September 27, 2017 6 min read
Hey! My name’s Kristi and I’m the Founder/CEO of Encircled. Over labour day weekend, I escaped the busy city of Toronto for the newest wine and culinary destination in Ontario: Prince Edward County. Here's where I stayed, and what I did in case you find yourself in this part of the world looking for adventure.
This area of Ontario feels like it didn’t really exist until a few years ago when top Toronto chefs started setting up restaurants, and investing in wineries and microbreweries in the area. A small, historical farming region - Prince Edward County is so much more than just that.
I was traveling with my 9-month old Goldendoodle Harlow, so we needed a dog-friendly place to stay. My boyfriend and I also wanted a place with a bit more space than just a hotel room, and most importantly, a kitchen to be able to make breakfasts and snacks throughout the day. We found the cutestAirbnb in quaint Picton, Ontario. Picton is on the eastern side of Prince Edward County.
Our Airbnb was called The Ferg, and unbeknownst to us, it was also rated one of the cutest boutique hotels byToronto Life. Owned by a photographer and an actress, the Ferg was originally built in the 1850s and has been renovated throughout. It feels like, a modern take on a farmhouse.
The Ferg has 3 units and we stayed on the main floor with 1 bedroom. It had a nice kitchen with dining area, living room, bedroom and a porch. It instantly felt like home.
The wide floorboards looked original and all the nice touches you’d expect in a home were all taken care of. My only complaint is the bathroom was tiny! But, that’s Victorian-era houses, right?
The best part of the Ferg was the location. It’s about a block from the main street of Picton, which has cute stores, cafes, bars, and restaurants. There’s two grocery stores within a short walk, and a deluge of local markets. You’ll never go hungry.
I’d definitely stay there again, but if it’s booked - there are many great Airbnb options in PEC. Other popular hotel options in the area include the much Instagrammed June Motel (also near Picton), and the hip Drake Devonshire in Wellington County.
Prince Edward County is a foodie’s delight. Honestly, it was hard to not eat all the things all the time there and there’s so much good, locally grown produce! My recommendations:
THE DRAKE DEVONSHIRE
This boutique hotel is right in the heart of the smaller Wellington County, located on the more western side of Prince Edward County. The Drake Devonshire is right on the water (yes, that’s Lake Ontario) and a seat on the patio gets you a gorgeous lakefront view.
I had one of their famous caesars , and the pancakes. I NEVER eat pancakes at home, but the ones on their menu sounded too good to resist. They were fluffy, light and delicious and came with a local blend of macerated fruit on top.
NORM HARDIE WINERY
Located on your way into Prince Edward County, the famous Norm Hardie Winery has beenin PEC since 2003. They have a gorgeous patio which faces out onto the vineyards and a wood-fired pizza oven.
We had a local mixed green salad to start and a salami pizza that was to die for. It was so good! The best part is their patio is dog friendly, so Harlow could join us (on the grass) while we noshed on lunch and amazing wine.
The site also boasts some of the nicest (but not the cheapest) wines in the County. I recommend doing a wine tasting at their upstairs bar! There’s a ping-pong table and a playground to entertain the kiddos (and adults) alike.
BLUMEN GARDEN BISTRO
Located just a few minutes east of Picton, the Blumen Garden Bistro is the number one rated restaurant in PEC - so, we had to try it.
Housed in a cozy renovated one story house, this intimate restaurant uses fresh, local ingredients to create inspired dishes. We started with the soup of the day, a Beet Sweet Potato, and Beef Tartare. For mains, I had the local pan-seared Pickerl, and Bryan had the braised rabbit gnocci. He said it was the best dinner he’s ever had.
I didn’t get any photos inside as they have a no cell-phone policy, but suffice it to say, the food looks as good as it tastes.
Best Night out
THE ACOUSTIC GRILL
Located in downtown Picton, the Acoustic Grill is a patio/bar which features live music three to four nights a week.
I was a little skeptical of this place - I’ll admit I prejudged it (mainly because their sign looks like it from the 1990s, and the decor reminds me of a Kelsey’s). This place though, is awesome!
That night, they had a live acoustic two-person band playing a mix of favourites throughout the night. The burger - one of the best I’ve ever had (which says a lot, as I love burgers).
Definitely worth a visit, but I recommend making a reservation or showing up early to make sure you get a good table.
We were only able to carve out 4 days in Prince Edward County, so we could only see a small slice of the county. A few of my must-see places:
LAKE ON THE MOUNTAIN
A short 15-minute drive from Picton is a mysterious lake ON a mountain. Okay, it’s more like, on a hill, but it’s weird right to find a big lake, that’s super deep in the middle of farm fields?
The lake has no apparent source of water, and is about 112 ft deep. It’s a nice spot for a picnic, or photos, as the backdrop could not be more stunning. Nature at it’s finest.
SLICKERS ICE CREAM
I don’t love ice cream - it’s too sweet but Slickers, oh man. The coconut ice cream is a fine balance of mild, salty and just delicious. Worth a trip if you’re in Picton.
COUNTY ROAD BREWERY
Located in the middle of farmland, the County Road Brewery is a farmhouse brewery that uses local ingredients to create really tasty beer. The outdoor beer gardens are vibrant and fun, and the menu has lots of tasty options. When we were there, a couple of people rode up on horses to grab a drink. Animals definitely welcome.
Located along an abandoned railway line, the Millennium Trail is 49km multipurpose hiking-biking-running-walking trail that spans across Prince Edward County. We biked it - it’s a little rough at spots (lots of rocks) but I love that it’s totally private and it’s a nice alternative to driving PEC.
THE PRINCE EDWARD DOG PARK
If you’re traveling with your dog, Picton has one of the biggest (and nicest) dog parks I’ve ever seen. It’s located in Delhi Park and is run entirely by volunteers. The Prince Edward Dog Park is grass-covered, and fully fenced with a separate small dog area. It’s about the size of 3-4 football fields and has chairs, fresh water and garbage cans. We went there every day (several times a day) with Harlow, and she always met friendly dogs (plus it was a great way to get insider recommendations on where to eat and what to see from locals!).
This local market is a foodie’s paradise. The Agrarian Market features organic, local meat, cheese, baked goods, and products - it’s a must visit. They even have picnic baskets that you can pre-order for that dream instagram picnic in a farm field!
Prince Edward County is located in eastern Ontario, Canada. Therefore, I think it’s likely most beautiful in the Spring, Summer and early Fall so you can truly embrace the outdoor experience.
Prince Edward County is essentially a conglomerate of farm towns, so high heels make zero sense here. I was able to easily pack a carry-on (with extra clothing) for a 4-day trip.
Casual pants -
Jeans, leggings, or (Hello Dressy Sweatpants!)
Flat soled shoes -
Something comfy like a sneaker, or a sandal with support
Be prepared for any weather -
Umbrella, rain coat etc.
Boots, booties or shoeties -
Leave those pumps and strappy sandals at home.
A light jacket -
I found the evenings to cool off quite a bit. I do wish I brought a few more warmer weather items like an extra sweatshirt or long sleeve top.
A dressy-casual top -
(Our Revolve Dress is perfect!) or a t-shirt layered with a few necklaces
Prince Edward County is an easy and fun weekend escape for city dwellers in the Toronto and Ottawa area alike.
Easy to access by car, or VIA rail (a 20-minute drive from Belleville’s station), I recommend booking a trip out there for your next getaway. It’s the perfect destination for a girls/guys trip, or a couple's vacation. You’ll have no shortage of fun (or wine) for the weekend.
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