In another life, I’ll be a writer and I will spend weeks and weeks alone on Prince Edward County to write all the novels that crowd my mind. For now, I am still a busy mom unable to put together more than 3 sentences without being interrupted. So I took the entire family with me to Prince Edward County. Affectionately called PEC, it is not to be confused with Prince Edward Island, on the West coast of Canada. PEC is approx 2h30 drive from Toronto, and is a very quaint island on Lake Ontario, peaceful and charming, perfect to unwind for a few days. In the summer months, it combines an artsy crowd fond of flea markets and organic shops, an older crowd of all-year residents who have found the perfect formula to retirement, and young families from Toronto slowly buying properties in this island stuck in time.
I was drawn to Prince Edward County after reading Canada’s coolest island hideout, intrigued by the fact that locals are well known to leave their keys in their car on PEC, in case a neighbour would need it. Wow. We arrived with our big SUV from the wilderness of the Algonquin Park, Amalya wearing a heavy cast on her broken leg, Lior as chatty as ever, and we quickly learnt to lower our voices and adapt to the slow pace of Wellington.
This charming old house was our pad for 4 nights, located just a few blocks away from the main street. It was decorated just right, with big brown leather sofas in the living room and woven artwork on the walls. The wooden floors were creaky, the doors not closing perfectly, and that was all the charm. Stefani, the owner, provided us with a comprehensive list of recommendations, which I have mostly shared with you below. Our favorites were meals at Pomodoro, Angeline’s and the Agrarian bistro, together with dinners with the in-crowd at The Drake.
If you’d rather stay in a hotel, the Merrill House is opening as I write this. It belongs to a friend of a friend, and is set inside a Gothic Revival House. It might not be the easiest place to stay with very young children but then, I’d definitely book a babysitter and go for a dinner tête-à-tête. The Drake is a lively option with young children, especially if you can get a hold of one of their large family suites facing the lake. The ping pong tables and access to the shores of the (very cold!) waters are a big plus with children.
One day, we drove to Waupoos Windery and Farm with the petting zoo, followed by a pretty lunch overlooking Lake Ontario at Waupoos Cider County, where the wood-fire pizza were a huge hit for the whole family.
Another day was spent on Dune Beach, in Sandbanks Provincial Park. It took us a bit of time to understand where to access the beach from and after some trekking with Amalya and her cast across the sand dunes, we found the most unexpected beach shaded with big trees. Facing the immensity of Lake Ontario.
We stopped at several antique shops and I secretly wished that we had a cottage in the area that I could decorate.
And when we craved for a bit of buzz at night, we headed back to The Drake for dinner.
MUM, I’M HUNGRY!
Lakeshore Farmers Market – great baked goods, meats, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, fresh donuts and killer pies! Hit it on your way in or out! Open Everyday 8AM – 6PM
Foodland – On Main St. Open everyday.
OAK Clothing Co – on Main St (walking distance), worth checking out. Open everyday!
Wellington Farmer’s Market – Every SATURDAY in season
In nearby towns:
Slickers Ice Cream – Yum!
Picnic Food Truck
Saylor House Cafe
The Hubb (at Angeline’s)
Agrarian Bistro and Speakeasy
Blumen Garden Bistro
Schooner’s Fish and Chips
The Hayloft – bar, bands, bbq
There are many tours you can sign up for. Most of the wineries have food/restaurants during high season (May-Nov):
Norman Hardie – including wood fired pizza
Hinterland – sparkling winery (right next to County Road Brewery)
LET’S DO SOMETHING
SANDBANKS Provincial Park – beach, sun, water, hikes!
Mustang Drive-In theatre
So much antiquing! Dead People’s Stuff, MacCool’s Reuse and Jim & Dave’s Antiques to name a few.
The Arts trail / The Taste Trail – PEC is known for its arts and food culture. In fact, it’s the gastronomic capital of Ontario.
Maple in the County
Prince Edward Bird Observatory
Spring Birding Festival in May
Terroir Run – May (11K run along the winery back roads)
Canadian Cheese festival – June
Lavender Farm (June is in full bloom) / Lavender Festival – July
Quilt Show – July
Apple Picking in Campbell’s Orchard
Taste: Community Grown – Picton Fairgrounds – September
Pumpkinfest – October in Wellington