What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Just a 4½ hour drive from Montreal, Sandbanks Provincial Park is located in Ontario’s picturesque Prince Edward County. Tourists flock here in the summer to enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches and large dunes along the turquoise waters of Lake Ontario.
The park is also a great starting point for exploring the area, which is renowned for its bicycle touring, wineries, gourmet food and numerous antique and second-hand shops. The three main towns on the peninsula are Picton, Wellington and Bloomfield. Enjoy your stay!
Sandbanks Provincial Park
As in all Ontario provincial parks, a permit is required to enter the park. The Visitor Centre is located at the West Lake Campground entrance, across from the Dunes Day-Use area, and provides a host of information about the park. Don’t hesitate to talk to the park naturalists and ask them questions.
3004, County Road 12, Picton / 613-393-3319 / www.ontarioparks.com/park/sandbanks/fr
The beaches are the main attraction of Sandbanks Park with their beautiful fine sand and clear, fresh and relatively warm water. Waves on Lake Ontario can vary, depending on the weather. The park has three natural sand beaches. Please note that there are no lifeguards posted at the beaches, so be careful and stay within the designated swimming areas.
Outlet Beach : Located on the shores of Lake Ontario, this is the most popular and busiest beach in the park. It is 2 km long and gently slopes into the water, making it perfect for families with young children. At the south end of the beach, Outlet River flows into Lake Ontario from East Lake.
Lakeshore Beach : About 7 km long, this beach stretches from West Point to the town of Wellington in the north. It is the perfect place for walkers. There can be large waves on windy days.
- Dunes Beach : Many consider this to be the most beautiful beach in the park. It lies on the shore of West Lake and is sheltered from the wind by a series of large sand dunes. The swimming area is smaller and the water is calmer.
The park is very popular, especially on sunny weekends and holidays, so expect to see a lot of people! When the parking areas are full, the park must close its gates for safety reasons. Expect line-ups.
If you want to explore nature in the park, there are several choices of short trails that will take you to the hidden corners of Sandbanks. They are easily identifiable on the park map, and are accessible for children. The most popular trails are:
Dunes Trail : an easy 2.5 km loop that lets you explore a unique dune habitat along boardwalks and sandy trails.
Cedar Sands Trail : an easy 2 km loop that leads through the cedar forest along the Outlet River and offers scenic views of the marsh.
- Woodlands trail : a 7 km round-trip trail, rated easy to moderate, leading through old agricultural fields and a mature, deciduous woodland with lots of wildlife viewing opportunities.
Ticks and Lyme didease
Lyme disease is spread to humans through the bite of an infected Blacklegged Tick. The risk is low but present in Ontario. Ticks can be found in wooded areas or tall grass. The best protection is to be aware, vigilant and remove the tick quickly and completely if you are bitten. Search your clothes and body for ticks! For extra protection, apply insect repellent and wear clothing that covers your body if you are walking in high-risk areas. Ask at the park’s reception desk if you have any questions or concerns.
North Beach Provincial Park
This provincial park lies along the western shore of Prince Edward County. Less spectacular than its famous neighbour, but also much quieter, it’s a lovely spot to take a break and relax or for a stroll along the beach at the end of the day. This small park is 1200 metres long by 200 metres wide and is almost entirely made up of beaches. The water is usually calm. Open from mid-June to mid-September, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (until 9 p.m. on weekends).
440, North Beach Road, Consecon / 613-393-2030 / www.ontarioparks.com/park/northbeach
Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park
From a height of 60 metres above Lake Ontario, this provincial park offers lovely views of the Bay of Quinte. The lake on the mountain is a natural curiosity, having a constant flow of clean, fresh water with no apparent source... Great picnic spot if you are exploring Prince Edward County. There are no facilities in the park, apart from an observation platform and a sign illustrating the unusual formation of the lake. Open from mid-May to mid-October, for day use only.
296, County Road 7, Picton / 613-393-3319 / www.ontarioparks.com/park/lakeonthemountain
Visiting one or more of the region’s wineries is a must. Wine tasting, guided tours, local products to discover, walks through bucolic countryside, picnics… It’s a great outing to enjoy, even with children. You have many options to choose from. Here are some of them :
Waupoos Estates Winery : Set amidst picturesque vineyards sloping down to the water, Waupoos Estates was one of the first wineries in the county. Guided tours available in high season. The estate also features a restaurant and a Cider House. Children will enjoy the chocolatier and petting zoo. 3016, County Road 8, Picton / 613-476-8338 / www.waupooswinery.com
Grange of Prince Edward : This vineyard is owned and run by a mother and daughter duo also known as ‘The Granger Girls’. Their practices in the vineyard are focused on the health of the natural ecosystem, the health of the vines, and the health of the people who work with and drink the wines. You can enjoy a guided tours and tastings, as well as a picnic: picnic baskets filled with tasty items are sold on location. 990, Closson Road, Hillier / www.grangewinery.com
Sandbanks Estate Winery : Located along the shores of Lake Ontario, this winery features a tasting room and boutique, a barrel room, unique tasting experiences, a large outdoor picnic area, and tasting bars with lively events in high season. 17598, Loyalist Pky, Hwy 33, Wellington / 613-399-1839 / www.sandbankswinery.com
Karlo Estates Winery : The wines produced here are some of the best in the province. Karlo Estates is also the first vegan certified winery in the world, proving that it is possible to make good wine while respecting the planet. 561, Danforth Road, Wellington / 613-399-3000 / www.karloestates.com
TerraCello Winery : Beautiful vineyard in a charming, rustic setting, offering a small wine cellar and authentic woodfired Neapolitan pizza. 2436 County Road 1, Bloomfield / 613-243-2523 / terracellowinery.com
DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL TREASURES !
Prince Edward County is also known for its many antique shops, vintage boutiques and second-hand stores. These places are as diverse as their owners. You are sure to come across a few along your way. It is best to paycash, but most also accept credit cards. Here are some suggestions:
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
PARSONS BREWING COMPANY ($$-$$$)
You will be greeted by an old tractor, a small Westfalia, beautiful land, a charming wooden building, and a few chickens. Enjoy fresh craft beers, sustainably brewed and each with its own unique story, accompanied by authentic Mexican food!
Open Friday-Sunday from noon.
876, County Road 49, Picton / 613-476-9977 / www.parsonsbrewing.com
EAST & MAIN BISTRO ($$-$$$)
You will love the impeccable service and warm atmosphere of this restaurant. The menu showcases local products and features a fine regional wine list. Everything is delicious and affordable. Patio and children’s menu also available.
Open Thursday to Sunday from 5 p.m.
270, Main Street, Wellington, Ontario / 613-399-5420 / www.eastandmain.ca
LE DRAKE DEVONSHIRE ($$-$$$)
A hotel, an art gallery, a restaurant and a bar, this establishment is a must in Prince Edward County. Go for brunch, lunch or drinks and sample some deliciously prepared local fare. Sit out on the waterfront terrace and enjoy the sweeping view of
Lake Ontario. Don’t forget to make a reservation.
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
24, Wharf Street, Wellington / 613-399-3338 / www.thedrake.ca/drakedevonshire/food-drink
BLUMEN GARDEN BISTRO ($$$$)
A wonderful restaurant in Picton with excellent food and an interesting wine list. Everything is worth tasting and delicious. You will also enjoy the lush garden, seasonal enclosed gazebo and patio space. Reservations are a good idea because the place is very popular.
Open Thursday-Sunday from 5 p.m
647, Highway 49, Picton / 613-476-6841 / www.blumengardenbistro.com