Sight Seeing With Grandkids: Prince Edward County
If you’re planning some family travel, and want to do some sight seeing with grandkids on a hot summer weekend, you should plan a family tour to Prince Edward County. When Moushumi suggested I write something for My Silver Blogs, I considered a variety of options. I am not a grandparent, so I don’t plan to write this post as though I am. However, I am a parent (albeit an older 40-something parent), and have done a family tour of Prince Edward County with my parents and their grandkids (my children). This post will be based on that experience.
Normally I blog at Abrazo and Coze, a family living blog covering topics ranging from kids and love to money and life. Although I’m not a travel blogger by anyone’s imagination, I’m confident you’ll get plenty of ideas to plan a great family travel adventure with your grandkids to Prince Edward County.
Where is Prince Edward County?
“The County” as the locals refer to it, is located in Eastern Ontario, approximately 2.5 hours drive East from Toronto. It’s a popular summer tourist destination, so there are plenty of options for you to see and do. Lots to choose from! If you’re going to visit during the week, avoid Mondays. Due to the tourist focus, businesses are typically open all weekend, but many are closed on Mondays.
Once you’re off the 401, you’ll quickly find yourself across the Bay Bridge and in The County. You’ll be passing lots of swamp and farmland. (Watch out for turtles crossing the roads. Some are endangered. Nobody taught them to watch for cars when they cross the street, so try not to run them over.)
Itinerary Ideas For Sight Seeing With Grandkids
There are plenty of options for what to see on your grand road trip to The County. If you’re lucky, when you drive past the Mountain View airport, you’ll get to see the military planes or gliders. (Even the locals pull over to watch and take pictures. It won’t make you look like a tourist if you do, too.)
The County is comprised of lots of small towns and villages, most of which have their own little museum. If you like museums, and your grandkids like museums, you should definitely add them to your itinerary. We included a trip to the Ameliasburg Heritage Village on our family tour because my dad likes history and museums, and the rest of us enjoy the outdoors. (The indoor displays were interesting… but my youngest children were too young to care, and were definitely more interested in running around the grounds.)
Walking Trails and the Great Outdoors
Neither of my parents are particularly athletic… okay… they’re not at all athletic. Neither am I. However, if you are, the Millennium Trail would be a great way to spend time outdoors with your grandkids, enjoying the slower pace of The County. The best place (in my opinion) to access the trail is at the Wellington Essroc Arena. There is a parking lot at the arena, and the trail is adjacent to it.
There are also several conservation areas to explore. One of my favourites, that my parents and children also enjoyed, is Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area, home to Bird House City. There are over 20km of trails at Macaulay Mountain, some of which are pretty steep. Others are short and easy-going. If you walk toward the pavilion, and follow the groomed trail on the right (just behind the building) you’ll get to another County Museum (Macaulay Heritage Park). Explore to your heart’s content. There is a pond, so might be wise to brief the kids on water safety, depending on their ages. Once you’ve finished exploring the trails, relax with a stroll through Bird House City (on the opposite side of the parking lot). There’s often a bucket of bird seed by the sign.
Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park is also a scenic outdoor destination. There isn’t a great deal for the children to do at this stop, aside from playing in the grass, but it is a short drive to the Glenora Ferry, which is a fun (and free) boat ride connecting Highway 33 between Lake on the Mountain and Adolphustown. You are not required to stay in your vehicle during the ferry ride, or, you can just walk on rather than driving – whichever suits your preferences more.
I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to take advantage of the local beaches, including a handful that are free. (But in this case, you get what you pay for… if you want the sandy beaches reminiscent of tropical destinations, you’ll be paying for it – with a lineup to get into the park and with your hard-earned dollars).
Our favourite go-to beach that grandparents, parents, and kids enjoy is North Beach Provincial Park. There are two primary beach areas at North Beach: Lake Ontario and interior North Beach. Lake Ontario beach is much rougher, good for older kids and sunbathers. The interior North Beach is much more suitable for smaller children, and also good for sunbathing, and sand castle building. This beach isn’t free, however, it isn’t terribly priced.
The most popular beach in The County is Sandbanks Provincial Park. It has several beaches, campsites, nature trails, and sand dunes – lots to explore. If you decide to go to this beach, have a back-up plan ready as it’s been known to reach capacity while a line up of cars are still waiting to pay to get in. It’s also the most expensive to get into (Day Use Fees).
There are a few free beaches you might prefer. Wellington Rotary Public Beach is one. It’s just down the street from the Main Street Park (with an amazing playground). Roblin Lake Beach and Park is another, with the playground at the same site. (It’s next door to the Ameliasburg Museum I mentioned previously.) The other free “beach” is at the Point Petre Wildlife Conservation Area. You’ll want to check out the link for directions to the rocky limestone beach, as there aren’t any signs pointing the way. Point Petre is definitely the most interesting free beach of the three.
There are an incredible number of amazing restaurants in The County, however, there are a few that are especially suited to families.
For breakfast, choose between The Picton Harbour Inn & Lighthouse Restaurant and Bailey’s Casual Dining. My family prefers Bailey’s for breakfast, and my parents liked it a great deal more than the Picton Harbour Inn, however, I know MANY people who are the exact opposite and love Picton Harbour Inn. If you’re in town long enough, try both… or go to Picton Harbour Inn for breakfast, and Bailey’s for lunch.
For lunch, there are several options. If you’re more into DIY lunches, there are three groceries stores in Picton (and another in Wellington), and there are charcoal grills and picnic tables available at the Wellington Main Street Park, and a fire pit (for really rustic DIY) and a pavillion with tables at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area. There are numerous food trucks throughout the area, however, most aren’t in areas you want kids running around (great for older kids, or kids who happily sit throughout the meal).
Hagerman Farms is an ideal option for a lunch break in The County when travelling with grandkids. Not only can you buy farm fresh produce at the stand outside, and baked goods inside, there are farm animals out back to entertain the grandchildren. Across the street, is County Yum Club where you can get eat in or take out lunch. Bailey’s Casual Dining is also a great place for lunch.
The family friendly supper options are a little more restricted. Nonetheless, you’ve still got some great options to choose from. Angry Birds is a family favourite, and as a bonus, there is a playground across the street. (Great to use up the last dredges of seemingly endless energy all kids possess.) If you like music, The Acoustic Grill has live music on the weekends, great burgers, and a kid’s menu.
Wineries and Craft Breweries
When you’re sight seeing with the grandkids, you might not expect to find family friendly options for places that make alcohol. The County, however, has you covered. There are many, many wineries and craft breweries in the county, along with at least one distillery. Only two make my list of recommendations for your weekend tour of Prince Edward County with your grandchildren. If you drink, be sure to have a designated driver.
Waupoos Estates Winery is a great stop, sure to be enjoyed by all generations. Not only are there tours, tastings, and a shop, you’ll also find a chocolatier, petting zoo, and restaurant (good for lunch or supper). My mom is not a drinker, and winery tours don’t interest her at all. That said, she did enjoy spending time with her grandchildren as they excitedly explored the petting zoo. Meanwhile, my dad enjoyed the tour and tastings. We didn’t eat supper at Waupoos, but I’ve heard the food is very good.
Parsons Brewing Company is also a good stop when you’re exploring with your grandkids. They have a beer garden serving authentic Mexican fare, some interesting drinking options (a beer-wine hybrid, for example), and a play area for the children. It’s set back from the road, has a comfortable outdoor patio for the older folk to relax, and plenty of space so the children can burn off some energy.
When you go sight seeing with grandkids sometimes it feels like you’re taking a trip solely for the young ones. Hopefully, when you take a family tour of The County, you’ll find it’s as much a trip for you to enjoy as it is them. Your grandchildren will remember having so much fun and want to spend every weekend sight seeing with you! If you find the time, stop for ice cream at Slickers County Ice Cream. Your taste buds will thank you!
Have you ever been to Prince Edward County? What were your favourite stops? Let me know in the comments.