Prince Edward County Ontario is a great summer destination. Relax and explore the beaches, sand dunes and nature areas. Enjoy the many local wineries and breweries. It’s just 2 hours from Toronto making it a great weekend destination in any season.
This is our guide to the best things to do in The County.
Table of Contents
Things To Do in Prince Edward County
With so much to see and do in Prince Edward County, these are our recommendations for the best experiences in “The County”.
- Visit some PEC Wineries.
- Explore Sandbanks Provincial Park.
- Discover the wonderful PEC Beaches.
- Enjoy the sensory experience at a Lavender Farm.
- Relax at a Brewery.
- Walk historic Picton, Ontario.
- Visit Museums and Historic Sites.
Prince Edward County Map – Get Oriented
Prince Edward County Wineries
Many visitors are drawn to Prince Edward County’s Wineries. A wine tasting tour is a great way to spend a relaxing summer day. With more than 30 wineries in the area, the hardest part is choosing where to start. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
In our article, Best Wineries in Prince Edward County, we select the best ones and provide the full list of the wineries in the region!
Sandbanks Provincial Park
The magnificent, sandy beaches and dunes at Sandbanks help make it the most visited place in Prince Edward County. Each summer, the park welcomes thousands of visitors escaping the hot city. With three, white, expansive, sandy beaches, it’s the perfect place for families to camp. Play beside the park’s unique barrier dunes that form along Lake Ontario. For a break from the beach, there are several hiking trails which explore the world’s largest, baymouth, barrier dune formation. The dunes separate West Lake from Lake Ontario.
Daily Vehicle Permits are required for day use access. They are available up to 5 days in advance of arrival at the park. Visit the Ontario Parks Reservation website to obtain a vehicle permit. In the summer there are day-use visitor limits so buying a permit in advance guarantees a spot.The park offers camping from the end of April to the end of October. Reservations can be made on the Ontario Parks Reservation website.
The landscape didn’t always look this way. In the early 1800s, the dunes were partially covered with vegetation and mixed hardwood forest. Open areas were pastures for cattle. It was a relatively stable sand dune environment. Early settlers cleared the trees so their cattle could pasture on larger areas. The fierce winds off Lake Ontario, without barriers, moved the sand until it covered roads, crops and sometimes buildings.
Local farmers, in 1911, planted willow cuttings trying to slow the shifting sand. Over 40 years, 3 million trees were planted, primarily Scots Pine. Some of them survived and remain today but they struggle due to very nutrient-poor soil. The trees are vulnerable to fungal outbreaks, droughts and insect infestations. It is hoped that, even if tree mortality continues, other species will take over and continue to stabilize the dunes.
Prince Edward County Outdoor Activities
Nature is on full display in Prince Edward County. These are some fun, outdoor options.
Prince Edward County Beaches
The County has some of the best sand beaches in all of Ontario. The most popular beaches are at Sandbanks Provincial Park, but there are other beaches to enjoy. This is a complete list with a brief note about each beach.
|Sandbanks Dunes Beach||Sandbanks Provincial Park|
|Lakeshore Beach||Sandbanks Provincial Park|
|Outlet Beach||Sandbanks Provincial Park|
|North Beach (2 beaches)||North Beach Provincial Park|
|Roblin Lake Beach||Ameliasburgh|
|Little Bluff Conservation Area||East of South Bay|
|Prince Edward Point Beach||Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area|
Sandbanks Provincial Park beaches and campsites fill quickly in the summer. Presquil Provincial Park is another great option to camp near the beach. Presquil is located just outside PEC, south of Brighton. Please be aware that, on very windy days, beaches on Lake Ontario can have dangerous undertow conditions.
Sandbanks Dunes Beach, on West Lake, has a very steep drop off. This is a fully serviced day-use area.
Lakeshore Beach, on Lake Ontario, slopes gently out from shore. It is another Sandbanks Park day-use area.
Outlet Beach, is the southernmost, day-use beach at Sandbanks. It slopes gently into Lake Ontario.
At North Beach Provincial Park, a day-use park, there are two sandy beaches. The beach facing Lake Ontario is over a kilometre long. Across the sand bar, facing North Bay, is another 800 metres of beach. Like Sandbanks beaches, the water depth increases slowly into Lake Ontario and rapidly into North Bay. Similar to Sandbanks, Daily Vehicle Permits are required for this day use park and can be purchased up to 5 days in advance. Visit the Ontario Parks Reservation website.
Wellington Beach, located at the west end of the West Lake Sand Bar, is a triangular sand bar separating West Lake from Lake Ontario. Benches line the boardwalk which runs along the beach. Toilets and change facilities are nearby.
Roblin Lake Beach, the small municipal beach in the village of Ameliasburgh, has toilets, change facilities and a children’s play area close by.
Little Bluff Conservation Area‘s cobble stone beach, on the shore of Prince Edward Bay, sits between a significant wetland and Lake Ontario. There are toilets and picnic tables near the beach.
The shore at Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, while not a sandy beach, is a wide rock ledge and a great spot to enjoy the water. There are no facilities nearby.
Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park
This tiny park, dominated by the Lake on the Mountain, is the perfect place for a picnic. Fish the lake in season. This provincial park has a number of picnic tables and toilet facilities. Camping is not permitted. There is no day-use fee at this park.
The lake has a constant flow of clean, fresh water from underground springs and local streams. Once thought to be bottomless, it is now known to be about 30 metres deep. Lake on the Mountain is the largest and deepest of three ancient lakes in The County.
It sits at the top of a 60-metre high bluff “above” Lake Ontario, making it the most scenic of the county lakes. Enjoy the great view toward the Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario’s north shore. Watch the Glenora Ferry carrying cars between Glenora and Adolphustown. This free ferry, operated by the province, runs year-round. The first known ferry license, issued in 1801, applied to this route.
In the mid to late-1800’s, mills were located in Glenora, at the bottom of the bluff, and around Lake on the Mountain at the top.
Prince Edward County Lavender Farms
There are two lavender farms in Prince Edward County, a relatively new agri-business to Ontario. Like grapes, lavender flourishes in dry, well-drained, gravelly soils with full sun. Lavender, native to northern Africa and the mountains of the Mediterranean, has been used for thousands of years. It has medicinal and healing properties, an enticing aroma and is used to enhance the flavour of food. The two farms offer slightly different experiences.
Tour the lavender fields, herb and flower gardens at Prince Edward County Lavender and visit their boutique. It has a wide variety of lavender and herb products for sale, including body care products, pure essential oils, culinary products, herbal teas and herb blends.
Prince Edward County Lavender hosts the annual Lavender Festival, in July, which is peak lavender season. There are food vendors and activities. An entrance fee is charged.
Millefleurs is a family-run farm growing lavender and raising honey bees. Guided tours of the farm are offered. There are lavender fields, an orchard, sunflower garden, apiary and honey house, meadery and boutique store. In July, see the steam distillation process which produces lavender essential oils.
The boutique offers honeys of different colours, aromas and flavours (including one infused with lavender of course). There are lavender-infused condiments and other culinary products for cooking and baking, plus aromatherapy and personal care products.
Mead is a fermentation of honey and water with selected yeasts and can be dry or sweet and still or bubbly. Try a flight of mead or honey wines or lavender lemonade.
Visit the Lavender Farms between late June and early August when the lavender flowers. Farms plant several varieties for different aromas and tastes. Each variety blooms at slightly different times, almost guaranteeing stunning fields of purple on a July visit. The farms and their boutiques are open at other times throughout the year. Entrance fees apply during flower season. Check their websites for current flower conditions since the season depends on Mother Nature.
Prince Edward County Hiking
Sandbanks Provincial Park has the County’s main hiking opportunities. Find three main trails, plus other trails which link the beaches and campgrounds.
This is list of hiking trails or hiking areas in Prince Edward County, with a brief note about each beach below.
|Hiking Trail or Area||Location|
|Dunes Trail||Sandbanks Provincial Park|
|Woodlands Trail||Sandbanks Provincial Park|
|Cedar Sands Nature Trail||Sandbanks Provincial Park|
|Massassauga Point Conservation Area||East of Rossmore|
|Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area||Picton|
|Little Bluff Conservation Area||East of South Bay|
|Beaver Meadow Wildlife Management Area||Woodrous, Southwest of Picton|
Sandbanks Dunes Trail, a 2.5-kilometre trail, is the most popular trail in Sandbanks Provincial Park. The easy-to-moderate trail loops through a unique, fragile dune habitat and travels along the edge of several rare wetland habitats called pannes.
Boardwalks, viewing platforms and benches have been built to increase the enjoyment of this unique dune habitat and the coastal wetland pannes. Stay on the boardwalks and trails to reduce impact to the dunes and to avoid Poison Ivy which is often present.
A separate 1-kilometre, barrier-free side trail starts at the same trailhead. It loops through a wetland and along the edge of a large dune.
Enjoy the easy Sandbanks Woodlands Trail. The 7-kilometre round-trip, out and back, trail runs along old farm fields from the main gate of Sandbanks to the Dunes Beach. Walk by the hedgerows marking field edges and along dense deciduous woods of oaks and maples. Wildlife is often seen along this path.
Sandbanks Cedar Sands Nature Trail has 12 interpretive stations on its 2-kilometre nature loop. The trail is along the shores of the Outlet River with stops including lookouts over the marsh.
The local conservation areas also have hiking trails. For more details about the conservation areas noted below, visit the Quinte Conservation Hiking webpage.
Massassauga Point Conservation Area has 4 kilometres of trails passing a former quarry and dock. The conservation area protects a rare Burr Oak Savannah, a type of mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem.
Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area features a climb up a 40-metre ridge to reach the viewpoint looking over Picton. The trail network has over 7 kilometres of trails.
Visit Birdhouse City, near the conservation area’s parking lot. It contains over 100 bird nesting boxes, each sitting high on its own platform and pole. Each bird box is unique and depicts aspects of the culture and history of Prince Edward County. The “city” started in 1980 and, with the support of volunteers, continues 40 years later.
The 70-acre Little Bluff Conservation Area includes a 20-metre high limestone bluff giving a panoramic view of Prince Edward Bay and the cobblestone beach below. See ruins of limestone granaries used for barley storage during the prosperous “Barley Days” in the late 1800’s. There are about 1.5 kilometres of hiking trails.
At Beaver Meadow Wildlife Management Area, 2 short trails lead from the parking lot to an observation platform over a large wetland. The wetland is home to a variety of birds and other wildlife and many plant species.
Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area
Prince Edward Point, at the end of the peninsula on the northeast shore of Lake Ontario, was granted protected status in 1978, one of Canada’s first National Wildlife Areas.
In its 530 hectares, there are forest, meadow, grassland and gravel beach areas. Explore year-round on designated trails. Swimming and picnicking are permitted in designated areas. Open fires or charcoal barbecues are not permitted anywhere in the wildlife area.
The area was extensively cleared and farmed in the 19th century. The natural Red Cedar Savannah and woodlands are gradually being reestablished. Swamp and marshland plants are taking hold in the wetter areas. The only trees remaining from the original 19th century stands are Eastern White Cedars along the shore.
The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, founded in 1995, is a very successful bird banding station. The observatory was established in the wildlife area since the area is globally recognized as important to the seasonal migrations of many bird species. Its plentiful mussels and native shellfish provide feasts for many migrating birds.
No other location on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario shows such high numbers of birds during migration. More than 300 species have been recorded here, including songbirds, waterfowl, owls and hawks. Migrations are recorded each season by both professional and volunteer observers.
The area is also a gathering spot for monarch butterflies in the fall. This is one of three International Monarch Reserves in southern Ontario.
Long Point Harbour, the natural sheltered cove at the end of the paved road, is one of the only refuges for ships along the County’s shoreline. Generations of Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishermen and boaters have used the harbour. Boat launching and docking is permitted in designated areas.
Prince Edward Point Lighthouse, the wooden heritage lighthouse, was an important navigation point for more than a century beginning in 1881. Visit the lighthouse by going beyond the vehicle gate on the unpaved road around the harbour. Unfortunately, access to the interior of the lighthouse is not permitted.
Millennium Cycling Trail
This 50-kilometre, multi-use trail between Picton and Carrying Place was originally the Prince Edward County Railway line. After being abandoned for years, The County bought the right of way and created the Millennium Trail.
The railway connected The County’s main villages making the trail a great active way to visit attractions and experience the tranquil countryside. Many of the best Prince Edward County wineries are near the trail. A guided or self-guided Bike Wine Tour is a great option.
The trail is multi-use so watch for both foot and motorized traffic. ATVs, dirt bikes and even horses are allowed on the trail. In winter, snowmobiles are the only motorized vehicles allowed.
Bike rentals are offered by these businesses.
|Closson Road Cycles (They do tours too!)||Hillier|
|Pedego Electric Bikes||Bloomfield|
|County Bike Rentals||(They deliver to you!)|
Oeno Gallery – Outdoor Sculpture Garden
The 4-acre garden, at Huff Estates Winery, displays large, outdoor art pieces. Perennials are planted throughout the garden. Paths lead among maples and poplars, through a grapevine arbour, to herb and rose gardens and a spring-fed pond in the old quarry on the property.
The indoor Oeno Gallery, beside the sculpture garden, includes both contemporary and historical Canadian and international artworks. All artwork, whether outdoors or indoors, is for sale.
Prince Edward County Brewers
Craft breweries are thriving in Prince Edward County serving great beer. Many offer food as well.
In our article, Best Breweries in Prince Edward County, we highlight the County’s 9 great brewers. Enjoy planning your brewery tour!
Prince Edward County Cider
PEC isn’t just about wine and beer. The County’s abundant apple orchards produce some great cider. Drop into these Prince Edward County Cideries for a taste.
|County Cider Company||Waupoos|
|Clafeld Cider House||Waupoos|
|Apple Falls Cider||Rednersville|
|Loch Mor Cider Company||Hillier|
|Field Bird Cider||Bloomfield|
|Crimson Cider Company||Picton|
Also, the Kinsip House of Fine Spirits is the only distillery in Prince Edward County. Located in Bloomfield, stop in to taste their gin, vodka and whisky creations.
Things To Do in Picton, Ontario
Picton, the county’s largest community, makes a great base. Its downtown has a number of restaurants and pubs serving locally-sourced food and drink. Many of the buildings date back to the town’s 19th-century founding as the seat of county government and commerce.
To see some of Picton’s history or maybe work off an amazing meal, enjoy a short walk through town.
Our tour begins at Picton United Church at the west end of Mary Street. Completed in 1898, this is the third church to stand on the site. The second church held the 1824 Methodist “Canada Conference” which set the stage for the Methodist Church’s split into separate Canadian and US churches.
Cross Picton Main Street and walk to King Street, one block “north”. Enjoy the mix of different styles of buildings. Stop at St Andrews Presbyterian Church and walk the labyrinth in the churchyard.
Continue along King Street to its end at Paul Street. Turn right. At the end of the street is the 1874 Shire Hall. It has always housed the government offices of The County. Picton Town Council and the County Council both meet in the Council Chambers. Next door, the County Registry Office, built in 1871, houses the County Archives.
Walk north on Picton Main Street to the incredible Crystal Palace. It’s a small replica of the massive glass and iron Crystal Palace built in 1851 in London England. A number of these replicas were built in North America in the 19th century. This one, built in 1887, is said to be the only one still standing.
Turn right on Bay Street. Walk to the lovely Picton Harbour at the south end of Picton Bay. See beautiful boats moored in the harbour and at the marina.
This quiet harbour was the centre of the small community of Hallowell in the early 1800’s, supporting the rapidly expanding shipping industry. Steamer use after 1818 made the harbour more accessible and the community grew rapidly. Hallowell and adjacent Picton amalgamated in 1837 becoming today’s town of Picton.
Hill Street leads back to Picton Main Street and downtown Picton. Look for the marquee of the Regent Theatre, which opened as an opera house in 1918. The Regent Theatre Foundation and its volunteers have brought it back to its original splendour, inside and out. They offer both films and live theatre.
A couple doors down from the Regent, the Picton Armoury has a mix of food, general business tenants and community spaces. The armory has been many things over the years. Beginning in 1913 as the home for the 16th Prince Edward Regiment, a local militia unit, it has hosted dances, badminton tournaments and many community gatherings.
The Mary Street Parking Lot is accessible by walking beside the Armory to Mary Street. The parking lot is to the right.
If town is busy, the Mary Street Parking Lot, is handy just one block “south” of Picton Main Street. The large sign at the entrance to the lot shows several other walking routes of various distances through town.
Prince Edward County Antiques
Antiquing has become popular again as people are giving second chances to furniture, clothing and house wares. These are some of the PEC stores carrying gently-used merchandise. Check their websites for operating hours.
|Dead People’s Stuff||Bloomfield|
|MacCool’s Reuse||West Lake|
|Stowaway Vintage||Cherry Valley|
|The Local Store||Bloomfield|
Museums and Historical Sites
These museums and historical sites present The County as a hub of activity in the 19th century including its early status as a vacation hotspot.
Macaulay Heritage Park
This park, just outside Picton, includes a church, graveyard, Macaulay House and a carriage house. St. Mary Magdalene Church was built about 1825 on land granted to Reverend Macaulay. The impressive tower was added ten years later. The congregation eventually outgrew the church. In 1970, they deeded it to The County for use as a museum.
Macauley House, constructed in 1831, was the home of Rev. Macaulay and his family until his death in 1874. After extensive renovation, it opened to the public in 1981. The Carriage House was relocated to the site in 1998.
The White Chapel was one of the first Methodist churches in Upper Canada. Built by Loyalist Methodists in 1809, it remains relatively unaltered and is one of the few examples of early Loyalist architecture in the County. It can be rented for weddings and small events through Picton United Church. It is just northeast of Picton, near Parsons Brewing Company.
Ameliasburgh Heritage Village
The village began in 1968 with only one building, the 1868 Methodist Church. Over the years many buildings have been moved to the site creating a full pioneer village. See what pioneer-era school was like and visit barns full of farm machinery and more.
Rose House Museum
The Rose Family obtained the property from the crown in the early 1800s when United Empire Loyalists and German indentured soldiers moved to the area. It remained in the family for five generations and changed little over that time. The County opened it as a museum in 1967 showcasing 19th and 20th century furniture and crafts obtained from area families. The nearby shed displays antique farm implements.
Mariners Park Museum
The museum’s most impressive building is the stone lighthouse. Built on the property as a 1967 centennial project, its iron lantern and third-order Fresnel lens came from the False Ducks Island lighthouse. That lighthouse was built on False Ducks Island in the late 1820’s and was the second lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It was demolished in 1965. Different types of marine equipment and boats make up the rest of the museum’s collection.
Wellington Heritage Museum
This local history museum, in a historic 1885 Quaker Meeting House, is in the heart of Wellington. Displays explain the important role that Quaker’s played in the local economy. Learn about the large canning industry in Prince Edward County. There were over 75 different canning factories in the area between 1882 and 1996.
Lakeland Lodge – Historic site
This small Sandbanks Provincial Park picnic area was a thriving holiday lodge with a history over 200 years old before the government bought the land in 1974.
The area was settled by the MacDonald Family after the war of 1812. After clearing the land for crops and livestock, the farm expanded to include orchards and dairy products. Ultimately five generations of MacDonalds earned their living from this land.
For a number of years tourists had been vacationing at local farms. After World War I, farmers started providing cottages for guests. The MacDonalds built Lakeland Lodge and 12 cottages. Opened in 1930, the dining room was popular with guests and locals, serving food grown on the farm. There was a tennis court, lawn bowling, dance hall, children’s playground and more. It closed when the property was purchased by the province for inclusion in Sandbanks Provincial Park in the early 1970s.
Lakeshore Lodge – Historic site
Like Lakeland, as the province was putting together the land for Sandbanks Provincial Park, it bought Lakeshore Lodge. After operating for almost 100 years, the province closed it in 1972. Today this is a large day-use picnic area. Wander and find hints of the past splendour in odd bits of foundations.
Lakeshore Lodge began with a small home which the owner opened to guests. In 1876, new owners built a huge, 3-storey, first-class hotel with forty rooms on two upper floors with balconies and lake views. By the end of the 1800’s nine lakeview-cottages were added. The lodge’s main floor dining room sat over 100 people.
The Lakeshore was known for its dancing with live bands on the weekends. Over the years, there were three different dance halls, each destroyed by fire. The first included a bowling alley. The last was built in the 1960’s and bits of its terrazzo floor are still visible.
The lodge had its own baseball diamond, 3-hole golf course, riding stables, shuffleboard court and tennis court. A swimming pool offered a warmer alternative to the lake and the wading pool was a safer option for younger guests.
After the Lakeshore closed, the buildings were not maintained. A mysterious fire in 1983 destroyed all but the front steps and foundations of the main lodge.
Prince Edward County Camping
There are plenty of campsite options in Prince Edward County. The best and most abundant camping is at Sandbank Provincial Park.
This is a list of the most popular campgrounds in PEC.
|Sandbanks Provincial Park Camping||Sandbanks Provincial Park|
|Sandbanks River Country Campground||Outlet River|
|Smugglers Cove RV Resort||Northeast of South Bay|
|Quinte’s Isle Campark||Southwest of Cherry Valley|
|Edgewater Family Camping Resort||West Lake|
|County Shores||East of North Port on Bay of Quinte|
Prince Edward County Cottages
There are many cottage options around the lakes of The County. This is a list of some of the most desired cottages available for rent.
|Sandbanks Beach Resort||West Lake|
|Quinte’s Isle Campark||Southwest of Cherry Valley|
|Sandbanks Cottages and Campsites||On East Lake, Southwest of Cherry Valley|
|Merland Park||On Picton Bay, NE of Picton|
|Cherry Beach Resort||On East Lake, SW of Cherry Valley|
|Lake on the Mountain Resort||Glenora-Lake on the Mountain|
|Isaiah Tubbs Resort||West Lake|
Prince Edward County Accommodations
Besides camping/cottages, there are lots of other great accommodations in Prince Edward County. These are some of the best.
|The Inn at Huff Estates||Inn||Huffs Corners|
|The Waring House||Inn||Picton|
|The Lakeside Motel||Inn||Wellington|
|Isaiah Tubbs Resort||Resort||West Lake|
|The June Motel||Motel||Picton Bay, NE of Picton|
|Drake Motor Inn||Motel||Wellington|
|County Buzzz Bed & Breakfast||B&B||SE of Hillier|
Prince Edward County Restaurants
These are some of the most popular restaurants in the Prince Edward County region.
|East and Main||Wellington|
|Midtown Brewing Company||Wellington|
|Flame and Smith||Bloomfield|
|Bloomfield Public House||Bloomfield|
|Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar||West Lake|
|The County Canteen||Picton|
|The Acoustic Grill||Picton|
|Miller House Brasserie||Glenora-Lake on the Mountain|
Where is Prince Edward County Ontario?
Prince Edward County is located on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto, Canada.
How do I get to Prince Edward County?
From the west (Toronto): Travel Highway 401 East to exit 522. Take County Road 40/Wooler Road toward Trenton. Travel south on County Road 40 to County Road 33. County Road 33 enters PEC on the west side, runs through Picton and on to Glenora on the east side.
From the east (Ottawa/Kingston): Travel Highway 401 West to exit 566. Take Marysville Road/Highway 49 toward Tyendinaga/Picton. Travel south on Highway 49 to Picton.
Missed the exit on Highway 401, continue to Belleville and take exit 543 N Front St/Highway 62. Travel south on Highway 62 to Picton.
To take the ferry: From Kingston, take Highway 33 west to Adolphustown. Enjoy the free ferry ride to Glenora. Highway 33 continues west to Picton.
The County does not have train or bus service.
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