Tag: prince edward county

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

at Flossies

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.

 

 

 

7 Comments November 30, 2020

Travel Swellness: Pomp Outpost in Prince Edward County

Pomp Outpost outside

Last month, I returned to Prince Edward County (my friends joked that I’m #nevernotinPEC, haha) for a quick getaway, but can you blame me? There’s delicious food and wine, cute animals and pretty views. But yes, this was my third trip this year there: I went with my wine-loving friend early this summer and stayed at the June Motel, and then with another friend with our dogs for a pup-friendly getaway, and this time it was again with a friend and our pups in tow.

Pomp Outpost living room

If you’re looking for a cute spot to stay, besides the June Motel and the Ferg, there’s now Pomp Outpost. This adorable tiny house, which you can book on Airbnb, is located on the property at the Grange Vineyards & Winery. When you step out onto the the small deck, you’re facing rows and rows of grapes. It’s a pretty magical setting. I love a country road like the one you take to enter the property with a canopy of trees overhead…

Grange Winery road

The Pomp Outpost is petite being a tiny house and all, but there’s plenty of room for two people, although you should probably pack light (there’s not a load of room for luggage). There is electricity, and a full washroom (although you’ll want to take showers efficiently and you might want to allow time for the hot water heater to do its thing after one of you takes a shower). The bed is in the loft space above, so you must be comfortable with taking a ladder to access where you’ll sleep. It’s quite cozy up there.

Pomp Outpost kitchen

On the main level is a small table, a full kitchen (where the hosts kindly left us a bottle of wine from the Grange and some delicious maple water in the fridge and there’s coffee and tea, too) and a banquette n the living room area. There is a TV, however, we weren’t able to turn it on during our stay.

As I mentioned, I brought Billie Jean and my friend brought her morkie since the tiny house is dog friendly, Word to the wise: the bird bangers (to scare off the birds from the grapevines) go off regularly throughout daylight hours at the winery, so if your dog is noise-sensitive (as many dogs are with things like fireworks), you may have a very stressed out dog if you stay at Pomp Outpost.

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The Outpost is well located on Closson Rd., so just a short drive away is Shed at Chetwyn Farms (hello, alpacas and beautiful knit things!), Hinterland Wine Company (I’m a fan of their bubbly) and we stumbled across a beautiful horse and pig just down the road, as one does in the country. But everything in PEC is always what seems like a 15-20 minute drive away. We made our way to Lake on the Mountain, the Perfect Lil Bake Shoppe, Norman Hardie Winery for pizza, and Agrarian.

I also got a chance to check out two PEC spots I hadn’t yet had a chance to visit. We had a nice breakfast at Enid Grace Cafe, where the baked goods looked incredible. I didn’t indulge as  I actually had an awful cold during this road trip, which is the worst timing; having all of this incredible food around me and not being able to taste any of it because I was so congested!

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The second spot is the Parlour Studio, a pretty space filled with plants and crystals right beside Enid Grace. As I have the opposite of a green thumb, I just admired the succulents and other leafy things but did not bring anything home with me.

Grange Winery

Be sure to stop into the Grange for a tasting while you stay here; they produce wine with only with grapes from PEC. The main building where you do the tastings is quite beautiful, and besides picking up some bottles of wine, they also sell the maple water (I’m telling you it’s addictive!). The winery also prepares picnic baskets; it’d be lovely to take to enjoy by the Lake on the Mountain or you could certainly simply enjoy it on the deck at the tiny house, as we did sipping some wine.

You’ll love staying at Pomp Outpost as a couple for a quiet getaway or with one of your besties for a foodie adventure, or just on your own — solo travel has its advantages, you can do whatever you want to on a whim, after all. You’ll probably leave here contemplating if you can pull off living in a tiny house…do you think you could? I think I like “stuff” too much! Although Billie Jean seemed to quite adore tiny-house living.

Pomp Outpost Billie Jean lounging

Leave a Comment October 25, 2017

Travel Swellness: Q&A with the women behind The June Motel in Prince Edward County

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Last year sometime, a super cute motel room in Prince Edward County showed up in my Instagram feed, and I was instantly interested in it because it was so pretty and I’m a huge fan of the County. Reading the comments and clicking around Instagram, I realized that the motel was something someone I knew was working on. I first met April Brown, one of the owners of The June Motel, when she used to work in PR in Toronto. One of her accounts was Nike so we spent more than a few mornings working out at Nike Training Club classes together.
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I immediately messaged her to find out what was going on. I knew she had left PR, and I’d seen she’d done some traveling. But owning a motel with your best friend? This sounded too awesome, and I’ve essentially been hounding her with questions pretty regularly in the months since then. Because how do two 30-something women with no motel experience (April’s parter in The June, Sarah Sklash, worked for the government) do a 180 with their lives by buying the old Sportsman Motel and transforming it into one of the hottest places to stay  in the very hot Prince Edward County? And more importantly, how can I do the same? Yes, I think why it so fascinated me is that I often dream about ditching city life and starting something brand new than the grind I’ve been doing for many years.
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I had the chance to stay at The June Motel a couple of months ago (in both the Deluxe Wine Studio and the Rose Room), not long after the officially opened, and it’s even better than I’d seen online.
The June Motel lobby
Firstly, I need that leather couch in the wine bar. Secondly, I need to learn how to keep a plant alive so I can incorporate some big leafy plants at home, too. Thirdly, and most importantly, I need to move to a idyllic little wine country spot! Half-joking aside, the rooms and the wine bar are gorgeous, and April and Sarah are such lovely motelier hosts. It’s thanks to them that we discovered the Perfect Lil Bakeshop and Lighthall Winery (you can read more about that trip on the blog here). But it’s also thanks to April that I ran up the brutal hill to get to the Lake on the Mountain, but I suppose I forgive her for that (N.B. The hill up Chuckery Hill Road from the motel is a very, very tough one, but it flattens out and the lake view is a gorgeous reward). As you can see, I got over that tough run pretty quickly as I basked in the very pretty Rose Room:
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I grabbed April and Sarah–who have been besties for the past 14 years since meeting in a sorority at the University of Western Ontario–to find out more about the new lives in Picton as moteliers.
So how did this new career as moteliers come about?
April: Sarah and I were looking for that next chapter in both our careers and personal lives. The daily grind in Toronto was no longer as fulfilling as it once was when we were in our early 20s. We started to dream about having something of our own, a new creative outlet. Meanwhile, Sarah and I had been coming out to Prince Edward County with our friends for years. Her and her boyfriend had recently bought a cottage in the area, so we had seen first-hand how it’d grown in popularity year-over-year. There was a little fate in how it all worked out as well. This motel had merely come up in
conversation, but we instantly thought “we should buy that motel”. We drove out to look at the motel one week later, two months later put in an offer and less than six months from that initial conversation, we moved into the dingy roadside motel that it once was. When we bought in 2016, it was just becoming the new hot spot . Despite the popularity of the area, everyone seemed to struggle to find a place to stay. We ourselves had struggled on several occasions, so the we knew the demand was there. Purchasing a vintage roadside motel introduced us to a whole new world. We were suddenly challenged in new ways, and we had endless opportunity to be creative in how we transformed not only the look and feel of the place, but the entire experience of staying at a motel.
What caught your eye about the Sportsman Motel and what was the vision you had for it?
Sarah: We knew there was a market for accommodation in the County. We’d seen it grow over the last five years, and we ourselves had struggled to find a place to stay. We wanted to create something that was boutique and provided a well-curated experience that appealed to millennial travelers. We’re focused on good wine and good vibes, because it’s all about balance. It’s about getting out of the city, breathing in the fresh country air and exploring. But also about indulging and treating yourself to good wine and good food with good friends. We saw something special in the Sportsman Motel, because we’d travelled to places like Palm Springs, California, etc. where the motel revival is a serious thing. With this property in particular, nothing was structural, it was mainly cosmetic changes that were required to see our vision through!
Where does the motel name, The June Motel, come from?
April: It was a name we loved for it’s retro appeal and summery vibe. It’s meant to remind you of that school’s out, first day of summer feeling.
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The June is beautiful; you’ve done such a great job with it. Can you share more about what inspired the design and what your favourite space is in the motel?
Sarah:  This is a tough one! I think The Classic room is my favourite. It’s exactly that, classic. It was also the first space we designed, so really set the tone for the rest of the property. I think the biggest piece of inspiration if you will, is the palm print wallpaper in this room. We came across it flipping through wallpaper books at the local paint store, and we instantly fell for it. From then on, it was all about what flowed with that wallpapers.
I’m sure you get a lot of people (myself included) who are envious of your new life in the County! But I’m sure it is also tough. Anything you found surprising or really unexpected when it comes to the business?
April: When I started this, Sarah had to teach me how to use a drill. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly the handy kind of woman, and I struggled a lot with how I was going to be capable of all this. I think as women, it’s sometimes hard to believe that we’ve got the strength and ability to renovate something on our own. In the end, it’s so empowering to realize you can do it. We tiled our own lobby floor, we floored all the rooms, learned how to wallpaper and paint, managed electricians and other contractors, and did a million other things I never dreamed I’d be doing.
What’s been the biggest adjustment for living in PEC? I know you both still come into Toronto pretty regularly and keep your apartments here in the city.
April: For us, it’s about designing the life we want. That life includes a lot of time in the County and a little city time
as well. I love running the County roads and going to the beach on a Tuesday. However, I love getting dressed up and going out for dinner in the city with my girlfriends. The best part of this gig is that we don’t have to chose between the two worlds. In the winter we’ll close down for a few months and fulfill our wanderlust. We’ve got our sights on India this January for a yoga teacher training course!
I feel like more and more people are investing in properties as an Airbnb but you two dove right in with motel! Any advice for people considering either?
April: I think Airbnb is the perfect place to dip your toes in hospitality, and is relatively risk free. It’s inspiring to see so many young people buying property and creating really unique Airbnb accommodations out here. That said, we were looking for something bigger, with more opportunity. Essentially we were looking for a new life adventure.
What else do your have in the works for The June?
Sarah:  For us, it’s about appealing to the millennial traveler who’s looking for a personalized, curated experience. We do a few things to make that come to life for our guests. One is a breakfast in bed service where we’ll deliver a platter of
freshly baked scones, chia puddings and fresh pressed juices to your room in the morning. We also do a Detox & Retox yoga program. Every Saturday morning in the summer we hold an outdoor yoga class that ends with a mimosa in our
Lobby Bar. Again, it’s all about balance! Lastly, we just launched Text Message Concierge. Our guests can now text us for everything from towels to local recommendations for where to eat and drink in the County. Finally, I think our check-in process is really informal and special at the same time. We pour each of our guests a welcome drink and chat with them about their plans for the next few days. We’ve usually go the wine map out, helping them navigate their way around to the best spots! We like to say that staying with us is a lot like staying with a friend, one who knows all the hot spots!
Fave part of being motelier? Least fave?
April: Fave part… creating new experiences and designing new spaces. I love seeing something old and forgotten become new and beautiful!
Sarah: I love catching glimpses of guests creating their own travel memories.
April: Least fave? Garbage duty… it’s the least sexy part of motelier life.
Sarah: Ditto.
What’s your fave thing to do in the County on your day off?
April: A beach night. I love packing-up a picnic and heading to a hidden beach with my friends and a bottle of wine in tow. The sunsets here are epic!
Want to drink rose all day in Prince Edward County and stay at The June? I know I do! Here’s where you can make a reservation. (Plus, you can check out my articles about PEC over at Travel & Style and AmongMen, and my blog post about a dog-friendly trip to the County here.)
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Photography (April & Sarah, Deluxe Wine Studio and the Classic Room), Lauren Miller, courtesy of The June Motel.

Leave a Comment August 22, 2017

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