Rolling vineyards, artisanal breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, grand hotels and historic B&Bs, gorgeous lakeside views… who needs Tuscany or Bordeaux when we’ve got Prince Edward County? Renowned for its Arts & Taste Trail and as a Designated Viticultural Area, it sounds like the perfect weekend destination.
Where to Stay
Prince Edward County has developed a reputation for visitors and tourists, and the area welcomes you with a variety of lodgings, from rustic to regal. Outdoorsy people would appreciate luxury camping at Fronterra in spring, summer and fall. This 200 year-old waterfront farm embraces simple living, good food and brewing organic craft beer from heirloom hops. For truly upscale accommodation, the historic mansion Claramount Inn & Spa offers a full spa, heated saltwater pool and five-star meals.
Where to Eat
A big attraction of this area is the food – that alone may be sufficient to entice you to arrange a visit. Planning an itinerary is easy if you follow the Taste Trail, which includes fresh, seasonal food, craft beer and wine. Food lovers can expect a variety of tastes and menus. Don’t miss The Drake Devonshire Inn which overlooks the lake; Jackson Falls Public House which offers a Native-inspired menu; The County Canteen brewpub; or The Hubb Eatery & Lounge inside Angeline’s Inn. Wine and cheese pairings at home can be easy if you bring home a few bottles of local wine and match them with some of the region’s artisanal cheeses. If you want to sample before you take home, Black River Cheese (which also has a year round ice cream bar) and Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. both offer tastings.
What to Drink
The area is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, which flourish here because of the climate and proximity to the lake, and the characteristics of the soil. Those aren’t the only varieties available; there are more than 40 wineries, and you can also experience Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Gamay, Pinot Gris, Baco Noir, Merlot and more, plus craft ciders. Dogs are welcome at many vineyards inlcuding Three Dog Winery along with their owners; they just can’t participate in the tastings. The County also is home to a craft distillery, meadery (honeywine) and six craft breweries (and growing!)
What to See
To learn about this rural area’s history, there are several museums. Ameliasburgh Heritage Village, Macaulay Heritage Park, Mariner’s Park Museum, Rose House Museum and Wellington Heritage Museum are all worth a visit. The countryside is beautiful, as is nearby Sandbanks Provincial Park, which happens to have the largest freshwater baymouth barrier dune formation in the world. Prince Edward Point is a haven for ornithologists; over 370 different kinds of birds have been spotted there. There’s one more route to explore: the Barn Quilt Trail. Barn quilts are quilt squares painted and mounted on barns or other buildings. There are more than 100 to see. How many will you find?
While the weather holds out, leave your car at the hotel and visit one of three bicycle rental shops, and arrange to see the area on an e-bike. Just be sure to pull over for all of those photo ops – and no biking and texting to boast about your wonderful weekend.
Where to Shop
Along with the high calibre of taste experiences and options for overnight hospitality, Prince Edward County has developed a reputation for some charming and unique shopping. Visit The Agrarian Market in Picton, The Local Store for all things locally homegrown or homemade (food, wine, pottery, jewelry and more), or the apt but oddly-named store, Dead People’s Stuff Antiques, an eclectic shop with lots of vintage pieces, furniture, décor and oddities. If you follow the Arts Trail, you can drive from studio to studio and meet the artists in both modern galleries and old, rustic barns.
Article by Becky Dumais
Prince Edward County
Art & Taste Trail
Barn Quilt Trail