Prince Edward County is the latest getaway trend for us city folk. You have your choice of wineries, breweries, markets and hey, Countylicious is even starting soon! (April 6-29, countylicious.com).
About a two and a half hour drive from Toronto (and a stop at the giant Apple) later, we pulled up to the beautiful Hayes Inn. It’s a beautiful grand colonial home that was built in 1838 and perfectly located. A short drive away will get you to Waupoo’s, Sandbank Provincial Park and downtown Picton. Oh, and did I mention the delicious locally sourced food that gets served up for breakfast? I’ve had everything from home made poptarts (I still dream about them) to Croque Madame’s. Also, full disclosure, the Inn may or may not be owned by one of my very best and talented friends. Who may or may not also own this blog. Anyway.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit the County a few times now since Katie and Mike made the leap to B&B ownership. If you’re getting a little tired of wine country meaning Niagara on the Lake to you, PEC is definitely a fun change of pace.
Spring is here (sort of) and the idea of a romantic weekend getaway or even girls trip always intensifies with the sun and flowers blooming. I have a little list of some of my personal favourite hot spots in the County if you’re looking to explore somewhere new and local.
If you’ve read my last few entries, you’ve probably seen that I’m new to the wine scene after my fiancé got me into it a bit more (I’m usually more of a craft beer gal) I love that this place is owned by women! Last time we attended we were walked through a tasting by Maggie who was so friendly and knowledgeable. It’s on a beautiful property and you can enjoy a drink or two by huge windows looking out onto a scenic rustic barn by a pond. Also, their logo is so chic that I had to buy a shirt! You can grab it on their website along with some of their fan favourite wines. (That sparkling Riesling and ‘Bunny’ wine have caught my eye!)
VISIT DRAKE DEVONSHIRE FOR DINNER
You know a region is hip when a Drake hotel pops up. The 11 room inn is only a few years old and located lakeside in beautiful Wellington. The atmosphere is fun and romantic, everything from interesting art to look at to a black and white photo booth to make silly faces in. Show up early and enjoy a drink in the ‘backyard’. There are plenty of seats (or hey, let’s just call them what they are, logs) by the bonfire with a stunning view of the lake. The restaurant has great service and has something for everyone. Charcuterie boards, mussels, burgers, duck confit salad, cheese boards and ‘opera cake’. (Entrées are between $22-$48). Reservations are highly recommended as we had to go pretty late in the evening. You can easily book a spot on their website.
LUNCH AT WAUPOO’S MARKET PUB & EATERY
This gem is a family owned pub you can walk to from the Hayes Inn. Located on the main floor of a typical county house, the pub prides itself on serving local goods (the family owns a commercial fishery, so if you’re into the fresh catch of the day, be sure to order the fish!) and local brews (Hello, Prince Eddy!) This time around I had the burger (fresh beef from a nearing farm) and really enjoyed it. The service was fantastic and if you want to feel like you’re part of the family, be sure to check it out. When the weather warms up, they have a great patio space too. Nothing like enjoying a pitcher of beer in the sunshine. If you’re in the county over the week, they have a Wednesday wing’s night with musical guest.
SANDBANKS PROVINCIAL PARK ( https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/sandbanks )
Care to go for a dip? A short drive away will get you to an expansive beach that some say rank up there with the best in Ontario. The lake sure is chilly (we braved the cold) and if just relaxing on the beach isn’t your thing, there are some nearby trails to walk around the park and apparently it’s a great spot for bird watchers, it’s a bird migration hot spot in the spring and fall, so keep your eyes peeled.
PRINCE EDDY’S BREWERY
We were so impressed by this space! Coming up to its first year anniversary, the Prince Eddy is a Hawaiian/Beach themed brewery situated in Picton’s Industrial Park, has a giant patio and second floor seating that looks more like a games room. Our table enjoyed an impromptu ping pong tournament between pints. Some of our favourite brews were Your Boy Blue-Berry Wheat, Honey IPA and Milkshaka Stout. They had Jerkebago serving up some delicious jerk wings and pulled pork outside and it really was a wonderful pairing with the craft brews (www.jerkebago.ca). Also, we heard a little rumour that a beach volleyball court will be added on the property just in time for summer. I can see this place being a hot spot in PEC this tourist season, and well deserved.
BRUNCH AT THE VIC
The Vic is situated in downtown Picton right next door to the movie theatre. It came highly recommend by the Hayes Inn and while it is very small (I think it had 4 or 5 tables along with bar seating), it is mighty. Brunch is served on Sunday’s only from 9- 2. The coffee served here was just what we needed first thing in the morning, and I enjoyed the Elvis Sandwich (Nutella, bananas, and almonds on challah bread) and Leo loved his Huevo’s Ranchero’s bowl (scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, guac, rice, sour cream with crispy corn tostadas). The place itself is beautifully decorated (very instagrammable, reminded me of a café I would see in Toronto) and heads up; it will most likely be busy, so prepare for a little wait! We only waited about 15 minutes. Prices for brunch were from $6-$15, so not only are the dishes delicious, they won’t break the bank.
VISIT THE LAKE ON THE MOUNTAIN – AND GRAB THE MOST DELICIOUS MEAT & CHEESE BOARD YOU’VE EVER HAD!
Okay, so there’s a lake on a mountain top in PEC, and apparently the lake defies all known geographical and geological theory, aka: it shouldn’t even be there, it doesn’t make sense! This mysterious lake has a constant flow of fresh water yet no visible water source. Very strange, indeed. It’s a beautiful sight to behold and after you’re done racking your brain for possible answers as to how this lake got on top of a huge mountain, stop by the Miller House right across the road.
We’ve stopped here multiple times for two reasons. 1) Best charcuterie boards we’ve ever, ever, ever had and 2) their patio has a beautiful view from the top of the mountain onto the lake below (watch the ferries go back and forth!). This can be a hot spot in the spring and summer and they don’t take reservations. Every time we’ve gone, we’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a coveted seat on their patio, so to me, this is a must see.
Shout out to great local places and products like Barley Days Brewery their oyster stout was surprisingly refreshing , Koopman’s Maple Mountain maple syrup ( you can conveniently buy this liquid gold at the house just down the road from the Hayes Inn and at multiple locations in PEC) We got to see Chris Koopman’s syrup sugar shack nestled away in the Picton woods and he gave us a great tour and a little more understanding on just what it takes to collect all the fresh sap and syrup, read more about Chris here : http://theroyalagriculturalwinterfair.tumblr.com/post/121376550486/ask-a-royal-champion-chris-koopmans-maple
And the greatest butter tarts (those walnut maples ones, tho!) and Kettle corn I’ve ever had at the Sunnydale Farms walk in! Coming from the city, I always feel weird about unattended shops, but you just walk into this converted shed, help yourself to whatever you want and leave cash behind. It’s located a short drive away from the Hayes Inn as well.
There are so many other suggestions I could list here, but I feel like the post would go on forever! Why not check out the area for yourself? For more on Prince Edward County check out their official site, and who knows, we might even run into each other this Spring? ( http://www prince-edward-county.com/)
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.