Hi everyone! Megan here again from the blog, Darby & Co., with another exciting destination to explore in beautiful Canada. I can’t wait to share a little slice of Canada’s best kept secret wine country, you’ll want to pack your bags asap!
As travel restrictions begin to lift and locals and visitors alike start to plan their fall getaways, there has never been a better time to visit Prince Edward County (P.E.C)— a tiny, hidden island bursting with lush wineries and swanky restaurants. Priding itself on great wine and even better food, Prince Edward County is quickly becoming the Napa of Canada.
Visitors are truly spoiled for choice with over 50 wineries in the area, as well as exceptional dining experiences only elevated by local produce. The area is surrounded by farmland and the local growers take great pride in partnering with P.E.C restaurants to ensure quality and fresh ingredients.
For the perfect day in the county, hop on a bicycle from Closson Road Cycles (The favored mode of transportation in P.E.C) and roll down the block, popping in at The Grange for a glass of bubbly and a chef-curated picnic, then to Hinterland Wine Company for a tipple or two.
A Weekend Guide to Prince Edward County, Canada
Travel Logistics for Prince Edward County
Getting to Prince Edward County: You can fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and rent a car directly from the airport. It’s about a 2 hour 10-minute drive, passing through Toronto and out into the countryside.
Best Time to Go: Every season in Prince Edward County is truly magical. The summer brings sun-soaked beaches, in the fall find beautiful foliage, cozy nights by the fire in the winter, and less-crowded wineries in the spring. You can’t go wrong in Prince Edward County, regardless of the season!
Transportation within Prince Edward County: The easiest and cheapest way to get around is renting a car, but if you’d rather not drive, there are options for Uber, Lyft or a taxi.
Currency & Money | $ CAD: Credit cards are accepted everywhere. Cash can be good for tipping or small purchases. There are plenty of ATMs in the area, or you can grab cash at the airport before departing for the island.
What To Know Before Visiting Prince Edward County
Book far in advance: In the face of the health crisis, P.E.C has become the premier weekend getaway, especially for Torontonians, and therefore, everything books up very far in advance. Hotels are typically booked to full capacity a year in advance, especially during the summer season, so Airbnbs make for a great alternative. I’d also highly recommend making reservations at lauded restaurants as far in advance as possible.
Weather: P.E.C. is truly a fantastic all-year-round destination. But I would have to say that the summer season is particularly magical with easy access to the surrounding beaches, patio weather and sunny afternoons spent roaming vineyards.
Where To Stay in Prince Edward County
The absolute favorite mainstay in Prince Edward County is the Drake Devonshire Hotel, offering cosmopolitan cool rooms, a wine lobby, and locally-led wine tours. Taking their special brand of culture and art—and putting a little rustic spin on it—makes this hotel truly special. The space feels curated, with only 13 rooms on the property, along with a restaurant and a bar, both open to the public. Spend your spare time checking out the rotating art installations, or check the event schedule for special themed nights.
Recently, the Drake Hotel family expanded with Drake Motor Inn, just a hop, skip, and a jump down the road from their sister property. The hotel is a nod to the era of roadside motel road trips, but with a compelling twist— The Drake Motor Inn is also home to the world’s first edibles vending machine.
The inn is a respite of laid-back (and affordable) living, a much-welcomed addition to the county. Here, pets are acceptable bedroom companions and the outdoor terrace and fire pits practically beg for a night of card games and booze. Come winter, you can lace up your skates and hit the on-site free ice rink, making this a perfect all-seasons getaway.
Where To Eat & Drink in Prince Edward County
Public School House
Pop into this rustic one-room schoolhouse serving up First Nations-inspired food. Housed in an 1870 historic building, the menu is always seasonal and produce is sourced from the local P.E.C farmers.
One wouldn’t expect authentic Mexican food in the middle of the country, but La Condesa serves up just that—the real deal. The interior is an explosion of color, with touches of pink lining the walls, live greenery hanging off shelves and a hand-painted mural gracing the back wall. The dishes are fresh, full of flavor, and just the right size for a quick, tasty bite.
Flame + Smith
Flame + Smith celebrates the long lost art of woodfire cooking. The staff are true masters of their craft from the artisanal baker, oyster shucker and sommeliers. Dishes are created from some of the best local, in-season ingredients and the wine pairings are superb.
Bloomfield Public House Market
This once dine-in restaurant quickly adapted and recently opened as a market place. This spot is perfect for grab and go meals before hitting the beach or wineries. The market is obsessively local with cuisine curated from local farmers and an ever-growing wine selection on hand to grab and go.
This local favorite is run by two kick-butt entrepreneurial women, creating 100% estate-grown wine. Cozy up in their beautiful, rustic tasting room housed in a historic wooden barn, surrounded by lush vineyards and ancient old-growth trees. The winery is unpretentious, yet bursting with natural beauty—making for a perfect afternoon hang. My favourite is the Grange’s Spiced White, which tastes like fall in a bottle.
Trail Estate Winery
This winery stands out in Prince Edward County for its low-intervention, all-natural wines. They offer a huge selection of unique Canadian wines, like orange, Pét-nat sparkling, Nouveau, Cab Franc—each raw, textural and surprising to the taste buds. More than that, the winery is the perfect spot for sun-soaking amongst wildflower fields, surrounded by the verdant vineyard. The estate is always expanding and one to watch in the VQA scene.
Hinterland Wine Company
The Hinterland Wine Company are the local experts on premium sparkling wine. There are few places that do a bottle of bubbly quite as well as The Hinterland, and that’s largely in part of their discovery that Prince Edward County produces exceptionally ripe grapes for crafting balanced sparkling wines. The winery offers indoor-outdoor tastings with a vibe that resembles a casual backyard get-together amongst friends—my favorite.
What To Do in Prince Edward County
Sandbanks Provincial Park
Sandbanks is one of the best-hidden gems amongst Ontario parks, with three beautiful beaches on-site, plus the world’s largest natural formation of sand dunes. The beaches here are sandy-white, almost Caribbean-like and home to surprisingly warm waters. You can also camp here for easy access to the surrounding trails and a cheap alternative to the hotels in P.E.C.
Shopping at the P.E.C Boutiques
What is a weekend getaway without a little shopping? There are plenty of cute, curated boutiques within the county to while away the afternoon. Coriander Girl is hard to miss with a cute pink bench out front and a window bursting with flowers. This Toronto staple turned country is the premiere spot for grabbing a fresh bouquet, a woodsy-scented candle, or a cozy throw. KOKITO, is home to an eclectic collection of special items sources globally, with especially beautiful woolen blankets. For a wide selection of vintage goods, stop by Dead People’s Stuff to find that one special treasure.
Wellington Farmers’ Market
This small community-based Farmers’ Market gathers every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to offer up gourmet food, artisanal jewelry, home-made treats, eclectic antiques, collectibles, or hand-made crafts that make great gifts.
Kinsip House of Fine Spirits Distillery Tour
While P.E.C may be known for its outstanding collection of wineries, nestled away in Bloomfield is a renowned grain-to-glass distillery. All of the spirits are fermented, stilled, and aged onsite, putting the roots back into local craftsmanship of fine drinks. You can book a Kinship Tasting Experience, offering three select spirit samples and one cocktail—all to be enjoyed on their laissez-faire patio.