Day trips are a great, accessible travel hack for anyone in or traveling to a major city who wants to get to know a region in a deeper way. Dani Roche, a creative content producer with her own agency in Toronto, Canada, took a day trip from her home city to rural Prince Edward County. She shared her itinerary with us below.
As someone who’s always lived in a city or suburban area, it’s important to take a step back and recharge. I run my own business, and it’s always been a challenge to schedule time to chill and travel somewhere. Projects and opportunities can come out of the woodwork, and committing to flying off somewhere can be a bit unsettling, so taking a day trip to Prince Edward County was just what I needed to kick 2019 off right—it’s only 2.5 hours away from where I live in Toronto.
I took this trip in early January with my friend Ema, and we lucked out with a beautiful sunny day and no snow—if you’re travelling in an off-season, it’s important to be cognizant of weather conditions that might alter your day-trip experience. We drove on Highway 33, which runs through a ton of really cool townships. Perfect for spontaneous stops along the way.
We booked our lodgings at the Drake Devonshire Inn and recommend booking ahead of time as it can fill up. PEC is not super remote, but it’s not super busy either. It’s a great getaway for anyone looking to escape city life for a bit.
Stop #1: Bloomfield Public House
We hit the road at 9:30 a.m., so we decided to grab an early lunch to get some sustenance before our four-stop wine tour began. We ordered the sticky chili-ginger edamame for the table, winter chop salad for me, and the daily special of white bean chilli on a garlic loaf for Ema. The location was about a 30 minute drive from the Drake Devonshire Inn, and is a super cute local spot on Highway 33. Beyond good eats and a varied lunchtime menu, The Bloomfield Public House also has a to-go cafe—and you bet I grabbed (another) coffee for the road.
Stop #2: Drake Devonshire Inn
Ema and I took our day trip to the next level and stayed the night, using the Inn as a home base throughout our day trip activities. The Drake hotel chain is well-known in downtown Toronto, so I was keen to check out its beautiful boutique property. Located in Wellington, Prince Edward County, which is often associated with romantic getaways for two, the Drake Devonshire boasts access to a private beach and beautiful scenery that anyone can enjoy. The Inn only has 13 rooms, and we were lucky enough to be upgraded to the magnificent owner’s suite. I am not exaggerating when I say that our jaws literally dropped when we entered the room!
The Drake Hotel’s restaurant in Toronto is a hotspot for brunch, drinks, or even a casual coffee, so after returning from our wine tour (more on that below), we were excited to settle into a comfy booth for dinner and drinks with a view of the Devonshire’s “art walk.” The Drake franchise is known for housing incredible collections of modern and contemporary art.
Stop #3: Wine Tour
Prince Edward County is wine country, and with the help of the Devonshire, we were taken on a private four-stop wine tasting tour. While there’s nearly 40 wineries in the area, the wineries we stopped at are burgeoning businesses and fairly new to the area. Over three hours, we sampled wine at each place, and I came home with a case of wine. (Thanks to our guide/driver for enabling me!) I wanted to grab a minimum of one bottle from each stop, and ended up getting everything from sparkling wine to rosé to cherry cider to a full-bodied red (not sold in stores, and exclusive to the winery!). Each place was so different from the next; I’m glad we were able to try so many.
- By Chadsey’s Cairns: This winery is an iconic county touchstone with a rich history and a spooky/romantic story including the death of Ira Chadsey, a love-struck farmer who is this winery’s namesake. A little bit more commercial than the others we went to, and definitely worth visiting.
- Sandbanks Winery: Sandbanks winery is one of the largest and oldest wineries in PEC with a selection of white, red, rosé, and dessert wines.
- Hinterland Wine Company: This is a beautiful winery on a sprawling property, boasting the sparkling wine of choice of our Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire. You better believe I bought a bottle so I can be the hostess with the mostess.
- Karlo Estates: Each wine we sampled here came with a snack pairing, and after three other stops, I was happy to be eating handfuls of wasabi peas.
Stop #4: Dougie’s Diner
Before making the drive back home, we stopped in Quinte West, Ontario for a cheap and cheerful breakfast. I love a good diner, and Dougie’s did not disappoint. The locals in the diner were probably confused as to why Ema and I were so elated to be enjoying breakfast in front of a hand-painted mural of New Mexico, but this was exactly the type of experience I wanted to enjoy to round out our short and sweet trip across southwest Ontario. It’s nice to hit low-key spots that aren’t hyped-up or “trendy.” Living in the heart of downtown Toronto with close access to all the “hot spots” is fun and great, but I really look forward to the moments when I can enjoy the simple things.