Reserve Now, Relax Later
reservation res·er·va·tion/rezərˈvāSH(ə)n/noun: an arrangement whereby something, especially a seat or room, is booked or reserved for a particular person
All indications point to a busy summer 2021 in Prince Edward County. At a time when the rules are changing constantly, it is essential to pre-plan your visit. Now is not the time to be spontaneous. Due to COVID-19 constraints, you’ll need a carefully planned schedule to navigate your way through The County this summer.
Physical distancing and government regulations have reduced the capacity of indoor spaces and events, and many County gems have had to change up how they offer their food, drink, art and experiences. A number of wineries, cideries, breweries and restaurants will only be offering tastings and meals by reservation. Make sure your spot is secured before you venture out.
Please note that public health travel advisories and orders are changing frequently during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please consult our COVID-19 Essential Info page for the latest updates.
Don’t trust published opening hours/days – many businesses simply haven’t been able to keep up with amending all their social platforms in response to constantly changing restrictions. Check social media posts, or direct message, email or call to make sure that your destination is open and check whether a reservation is needed. Hours and capacities may be limited.
Make a dinner reservation
Don’t wait to be hungry before you find a place to eat. If you’ve booked a place to stay this summer, start locking in your dining reservations. You can try OpenTable or calling/messaging restaurants directly with your dates. Some restos are taking reservations only, while others are limited-seating first-come first-served. Even if planning for a meal of takeout or curbside pick, call ahead – many restaurants sell out early, especially on weekends. Lack of planning may result in unnecessary hangry. (Also, see our map of picnic areas, in case dining out means literally eating outside.)
Book a Tour
Make a reservation for a Vintage Car Wine Tour! Join Sam Grosso for a bespoke wine tour in the vintage car of your dreams. The former owner of Toronto’s Cadillac Lounge has found a new calling and will take you on a 4-winery tour in a beautiful automobile from his fleet of vintage cars. Bring your fave playlist and rock the tunes in chauffeured style!
Several wineries are taking reservations – make a booking to guarantee your spot! Lighthall Vineyards, Lacey Estates, Loch Mor Cider, and Rosehall Run are all doing tastings by appointment. For more tour options – including horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, luxury vehicles or taxis – click through to our blog on tours.
Book Some Beach Time
If you’ve booked a stay here, you’ll need to plan your days because attractions, including Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas, are expected to have very limited availability. Book a day-use permit for Sandbanks or North Beach Provincial Parks. This can be done up to five days in advance of your trip, and guarantees entry. (On a hot, sunny weekend in July, August or September, don’t even consider heading to Sandbanks or North Beach without a permit in hand! The beach closes when full and every season, thousands of vehicles are turned away.) Follow us on Facebook @VisitTheCounty and Instagram @visitthecounty for updates and information on bookings, COVID protocols or closures.
Please note that for the 2021 summer season, entry to the Wellington Rotary Beach will be $10 per person. Entry to Little Bluff Conservation Area will be limited to 30 vehicles, with a $15 parking fee that can be paid at the gate.
During peak summer months, beaches and outdoor spaces are especially busy and thousands of unprepared visitors are turned away every day. Do not head to the beach without a reservation (where possible) and checking these channels in advance:
- Sandbanks and North Beach – Check SandbanksPP on Twitter
- Wellington Rotary Beach – Check Prince Edward County on Twitter or Facebook
- Little Bluff and other Conservation Areas – Check Quinte Conservation for closures and other information.
Experience The County
Get to know The County on a deeper level by spending time with farmers, foragers and artists who are keen to share their love of land and local.
- Alpaca No Zoom Zoom shows guests what they wouldn’t normally see on a farm tour, encouraging visitors to connect with the land and the animals and see how they work together. There’ll be plenty of time to spend with the alpacas, and guests will also be encouraged to keep a keen eye for how Noble Beast Farms works to create a welcoming environment to native flora and fauna, and give back to the land. Full details and booking information for a variety of farm experiences can be found at noblebeastfarms.com/. (Image courtesy of Noble Beast Farms)
- Bee Curious Bees & Blooms or Bees & Brunch, offered by the Curious Goat General Store, lets guests see the world through a bee’s eyes, highlighting how the hive works together and pollinates the plants that put food on our tables. Guests will taste honey collected through the season, make their own bee balm, and plant or harvest from The People’s Garden, depending on the season. Guests have the option of adding a County-proud charcuterie-forward brunch. Make a booking here: https://www.curiousgoatgeneralstore.ca/ (Image by OneLook Productions)
Field of Friends welcomes families – especially your littles! – to meet the herd at Mayrose Farm Miniatures: Tori, Buddy, Peanut, Polly and Harley! Grab a brush and build a bond with the farm’s little teachers, who love to share lessons on building relationships. Groom, pet and cuddle the ponies before leading your horse through an obstacle course custom designed to learn valuable life skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere with each interactive challenge. These miniature horses are used for equine-assisted learning, and they’re seasoned pros at helping kids and adults discover new ways of speaking without saying a word! Memories of a lifetime are made here at Mayrose Farm Miniature Learning Centre. Make a booking at mayrosefarmminis.com.
- Ignite Your Spirit with Horses invites guests to slow down at Heal with Horses, a non-profit therapeutic centre. Guests will walk back to a clearing in the woods, where they’ll be introduced to tree meditation and horse activities, including delivering a massage to the horses using special grooming gloves and special techniques. This is a powerful experience, surrounded by these huge but gentle beasts! This is about horse encounters, country food and quiet walks. Find more information at HealWithHorses.ca. (Image by OneLook Productions)
- PAUSE at Melt Studio Gallery. Pause starts with the Japanese tradition of shin-rin yoku or forest bathing. You’ll be led on a meditative nature walk by a local herbalist who will help you to connect to nature, identifying local plants, and teaching you about their medicinal and healing properties. The idea is that you will feel a sense of calm and clarity that will inspire a piece of art that you create yourself. After your nature walk, you will then return to Melt studio, where you will compose a collage encaustic painting under the guidance of Susan Wallis, an experienced encaustic artist. You’ll create an original art piece using items collected during your walk. Book at MeltStudioGallery.com. (Image courtesy of Melt Studio Gallery)
See a Show
At this point, we could also use a good laugh. And Comedy Country’s putting together a stellar COVID-safe line-up of summer and fall events to prove that laughter really is the best medicine. This year they’ll be rolling out the first-ever Cross County Crack-up, bringing Comedy on the River back (one of the highlights of Summer 2020!) and introducing Comedy at the Cider House. Find details and ticket info at comedycountry.ca.
|Join Festival Players as they present theatre, dance and comedy performances at the beautiful Eddie Hotel & Farm. Savour a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy a socially distanced evening with some of Canada’s most extraordinary artists. Performed outdoors, following COVID safety guidelines, The Six Feet Festival will give County audiences an opportunity to come together safely and experience the beauty of the landscape and the cathartic power of performance. More info and tickets at festivalplayers.ca/|
Go for a Float
See the sights of Picton Harbour with Captain Larry or Captain Mike at Picton Harbour Pontoon Boat Tours. There are plenty of sailing and charter options available if you’re aiming to get on the water. Check out our blog on ways to go beyond the beach.
Ride a Horse
Book a trail ride with Diamond J Ranch. Enjoy a scenic mountain ride through fields and woods overlooking Picton Bay. They cater to families and groups, and inexperienced riders are welcome. Pony rides are available for the little ones. Farm tours can also be booked at Lamb’s Quarters Farm in Picton and Campbell’s Orchards on the shores of the Bay of Quinte.
Tee up a wine tour
Hoping to set up a tasting tour of County wineries or cideries? Download the new Wine Explorer app from the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association. The app can match your personal wine preferences with bottles on offer at local wineries. It also includes detailed profiles, as well as lists of unique – and bookable! – wine activities and elevated tastings. Discover which wineries will welcome your dog.
Escape Camp Picton
If you truly want to escape, we’ve got you covered! Escape Camp Picton, located at The County’s authentic WWII era gunnery training school, is launching an outdoor escape room in 2021, plus two indoor escapes for you and your bubble. This unique escape room takes inspiration from its location – blending heritage, history and an unforgettable game experience.
Looking for more ideas? We have lots of trip planning information here.
By Sue Hierlihy, Dead People’s Stuff Antiques. (Updated June 2021)