We recently visited Prince Edward County for the second time, and I’m already planning our third. Living in Toronto, it gives our family an escape from the hustle and bustle, but having grown up in a small town in the Ottawa Valley, I also feel instantly at peace in cottage country. There are both wide-open spaces and walkable towns with all the amenities you could ask for, farm stands and gourmet restaurants, busy beaches and quiet woodland trails. In short, it’s the best of all worlds.
PEC has more of a hip young vibe than established cottaging areas such as Muskoka and Georgian Bay. Even if “The County” may get overrun by tourists in the summer, it never feels inauthentic. Walking our dog early in the morning, residents starting their day passed us with a good-morning wave as if we were longtime neighbours. At the brewpub patio, the clientele ran from families with highchairs, to groups of girlfriends dressed to the nines, to locals with dogs sprawled under the tables. Everyone feels welcome.
There are excellent accommodations, restaurants and activities to be found in Prince Edward County, and events and festivals are held all through the year. Here are some of the spots we have loved, plus a few extras for the to-do list:
Where to Stay
The vacation rental business is booming in PEC, particularly in summer, with in-demand spots filling up months in advance. In addition to private rentals, websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and property management companies like Sandbanks Vacations & Tours have many options available.
Tucked away off the main road of Bloomfield with picturesque farms as neighbours, the compound of Angeline’s includes small cabins, renovated motel rooms and traditional suites. Good luck getting your kids out of the front porch’s hammock!
Running seasonally from May to October, this cottage resort is situated around a bay on the inland East lake (warmer than Lake Ontario) near Sandbanks Provincial Park. The resort has a full calendar of activities plus a private beach and boat docks, pool and splash pad, sports courts and recreation centre, and more.
The ladies behind this ultra-cute former roadside motel in Picton are now stars of a Netflix show that follows their continuing renovation adventures.
Located in the quiet marina area of Wellington, this small group of cabins is a comfortable place to relax along the shore, go for a boat trip and walk around town.
Where To Eat
This cute little café close to the lake in Wellington serves homemade baked goods, locally-made food products and juices, and the all-important caffeinated beverages from Toronto’s popular roaster Pilot Coffee.
This brewery and restaurant, just off the main intersection in Wellington, feels like the casual hub of the town. Their parking lot is transformed into a welcoming patio with a menu of wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and the best fries I’ve had in a long time. The kid’s menu has a trio of vacation favourites: burgers, hot dogs and grilled cheese sammies.
There are almost too many choices at the OG in Wellington: regular and flavoured soft-serve, sundaes and milkshakes, and oodles of hard-pack ice cream flavours. There’s no seating inside but they have a fun, bright yellow picnic-table patio.
This country brewery on the outskirts of Picton is both upscale and relaxed. Their casual international food ranges from Argentinian empanadas to charred bok choy. The menu also has kids options, where they can have a grilled cheese, hot dog, cheeseburger, penne pasta and fresh fruit.
Tucked away off the main road in Bloomfield, you’ll find a garden café with delicious breakfast and lunch options. Baked goods are made fresh and from scratch. They also run a B&B if you want first dibs.
In the summer months, you won’t even need to know the address of the two Slickers locations (in Picton and Bloomfield) because there’s always a crowd gathered outside. It’s absolutely worth the wait. They even make their ice cream fresh daily, with inventive flavours such as Apple Pie, Kids Breakfast and Campfire Cream.
Diners are always a popular choice for families and The Vic in Picton delivers fun decor and classic menu choices. The kid’s menu includes burgers and hot dogs for lunch, and mini eggs & bacon or sprinkles pancake for breakfast.
What To Do
Depending on the time of year, apples, berries and flowers can be picked or purchased at farms strewn across the County, including Campbell’s Orchards in Rednersville, PEC Lavender Farm in Hillier, Hagerman Farms and Jubilee Forest Farms in Picton, Fosterholm Farms and Laura’s Blueberry Farm near Sandbanks, and many more. There are also ongoing farmers’ markets from May to October in Wellington and Picton Town Hall.
Provincial Parks & Beaches
The area boasts three Provincial Parks: the famous dunes and sandy beaches of Sandbanks, the low-key North Beach, and the deep and mysterious Lake on the Mountain. Plus, Wellington Rotary Beach is an easy walk off the main street, making it good for a quick jaunt.
You can visit with and learn about horses at Hadherway Farms in Wellington, Heal With Horses Therapeutic Centre in Hillier and Diamond J Ranch in Picton, birds at the Birdhouse City in the Macauley Mountain Conservation Area near Picton, bees at the Curious Goat General Store near Port Milford, goat yoga near Lake On The Mountain and even alpacas at Noble Beast Farms in Bloomfield.
Local Parks & Playgrounds
There are several spots where kids can get some energy out. Wellington Park has a huge castle playground with a full lake view, Picton has a skate park at Exhibition Grounds & Youth Park and an off-leash dog area at Delhi Park, and Roblin Lake Park in Ameliasburgh has a small beach and splash pad. A full list is available here.
This classic drive-in north of Bloomfield is as old-school as it gets, although they play current first-run movies. It’s got a well-stocked concession stand and a playground in front of the screen so the kids can jump around before the movies start.