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.

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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.