Our top 5 reasons why we love PEC
In the heart of summer, most Ontarians are on the move enjoying weekends away or spending their entire summer holidays at cottages or quaint B&Bs. After a long Canadian winter, it is the ultimate way to enjoy the long-awaited season. From the fresh water lakes in cottage country to the slow-paced country charm that pervades the more rural parts of the province, we thought we would take a little trip to one of our favourite Ontario destinations, just two hours east of Toronto. While most of you have visited Prince Edward County, (PEC)–or at least heard of it!—we are big fans of the area and want to share our top five reasons why we love going, and why no summer is complete without spending some quality time in The County.
Gastronomy & Viticulture
We are foodies and love to pair our al fresco meals with some locally made wine. The County was named the gastronomic capital of Ontario by The Globe and Mail, and we couldn’t agree more. Local ingredients meet global flavours in PEC’s diverse restaurants where chef-driven restaurants change menus according to season (as they should); and with more than 40 wineries in the area at last count, a multitude of farm-to-table restaurants—it’s a culinary haven. The viticulture is real.
The area’s limestone-rich soils create an unmistakable taste of place and produce a wide range of award-winning wines. The region has come a long way from 1993, when Waupoos Estate was the first winery in Prince Edward County. Back then, it was the established Niagara region that put Ontario wine makers on the map.
We spoke with Kyle Baldwin, general manager of Waupoos, about the region’s evolution and the distinguishing factors between PEC and Niagara. “There is a different feel here, it is more spread out, so you have to take a tour to find a winery.” They are also smaller with an intimate, casual mom-and-pop shop vibe.
We urge you to set out and discover as many wineries in the area and enjoy some local fare. You can expand your knowledge of spirits by visiting The County’s distillery, cideries and meet some of the makers and crafters of local cocktails. Salut!
Beaches and Water Views
Sandbanks Beach is an all-time favourite. The first time I went to Sandbanks, it was a hot July day and the white sand and turquoise water made me feel like I was in the Caribbean somewhere. Don’t take my word for it…the County’s sand dunes have been an attraction since the early 1800s. The dunes, formed by glaciers 12,500 years ago, are the world’s largest bay-mouth dune barrier formation, stretching 12km across Lake Ontario. This is a highly popular beach location and on a hot summer day, can reach capacity by 10 a.m. If you’re not an early bird, there are two other beaches in the Sandbanks Provincial Park you can check out: Dunes Beach and Outlet Beach.
Of course, there are other beaches across the region that are not close to Sandbanks. These include: North Beach, located in North Beach Provincial Park and Wellington Beach, which is walking distance from downtown Wellington.
If you’re not a beach bunny but still want to enjoy some spectacular views, you can do some shoreline exploring by renting a kayak. Or indulge in a private or group sailing tour and enjoy a two-hour sail around the waters of South Bay. There are also half and full-day excursions that include anchoring for swimming, snacks and light refreshments.
Not ready to jump ship? You can also spend the night and sleep by the gentle roll of the water, in one of two sailboats that Stay and Sail rents out as your overnight accommodation. Both are docked in the Waupoos Marina.
Art, History & Nature
Art is everywhere in the County. Throughout the nine regions in the municipality you can walk the towns and the backroads and find galleries and rustic barn studios. Art lives in gardens, and walls and in the wineries. Check out the Oeno Gallery at Huff Estates. You can feed all your senses with music and live theatre too…and oh yeah, there’s an arts trail where you can soak in all the art of the region and take a piece home with you too.
History buffs will enjoy exploring The County’s rich past at six museum sites featuring everything from Indigenous history to treasures of the waterways to a pioneer village.
Nature lovers are in for a treat too as you can reconnect with nature by hiking, cycling, canoeing or fishing in and around The County’s 800 km of shoreline.
The vast farmland, bay shore views and teeny towns of Ameliasburgh and Sophiasburg contrast the bustle of the Main Streets of Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington. Hillier, Waupoos and the South Shore are havens for agricultural and craft beverage experiences, this cluster of small hamlets and villages has so much to offer.
We could go on forever but we think you should just go now and explore the bounty of the county for yourself. Happy travels!