PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY

When United Empire Loyalists landed on the shores of Prince Edward County, they probably never imagined that the picturesque island they called home would become one of the most sought-out tourist destinations in Ontario. Named the Gastronomic Capital of Ontario by The Globe and Mail, and one of the world’s best travel hot spots by The Toronto Star, Prince Edward County has graduated from its rural roots.

Take your taste buds on vacation

If your palette is yearning for exploration, Prince Edward County is home to extreme epicurean adventure. Home to countless award-winning fine dining and family restaurants, the County is fortunate to welcome many world-class chefs drawn by its eclectic community, sublime pastoral beauty and passion for slow food.

From this renaissance, the innovative Taste Trail was born: a self-guided trail and map guiding hungry visitors on a sensory adventure. Following the Taste Trail map and road signs, weary travelers will find their bellies filled with local, seasonal fine fare in Wellington, Picton and Bloomfield (the County’s three main towns), their mugs filled with local wine in Hillier, and their coolers stocked with artisanal cheese in Cressy.

Agriculture was the mainstay of the local Prince Edward County economy for centuries. For decades this region was known as Canada’s canning capital, and was at one time the supplier of one-third of all canned product in Canada. Perhaps it’s this rich history that contributes to a thriving, slow-food community.

Prince Edward County’s Chefs work in close partnership with many, innovative farms – often naming menu items after the hard-working farmers themselves. If inspired after a fabulous meal, attempt to recreate a local food masterpiece by visiting one of the many farm stands. Dotting nearly every major road of the County, visitors can stop to purchase local produce, meats, and organic preserves to ensure your fridge at home will boast fond memory of your visit.

Wine, cider, beer, repeat

The first commercial vineyard opened in Prince Edward County in the early 1990s in Waupoos. What began as risky business, quickly became Prince Edward’s County’s claim to fame. The limestone rich soils and proximity to Lake Ontario contribute to County wine exhibiting a unique terroir that is receiving national and international accolades.

Since then, 34 wineries have been established, contributing to Prince Edward County being named Canada’s newest Designated Viticultural Area in 2007.

Add the award-winning cider company (which uses local apples grown in its orchard) and the local brewery (which uses seasonal ingredients like maple syrup in its beer) and your trip to Prince Edward County could be a one-stop-shop for all of your upcoming summer festivities.

BAY OF QUINTE’S CHEDDAR AND ALE TRAIL | MAP OF PEC WINERIES

World-class beaches & geological wonders

Forged from glaciers 12,000 years ago, Sandbanks Provincial Park is often cited as one of the best beaches in Canada. Home to the largest freshwater bay mouth barrier dune system in the world, this spectacular natural wonder can fool even the most seasoned traveler into believing they’ve stepped onto a piece of Caribbean heaven.

Stretching 12 kilometres, its soft, white sand dunes shadow the clear blue-green waters of Lake Ontario, some towering over 12-25 metres high. Home to three unparalleled beaches: Outlet Beach, Sandbanks Beach and Dunes beach, Sandbanks is home to more than 240 species of birds and unusual plant life.

Wake boarders, kayakers and kite-surfers abound on its tranquil shores, and, if the wind is right, surfers crowd the lapping waters. Attracting 550,000 visitors every year, Sandbanks truly has something for every traveler—from high adventure, to lazy naps on the white sand.

If beaching isn’t your forte, there is an outdoor destination for every appetite—from hiking the millennium trail, following the old route of the CN railway, to braving the steep inclines by foot or mountain bike on Macaulay Mountain. For something truly impressive, visit Lake on the Mountain. Nestled 62 metres above Lake Ontario rests this natural wonder, which defies all geographical and geological theory. This mysterious lake has a constant flow of fresh water from an unknown source, and is the perfect spot to stop for a picnic.

TORONTO LIFE’S HEDONIST’S GUIDE TO EATING AND DRINKING IN THE COUNTY | 25 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY | WHERE TO STAY