will include a combination of in-person and virtual offerings including a historic barn tour at Karlo Estates Winery (multiple in-person dates), a Photos and Follies exhibit at North Marysburgh Town Hall, an exhibit on the “social media” of early Prince Edward County, a virtual historic cooking presentation, and more. Check out the Flashback February website for more details.
Indoor dining is back, and your favourite County restaurants are ready to welcome you (at limited capacity for now). Not only are the all-season restaurants open again, but so are the restaurants that typically close in January like La Condesa, Flame + Smith and The Marans Dinebar. (note: some restaurants operate seasonally and will open again in the spring, so we still recommend confirming operations before setting your heart on a particular spot!) If you’re planning a foodie trip be sure to make a reservation where possible or plan in advance to potentially wait a for a table (though wait times in February are typically much less than in summer, reduced capacity make affect wait times). Looking for a unique Friday night dining experience? Book a Fondue Friday at The Eddie. Wanting to experience the newest of the new? be sure to book a spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner at The Royal Hotel, the reimagined historical gem of Picton Main Street.
Here for Valentine’s Day? Many spots are offering special pre-fixe menus for your romantic celebrations. So be sure to check out the restaurants on your wish list on social media to see what feasts they have dreamed up for the day of love.
Winter with Lakeside
If you’re looking for a family and pet-friendly winter outing, why not head to The Lakeside Motel in Wellington? They have a few epic weekends planned on their property. Swing by to enjoy live music, their new food truck and their cozy heated enclosure alongside their epic lake views. Check out our event listings for more information.
Visit a Gallery
February is a great time to visit a Prince Edward County art gallery. Most galleries and studios are open weekends or by appointment, so we highly recommend discovering local artists through the County Arts Council and the Arts Trail before you visit. Once you’ve built your wish list, be sure to check in directly to confirm hours of operation or book an appointment before visiting.
If you want to take your appreciation of art outdoors, be sure to check out the sculpture garden at Oeno Gallery (yes, it’s open in winter, and yes it is magical – see the video from last year below!) or take a stroll just off Picton Main Street to Benson Park to enjoy fun installations by The Department of Illumination.
Take in a Concert
We’re excited for February to bring a return to in-person performance. If you’re a fan of Jazz, Big Lake Concerts has just the think for you. Be sure to get tickets to one of two seatings of SOA and Friends at The CAPE on February 24th. SOA covers a wide stylistic terrain from jazz, consistently enveloped by the warm and soulful voice of Chrystelle Maechler. Thompson Egbo-Egbo joins her on the piano and together they will deliver a rich evening of musical sounds and stories. Rooted in jazz, SOA features a mix of originals and fresh interpretations of outside material, in French, English, and sometimes German. “SOA” means “precious” in the language of Madagascar.
Plan Your 2022 Visit
If you don’t have a February visit planned but are feeling a little bit envious after reading about all of these amazing happenings in The County this month, let the inspiration strike! Now is the perfect time to start planning your 2022 visit. Take advantage of the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit and book somewhere to stay, discover more things to do, taste and experience and start building the a picture perfect PEC itinerary. Looking for more inspiration? Be sure to check out our blog.
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!
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.
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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Birding Festival Migrates Online
For ten years, the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory and community partners have celebrated spring migration with the Spring Birding Festival (SBF) each May. This year, the Festival is going virtual with a month-long webinar series and family-friendly activities sure to capture the magic of spring in the County.
- As a highlight, on May 19 at 7 PM, the Festival presents keynote speaker Julia Zarankin, best-selling author of Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder. A modest registration fee gives exclusive access to her presentation.
All other webinars are free and include:
- On May 5 at 7pm, Terry Sprague, “Keep it Natural and They Will Come” suggests how to build a garden to attract birds and butterflies.
- On May 8, at noon, Cheryl Chapman spotlights PEPtBO’s work in “All about the Bird Observatory”.
- On May 20 at 10am, Julie White, organic apiarist, explains “What Goes on in the Beehive”.
- On May 25 at 7pm, Kari Gunson, in partnership with Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, shows “How to use iNaturalist”.
For the little chicks and family
PEPtBO’s Get Out! Kids’ Club will offer hands-on family fun with nature-centered activities. As part of the Festival, on May 15, the Prince Edward County Library will hold a virtual Bird Adventure Storytime at 10:30am.
Two, unique family projects are also available to download : Bird Behaviour Scavenger Hunt and The Top Five Nature Challenge. In addition, families can register to receive a kit by mail containing birding activities, Junior Birder Journals, maps, sketch books – everything needed to take the family on outdoor family adventures this spring.
Details and registration information for all the events can be found at peptbo.ca/sbf .
About the Observatory
PEPtBO is a registered charity with the mandate to monitor, report on and promote analysis of bird migration and to act as official caretaker of the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.
Beyond the Beach: Where to Make Waves in Prince Edward County 🎣 🛶 ⛵
Sandwiched between Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte, with many rivers and lakes running through it, Prince Edward County is all about water, with more than 800 km of shoreline and tons of H20-based ways to enjoy it.
Here are a few beyond-the-beach ideas for water-playing your way around The County.
Prince Edward County was once a peninsula, until construction of the Murray Canal swing bridge in Carrying Place severed it from the main land. Sight-seeing by water offers a unique view — and is just as beautiful as from the land. It’s the perfect way to see birds and marine wildlife up close.
Easy Paddler: Cabin Fever Kayak or PEC Kayaks can set you afloat in a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board. Cabin Fever Kayak launches on picturesque Black River, with only the sounds and sights of nature as your companion. Wonderfully relaxing, it’s an eco-friendly way to explore coastal marshes and bucolic vistas. Paddle the meandering waterway six kilometres southwest into the nearby town of Milford. Head east into the waters of South Bay for a close-up of McMahon Bluffs, a protected nature reserve.
Bonus: Cabin Fever Kayak’s watercraft are made and sold in The County by Demorestville-based Clearwater Design. So, if you liked the test paddle, check them out, and take one home.
Hoist the Sails
Pull up anchor, raise the sails and catch the breeze. Sailing is a fun, often invigorating way, to enjoy The County by water.
Aye Aye Captain: Departing from Waupoos Marina, Stay and Sail offers private and group cruises (up to eight guests) aboard the Tzarina, a 34-ft. C&C sailboat. Captains Moira and Brent offer several cruising options, from a two-hour sail around the waters of South Bay to half and full-day excursions that include anchoring for swimming, snacks and light refreshments. There’s also a four-hour cruise that covers sailing basics.
Not ready to jump ship? Then spend the night, lulled to sleep by the gentle roll of the water, in one of two sailboats that Stay and Sail rents out as accommodation. Both are docked in the Waupoos Marina.
Wind And Water: Try a different kind of sail with AirTime Kiteboarding. The four-year-old company, based out of a private beach on West Lake near the Sandbanks, helps you harness wind power with kiteboarding lessons and rentals. Catamaran lessons and rentals are also available.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
Cast your line – and your luck – into the waters of Prince Edward County. Not only is Lake Ontario a plentiful fishing ground, but the Bay of Quinte – the Walleye Capital of the World — is an angler’s dream.
For Charter: Fish with the pros who know the waters and where and when and what to catch . Meal On A Reel Charters and Bay of Quinte Charters are just two of several fishing specialists who can help you hook walleye, salmon, lake trout, pickerel, bass and perch. Charter season runs May through to late November. Rods, bait, tackle, beverages and food are provided. All you need to bring is a valid fishing licence. For more charters, fishing and boating advice, see our complete listings.
Gear Up: Whether you arrived in The County rod-less, or just need bait, Wilki’s Tackle Box has every angler’s back, from novice to pro, with everything from rods and reels to minnows and worms. Canadian Tire in Picton is a reliable go-to as well. Not only is the fishing-gear department well stocked, but you can pick up a fishing licence if you don’t have one. There’s also plenty of other equipment to float a fun day on the water, from boats to inflatable toys.
Whether you’re a resident boater without a home dock, or a sail-in, motor-up or haul-your-own-watercraft visitor, The County has “boat parking” and several public launches. Pull up to the following locations:
Marina Moorings: In addition to offering public boat launches, Picton Marina and Harbour, Waupoos Marina and Wellington Harbour provide overnight and seasonal docking with access to hydro and water, fuel, washrooms and showers, and pump-out facilities (Picton and Waupoos only). The Glenora Marina is an excellent stop for fuel, rentals and repairs.
Float Your Boat: There are also eight municipal boat launches conveniently located around The County’s most popular bodies of water. Sites include Big Island, East Lake, Northport, Prinyer’s Cove, Rossmore, Weller’s Bay, and Wellington Beach.
Non-motorized watercraft have launching options, too. Many are located in conservation parks, including Massassauga Point, where parking is $5 for the day. Or municipal boat launches, such as H.J. McFarland or Glendon Green, where parking is $10. For a fee, non-motorized watercraft can also be launched onto the Black River from Cabin Fever Kayak.
Ahoy Sailors: Sail into Prince Edward Yacht Club and dock awhile. Located on picturesque Picton Harbour, downtown Picton’s restaurants, shops and art galleries are within easy strolling distance. Guests from other sailing clubs enjoy reciprocal docking privileges.
Kid-perfect: Sand-and-surfed out, but the water-babies are still clamouring for a good soaking? Try the nautical-themed Picton Splash Pad, located at the Picton Fairgrounds, adjacent to the glorious Crystal Palace. Please note COVID protocols in advance of your visit. You can also picnic there, with bring-your-own grub, or grab takeout from across the street at Angry Birds, PEC’s answer to Swiss-Chalet-St. Hubert.
There are also many ways to appreciate PEC’s marine beauty without dipping toes, rods, paddles, sails or motors into the water. Here are a few land-lubber options:
Marine Museum-hopping: Explore The County’s symbiotic relationship with the waters that surround it at two great museums. Located in South Bay, Mariners Park Museum, with its distinctive lighthouse and recreated circa-War of 1812 fort, is home to many recovered shipwreck treasures and tales of fishing, ship-building, rum-running and more.
The Naval Marine Archive: The Canadian Collection in downtown Picton celebrates marine and naval history. The museum houses an art gallery, ship models and plans, books and nautical papers, charts and more.
On The Menu: A County dining must-try is the local, fresh-water catch-of-the-day, often perch or pickerel. And, of course, all food tastes better enjoyed with a side of waterfront!
Check out these restaurants for their beautiful waterscape panoramas, all unique in their own way: County Cider Company (Lake Ontario), Drake Devonshire Inn (Lake Ontario), The Lighthouse Restaurant (Picton Harbour), The Restaurant at Waupoos Winery (Lake Ontario), The Restaurant on the Knoll at Isaiah Tubbs (West Lake), and The View at Picton Golf and Country Club (Picton Bay).
For classic County-caught fish and chips, try the Blue Sail on Main Street Picton, which has a fish market attached. Or Sand & Pearl, voted one of Canada’s best new restaurants by en Route magazine and a smorgasbord of delights from the sea.
By Karen Orme, owner/operator Runaway Rooster
14 Routes for Running in Prince Edward County 👟
If you pack your running shoes when you gear up for a weekend away, you’re in luck: running in The County mixes clean country air with the high likelihood of spotting local wildlife while avoiding vehicles along the roads.
Here are some routes suggested by Tim Johnson, technical advisor to The County Marathon.
The Millennium Trail is a repurposed rail bed that winds from Picton to Carrying Place, covering approximately 49 km of relatively flat terrain. More than 10 kilometres of the path has been fully redeveloped in and around Wellington, and passes close to Hubbs Creek winery, as well as the Wellington golf course. For the most part, the trail is sheltered with sumac and buckthorn and a good place to spot birds, cyclists, ATVers and horseback riders. In the winter it’s popular with skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers. Outside of the refurbished section, the trail is better suited to trail runners, Johnson says, as the surface is uneven in places with some patches of loose gravel. Additional sections of the trail are scheduled for improvements later this year – learn Everything You Need to Know about the Millennium Trail here.
Pedestrians don’t need a permit to enter Sandbanks Provincial Park, so if the location of your accommodations and your running stamina align to reach the park, you’ll find a wide variety of roads and trails of varying levels of difficulty. Stop in at the Park office for suggestions and a map.
Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area is one of the few places in the otherwise even County to get in some hill running. A map at the park’s entrance show hiking trails, but be aware that it’s easy to get turned around (although arguably just as easy to find your footing, if relaxed and using common sense). These are underdeveloped trails, so be prepared for challenging terrain.
The Picton Town Loop starts at the wonky intersection at the top of the town hill (Bridge and Main Streets), heads east to Johnson, south to Hill Street, north up Spencer (past the Beer Store), through the industrial park back around to Johnson, south to Barker, west to Downes, south to Short Street to Washburn to Main. Proceed west on the sidewalk to Lake Street (the lights at the LCBO), south to West Mary, east to Ferguson and north to the War Memorial. Another turn to the south puts you back on Mary St, which you can follow down past Delhi Park (becomes York Street) to Pitt Street where you turn east past the Courthouse to Union where a turn to the north takes you back to Bridge Street and the town hill. That’s about a 5.5 km loop and a great way to see some of the Loyalist architecture that’s the pride of Picton.
The Mountain Loop is an 8-km run, going south from the wonky intersection to Union to Church Street, up the “mountain,” past the former army base, back down Lake Street, and winding down the back roads or straight along Main Street to end where you started. The mountain is a challenging climb – it goes on forever! – but it affords some beautiful views of picturesque Picton. Stop in at the Millennium Lookout park for a peek, particularly as the sun is rising.
For those looking to put on a few more kilometres, head from Picton out to the Glenora Ferry. You are sharing the road with traffic, but there is a wide paved shoulder. Wild turkeys a common sight along the route as the road twists and rolls along the south side of Prince Edward Bay offering sights of the water, the cement plant and numerous farms and country properties. The trip is 9-km one way to the ferry, where you can see the grist mill once operated by John A. Macdonald’s ancestors.
If you are looking for an even longer run, head west from Picton following Lake Street to Ridge Road, onto Shannon Road and onto Marisett Rd. That will get you 11.5 km. From there, you can either head to Sandbanks Provincial Park – a further 6 km on a sometimes busy road with a wide paved shoulder – or turn around and run back up East Lake Road, being careful of heavy boater, camper and tourist traffic. Since these runs involve roads with heavy traffic, Johnson says they’re best enjoyed earlier in the day when the rest of the world is still in bed!
Around Wellington, you can’t go wrong or get lost just looping around the village. A run down the main drag – from the Timmy’s in the east end to the LCBO in the west – is about 3 km.
In wine country, it’s possible to run from Hubbs Creek, along Danforth Road to Greer Road, home to Casa Dea and Rosehall Run, looping back to Danforth to visit Traynor Family Vineyard, then over to Benway Road, going north to Trail Estate Winery and Hinterland and then northeast across the Golden Mile, aka Closson Road, where you’ll find the Grange of Prince Edward, Lacey Estates, Closson Chase Vineyard, Broken Stone Winery, Gravel Hill Vineyards and The Old Third. The caution, of course, is to drink plenty of water. But be warned that the roads tend to be narrow and gravel, which are not ideal running conditions, especially in heavy tourist traffic. Use the Millennium Trail again here if you’re looking to set up your own trail-based pub crawl.
In Bloomfield, running brings a chance for bucolic country scenes: rolling hills and lush, green fields. Try heading north on Corey Street (aka County Road 30) to Highway 1, south down Matthie Road and back along Highway 62 into Bloomfield. Gilead Road is another beautiful there-and-back run that passes some beautiful farms and is particularly gorgeous as the sun is setting. There’s also the triangle that’s formed when Shannon meets County Road 12 and County Rd 32, on the east side of town.
Join The County Marathon, a Boston qualifier that’s fairly flat (and therefore fast), fully closed off from traffic, near the cooling effect of the lake and fully equipped with washrooms, water and transport for spectators. “It’s a small town race with a lot of amenities,” Johnson says. The run takes place October 4, 2020 and is open to runners, walkers and wheeled athletes.
Register early for Terroir Run, the annual wine run that fills up fast every year. And no wonder: the run goes through the heart of wine country and a gastronomic feast awaits at the finish line, featuring some of The County’s best wines, beers and ciders and a chef-prepared dream meal.
Take on the Wellington Women’s Half Marathon (or the half-half, aka a 10-km run) designed for runners or walkers who want to enjoy the experience of the route just outside Wellington. The run takes place early June and to set the tone, race kit pick-up takes place at Sandbanks Winery and includes a complimentary tasting. There’s Zumba as a warm-up at the starting line and a firefighter send off to set the pace. The run provides lots of support – and sugary treats await finishers!
Join in the Sandbanks Fun Run, a 10-km run through the park, usually held in September.
The County encourages the spirit of discovery and there are plenty of routes for adventurous runners and joggers to try. Keep a calm demeanor when meeting wildlife, stay on marked paths and trails and take plenty of water. Johnson notes that areas around Waupoos better for hikers and walkers, given the road conditions and the unevenness of the terrain.
For those adventurous “soles” who like to explore the trails, beware The County is home to abundant poison ivy and ticks – but with proper caution both can be avoided.
An informal running group meets in Picton on Thursday nights for a “come as you are” run and Sundays at West Lake for a run through Sandbanks Provincial Park. Email Tim Johnson for more details.
Updated March 2021