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Prince Edward County

Explore this Lake Ontario island for a culinary adventure

A beautiful island adventure, Prince Edward County is a mecca for artists, nature lovers and anyone looking to take a break for a weekend—or longer.

Renowned for its sailing, fishing and giant sand dunes, "The County" also offers live theater, artists' studios and galleries, unique regional cuisine and a flourishing wine region. The perfect place for a getaway, it's just a day trip from Toronto or Ottawa.

Prince Edward County is located in Southern Ontario at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. It is an island community encompassing less than 270 square miles, with more than 500 miles of shoreline.

The permanent population is approximately 25,000, all of whom share their spectacular natural beauty with more than 100,000 visitors each year.

The island community has retained a unique character that evokes fond recollections of days long past. Idyllic country roads wind through historic towns and villages, countrysides dotted with farms and vineyards, past artists' studios and antiques shops, and along shorelines that border Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte.

Coastal Treasures
Stroll one of the beautiful beaches or grab a fresh-air fix along the Wellington Beach Boardwalk. Head for the links at the Picton Golf and Country Club, or try your hand at the nine-hole course at Wellington on the Lake.

If fishing is your pleasure, there are several charters for hire. You can also just bait your hook and head off to the Wellington Pier. Cards and fishing tags are available at The Reel Thing Fishing Pro Shop in Wellington, or just chill on the water in one of their kayak, canoe or pontoon boat rentals.

Sandbanks Provincial Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the province, offering day visits and miles of sandy beach and dunes. North Beach Provincial Park, near the village of Hillier, is a smaller park with a sandy beach perfect for sunning and swimming.

You can also swim at Little Bluff Conservation Area, a cobble beach with great vistas of South Bay. And if you're really feeling brave, join the local kids and dive off the bridge over the Milford Mill pond.

The county's relatively mild climate, caused by the gentle influence of Lake Ontario, has led to the establishment of 34 wineries. Prince Edward County in recent years has become a top culinary destination. Tucked into the "golden triangle" between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, it is the province's newest Designated Viticultural Area, which helps identify the origin of a wine and its grapes.

Prince Edward County is the second largest area of so-called loyalist architecture, second to Williamsburg, Virginia. The Loyalist Parkway, a scenic route from Trenton to Kingston, is dedicated to the memory of those who settled here to remain loyal to Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War.

This period's heritage is evident everywhere—in the colonial architecture, heritage tour routes, special events and five museums. County ancestors who helped to shape this island community include farmers, mariners, millionaires, rumrunners and Canadian heroes, including John A. Macdonald, who was Canada's first prime minister.

Visit five museums and take a peek into The County's rich history. Relive the "Barley Days" of 1860-90, when the area became famous for the type of barley it produced. This era also saw Macdonald's time in Picton, rum running, the War of 1812 and the rise of the local canning industry.

Ameliasburgh Historical Museum and Pioneer Village, Macaulay Heritage Park and Macaulay House, Mariner's Park Museum, Rose House Museum, Wellington Heritage Museum (an old Quaker Meeting House) and the Loyalist Cultural Centre and Museum in Adolphustown welcome you with open doors.

Stroll through the award-winning Black Walnut Educational Gardens in Milford. Take a tour, participate in a workshop or make purchase.

Worth visiting are Prince Edward County Lavender, Bonibrae Daylilies & Hostas, Lockyer's Country Gardens, Walker's Greenhouse and Wight's Greenhouses and Flower Shop.

A must-see is the Oeno Gallery Sculpture Garden, featuring four acres of flowers, trees, plants and, of course, contemporary sculpture. While you're there, drop in at the gallery and check out the adjacent Huff Estates Winery.

As an island with many wetlands, The County is a natural habitat for birds, and a tremendous number of migratory visitors pass through. Conservation areas like Sandbanks Provincial Park, Point Petre and Ostrander Point offer endless possibilities for birding.

Banding of the Northern Saw-whet owls takes place in the month of October at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. The Canadian Nature Federation and Bird Studies Canada designated The County as an important global birding area. On a more whimsical note, visit endearing Bird House City, just outside of Picton.

A great way to discover The County is by driving or cycling the Loyalist Parkway, and following the Arts Trail and Taste Trail. Wine buffs will want to explore the Wine Trails. Experience the dark side of Picton on the Gallows and Graveyards Tour.

If you like festivals and events, Maple in The County kicks off the spring season in style. Food and wine enthusiasts will want to attend Terroir in May, the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in June, and Taste!, a celebration of regional cuisine in September.

There is no shortage of arts and music festivals, events and workshops throughout the summer. The Women's Institute Art and Craft Sale in August at the Picton Fairgrounds features 200 vendors offering stained glass, paintings and other goods.

Wellington hosts a fantastic Canada Day party, as well as Pumpkinfest in October. The fall fairs in Ameliasburgh, Milford and Picton are highly anticipated events.

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