Most people visit Prince Edward County in the summer.
It’s well known for Sandbanks Provincial Park, Lake on the Mountain, and many vineyards. Going in the fall has the advantage that you aren’t queuing and can add in extra stops. On my most recent trip to the county, earlier in October, we covered a lot of ground in two-and- a-half days.
No trip to PEC is complete without seeing one of the best beaches in Ontario, Sandbanks Provincial Park. It has fine, Caribbean-like sand, and gentle sandbars heading out into the lake for wading families. In the summer, you have to have a reservation to even visit the beach, then have to jockey for a spot. Last week we had the entire beach to ourselves once the kiteboarder packed up and left. Granted, we weren’t swimming, but it’s still a pleasant walk and great view with the fall colours curling up the point in the distance.
We also drove to Lakeshore Lodge, where you can see the foundation of the former site, and walk out to the rock shelves that are full of fossils. Then we walked the sand dunes at the Sandbanks Dunes Beach. Another fall benefit is that wearing shoes to do so meant that my feet weren’t on fire from the sand.
While in the area, we stopped by The Local Store to see a collection of the wares of many local artisans. We greeted the goats in the adjoining building, and left with food products and some artwork. Then we were off to Birdhouse City, which was recently featured on an episode of the Amazing Race. In past years, the fun collection of bird houses had seen better days, but perhaps because of its television debut, many of the birdhouses had been refurbished, and is worth a visit again. The late Doug Harnes began the attraction in 1980, having created so many local landmarks (and some international ones) into homes for our feathered friends.
We rounded out the afternoon with a tasting at Black Prince Winery, and if we’d timed it better, could have stayed for a wood-fired pizza. Even if you aren’t a wine drinker, Black Prince also has a solid collection of vinegars to taste. The sherry balsamic and blackcurrant were my two favourites.
On day two, we visited the Huff Estates winery and enjoyed the outdoor Oeno Gallery very much. It is a truly stunning art sanctuary, with many photo and selfie opportunities, on a by donation basis. Then we went onto Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery, Norman Hardie, Sandbanks Winery, and Waupoos Estates Winery. Free shipping is available from many of the wineries, and if you hold a certain Visa card, you can even get a two-for-one tasting. Waupoos also has an impressive selection of Donini chocolates.
Then we marvelled at Lake on the Mountain, in contrast with the water level that the Quinte Loyalist ferry traverses on the other side of the street. We didn’t choose to take the ferry out of the county this trip, but the fall lines were also significantly shorter.
Local farmers’ markets are everywhere, offering flowers and produce. We took advantage of the season to buy fresh off the orchard apples from Creasy’s Apple Dabble Farm one day. The next morning, we attended the Red Barn Farmer’s Market and the Wellington Community Market at the church. Loaded for bear with cheese toppers, pies, doughnuts, we filled up the van and hit the road.
In 48 hours, we’d enjoyed so much, but it was time to bid adieu to the county and her splendor of fall colours; the cold wind was hastening our departure. We’ll take to heart what all the locals kept saying: “Come back in the summer, there is so much more to enjoy.” Life’s a beach, even in the fall.