A weekend getaway in Prince Edward County

With fresh air, panoramic views and a vineyard or organic farm around every corner, Ontario's picturesque Prince Edward County is the perfect spot for a (hedonistic) fall road trip
By Doug Wallace
A weekend getaway in Prince Edward County

Stephen Mak

A weekend in the county

A sunny little part of the world jutting out into Lake Ontario just south of Belleville, Ont., Prince Edward County produces award-winning wine, grows prizewinning vegetables and has one of the prettiest beaches in the country. But here's the real clincher: The people are as old-style friendly as you'll ever find.

The County folk are passionate about their Loyalist history, fifth-generation farms, cheese making, organic farming, charming boutiques and 200-year-old carriage houses turned pubs. They dote on their homemade cider, heirloom tomatoes and farm-fresh crops and are so laid-back that their roadside stands, laden with produce, rely on an honour system with a tin cup to drop your money into.

Also an artists' enclave, the area is home to countless painters, potters and poets, all thriving in a setting that fosters artistic expression with a sizable audience to make it worth their while. Farmers, merchants, winemakers, artists and tourists all play a part in this cultural stew, with the added bonus that most attractions are less than an hour's drive from one another.

Country road with trees and fieldsStephen Mak

Day 1: Picton

This is the hub of County activity and a great place to begin your explorations.

Eat: Fortification comes first, and no better spot than Blumen Garden Bistro. People stop here at lunch for chef Andy Feller's chickpea fries with lemon mayo and chipotle cream. Dine outside with the birds and the bees if the weather allows. 647 Hwy 49, 613-476-6841.

"Gourmet" and "hot dog" are words that don't usually go together, but the locally made wieners at Buddha Dog come with a sauce of the day (such as tomato-pear chutney) and local Black River cheese. Yum. 172 Main St. W., 613-476-3814.

Shop: Pop into French Country for all things, well, French, from linens to perfume. 237 Main St.

Home accessories and gifts line the shelves of Gilbert & Lighthall Markplace. 171/173 Main St.

Gilles Charette's G3 Living offers elegantly rustic home accents and decor. 105-172 Main St.

Sleep: A step back in time will land you at one of the area's top spots, the Merrill Inn. Peaceful and laid-back with wall-to-wall antiques, it also boasts chef Michael Sullivan, who decamped from Toronto, where he worked at some of the city's finest restaurants, including the Fifth and Matisse. Don't miss his opera cake, one of our favourites. 343 Main St. E., 613-476-7451.

Merrill Inn, old country innMerrill Inn; Photo by Tim Stewart

Day 2: Waupoos

On your way around the eastern peninsula, a stop or two in the Waupoos area is essential for the cider alone.

Taste: Waupoos Winery was the first in the County, which now boasts more than 30. The baco noir 2010 is the most popular and for good reason. 3016 County Rd. 8, Picton, 613-476-8338.

Locals wander over to the County Cider Company for bevvies and pizza, and to watch black Labrador retrievers Abby and Dudley bark up the trees at imaginary squirrels. This carbon-neutral operation produces award-winning cider from apples grown in its 150-year-old orchard. County Rd. 8, Picton, 613-476-1022.

Waupoos winery, wine, wine cellarWaupoos Winery

Day 3: Ameliasburgh

A little farther north, the pace is definitely right — and the wandering's easy.

Cook: Make sure you book a session with Cynthia Peters at From the Farm Cooking School. Private classes are from four hours long to a full day and will have you making pasta by hand or producing your own sausages. "It's all about connecting with the farm," Cynthia says. "The whole idea is for people to get great recipes that they can adapt for themselves using local food." 618 Burr Rd., 613-922-9194.

Sign on roadTim Stewart


This little village is a perfect combination of both bustling and sleepy at the same time. Vegetable stands dot the roadways, or you can pick your own produce.

Eat: For mind-blowing food, giddy-up to Bloomfield Carriage House. Think sea-salt-roasted-beet ravioli with thyme-scented goat-milk foam, and you'll get our drift. 260 Main St., 613-393-1087.

Angéline's Inn has been a bastion of fantastic fare since the County went foodie. Its new Hubb's Cocktail Lounge has small, perfectly executed dishes like Willi's lamb ravioli with braised lentils or smoked-trout salad with lemon balm vinaigrette. 433 Main St., 613-393-3301.

Shop: For a fun assemblage of vintage curios check out Retrospective, 280 Main St. 

Amarais Artisan is a must-do for divine handmade soap crafted from local goat milk and vegetable oils. 324 Main St.

At Celine Papizewska's Diva Adornments, you'll find aisles and aisles of jewellery and mounds of retro-style handbags. 271 Main St.

Sleep: Just up the road from Bloomfield you can escape the usual B&B chintz at the ultra-modern Inn at Huff Estates and get a deluxe room with private patio. If your overnight plans are elsewhere, make sure you stop in anyway for a quick taste of some great wine, or check out what's on the walls at Oeno Gallery, the County's absolute best for local art. 2274 County Rd. 1, 613-393-1414,

Amarais Artisan soap shopAmarais Artisan; Photo by Tim Stewart


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