Toronto Escape: Why Prince Edward County is The Travel Hot Spot

The idyllic rural community just east of Toronto, Prince Edward County, has truly come into its own.

One of the dog-friendly beaches in Sandbanks Provincial Park

One of the dog-friendly beaches in Sandbanks Provincial Park

 

Thanks to an abundance of wineries and a wealth of damn great food, flocks of foodies and urbanites looking to escape the trappings of city life have been heading in droves to the bucolic Prince Edward County for a getaway. Simply known as “the County” (possibly because it’s simply so impressive it can go by one name, like Beyoncé), this region, just a two hour drive from Toronto, is to the 6 what Sonoma is to San Francisco: a quiet (save for the occasional exuberant stag and doe party buses) enclave where you can slow down and simply enjoy the good life.

 The living room the Loft at The Ferg

The living room the Loft at The Ferg

Where to stay

Take one basic old motel and revamp it with cute as a button, retro-inspired design including bold rose wallpaper, pink doors, pretty macrame accessories and neon “Rosé all day” signs (all of which has Instagrammers chomping at the bit) and you’ve got the June Motel. The rooms are comfortable and spacious, and on Sundays, work off that hangover from all of the wine tastings at their outdoor yoga class. For a quieter spot to sleep (or should you want to bring your dog on your trip to the County) check into The Ferg, where there are three cottage-chic accommodations for rent in this home. Its airy Loft is filled with natural light and features a large kitchen, should the farmer’s markets  inspire you to cook during your getaway.

 Wood-fired pizzas at Norman Hardin Winery

Wood-fired pizzas at Norman Hardin Winery

Where to eat

If you don’t eat pizza at Norman Hardie Winery when visiting the County, did your trip even happen? A stop on pretty much everyone’s list when in the area, the wood-fired pies here feature a thin crust balanced with just the right amount of toppings. You can’t go wrong if you keep it simple with a margherita pie (although the funghi is worth the two-hour drive there and back). Over at the Drake Devonshire, the menu is filled with both inventive dishes (such as curried eggplant with lentils and rice noodles) and classics like flatiron steak with fries. While inhaling your food, lap up the feeling of coastal living with the expanse of windows from the dining area serving up stunning views of Lake Ontario.

 Alpacas at Shed at Chetwyn Farms

Alpacas at Shed at Chetwyn Farms

What to do

It’s not every day you get the chance to hang out with alpacas, so make a visit to Shed at Chetwyn Farms a priority.The young and young at heart alike will want to kidnap the cute animals, but you’ll have to settle for the darling alpaca wool sweaters, socks and yarn sold inside the shop. To work off some of the empty wine calories, spending a day at Sandbanks Provincial Park will do the trick, where you can bike, swim or walk the trails (and during migration season, bird watch). If you’ve brought along Spot, there are two dog-friendly beaches where you can play fetch with them in the water all day long.

 The lobby bar at The June Motel

The lobby bar at The June Motel

Where to drink

With a plethora of wineries and vineyards to choose from, wine fans will find themselves on cloud nine when visiting the County. Sparkling fans should make their way to Hinterland Wine Company to get some bubbly, while cheese lovers will be happy campers at Lighthall Vineyards, where they also produce a few types of cheese, which you can have a nibble of when doing a wine tasting there. More of a cider drinker than wine? The family-run County Cider Company has won many awards and is produced with apples from their orchards, which date back to 1850.

 Global finds at Sand & Sumac

Global finds at Sand & Sumac

Where to shop

Filled with covetable items to gift (or to gift yourself!), Kokito carries a range of lifestyle items for everyone from babies to adults. Think stylish baby toys, luxurious wool blankets, quirky stationary and deliciously scented candles. Across the street at Sand & Sumac, be prepared to launch your own immediate home redecorating plans as the colourful finds here from around the globe, including vivid blankets, baskets and pillows, will inspire you as soon as you step in the door. As you’ll likely want to add a bit of greenery to your soon-to-be-redecorated abode, stop into Parlour Studio to pick up a charming succulent or leafy plant or two. Finally, if no trip is complete without a souvenir t-shirt, be sure to pop into Prince Edward County T-Shirt Company where you can score charming tees to declare your newfound love of the County.

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