Prince Edward County’s rural seasonal nature has its charms and challenges for visitors. Insider Travel Tips can help you to fully enjoy your getaway — find out the best times to visit, things to avoid, local travel resources, unique experiences …
Connect with the locals
To start your connections, try staying in a local BnB or guest suite. Whether or not your host is present during your visit, try to get recommendations for their favourite places. Locals are usually relaxed and friendly, and will often take the time to chat and answer your questions. Shop at the nearest grocery store, ask locals for restaurant and café suggestions, walk through the neighborhoods, have a picnic in the park … It’s amazing what kind of things you can discover.
Slow down and enjoy the journey
The County moves at a slower pace, we’re on “island time”. Travel more slowly and you’ll discover more. The Spring and Fall seasons are the perfect time to experience The County when it’s quieter.
Save money on mid-week getaways and shoulder seasons
The peak tourism season is mid-May to mid-October, and weekends are the busiest. If you can be flexible and travel during shoulder seasons or mid-weeks, you may find savings on accommodation and guided tours.
Check ahead for Restaurants & Accommodation
During the peak tourism season book ahead for meals and accommodations.
Check restaurant hours in advance, as many are closed early in the week. I would recommend visiting Wednesday to Friday to get the best variety of restaurants and to leave before the weekend crowds. Many restaurants in Prince Edward County scale back to dinner only over fall and winter.
Best times to visit wineries
Don’t plan to visit the wineries on Saturdays between 12 and 5, when they are extremely busy. Plan for a Friday or Sunday, or mid-week when it’s less crowded and you will receive more attentive service.
For a unique experience, sign up for a grape-picking brigade during fall harvest (usually half-days of picking with a harvest lunch & wine to follow). Ask for the sign-up list at the local wineries.
Best times to visit Sandbanks beach
Lineups for Sandbanks beach can be really long, especially on hot days in the summer. Electronic road signs let visitors know if the park is full (yes, sometimes the park is very popular and fills to capacity!) Get there early in the day. Check here for more Sandbanks tips and alternative beaches.
The County is an island, so you’ll be crossing over a bridge or taking a (free) car ferry to get here. The ferry operates year-round. Check the schedule and delays.
Take a guided tour to see what others miss
A guided tour provides a great overview and insights into our local culture and highlights. It will open your eyes to so much more than if you try and go it alone or just use a guide book or travel app.
There is no Uber service in The County but there are taxis, and shuttle service is provided by some entertainment venues like The Hayloft. Winery and brewery guided tours will pick you up at your location.
Internet access is limited
High speed internet covers most of Prince Edward County, but the speed and reliability depend on the location. WiFi is available at many restaurants and accommodation places.
Eat where the locals eat
The County has become a “foodie” destination, named ‘the Gastronomic Capital of Ontario’ by The Globe and Mail. Local menus showcase the very best of local produce and wines. But dining out at “hot spots” can get pricey, so consider staying where there is a kitchen to prepare simple meals. If you enjoy cooking and want a real local experience, head straight to a market and see what’s in season. Ask your host or locals for recommendations, and find the food trucks. For a fun culinary experience, take a cooking class.
Every season offers unique experiences
In our rural community, each season is like a different world. Spring ushers in the Maple Festival, spring birding migration, seasonal markets, nature walks, garden tours and plant sales …
Summer brings beaches, picnics, winery tours, camping, cottages, music festivals, art shows, craft shows, live theatre and historical walking tours …
Fall is a fabulous season to visit The County. The beaches are quieter and harvest festivals abound. Enjoy fall colour tours, cycling, marathons, regional food celebrations, grape & apple harvesting, pumpkin festival, artist studio tours, and country fairs.
In the winter, there’s Vinterfest, ICE BOX Art, and Flashback February or get active with winter sports … Or, just cozy up by a roaring fire with some good food, good wine and good friends!
Traveling with kids
Prince Edward County offers something for kids big and small and is the perfect family getaway destination. You’ll find that many of the music events and wineries are family-friendly.
Traveling with pets
Bring your furry family members with you on your next vacation. Find pet-friendly businesses by applying the search filter in accommodation and eateries categories.
Do you have tips to add? Please share in the comments below!