Is it too early to say, spring is here! The weather has been particularly nutty this year, and Mother Nature could very well send another storm, but until then, yay SPRING! I can’t really complain though, because we barely had any snow this year. I went skiing twice and didn’t even touch my skates! We tried to go snow shoeing in Prince Edward County, but as you will see, we were hard pressed to find snow. Sand shoeing anyone? Luckily, the County is a relaxing and fun little getaway no matter what the season and yurt camping in Prince Edward County made it even more of an adventure!
So here I am in front of our Mongolian yurt. How did we find said yurt? Why Air BnB of course, haha! I’ve gone winter camping before at McGregor Provincial Park, but provincial parks have limited availability and I missed the booking window this year. We found Redley’s Retreat on Air BnB, a farm located in Milford, right smack in the middle of the County. The retreat is run by a super nice, passionate fellow named Tom who is quite proud of his two Mongolian yurts. He even installed the concrete base himself!
Our yurt had just enough space for two double beds, a small table, a few lounge chairs and a utilities drawer. There were lots of blankets and a space heater to keep us warm and cozy, I loved it! We shared a Port-O-Potty and an outdoor kitchen with the other yurt, which had all the basic utensils and a BBQ. Tom was awesome and brought us fresh coffee every morning, and on the first day we were treated to a huge breakfast, fit for a king! He also dropped off some homemade wine, gave us some local tips and made sure we were well taken care of. The showers were in his farmhouse, and I was very thankful for the clean, indoor shower. Despite the warm weather an outdoor shower would have been chilly!
We woke up bright and early the next day and headed out to Sandbanks Provincial Park, about a thirty minute drive from Milford. The weather was absolutely perfect, clear blue skies, warm sunshine, it felt like spring! We really wanted to go snow shoeing but there was barely any snow. I was determined however, so I “sand shoed” along the trails.
The dunes in Sandbanks are otherworldly and are great fun to explore. We hung out for awhile, snapping photos and munching on snacks while overlooking the icy Lake Ontario.
Sandbanks is one of the many things that I love about Prince Edward County. Hiking along a peaceful trail and appreciating nature is so essential for my soul. There’s nothing I love more than a day outdoors, taking photos and breathing in fresh air.
After working up an appetite we headed out to Wellington and had lunch at the new Drake Devonshire restaurant. I was curious to try this sister restaurant to the The Drake Hotel in Toronto and was immediately impressed by the space. Located along the lake with white wooden panelled walls and large airy windows, I felt like we had stepped into a little sea side town. I want to say it reminded me of the Hamptons, but I’ve never actually been so my observation is entirely based on Sex And The City. Contemporary lighting and funky art added to the decor but the space was inviting and homey.
Then, I ate the best reuben of my life.
A generous portion of smoked brisket packed between lightly toasted marble rye and oozing with sauerkraut, onions, Swiss cheese and local Cressy mustard, the Drake Reuben was outta-this-world. The fries were fresh and crispy too. But that reuben! I must have you again!!
The service was also excellent and the view made for a lovely, relaxing lunch. I noticed a patio and fire pit outside and thought how fun this place must be in the summer. Two thumbs up!
After lunch it was time for some wine tasting! We stayed close to Wellington and hit up Sandbanks, Norman Hardie and Hinterland. I’ve been to Norman Hardie and Hinterland before, but our friends had never been and they are a must for a wine tour. We would have gone to Rosehall Run as well but they closed at 5pm and we just missed them. Sandbanks Winery was a new one for me and I have to say, was my favourite winery of the weekend. I could have bought all the wines we tasted they were so good! Their smooth-like-butter Chardonnay was a standout but we settled on a peppery Shiraz.
While Norman Hardie is historically, an important winery to visit, I never end up buying anything from them. Besides being quite pricey, all their wines have a very strong limestone taste that I just can’t get into. Hinterland Wine Company on the other hand, is a small, unpretentious winery that specializes in delicious sparkling wines. They also had a winter festival going on so we were treated to some oysters and beer tastings before picking up some tasty sparkling cider.
That evening, we headed back to the yurt and made a big steak dinner on the BBQ. Tom built us a little fire and we roasted marshmellows under a clear starlit sky. We passed out pretty early that night, not surprising after a long day of hiking and sipping wine!
The following day I had planned to hit up my favourite antique stores but all of them were closed for the season except for Dead People’s Stuff . So, we just set out to do some more wine tasting.
We headed out east in the afternoon to Exultet Estates Winery that specializes in pinot noir, apple wine and apple port. The apple port blew my mind – so unique! We all ended up buying a bottle.
I always need to get my cheese fix when I visit PEC, so we stopped by Black River Cheese which has THE BEST cheese, and an array of many years to choose from. I picked up some 6 year old cheddar because apparently anything over 5 years is lactose-free, so my boyfriend can enjoy as well!
Waupoos Winery is also one of my favourites. The cider tasting and restaurant were closed for the season, but there was still lots of delicious wine to taste and the beautiful property makes for a nice walk. Should you visit in the summertime, be sure to make dinner reservations, the food is amazing and their cider is to die for.
We passed through the little town of Bloomfield which is much more lively in the summer. Most of the cute shops were closed, including the popular ice cream parlour. But we found a little cafe that was open for lunch, and we devoured some homemade soups and chilis at the Saylor House Cafe.
We had just enough time to squeeze in some pinot noir wine tastings at Huff Estates Winery and some beer tastings at the newly opened Parsons Brewery Company. My boyfriend picked up a bottle of their Devil’s Right Hand Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. A rich, chocolatey brew that was balanced but also smooth and complex, I fully approved of his selection!
For our last meal in the County we had dinner at the Soup Opera in Wellington, another new addition. An unassuming, quiet restaurant that offers up a small market during the day, we were really impressed with the generous portions and the mix of comfort food and higher end dishes. We split some “mundoo” – homemade Korean pork dumplings – for an appetizer. The ponzu and house kimchi made for a tasty bite. For our mains, I had the duck leg confit with greens and fries that made my belly full and happy. My boyfriend ordered the lamb shank with polenta and ratatouille and it was HUGE! I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed my boyfriend being unable to finish a meal, but this lamb shank defeated him. Fall-off-the-bone and swimming in rich ratatouille and polenta, he had the winning dish, hands down!
The next morning we packed up and said goodbye to Tom. Before heading home we stopped by Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park.
Located just north of Milford, the park is surrounded by a freshwater lake that is 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte. The park is a nice stop over and the lookout makes for some picturesque panoramas.
We hung out for a bit, goofing around on the ice and taking selfies. A very pretty spot! I’d love to come back in the summer with a picnic lunch.
Before hitting the road we had lunch in Picton at the County Canteen. They brew their own beer so I wanted to check them out, bonus that they were open for brunch on a holiday!
As our wonderful weekend came to an end, I’m left once again dreaming of the day I can move to Prince Edward County, leave city life behind and own a little piece of this heaven.