25+ Things to do with Kids in Prince Edward County 🍦
The County is kid paradise. In addition to beaches and baseball fields, alpaca farms and apple orchards, there are cooking classes, tennis courts, plentiful library programs, free skating sessions, jungle gyms and indoor swims and a wealth of year-round outdoor activities to keep your half-pint County-ites busy.
Written by: Karen Palmer
Beyond the beach.
1. There’s a new splash pad on the historic fairgrounds in Picton, for when you’ve had it with sand in swimsuits. Built with a nautical theme – ships and water cannons firing water around the pad – it has the latest in high-tech to manage water runoff. Or hit the pool indoors at the Prince Edward Fitness & Aquatic Centre.
2. Caddy Shack is a mini-putt place right outside the entrance to Sandbanks where the 18-holes have been professionally designed with water hazards and sand traps, enough to challenge any golfer.
3. When you need a break from sun and surf, try the historic Regent Theatre for blockbusters, art films and documentaries.
4. The infamous Mustang Drive-in also shows Hollywood blockbusters as the sun sets, a memorable experience for any kid – especially with the old-school jungle-gym and snack stand.
5. Consider a family-friendly festival in the area like County POP, Sandbanks Music Festival, Soap Box Derby Race Day, Firelight Lantern, or Lavender Festival. Each have their own unique offerings for children and families. Don’t forget to break out the family plaid at our agricultural celebrations at the Picton Fair, Milford Fair, and Pumpkin Fest!
6. Visit the local libraries – Picton, Wellington, Ameliasburgh, Milford, Conseconor Bloomfield – for all sorts of fun, creative, educational (and often free!) programming for kids and families. The libraries have a new partnership with Quinte Conservation and offer #AdventureKits (complete with a parking pass, a map and info on the parks, a weather station activity, and some books!)
Back to the land.
7. For all its hip restaurants and vibrant artistry, The County is, at its heart, a rural destination. Visit the Lavender Farm, The SHED (an alpaca farm with a great gift shop), Honey Pie Hives and Herbals, Campbell’s Orchard (with playgrounds and walking paths), Quinta do Conde or Hagerman Farms to get a sense of how what’s for sale at the grocery store gets grown. Hops & Heifers takes visitors in a safari truck to see (and pet!) their herd of water buffalo and sells cheese and meat the farm gate.
8. To get up close and personal with farm animals, the petting zoo at Waupoos Winery fits the bill, with pigs, goats, sheep, ducks and chickens. (Remember that other farms are working farms – please refrain from feeding those cute cows or fancy strutting chickens and keep the safety of you and the animals in mind by staying off fences and out of fields.)
9. Give them some space and just let them run. Get a breathe of fresh air and reconnect with nature at our three provincial parks: Sandbanks, North Beach, Lake on the Mountain. Or, roam the trails and search the ponds for frogs at any of the local conservation areas: Little Bluff, Massassauga Point, H.J. McFarland, Macaulay Mountain, Beaver Meadow, Harry Smith, Demorestville, Mill Pond, or the Rutherford-Stevens Lookout.
History and heritage.
10. The County has a rich history, reflected in our five museums – Rose House, Macaulay Heritage Park, Mariners, Ameliasburgh Heritage Village, Wellington Heritage – each presenting a slice of life in Prince Edward County by different people at different times. Ameliasburgh Heritage Village lets kids literally step back in time, with 20 buildings to explore and volunteers in period dress.
11. The Mariners Park Museum has a lighthouse, awesome playground and lots of lore about pirates, rum runners, treasures and shipwrecks!
13. A visit to Macaulay Heritage Park includes displays on early life in The County and a new exhibit made in collaboration with our neighbours at Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory that focuses on Indigenous history, an under-told story from this region’s past, present, and future.
Build art appreciation.
14. The Sculpture Garden at Oeno Gallery is a great way for kids to experience art in the great outdoors. Contemporary and abstract sculptures of vibrant colours and head-scratching construction pair beautifully with the perennials around them. The garden was designed to make use of the limestone, sand dune and grass paths that shape the garden’s acres acres, with the art nestled perfectly among groves of maples and poplars, a grapevine arbour, an herb garden, a quarry and a rose garden.
15. Check for programs at the Baxter Arts Centre, where Saturday mornings are devoted to a kids’ art club, featuring sessions with local potters, musicians, jewelry makers and textile artists. Weekends often see special events, focusing on foraging, dance, writing and more.
For bigger kids.
16. The state-of-the-art skate park, also on the Picton fairgrounds, caters to beginner and intermediate skaters, and features bowls, hips, spines, a clam shell, flat banks, rails, hubbas, manual pads, ledges, curbs and gaps. (If you know what any of that means, then you know where to go!)
17. Macaulay Heritage House is home to an Escape Room, where visitors are challenged to help a servant locate a treasure rumoured to be stashed in the house – something valuable enough to help cover lost wages. Kids 10+ are welcome – and are awesome at finding and figuring out the clues! While they should play with an adult, kids 14+ will do fine on their own. Find a family rate of $75 covering two adults and four kids here.
18. Spend a day riding horses at Harper Run Stables, Diamond J Ranch or Hadherway Farms. All offer group or private lessons and day or summer camps, giving kids a taste for life on the ranch. Diamond J also offers scenic rides for families, with ponies for kids and inexperienced riders of any level welcome. Archway Connections also offers day camps and retreats with horses and donkeys – for kids big and small alike.
19. Of course, there is no shortage of water sports here, from stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, ice fishing, fishing, even kite surfing. In the winter months there’s snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Go Active Ontario has stuff happening to keep little bodies busy no matter the season.
20. Behind the historic Loch Sloy lies an military base-turned-hospital that has been transformed once again, this time into a paintball paradise with more than 100,000 square feet of indoor playing areas and close to 50 acres outside.
Outside Bloomfield, Rapidfire Paintball & Airsoft offers junior paintball for kids as young as eight: junior paintball uses low-powered guns that are lighter and easier to hold, as well as smaller paintballs that leave no bruises.
21. Let’s start with the most important food group: ice cream. We’ve no shortage of ice cream shops, including The Old Greenhouse, Cones & Shakes, and Slickers, who were recently voted one of Canada’s top 15 ice cream shops.
23. Farmers’ Markets are a great place to meet locals and pick up necessities. The Wellington Market takes place Saturdays and features art, food, clothing, jewelry, crafts, baked goods, pizza, fruits & veg… you name it, it’s there. The Wellington Market is located next to a park with an epic playground in the shape of a ship – rather appropriate given its location next to Lake Ontario.
24. Yum Club does some terrific specials and lighter fare at a “happy price point.” Angry Bird’s Rotisserie Chicken has a menu reminiscent of a certain Swiss chicken Chalet, with a wallet-friendly price point to match. The Vic Café has a lunch and dinner menu priced for families; the County Canteen has high chairs and a change table, as well as a kids’ menu.
But what about wine?
25. It is a family holiday, so there’s got to be some activities for the grown-ups too, right? And yes, it is possible to taste the terroir with little ones in tow.
- Sandbanks Winery helps kids feel like VIPs, with popcorn and juice boxes on offer. (Speaking from experience, the steampunk moose sculpture at the winery’s entrance is surprisingly entertaining – the village at its feet has roofs that move and my nephews spent a good deal of time moving fallen pine cones from one to the other.)
- The Grange has an absolutely gorgeous setting and board games for kids and kids-at-heart. In cooler months, their grand fire place makes an excellent place for a fam-jam huddle.
- Hinterland has bubbles for the grown-ups and lots of toys and outdoor games for the kids – plus a fleet of those iconic orange and yellow tiny cars that will take just about anyone who can squeeze in.
- Sugarbush Vineyards has an outdoor space and a 2-km loop around its vines, which becomes a snowshoe path in the winter, perfect for kids who need to let off a little steam.
26. Parsons Brewing is just north of Picton and has an excellent selection of beers, a gorgeous patio, big fire pit, great Mexican food and a huge playground for the kiddos.
27. Sweet and alcoholic cider are part of The County scene too. Newly-opened Settler’s Cider has a kids’ corner, complete with pint-sized kitchen, while Apple Falls Cider Co. at Campbell’s Orchards has a pretty awesome playground, hilariously large Muskoka chair you can climb into for pictures, a network of walking trails and usually some sort of festival or special programming on the weekends. Add their ‘all you can carry‘ pumpkin patch event to your fall calendar.
28. Kinsip distills spirits in an ancient barn and oast house (where they used to dry hops) and it’s got a venue that is Insta-worthy, with a tree swing and friendly chickens strutting about the farm, both sure to entertain curious kids. Their over-sized jenga and appropriately necessary jenga-hammer also keep the adults entertained while you sip your cocktails.
BONUS: If after all that you just need a little time away from the family, the Bloomfield Beauty Co. offers upscale mani, pedi and massages or dash in to Picton’s Natural Beauty Mini Spa which has been getting raves for its facial massages and nail work.