prince edward county ontario

How to spend a weekend in Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County in Ontario was once considered a sleepy vacation destination for weekenders from out of town.

Rolling hills, historic towns, and white sand beaches drew people from all around the province for quiet escapes in the rustic countryside. While its easy going appeal still rings true, the landscape has steadily been transforming over the past two decades.

Today, PEC's viticulture and gastronomy boom have contributed to its skyrocketing popularity. The relatively new wine region saw 40 wineries emerge in just 20 years.

Chefs and sommeliers are moving from big cities to The County. The art scene is thriving, and the hospitality industry has taken notice, with old buildings being renovated into contemporary hotels.

From vineyard-hopping to sightseeing in provincial parks, gastro-tourism to perusing antique markets, PEC might just have something for everyone.

Here's how to spend a weekend in Prince Edward County.

9 a.m. - Grab breakfast in downtown Wellington

Creekside Cafe is a newcomer to the small town of Wellington, but is already making waves. Having opened in Spring 2022, this Instagrammable spot serves brunch classics with a twist.

They only take walk-ins and can get busy, but their waffles topped with Chantilly cream are worth the wait.

11 a.m. - Check out Wellington Rotary Beach

After breakfast, stroll past the downtown shops to Wellington Rotary Beach. This stony beach has a boardwalk, lighthouse, and picnic tables to rest at while taking in the views of Lake Ontario.

12 p.m. - Rent bicycles and explore wine country

One of the main draws of PEC is its wine region, and what better way to explore it than cycling from winery to winery? Closson Road Cycles provides bike rentals in the heart of wine country, starting at $45 for a standard bike for the day.

They also have tandem and e-bikes for rent, and even a tricycle if you're unsure of your abilities after all the tastings you’ll be doing.

There are countless wineries to visit that are a short pedal away from Closson Road Cycles. Closson Chase Vineyards is across the street, and from there, you can follow a loop through Lacey Estates Winery, Hinterland, Karlo Estates, and Sugarbush Vineyards, to name a few.

1 p.m. - Have a gourmet lunch at a winery

Fuel up between tastings with a winery lunch, and see how symbiotic the food and wine culture are in The County. The Old Third has an incredible pasta bar on site, with a rotating menu using seasonal ingredients.

At Grange Winery, the outdoor kitchen's menu was built by top chef and personality Matt DeMille, offering casual eats like brisket barbacoa tacos or tofu banh mi bowls.

3 p.m. - Check-in to a boutique motel and relax

With no shortage of trendy accommodations, choosing the perfect place to rest your head in PEC won't be hard.

In Wellington, Drake Motor Inn is a fun retro-themed lodge steps away from the downtown restaurants and shops. In Picton, consider The Manse, a b&b style inn with an onsite spa.

6 p.m. - Marvel at a natural wonder

Head to Glenora and admire the curiosity that is Lake on the Mountain, a lake sitting 62 meters above the Bay of Quinte. This fresh body of water has no apparent source, sparking legends and folklore of its origin. It's fascinating to view the elevated lake on one side of the road, and the Bay of Quinte on the other way down below.

7 p.m. - Indulge in a locally-sourced meal for dinner

Back in Wellington, East and Main is a great pick for nourishment after a long day of exploring. Their cozy environment and tastefully curated menu justifies the long wait times to get a table.

For a more casual but still-delicious bite, La Condesa's tacos down the road have rave reviews.

9 p.m. - End the day with a handcrafted nightcap

Finish your evening off with one last stop at Koenji, a cool Japanese-inspired whisky bar with a range of interesting cocktails such as their Sake Sangria.

The Russ & Co. in Picton also has an impressive list of signature cocktails in an intimate speakeasy-style setting.

9 a.m. - Wake up with espresso from Italy

Piccolina Mercato almost always has a line-up out the door, for good reason. With fresh pastries made daily, pantry items imported from Italy, and traditional colazione (espresso and dolce), stopping by this small market is a surefire great start to your day.

10 a.m. - See The County's white sand beaches

A trip to The County isn't complete without a visit to the beach, no matter what season it is. Sandbanks Provincial Park is a must, known for its expansive white sand beaches and rolling dunes.

North Beach Provincial Park is less frequented than Sandbanks but just as spectacular, with a ribbon of fine sand stretching over 1km long.

12 p.m. - Lunch in Bloomfield

Bloomfield Public House is the place to go if you're craving small gastropub-style plates. They also have a market section with fresh produce, prepared foods, and baked goods. Don't miss their famous fried chicken.

1 p.m. - Search for treasure at the antique shops

Retro-lovers rejoice, as The County is a treasure-trove for vintage finds. Check out Stowaway Vintage in Cherry Valley and browse everything from upcycled furniture to antique comic books.

3 p.m. - Snack on a homemade butter tart

Make your way to Waupoos for the afternoon, but before anything else, pull over at the unassuming Waupoos Tarts shed. Inside, you'll find self-serve fridges with some of the best butter tarts around.

4 p.m. - Wander around Waupoos Estates Winery

Waupoos Estates Winery has one of the most picturesque settings in PEC, sitting lakeside on over 100 acres. Roam around the grounds and sip on a glass of wine by the water before visiting their bottle shop and chocolate store on your way out.

5 p.m. - See the Millenium Trail

Nearly 50 kilometers in length, the Millenium Trail is a linear park that runs through a good portion of The County from Carrying Place to Picton. Passing wineries, vistas, and natural landscapes, you can access the trail from multiple points and walk or cycle for as long as you like.

7 p.m. - Get a wood-fired meal at Flame + Smith

For dinner, head over to Flame + Smith in Bloomfield. They specialize in wood-fired dishes created with local and sustainable ingredients.

Try to save room for dessert; the hardest decision is choosing between their peach cobbler or burnt basque cheesecake.

Lead photo by

Ron Bulovs

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