What to Do in Winter in Prince Edward County❄️
It’s beautiful any time of year in The County, but when old man winter takes his palette of white and begins to paint in snow, the results are truly magical. Get out here and explore the snow show!
Article by: George Amaro + Karen Orme
Lace ’em up.
Let’s begin with the most iconic of Canadian winter pastimes … skating. And no, we don’t have to say ice skating … we’re Canadian … there’s only one kind.
And like most Canadians, we don’t need a rink to lace ’em up … any frozen piece of water will do, and there’s plenty of that when you’re an island. But if you want something a little more structured, we’ve got that, too.
- Prince Edward Community Centre, 375 Picton Main Street.
- Wellington District Community Centre (Lehigh Arena), 111 Belleville Street.
Hit the trails.
You can snap on the skis and snowshoes at many of The County’s parks and conservation areas, including Sandbanks, which features 10 km of trails, and Macaulay Mountain’s 11 km of paths. The 46-km-long Millennium Trail is a fantastic place to ski, snowshoe or hike – just remember that the trail is part of, and shared by, snowmobilers. Of course, you can just hike any of the trails and beaches as well.
Three Dog Winery’s 6 km of trails are open for free on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — and they can even supply snowshoes for free (no ski equipment). Guided, night-time snowshoe hikes are also available. Check with them for details.
Sugarbush Vineyards, a self-proclaimed garagiste winery, has a 2.5 km snowshoe trail though their sugarbush and vineyard. Snowshoe rentals are available, and include a wine tasting, hot chocolate and cookies. They’re open most weekends – check in advance.
Campbell’s Orchards, a 50-year-old County institution, boasts several trails for hiking, skiing or snowshoeing through their orchards. They have a limited number of snowshoes you can borrow (with a piece of ID), but check beforehand. Open Thursdays (9-5) to Sundays (10-5).
Slip on a snowsuit, hop on the sled, and over the farm fields we go … and the forests, and the trails, and the pastures. The Prince Edward County Trail Riders groom and maintain about 220 km of snowmobile trails in The County. And, if you don’t already have one, make sure you get your Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) trail permit before you hit the white gold.
Thrill the hill.
Anything with a slight slope will do for tobogganing, really, but if you’re looking for a somewhat more exhilarating ride, try (at your own risk) Macauley Mountain Conservation Area and the “epic” hill at Delhi Park in Picton.
New members are always welcome at the 100+-year-old Prince Edward Curling Club. And don’t worry if you don’t have any experience, aspiring curlers can start their hall-of-fame careers with a six-week Learn to Curl program that is very chill and fun. The club is located at 367 Main Street in the Picton Fairgrounds between the Crystal Palace and the arena. Prince Eddy’s Brewery also hosts a regular league night.
Grab a cold one.
Walleye is the prize target at Fish Finder Charters, though perch and northern pike are also on the hook. The highly respected company, which will be celebrating their 40th season this year, rents eight insulated huts, so contact them well in advance to book.
At Merland Park Cottages, located on beautiful Picton Bay, you can rent winterized cottages, ice-fishing huts, and even your own, personal, experienced walleye fishing guide. The ice fishing season usually starts mid-January, and the huts are on the water until the end of February depending on weather conditions. Here’s some bedtime reading on what to bring ice fishing, and how to target winning walleye.
Power the powder.
Fat bikes are a unique, and increasingly popular way to snow-trek The County’s beaches, trails, and yes, wineries and breweries. These fun and funky two-wheelers are available from Ideal Bike, and while their Wellington location is closed for the winter, they can set you up from their Belleville store. Just give them a shout and they’ll meet you in Wellington or deliver to where you’re staying in PEC.
Play and stay.
Prince Edward County is home to a diverse and beautiful range of overnight spaces and places. From charming and quaint hotels, motels and inns –– to eclectic and upscale B&Bs, with their ice-melting, hands-on hospitality, each is as unique as a snowflake. And best of all, you can experience them at low, off-peak-season rates, so they’re perfect for that winter wonderland escape! Check out where to stay.
Cozy the toesies.
Sure, fires aren’t exclusive to winter, but they’re probably a wee bit more enjoyable, because of the Cozy-Up-Factor … that’s a scientific term that measures the coziness of a fire in relation to how cold it is outside. (OK, so we made that up).
Where to get fire-side comfort? Luckily, lots of places in The County have either an indoor fireplace to snuggle-up to, an outdoor bonfire to drink hot bevies around – or both. Here are just a few toasty-time treasures: Drake Devonshire (both), Flame + Smith (both), Gillingham Brewing Company (outdoor) Kinsip House of Fine Spirits (outdoor), Lake on the Mountain Brewing Company (both), Midtown Brewing Company (both), Parsons Brewing Company (outdoor), The Grange of Prince Edward (indoor), Three Dog Winery (outdoor).
Escape to escape.
Escape to PEC has recently taken on a double entendre, thanks to the addition of two recent escape rooms. Escape Macaulay House, this year is 1846 and Reverend William Macaulay has fallen behind in paying his servants. Help them find a secret stash of jewellery and escape his clutches – available by request between December-January, opens back up for Flashback February. The Escape Camp Picton room is in a decommissioned World War II air base part of Loch-Sloy Business Park, and marries history, heritage and fun for a unique experience.
Board games and puzzles are a great way to shorten the long winter nights, and Books & Company is one of the best places to find the latest craze, or old faves. Bloomfield’s Green Gables Gifts & Greetings also has an excellent selection.
Celebrate County style.
There’s always a lot happening in The County. Here’s a small sampling of coming events.
December 31 | Come welcome 2020 in The County. New Year’s Eve parties are on at several spots across The County (Isaiah Tubbs, La Condesa, Flame+Smith to mention a few) – don’t miss the premiere of The Back Room at their Roaring Twenty Twenties party.
January 2 | A celebration of the land down under is planned at The County Canteen for Australia Day.
February 16-22 | Step back in time as we explore PEC’s unique heritage during this week-long celebration of everything County: Flashback February. This year’s theme is 20/20: Visions From Our Past.
February 1-2 + 8-9 | An interactive, art-centric festival, ICE BOX, held the first two weekends in February. Highlights include five colourful art hut installations, singing, dancing, music, storytelling and more.
February 15 | Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and bonfire are all slated for Sandbanks Winterfest.
February 15-17 | Vinter Festival is a winter extravaganza held over the family day weekend with wineries featuring art, food and wine pairings.
March 28-29 | Billed as The County’s sweetest tradition, Maple in the County honours Canadians’ second favourite nectar – after beer, of course – and celebrates the first PEC harvest of 2020.
Here are 10 more great ways to do winter in Prince Edward County.
- Find warm comfort in delicious, wholesome food at any of The County’s great restaurants.
- Turn up the heat with some smokin’-hot live music at venues such as the Regent Theatre, Barley Room Pub, Acoustic Grill, and County Canteen to name a few.
- Check out a local gallery, because art knows no season.
- Warm up with a hot beverage … a delicious cocoa at The Vic Cafe, fresh-brewed coffee at Beacon, Bike + Brew, a pluck tea at Bloomfield Public House, or a mulled bevy at various wineries/cideries.
- Catch up on your reading … lots to choose from at Books & Company, or the local thrift shops.
- Take up a hobby like painting at Baxter Arts Centre, or learn to knit at Rosehaven Yarn Shop – hey, we can all use a funky, new scarf!
- Relax and rejuvenate at Bloomfield Beauty Co. or Lakeside Massage Therapy.
- Hit the sauna with Hothouse Sauna and Lounge, or at Wilfrid Boutique Farmhouse.
- Grab a camera and a photo tour with County Outings to immortalize all this winter beauty!
- Build a snowman. Make a snow angel … anywhere you please in PEC.