Do you believe in love at first sight? If you answered no, then perhaps a getaway to Prince Edward County is in order, where pastoral farmland and pretty vineyards hug the windswept shores of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte. How can your heart not skip a beat as you drive over the bridge into The County’s rolling countryside? With a pace of life that’s refreshingly relaxed, Prince Edward County is one of the region’s best destinations for romantic retreats. Get in the mood with one of these sweet escapes to The County.
1. Stay overnight in a historic cottage at Sandbanks Provincial Park
Sandbanks Provincial Park is one of Prince Edward County’s hottest destinations in the summer, but come winter it is a quiet retreat for couples looking to reconnect. Ontario Parks offers two quaint cabin rentals for a romantic getaway at Sandbanks – Maplerest Heritage House and Jacques Cottage. Built in the late 1870s, Jacques Cottage is not only fully renovated, but also fully equipped with modern amenities including satellite TV, linens and appliances. The elegant Maplerest is a 19th century Victorian farmhouse furnished with stunning antiques and creature comforts like a whirlpool tub. Assistant Parks Superintendent Agnese Bortolussi says one of the best things about visiting Sandbanks in the winter months is that it’s peaceful in the Park. “The view of Lake Ontario from the bay windows of Jacques Cottage is beautiful,” notes Bortolussi. Explore your snowy surroundings on skis (Sandbanks boasts 10 kilometres of track-set trails) or wander the shoreline and marvel at the ice volcanoes. Reservations for Jacques Cottage and Maplerest Heritage House can be made by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275) ontarioparks.com
2. Snowshoe at Sugarbush Vineyards
Tucked underneath the thick and fluffy cover of snow at Sugarbush Vineyards are 12 acres of carefully tended grapevines, including Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay varieties. Owners and garagiste winemakers Sally and Robert Peck invite you to snowshoe along the 2.5 kilometers scenic trails that wind their way throughout the vineyard. The towering trees that line their property offer shelter from the wind, but you should still warm up afterwards with hot chocolate, or of course, a sample their hand-crafted wines. Don’t have snowshoes? Rent them from the winery for $10. sugarbushvineyards.ca
3. Be an Indoor Indulger at Drake Devonshire Inn
You’re in love…but you don’t exactly love winter. Rekindle your romance at the Drake Devonshire Inn with their Indoor Indulger package. Sip a delightful mulled wine or boozy hot chocolate while you unwind by the fireplace, watch the snow snow fall from the cozy comfort of their award-winning suites, savour local flavours crafted by uber-talented Chef Matt DeMille and then choose from either luxurious spa treatments or a winery tour. drakedevonshire.ca
4. Go on a winery tour
The secret is out: as Ontario’s newest Designated Viticultural Area, Prince Edward County is the destination for wine lovers. A wine tour is one of the best ways to sample the world renowned wines and local gems grown here at over 40 wineries. Prince Edward County Wine Tours offers half-day and full-day year round and a winter escape is a unique way to experience the vineyards in the quiet off season. Prefer to explore at your own pace? Follow the Taste Trail, a leisurely self-guided option. pecwinetours.com, prince-edward-com/taste
5. Pamper yourselves with a chocolate-inspired spa treatment
Chocolate is for lovers and no one understands this better than the spa at Claramount Inn. Soothe your skin and your souls with the Chocolate Back Bliss, a nourishing facial for your back or a Chocolate Strawberry Facial, a chocolate mousse that will leave your skin glowing. Breathe deeply and relax during your spa time at Claramount Inn and indulge in this calorie-free chocolate fix! Extend your stay there with one of their romantic 1- or 2-night Valentine Romance accomodation packages (that includes sumptuous dining and yes, those chocolate spa treatments!) claramountinn.ca
6. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Waupoos Estates Winery
The pioneering spirit of Waupoos Estates Winery is famous beyond The County. Now celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, Waupoos Estates Winery is synonymous with elegance and decadence, a theme that extends to their delightful Chocolatier and Candy Store. Love birds with a sweet tooth can enjoy handmade fudge, candy and locally made Donini Chocolate. Don’t leave the winery without pairing your favourite chocolate with one of their award-winning wines. waupooswinery.com
7. Feel hoppy with a brewery tour
The craft beer scene in Prince Edward County is thriving. Innovators like Barley Days Brewery, Lake on the Mountain and newcomer County Road Beer (co-founded by Hinterland Wine Company craft a variety of ales, stouts, seasonals using locally grown barely and hops. Stop by the tap room for a tasting and a tour, the perfect toast to romance. barleydaysbrewery.com, lakeonthemountain.com/brewery, countyrdbeer.com
Find more things to do, wines, beer and ciders to sample, places to stay and foods to taste in The Great Waterway.