Valleys and vineyards, coves and bays, intriguing twists and unexpected turns: Welcome to Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte Country’s legendary land apart.
“The County,” as the locals call it, zigzags south into Lake Ontario, its upper shores softened by the sheltered waters of the Bay, its lower lakefronts sculpted by wind and wave. Visitors soon recognize that Prince Edward County is a signature place, home to a culture blended from 18th century Loyalist roots, a rich marine heritage, deep respect for farm and field, and an uncanny ability to foster artistic talent and creative minds.
Easy access, natural beauty, regional cuisine, a winning personality-factor in historic towns, nostalgic villages, and some of Canada’s most beautiful inland beaches: What do you have? A traveller’s dream come true.
There’s more to the County than sun and sand, but on a hot and breezy summer’s day, this island’s famous natural attractions are more than enough. Winds that drive against west-side shores have created some of the most extensive bay mouth sandbar and coastal sand dune systems in the world. The result? Countryside beaches with a tropical feel, offering kilometres of golden sands, shallow waters and sea-like horizons.
Winds that drive against the west-side shores of Prince Edward County have created some of the most extensive bay mouth sandbar and coastal sand dune systems in the world.
Find the County’s most popular playgrounds at Sandbanks Provincial Park, southwest of Picton and North Beach Provincial Park, west of Wellington. Sandbanks is a vacation destination superstar. The Park’s spectacular beaches (including Outlet Beach, separating inner East Lake from Lake Ontario) are part of a holiday hub that includes campgrounds, trails, boat launches, and a Visitor Centre.
Come for the day, or plan to stay. Reserve your Sandbanks Provincial Park campsite, or book a nearby resort, bed and breakfast, or private campsite. North Beach Provincial Park (day use only), is Sandbanks’ quieter cousin, a simple, scenic 1.2 kilometre span of sand that captures the essence of summer. Look for the colour-coded “wave meter” at the entrance to the Park.
Insider’s Tip: Combine sun, sand, and small-town charm with a stop at the Village of Wellington’s public beach and lake front park. Sun and swim, stroll the wooden boardwalk, or picnic near the scenic narrow channel that connects Lake Ontario to Wellington Harbour, home base of sport and commercial fisheries.
For a completely different beach experience, follow the descending trail from the limestone cliffs of Little Bluff Conservation Area (PDF), near Milford, to a cobblestone beach edging the clear waters of Prince Edward Bay. Look for the remnants of a 19th century grain storage bin. During the County’s legendary “Barley Days,” this was a busy loading point for schooners carrying grain to American breweries.
Planning a Lake Ontario boating trip? Have a look at the map: Prince Edward County reaches out from the Lake’s north shore, ready to harbour your cruiser or sailboat in one of its many bays. Once you arrive, you’ll find 800 kilometres of shoreline and a country vacation wonderland to explore. Tie up at (or launch) at almost a dozen County dock-sites, including Picton Harbour in the rural-sophisticate town of Picton (44.145754,-77.067719), or Wellington Harbour, in the heart of an old-fashioned summerside village.
The County is a favourite haunt of canoeists and kayakers: take a guided tour of inland lakes or County shorelines. For world-class windsurfing, head to Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Ready? Count the County fishing spots!
First, the bays - Wellers Bay, Pleasant Bay, Hay Bay, North Bay, Prince Edward Bay and Bay of Quinte – and then the inland lakes: Consecon Lake, Roblin Lake, West Lake, East Lake, Lake on the Mountain.
Add Adolphus Reach, and finish with the greatest lake of all – Lake Ontario. Trophy-size walleye are the major magnet, from May through to February. (Walleye ice fishing on the Bay of Quinte: catch a 10-pounder!)
Angle for salmon (chinook, coho, Altantic), trout (lake, brown and rainbow) muskie, and all the panfish – perch, crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, bass and mudcat. These waters also produce eel, carp, sheepshead, dogfish, whitefish, herring and even the ultra-rare sturgeon. Check with local operators and marinas for top-notch charters, equipment and gear.
Birders take note: Prince Edward County is a major staging area for migratory birds – local bird counts often exceed 300 species! For best birding, head to the County’s southern points: Point Petre, Salmon Point, West Point, Huyck’s Point, and out to the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory on the southeastern tip of Long Point. The Observatory, located in a National Wildlife Area, is a migratory monitoring station and a Globally Important Bird Area (IBA). Look for bird banding demos, birdathons and the PEPtBO’s Spring Birding Festival.
Prince Edward County is a major staging area for migratory birds – local bird counts often exceed 300 species!
Gracious, bustling hub of Prince Edward County. Fine heritage homes, speciality shopping, galleries, boutique accommodation, signature restaurants. Check for live theatre or film at Main Street’s 1920′s art-deco Regent Theatre, a rare example of an Edwardian opera house. See the Crystal Palace, circa 1887, at the Picton Fair Grounds – a scaled down version of the London original.
Nearby: Mariner’s Park Museum, honouring the County’s sailing, steamboating and shipbuilding history, and Lake on the Mountain, with its deep, mysterious waters.
This fresh-paint-and-flower-box village is a day-tripper’s delight. Shops, inns, galleries, studios, antiques, cafes and homemade ice cream!
A jaunty lakeside village with a hometown feel. Shops, spas, bed-and-breakfasts, public park, beach and boardwalk.
A picture-perfect millpond at Milford, sweeping views from the Rutherford-Stevens Lookout near Waupoos, and a beguiling country harbour at Prinyer’s Cove.
Take a “Taste Trip” on the Taste Trail of Prince Edward County! Look for just-picked fruits (apples, berries!) and vegetables (tomatoes, asparagus!), locally-raised meats, artisanal cheeses, homemade treats and signature sweets-then pair them up with award-winning Prince Edward County wines, ciders and craft beer.
Oenophiles and epicures take note: the “Garden County” attracts top chefs to its pubs, cafés and restaurants. Time your visit to experience Maple in the County (March), or Taste! A Celebration of Regional Cuisine, in September.
Loyalist settlers, shipbuilding and shipwrecks, Sir John A. Macdonald, lucrative “Barley Days,” and renegade rum-running: these County heritage spots tell the story:
|Historic Homes, Loyalist & Pioneer Life||Community Archives and Genealogy||Marine and Shipbuilding|
|Macaulay Heritage Park, Picton||Quinte Educational Museum and Archives, Ameliasburgh||Mariner’s Park Museum, Picton|
|Rose House Museum, Waupoos||Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre, Ameliasburgh||Archives and Collections Society (Marine/Nautical), Picton|
|Ameliasburgh Historical Museum, Ameliasburgh|
|Wellington Heritage Museum, Wellington|
Follow the Arts Trail through the main streets, back roads and remote outposts of the County to the see the work of the County’s renowned painters, photographers, potters, glass blowers, jewellery designers, textile artists, sculptors, quilters and more. Look for annual studio tours, or art and artisan “shows and sales.”
Come for the County’s famous music festivals, Prince Edward Jazz Festival, Prince Edward County Music Festival, or visit a local live-music pub or coffee house.
Book a show at Picton’s Regent Theatre or check community theatre group schedules – Prince Edward County legends and lore are a favourite focus of local musicians and storytellers.