Culinary tourism is on the rise everywhere, and Ontario is definitely in on the game. Traveling to eat has turned Prince Edward County (PEC, or the County) into a favored escape for Torontonians seeking great wine, top food, and rustic country charms.
The County has long been a bastion of good drink. In the late 18th century, Prince Edward County became a wealthy region rich in barley. As demand for beer grew across North America, so did the County’s barley-baron mansions. Today, a handful of these beauties have been transformed into luxury inns. For most of the past century, however, PEC was a quiet, sometimes poor, agricultural area with just one small town, the struggling Picton. It still has one main town, but Picton is now thriving. And a number of smaller towns and villages, such as Bloomfield, Wellington, Milford, and Waupoos, have distinguished themselves with food-related attractions such as a craft brewery, a stellar ice-cream shop, and a unique cheese dairy.
A couple of decades ago, a back-to-the-land movement started attracting painters, artisans, glass blowers, and organic-minded farmers. Aspiring vintners came next, then chefs, bakers, even gourmet-hot-dog makers. Now, the place is a hot culinary spot, especially for Torontonians. Given the pristine sand dunes, inland lakes, Sandbanks Provincial Park, and a mysterious lake that sits perched 62m (203 ft.) above Lake Ontario, the County is worth a day trip or two to take in the sights and treat the other senses.
Keep in mind that this area is best explored in the warm months, from spring through fall. A number of shops, galleries, and restaurants close, or seriously cut back hours, during the winter months.