|Posted on May 31, 2013 at 8:15 AM|
Have you visited Prince Edward County before? If you have you know just how amazing this little area of Ontario really can be. If you have not, what is stopping you? Maybe you thought that Prince Edward County is just about the wineries because that is what a lot of the publicity surrounding The County has been about in recent years but the region is so much more. Here is a top ten list of things you need to visit when you make the trek out to Prince Edward County.
The Resorts and Their Spas
If you have the time to make it a weekend (or a long weekend) trip, there are several amazing inns and resorts dotting the Prince Edward County landscape for you to choose from. Both the Merrill Inn and Claramount Inn are great choices. There is also The Inn at Huff Estates if you want to be right by the wineries or The Waring House if you want a complete culinary experience. With each of these resorts, if they do not have a spa on site, they have partnerships with local day spas so if you want to kick back and relax with a massage or a mani/pedi there are plenty of options to choose from.
The Great Outdoors and the Blue Waters of Lake Ontario
If you live in the Toronto area, you are almost used to seeing a slate gray colour to Lake Ontario - not so in Prince Edward County. When Mark and I were travelling along the Loyalist Parkway last weekend heading to the Crystal Palace Fairgrounds for Terroir Wine Festival we could not believe how blue the water was...it is not a colour we are used to seeing the lake being by any means. Prince Edward County is a photographers and outdoorsman's paradise - whether it is biking, hiking, spending time at the beach or photographing the countryside, every turn will great you with something new. This is where Prince Edward County has its roots - it was the sandbanks along the bottom of The County and the lighthouses that were originally the draw for people to visit the area but, unless you are a local, it is almost a forgotten part of the region in this day and age.
The Regional Festivals
Prince Edward County is developing a name for its regional festivals. Whether it is Taste or Terroir, the region's two wine festivals, or the Great Canadian Cheese Festival which is coming up this weekend there is something to choose from to spend your day at. Let's not forget about Countylicious either - a twice yearly festival that is a play off of the Toronto food festival. Each month literally has a new event coming up and it just takes a quick look at http://prince-edward-county.com/events/festivals-fairs/ to find one that peaks your interest.
A Chance to Relax
The hustle and bustle of the work week is really felt when you live in a big city like Toronto or Ottawa. All of that is wiped away in an instant when you cross over into Prince Edward County and that is the one recurring theme that came out in my recent blog series on some great characters in Prince Edward County. Probably my favourite quote from this series was during my interview with Sherry Martin from Karlo Estates:
“There is something inherently relaxing when you cross the bridge and head into Prince Edward County for a day of tasting. The stress of the city just slips off your shoulders while wine country awaits.”
Richard Charnock from Norman Hardie Wines also pointed out that "once someone has made that first visit to The County they seem to understand why this is such a unique region and why a bottle of wine from here is unique when compared to wines from any other wine region in the world." It takes a visit out to Prince Edward County to get the real effect this region has but it is such a worthwhile trip. Mark will be the first person to tell you that the second he and I enter Prince Edward County I start to feel like a completely different person. It is the relaxed pace of life, the need to not rush things and the overall feel of this place that makes Prince Edward County feel like a home away from home.
The Food Shops
With great wine, great food naturally follows. This not only means great restuarants, which we will touch on shortly, but it also means great little artisan food shops. Prince Edward County is home to cheese factories and places like Vicki's Veggies. There are little shops in Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington that carry local food items. Even wineries like Lacey Estates and Rosehall Run are carrying local products in their retail shops.
The Antique Shops
You see them dotting the region as you drive through Prince Edward County and they come in all shapes and forms. Some of them you will find your perfect finds in and some will not fit your particular style but Prince Edward County has a growing number of antique stores for you to choose from. A quick glance through the http://prince-edward-county.com website found a dozen antique shops to choose from. If you are on the hunt for that perfect piece of antique furniture or a knick knack chances are very good you will find something amongst one of these shops to bring back home.
The Art Trail and Other Artisan shops
Glass studios, art galleries, homemade crafts - there is no shortage of little unique shops to choose from in Prince Edward County. Lalaland Glass Studio, Riccaro Jewelry, Oeno Gallery - take your pick or choose your own as you see them along the road...they all have great products and make unique presents if you are on the hunt for someone who is hard to buy for.
There is so much that can be said here. Breakfast at Tall Poppy Cafe with fresh baked goods and a cafe mocha. Lunch at Agrarian PEC with their Gourmet Grilled Cheese, dinner at East and Main or Portobella or Blumen. There are these and so many others to choose from and the food that comes out of their kitchens is made with pride and a love for what they do. Prince Edward County is even hoping on the food truck wagon with Goin Coastal and Urban Herb on the Curb hitting the streets this summer. I have had many, many meals at the restaurants of this area and each one of them has been just as amazing as the last one.
Breweries and Distilleries
Prince Edward County is known for its wineries - which we will get to next - but did you know that the region also has a brewery and a distillery? Barley Days Brewery is located just outside of Picton and they make a great selection of beers to choose from. If you have someone in your family that enjoys a good microbrew, then a trip to the brewery is a must. Much newer on the scene is Prince Edward County's first craft distillery - 66Gilead. Named for it's address of 66 Gilead Rd just outside of Bloomfield, the distillery has a great selection of Rye, Vodka, Gin and Rum. When you drop by the distillery, take a trip across the parking lot to Carriage House Cooperage and pick up some art pieces or furniture inspired by oak barrels. Tealight holders, a shot glass rail or even a clock to hang on your wall - Carriage House Cooperage has a lot of great pieces to choose from.
A trip to Prince Edward County would not be complete without a trip to a winery or two. No matter where you are in the region, there are wineries to choose from. There are half a dozen or so in the south end by Picton and Milford, there are quite a few at the west end along the Loyalist Parkway and the side streets or there are just as many to choose from in the middle of The County. Prince Edward County is the fastest growing wine region in Ontario and there is a winery for each and every person. I can guarantee you will find a winery you enjoy if you are on the hunt for something new.
I hope that this little blog has inspired you to get out of the city and make a trip out to Prince Edward County. Niagara is great and so is the Lake Erie North Shore but, if you live in the GTA, a trip to the east means you are not fighting the traffic to get to your relaxation. If you live in Ottawa, Prince Edward County is just on your doorstep and a great place to explore on your weekend.