Prince Edward County is a wonderland any time of year, but winter brings a particular type of magic. The vistas transform. The traffic disappears. There are fewer tourists, less lineups. But everything wonderful about this place — the water, the landscape, the people, the places — remains.
Locals know: it’s worth wandering in the winter. Here’s our guide to making the most of the most underrated season in our cozy corner of Ontario.
Skate and Sip
I’ve had a sincere desire to create something that included the best of everything we had experienced while travelling. Looking at the County, we thought about where someone would stay if they wanted something elevated, luxurious and design-focused, and where they’d feel equally relaxed with or without kids. We realized it didn’t really exist.
We didn’t want to create something focused entirely on family travel. In our experience, that kind of travel feels like a trip and not a vacation; we’d return home feeling just as tired or stressed as we did when we left.
We wanted to create a place where you can bring your kids and everything you need as a parent is available without having to ask — but where your needs and wants are equally important and tended to. We also wanted it to be a place where people without kids can come and not feel like they’re in a family environment. Essentially, we sought to reinvent the resort.
Explore the Millennium Trail
Nearly 50 kilometres comprise the Millennium Trail, a former railroad stretching from Carrying Way through Picton, and you’ll catch winter wonderland views throughout. You can hike, cross-country ski, fat bike, even horseback ride.
Depending on your route — there are various entry points — you can combine recreation with libation with brew breaks at Parsons Brewing Company, Midtown Brewing Co., and Matron Fine Beer.
Catch a Show
Things may look slightly different during pandemic times, but there’s usually always indoor entertainment to be found in the County during the winter — you just need to know where to look.
Documentaries and art films at the Regent Theatre. Live music at the Drake Devonshire, or The Acoustic Grill. Wine Lounge Fridays at Karlo Estates. Karaoke and trivia at the County Canteen.
If visual arts are more your thing, the County is home to open-to-the-public galleries, too. Our favourites: ANDARA Gallery, host to contemporary painting, sculpture, and photography, as well as workshops, and Oneo Gallery, where you can browse contemporary and historical art, as well as large-scale sculpture in the outdoor garden.
Cozy up at Parsons Brewing Company
Bonfire pits, board games, delectable brews, comfort food, the occasional winter market … Parsons Brewing Company is an all-season favourite here at Wander, but wintertime at this barn-turned-brewery is particularly cozy.
Psst: stop by on a Sunday if you want to experience their Stout and Oysters series — a local favourite featuring a four-brew flight paired with freshly shucked shells.
Hike the dunes
Ten kilometres of cross-country ski, hike and snowshoe trails are yours to explore at Sandbanks Provincial Park, with dramatic winter views of Lake Ontario as your backdrop.
Snowshoe through a vineyard
Three Dog Winery and Sugarbush Vineyards both offer free snowshoeing through their wintry vines. Bring your coziest gear and balance a little tasting with a little trekking.
Celebrate at a festival
Wine tastings, live music, art fairs, food lovers’ feasts … from Vinterfest (typically coinciding with the Family Day long weekend) to Hinterlude to Ice Box PEC, winter in the County is rife with festivals. It’s always worth Googling your travel dates to see if there’s an occasion or installation worth dropping by.
What to know before you go
1. Remember to call ahead. In the winter season (and even more so now during a pandemic), a County destination’s operations and hours may vary. Don’t rely on Google results; ring up your destination first.
2. Tack a generous buffer onto your drive. Curvy County roads can be slick and snow-covered from November to March, so take your time and enjoy — every route is the scenic route here.
3. Plans cancelled? Stay in at Wander. Bonfire, bathtub, bubbly, repeat.