Spring is around the corner and one of my favourite things to do when it gets warm is a road trip out of Toronto for an easy weekend getaway. Prince Edward County (PEC) is roughly two hours east Toronto and full of great food and activities that could keep you occupied for a week easily.
Paul’s grandparents built a cottage on the Bay of Quinte near Demorestville and we’ve been going to Picton and the surrounding areas for almost 10 years. Prince Edward County is now booming with wineries, breweries and a cider house. Here are some of our favourites whenever we visit:
Main Street, Picton is quaint and full of charm. You will not want to miss all the cute little stores like Kelly’s Shop (above) which carries an array of cool kitsch, clothing and jewellery. You can find summer clothing, roxy bikinis and skate clothes at Beach Bum in the County.
The Giant Tiger discount store is a small town staple and a great place to stop for cheap clothes and anything you may have forgotten like your jiffy pop, sunscreen or a bathing suit. I find all sorts of random stuff in here.
Make sure you stop at the historic Regent Theatre to see if any of the movies playing catches your eye. It’s a great place to head to if it starts to rain on your getaway to Prince Edward County.
Eat Ice Cream – Scooperman is one of the BEST names EVER for an ice cream shop and totally worth stopping in for a cone when you’re on Main Street, Picton. If you’re an ice cream fanatic, you’ll also want to make a stop at Slickers Ice Cream in neighbouring Bloomfield, where they make their own artisan ice cream from scratch. I had the best rhubarb and ginger ice cream of my life here.
Buy Some Cheese – If you loved the cheese on your hot dog, stop in at the Black River Cheese Company in the town of Milford. The company was founded back in 1901 and uses animal-free rennet. I usually see it carried at The Big Carrot grocery store in Toronto. However, they never seem to have the Pepper Jack Cheese in stock. So grab a couple bricks to bring home with you. The Pepper Jack has a tiny kick to it and would be great on a burger. They also carry cheese curds if you’re in the mood for poutine – which is like always.
Berry Picking – If you check out what’s in-season ahead of time then you can definitely plan a stop at a pick-your-own berries farm. We like The Blueberry Patch in the town of Waupoos, right next to the winery. It was great to fill up a little pint box to bring home for pancakes and to do something out of the ordinary for a weekend out in the country. I think a pint only ran us around $2-3, so you could pick a whole bunch and freeze them.
The County Cider Company – Stop in at the town of Waupoos to sample a couple varieties of refreshing County Ciders and tour the orchard at The County Cider Company. The County Premium Cider is my favourite because its a crisp, fresh and classic when served ice cold. However the Peach Cider is a close runner-up and could easily be served poolside and pass as a fancy cocktail.
Make sure you take a moment to enjoy a glass of cider and lunch on their patio terrace overlooking the lake. The outdoor wood-burning fire bakes homemade pizzas incorporating local ingredients and they also serve a variety of sandwiches and burgers.
Waupoos Winery – If you do get a chance, Waupoos Winery is on the same road as the cider house and definitely worth a stop. They also offer tastings, tours, lunch as well as dinner. The view of the lake is equally gorgeous and the dining room is modern and elegant. We only had the chance to stop in quickly for a wine tasting and only heard great things about the food.
Have a Picnic in a Vineyard – One of the best things I’ve done in a long time is sit under a tree in the middle of a vineyard and enjoy lunch under the sun at The Grange of Prince Edward. For a flat fee, they will supply the food, dessert, picnic blanket + basket and scenery. You can then go ahead and purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy with your picnic lunch. The food is delicious and this is my absolute must-do now whenever I visit the county.
Book Dinner at The Merrill Inn – We absolutely never miss an opportunity to have dinner cooked by Chef Michael Sullivan at The Merrill Inn. Sullivan has cooked at some of the hottest restaurants in Toronto (including The Fifth and Auberge du Pommier) and has brought his fine dining chops to this charming B&B. The menu really is outstanding. Make sure you book a reservation way in advance, the dining room is quite small – yet effective. The appetizers are not severely overpriced like they are in Toronto and tend to stay under $10. Mains range from $25-38.
Mustang’s Drive-In – You could watch TV at your B&B or Inn – but you’re on vacation! Get in the car and go retro at Mustang’s Drive-In. The owner is full of zingers, funny plot outlines and announcements to the audience. We love the shadow puppet shows between movies and the ‘admission bus’ that acts as the box office. There’s also a playground for the kids to go crazy in before sundown. Of course, there’s a snack bar with pogos, cotton candy, junior mints and nacho cheese! Go on a long-weekend and be treated to a triple header and watch movies until the sun comes up.
The Drake Devonshire – Though I haven’t been to The Drake Devonshire Inn yet, I have heard great things about The Drake Hotel’s Prince Edward County outpost. Rooms are booking up fast, but you may be able to snag something for a mid-week stay. If you’re not staying at the inn, do stop in for a hearty farm-to-table meal in their restaurant.
We tried to cover some ground here, but could barely scratch the surface on everything there is to do in Prince Edward County. For more ideas on wineries and foodie adventures, visit the Taste Trail website for a map of some great places to eat & drink in the county.
What are your favourite things to do in Prince Edward County? Any gems that are not to be missed?