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Referred to by those in the know as “The County,” Prince Edward County (PEC) is fast becoming one of the best places to visit in Ontario for anyone wanting a fun mid-week or weekend getaway. An easy 2.5-hour drive east of Toronto and just an hour west of Kingston, this area of outstanding natural beauty on the shores of Lake Ontario is also rich in history and boasts a vibrant cultural scene.
PEC’s food and drink scene is also earning growing respect. With its wineries in particular being a big draw. Wine tasting and vineyard tours are must-does here and can often be combined with some of Ontario’s best culinary experiences.
Outdoor enthusiasts are also spoiled for choice when it comes time to plan fun things to do in Prince Edward County. Topping most lists is paying a visit to Sandbanks Provincial Park, an area famous for its large sand dunes and perfect sandy beaches that feel a little more Mediterranean than it does Canadian.
Add visits to the picturesque communities of Picton and Wellington to your itinerary and you’re guaranteed a good time as you explore the best things to do in Prince Edward County.
The Best Things To Do in Prince Edward County
Savour the Flavours at the Best Prince Edward County Wineries
Wine tasting in Prince Edward County is a laidback and fun experience that appeals equally to both connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts. Having emerged in recent years as a significant player in the Canadian viticulture scene, PEC now boasts over 40 wineries, each with its own distinct take on the region’s unique terroir.
This success is owed in part to the region’s cool climate, moderated by the lake, which creates ideal conditions for producing high-quality wines, particularly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc.
These and other wines can be enjoyed on fun tasting experiences offered by Huff Estates Winery & Inn, whose wines include vibrant, crisp whites and elegantly structured reds. After your tour, spend time with a visit to the on-site Oneo Gallery, a superb art facility showcasing local and international contemporary and fine art. Better still, book a stay at the winery’s elegant inn for a memorable overnight getaway.
Other notable wineries that offer tours and sampling include Sandbanks Estate Winery, a good choice for its award-winning Baco Noir; and the Grange of Prince Edward Winery, a family-run affair popular for its down-to-earth ambiance.
Get Back to Nature at Sandbanks Provincial Park
Undoubtedly one of the top attractions in Prince Edward County, the spectacular Sandbanks Provincial Park can easily soak up the best part of your itinerary. One of the best provincial parks in Ontario, this remarkable natural wonder is spread over 3,7000 acres and boasts the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation.
The park’s most striking features are its seemingly endless sand beaches, including Outlet Beach and Sandbanks Beach, which together are some of the finest freshwater sand bar and dune systems in the province. These golden sands, coupled with the clear, shallow waters of Lake Ontario, provide an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beach activities. The gentle slope of the lake makes these beaches particularly family-friendly, ensuring a safe environment for children to play in and swim.
Nature enthusiasts are also drawn to the park, which is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna including rare species that thrive in the dune and wetland habitats. Hiking trails like the Woodlands Trail and the Dunes Trail meander through picturesque dense forests and towering dunes alike and offer an opportunity to experience these unique ecosystems up close.
Prefer something a little more adventurous? Sandbanks provide ample opportunities for water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding, while windsurfers thrill at the park’s natural wind patterns and wave conditions. Camping is another popular activity at Sandbanks, with several campgrounds offering facilities from basic to full-service sites.
Environmental education is another key aspect of the park experience. Regularly scheduled programs by park staff include talks about the park’s unique dune ecology and the importance of preserving this fragile environment, often including guided walks and interactive activities.
Spend Time Exploring the Pretty Town of Picton
The largest community within Prince Edward County, Picton is a delightful place to spend a day or two. Fun to explore on foot, start your exploration on Picton’s historic Main Street. This bustling thoroughfare is a shopper’s paradise, with unique boutiques offering everything from local crafts to antique treasures, with plenty of great cafés and restaurants to enjoy along the way. Cultural must-visits include the Regent Theatre, a beautifully restored Edwardian building that hosts everything from movies and live music to theatre productions and community events.
For those seeking outdoor activities, Picton also has a number of good parks and trails to check out, while Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area, just a short distance from the town center, is a popular spot for hiking and birdwatching, with scenic trails winding through wooded areas and past historical sites like Macaulay Heritage Park.
The town’s waterfront is another highlight. Highlights include the picturesque marina where you can watch boats of all sizes come and go. And check local events calendars prior to your visit for news of upcoming events and festivals, including farmer’s markets to the much-anticipated County Jazz Festival.
If you’re looking for a great Ontario weekend getaway, look into booking a night or two stay in one of the many great Picton accommodation options. For ideas and inspiration, check out this popular article about the best luxury hotels in Picton.
Point Petre Wildlife Conservation Area
If after exploring Sandbanks Provincial Park you still have a hankering for a little more wildlife spotting, head over to Point Petre Wildlife Conservation Area. This relatively untouched area along the shores of Lake Ontario is especially popular for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers and is distinguished by its diverse landscapes, which include rocky shores, pebble beaches, and dense woodlands.
These varied habitats provide a sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife, including rare migratory birds who stop and even nest on the limestone shelves along the shoreline. This, along with the lake’s clear waters and the panoramic views of Lake Ontario, also make it an ideal spot to catch a sunrise or sunset. Hiking and walking are also popular activities in Point Petre.