Filed under: Travel Swellness

Travel Swellness: Your Guide to a Dog-friendly Getaway to Prince Edward County

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Just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto, Prince Edward County is a bucolic wine and food lovers’ escape that many of us in Toronto flock to in the summer. I’ve visited several times (once to stay in a tiny house, another time for a girlfriend-and-pups vacay, and yet another time for foodie girlfriend road trip, to name just a few). But what about PEC in the fall? The County has loads of gourmet indulgences and wouldn’t the fall be a cozy time to explore? I set out there recently to discover what it’s like for a dog-friendly fall getaway.

Note: This is about Prince Edward County—not to be confused with Prince Edward Island (those outside of Canada often confuse the two!).

Although it was fall, we ended up with very summery weather for our whole stay! Something else unexpected: I only visited quickly once last year, and this trip I discovered that several of my faves in the County have closed down. That was disappointing, but I also found that there are lots of darling new spots to enjoy.

Some of my favourite (mostly dog-friendly) things to see and do while in the County.

WHERE TO STAY

It can sometimes be hard to find great dog-friendly accommodations, amirite? Not in Picton, though, dog parents, you’ll want to stay at The Ferg in Picton with your four-legged pal if you can snag a spot.

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This is my second stay in the Loft at the Ferg (I visited first in 2017) and full disclosure, they hosted us for this stay. It’s a gorgeous, welcoming space filled with natural light and stylish cottage country (but also sorta beachy chic) decor. There is a full kitchen if you plan on cooking meals (we treated ourselves to eating out while there). Billie Jean seemed to remember the space and made herself right at home right away. (btw, if you’re interested in Billie Jean’s backstory, check it out here!)

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Another fantastic dog-friendly spot to stay? The Drake Motor Inn (I stayed here with Billie Jean last summer). Where your pup will have a plush bed to sleep on and you get to enjoy the stylish retro-inspired space. Bring a crate (or request one from the Motor Inn) as your dog must be crated if you go out and leave your pup in the room.

WHERE TO EAT

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A new spot for us, Flossie’s Sandwich Parlor serves up very large and tasty sandwiches. Definitely go with an appetiteI was only able to finish about half of my When Porky Met Petunia (housemade sausage patty that is wrapped in bacon, topped with a fried egg, housemade aioli and old cheddar cheese). There are picnic tables on the patio and it’s got a family-friendly atmosphere; plus dogs are welcome, so it was a great spot to grab lunch at on the day we checked out of the Ferg and had Billie Jean with us. To wash down your sandwich, order one of the Lemonade Dave (another Ontario brand!).

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Yes, there’s a Tim Hortons right by The Ferg in Picton, but we weren’t in the mood for a double double and trekked over to the adorable Beacon Bike + Brew where the latte was very good but the croissant was phenomenal (they’d warmed it up and it was a delightful buttery, flaky treat to kick off the day with). As they were serving customers curbside, there was no need for Billie Jean to stay outside with one of us while the other ventured inside to order.

Sunnydale Farms

If you like me go by the motto “treat yourself” while on a getaway, then you follow up breakfast by stopping to get a cookie at Picnic Cafe, another new spot to me! We’d seen some incredible salted caramel cookies there the day before, but when we went back, they didn’t have them (lesson learned: snap up delicious treats when you can cuz if you snooze you lose!). However, the peanut butter cookie more than satisfied our sweet tooth. Speaking of treats, definitely stop at Sunnydale Farms to pick up Waupoos Butter Tarts; these ample tarts (one was three servings for me!) are the perfect late-night sweet treat. Next time, I’ll get some of the Sunnydale Popcorn, too! I don’t know why we didn’t get any this time, I think we were too excited about the tarts!

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Like a moth to a flame…I feel like I can’t visit PEC and not eat at Drake Devonshire. Its dining room is one of my favourites, although we sat outside thanks to the gorgeous weather this time. The menu was more limited (due to the pandemic, I presume) but that didn’t impact how good it was. We both ordered the lobster and shrimp roll and it was so good that neither of us could stop talking about how delicious it was in between each bite. The fries were perfection as well, crispy on the outside, soft and potato-y inside. N.B. The Drake Devonshire is not dog-friendly, so enjoy a meal here when your itinerary includes leaving your dog to lounge at your Airbnb.

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My biggest regret this trip is that we missed our one opportunity to stop by for Jamie Kennedy’s J.K. Fries. They were only open the day we arrived as the next two days they were closed as they were prepping for an event, and I read the news on the Instagram too late. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had are at his restaurants. Heads up: J.K. Fries returns May 2021.

Because there are only so many meals one can have on a two-night getaway, my next stop into PEC will include trying out Bermuda. The owners are the one’s behind Guapo’s Cantina, a Mexican taco spot I’ve tried twice (the first time was during a foodie tour for work), and this is their new brick-and-mortar resto in Bloomfield.

WHERE TO SHOP

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Field Made Goods is one of the shops that’ll have you wanting to ditch everything you own and replacing them with the beautiful lifestyle pieces that fill this new shop. It’s a collaborative shop featuring the work from four makers: Sunday’s Company, Bethanie Kaye, East City Candles, and Cylinder Studio, and now more than ever, I think we need to fill our lives with beautiful items that make you feel good every day, whether that’s a dreamy scented candle or a mug that feels great in your hand for the cup of hot cocoa after a walk in the brisk weather.

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I’ve always been sad that Sand & Sumac closed in Wellington, and when I walked into Keep in Picton I was excited to see many of the stunning covetable items I recall from S&S, and then we chatted with the woman running the shop as we cashed out and I learned it’s the same owner (who also owns another favourite lifestyle shop, Kokito). At Keep you’ll find decorative throw pillows, cozy throws, and beautiful tableware and more (like the Moroccan babouche shoes I pick up every single time I’m in the shop, but never end up buying as I don’t know how I’d wear them…).

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I am no green thumb but the curated gardening items and other pretty products (think candles and flannel shirts) at Carson’s Garden + Market made me want to become one! While your order at Flossie’s Sandwich Parlor (located just outside of Carson’s) is on the grill, take the time to poke around in the shop to make your shortlist of what to buy before you leave (it’s gardening expert Carson Arthur’s shop, by the way, who’s the nicest; I met him when I did a garden-centre partnership with Loblaws a couple of years ago).

WHERE TO DRINK

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While many of the wineries require you book your tastings (given the pandemic), which I personally found hard to do (given we would play things by ear), Closson Chase Vineyards was one you could pop into to have a tasting or glass on their expansive outdoor terrace. Although we admittedly stopped by just for delicious wine and to take photos at this charming space, we left with a couple of bottles in hand. Oh, and the terrace is dog-friendly (they even had treats for Billie Jean!).

Although I do enjoy a glass of wine now and then, I’m usually more likely to order a cocktail. Kinsip House of Fine Spirits was fully booked (we arrived unaware we had to book in advance) so we didn’t get to enjoy a whiskey tasting (it seems there weren’t serving cocktails like they did last summer). Pop by here (the Kinsip Maple Whiskey is fantastic) and to check out the beautiful chickens roaming the property. And cider lovers, you’ll want to make a visit to County Cider Company; I have a weakness for cider and these beautifully bottled ciders are another PEC essential of mine. My fave is the County Apple, their flagship product.

Do your tastebuds a favour and book a wine and cheese tasting at Lighthall Vineyards. It’s a vineyard but they also make cheese, and their feta is unlike any I’ve ever had, and I was so happy that my friend enjoyed our visit as much as I did my first visit there, as evidenced by the bag filled with wine and cheese she left with. It’s not in a pretty barn or Instagrammy space, but one sip of their wine paired with their cheese and you’ll forget all about “IG or it didn’t happen.”

WHAT TO DO

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On a day you’ve left your pup at your accommodations (or can take turns staying with the dog in the car), visit Shed Chetwyn Farms for their adorable alpacas and shop the store for the softest alpaca wool goods. I completely missed the sign that dogs aren’t permitted but went to wait by the car with her after stressing out the poor alpacas (I’m sorry, sweet alpacas!).

Although the lavender won’t be in the bloom in the fall and winter, a visit to Prince Edward County Lavender is worth it. Check if they’ve got lavender gelato in stock, and even if you’re not in the market for say, lavender sachets for your closet, soap and hand sanitizer is something we’re all using plenty of these days, so why not make it a luscious lavender-scented one to soothe your stressed out self during quarantine.

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It wouldn’t be a dog-friendly trip without some quality time with your pup outdoors! We ran out of time to visit Sandbanks Provincial Park for the day, but we stopped at Wellington Public Beach, which I’ve never been to before. There were so few people there so I let Billie Jean explore and we played fetch with her by the lake for a couple of hours. Oh, and if you’re staying in Picton, for your morning walk, be sure to bring your dog to the Prince Edward Dog Park, a vast and grassy fenced-in dog park where you’ll find many locals, morning cup of coffee in hand, with their puppies.

Prince Edward County is one of my favourite road trips, and now that I’ve written this post, I’m thinking maybe a winter getaway there needs to be planned! Do you have favourites in the County? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

10 Comments November 30, 2020

Travel Swellness: 2020 Travel Predictions

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Where do you see your travel taking you this year and in the decade ahead of us? Has what drives your decisions changed over the years? The experts at Booking.com have examined research and their insights from travel reviews and these are five trends they’ve identified that will impact how and where we travel in the years to come that I found most intriguing

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Let’s take it slow.

Rather than FOMO and racing through to fit in as much as possible, we’ll be going at a slower pace. Nearly half of travelers will be taking a slower mode of transportation as a means to reduce environmental impact and an even greater number will be opting for a longer route to experience the actual journey itself. This means methods such as bikes, trams, boats and even our own two feet will be more popular means of transportation.

Kinda sorta like when I run in the mornings to explore a city. Or take in the sights as I run a marathon (like I did recently in Istanbul, let me tell you, that was a slow pace, haha). And earlier in 2019, driving for many hours in Alberta was one of my all-time favourite trips and the drive wasn’t just about getting from point A to B, but was a defining element of the trip. How can you beat singing your favourite songs in the car as you enjoy the mountain views and brilliant glacial lakes around you? With the occasional mountain goat, bear or deer sighting, too!

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Let’s hear it for “second city” travel.

More travelers will choose second city travel, that is lesser known destinations, so as to reduce over tourism and reduce the impact on the environment. More than half of the travelers they spoke to would be interested in an app that suggested a destination where tourism would benefit the community.

Is taking the road less traveled of interest to you? I love the idea of this, especially having often been overwhelmed by crowd of people at popular sights recently, like at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. I think further to reducing over tourism and being kind to the environment, I think many people, myself included, like the feeling of discovery. Exploring that little gem that not everyone has been to.

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Pets are a top priority.

Pet-centric travel is set to explode. More and more travelers are taking their pets into consideration when it comes to their vacations. 34 percent will choose their holiday based on whether or not they can take their pets with them, in fact. And, good news, the number of pet-friendly accommodations on Booking.com continues to rise.

I travel semi-regularly with my dog, Billie Jean, and I can tell you she plays a big role in my travel decisions. We spent August in Brooklyn last year and also did a road trip to the Drake Motor Inn, and being able to travel with her simply makes life better. In fact, I was recently considering a trip in the next few months, but given that the accommodations are not dog-friendly, I doubt I will go on this trip.

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Snag that coveted reservation.

Culinary goals will be key in travel decisions. Booking a table at the hugely popular restaurant for an unforgettable dining experience is a trend that speaks to me. Just a few weeks ago, in advance of my trip to Thailand, my friend and I obsessed about where to book dinner and selected Michelin-starred restaurant Gaa as a decadent treat. And we were crushed to learn that Jay Fai was closed the days we were hoping to go early in the morning to get our name on the walk-in list. Several years ago, another friend and I diligently worked on getting a reservation at David Chang’s Momofuku Ko, clicking for a spot the second the reservations opened up and finally scored two seats at a late time. If Booking.com is correct that food-motivated travel is on the rise, this means I’ll have more competition when it comes to getting that coveted reservation, doh!

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Going the “all-amusive” route.

With limited time when it comes to vacations, more and more people are looking for vacations that can deliver all of the experiences and attractions they’re interested in. 57 percent would rather go on one long trip that offers all of the activities they’re into close together. Booking.com predicts will have the travel industry curating itineraries, deals and routes that encompass a healthy range of interests. This more time-efficient way to travel makes sense to me; I look to plan well-rounded trips when I’m setting an itinerary for myself, with time for culture, fitness, R&R and food (OK, food takes a higher priority for me, but I do like my travel to include everything! Unless it’s got a baby elephant, then all I need is to cuddle with a baby elephant and that is everything).

Do you have travel plans for 2020 yet? Where are you off to?

3 Comments January 2, 2020

Travel Swellness: New York Citypass

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As a longtime fan of Citypass (I’ve used it a couple of times in Chicago, and once in Toronto), I was happy to receive the New York edition from Citypass for this August. which I spent in Brooklyn with Billie Jean.

If you’re unfamiliar with Citypass, here’s how it works: For each city (Citypass is available in 14 cities), they’ve rounded up a group of the top sights to see. If you were to add up all of the admission prices for these attractions and compare it to the cost of the Citypass, there’s a significant savings. So the pass makes a lot of sense if your travel plans include seeing many of the sights included in the pass for your city. The New York Citypass costs $183.99, which is a savings of 44 percent on the six sights and attractions included.

The New York Citypass includes:

  1. Empire State Building
  2. American Museum of Natural History
  3. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  4. Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR the Guggenheim Museum
  5. Ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  6. 9/11 Memorial Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

How I used the New York Citypass:

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The Empire State Building. I actually am not sure if I have ever been up the Empire State Building… possibly once when I was a kid. Since that was a long time ago, I was keen on visiting this iconic building once again. I lucked out with beautiful weather the afternoon I visited, and it wasn’t too crowded. The displays they have along the way as you make your way to the observation deck are fun, too: the pics of celebs who’ve visited, the King Kong photo opp, the example of the old elevator (what beautiful art deco details!).

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The Met. I’ve been very interested in revisiting the Met as I haven’t been in several years. And I was even more stoked to visit because the Met Camp exhibit was still on while I was there. This was such an incredible exhibit (I loved how the over the top outfits were displayed), but it was overwhelmingly crowded, so much so we didn’t spend as much time as we would have liked at it. Also, a bit of a fail: I didn’t realize my ticket to the Met included also visiting the Cloisters. I visited the Cloisters a few days later and paid the $25 admission. In any case, you should definitely make the effort to take the subway uptown to the Cloisters. It’s been on my wish list for several years, but I never have enough time in New York to carve out the time to go there, but I finally did and it feels like a wonderful castle perched the top of a hill in a quiet park. You won’t believe you’re still in Manhattan when you’re there!

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Top of the Rock. So  you have to choose between the Guggenheim and Top of the Rock on the Citypass. The Guggenheim was what I chose initially to visit, as I was last at the Guggenheim more than five years ago. But I’ve also never been to Top of the Rock, and I knew the views from Top of the Rock are great (as my friend Jenn pointed out, the view from Top of the Rock is better in that you get to view the pretty Empire State Building from it). So I had decided I’d just use the Citypass on the Guggenheim, and pay to go to Top of the Rock. Then I did some recon and I saw that the Guggenheim is pay what you wish on Saturdays from 5-8 p.m., whereas the Top of the Rock costs $38. So up to the Top of the Rock I went, and it was fantastic. It was a windy, cloudy day, unfortunately but we still enjoyed our visit; the view looking uptown with Central Park stretching out before you is breathtaking. As for my plans to go to the Guggenheim on a Sunday, they never panned out, as I think I got too lazy to head there from Brooklyn on Saturday evenings.

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Circle Line Cruises. I chose the Circle Line Cruises over the Statue of Liberty (since the cruise would bring me by the statue anyhow) and I’m so happy because the night of the cruise there was an incredible sunset with the sky unbelievably vivid pinks and oranges and purples. It was phenomenal to be out on the water at sunset. I highly recommend this but be prepared to stand if you want to be outside (there are limited seats on the upper deck).

What I didn’t get to use the Citypass for:

I’d decided to put the American Museum of Natural History as low priority on my itinerary. I had planned to visit since I have never been, but then a friend pointed out it’d be very crowded with kids. I think I have romanticized notions of this museum from movies filmed in NYC, and in my head I hadn’t pictured it chaotic and filled with little ones. I would like to go visit on another trip to NYC, though.

I did plan to go to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but somehow my time in New York flew by quickly and the one day I was in the area, I had timed my day poorly and ran out of time.

Why pick up a Citypass for your next trip?

Citypass offers great value if you’re able to fit in many or all of the sights, or if you’re a first time visitor to a city and love seeing all of the main sights when you’re traveling. Another benefit of having it? Citypass holders typically have quicker access to the sights (that said, I found that the signage is often unclear, so a few times I did end up waiting in the same line as everyone else).

Citypass is also offered in other cities I enjoy (such as Philly, Boston and San Fran) and others I haven’t had a chance to explore ever such as Denver and Orlando, so I’ll have to make sure to pick up a pass the next time I’m in these cities!

What are some of the ways you find savings when you travel?

 

Leave a Comment November 26, 2019

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