Explore Ontario's Prince Edward County - A Relaxing Family Vacation
Ontario's Prince Edward County (PEC for short) is a fabulous destination for a laid back, relaxing family holiday with babies and toddlers. Located less than 3 hours from both Toronto and Ottawa, the county has much to endear itself to both parents and their young kids - delicious dining; calm, stunning beaches; kid-friendly vineyards; nature; biking - the list is endless.
Below are The Littlest Passport's recommendations for kid-friendly things to do on an easy, slow paced, enjoyable Prince Edward County vacation with your baby or toddler.
Most Kid-Friendly Town in Prince Edward County: Wellington, Ontario
If your kids are toddler age or older, you'll definitely want to make a visit (or many) to the town of Wellington, Ontario - a quaint town with an interesting main street and a fun community-designed-and-built adventure playground.
Wellington’s Adventure Playground (251 Main Street, Wellington, Ontario) is a creatively designed, unique playground, made to resemble a fort or castle, with nautical elements like a wooden boat "sunken" onshore (a nod to Lake Ontario, which borders the park, offering pleasant views).
The main play structure is two stories high, with tunnels and bridges, steering wheels, and large slides. Though a little nerve wracking for parents, the structure and its stairs are well designed with "walls" all along, so you don't need to worry much about falling. Our just-turned 2 year old was able to navigate the stairs solo, and she loved the ability to wave at us through the windows of a turret that she accessed all on her own.
For babies and toddlers, the playground has a fully fenced Tot Lot with smaller scale bridges, baby swings, and a small boat-shaped sand box.
Beyond the playground, Wellington Park has a lovely park with a oversized gazebo, public washrooms, and a few picnic benches with views of Lake Ontario. (Note: Although there is a single stairway down to Lake Ontario, it was fenced off at time of publication).
Before you head to Wellington Park, start your morning off with coffee and pastries at Enid Grace Cafe (303-1 Wellington Main St; hours are 6:30-2pm, currently closed on Tuesdays). As it explains on its website, the cafe "is based on the rural cafes of Italy and France, whereby fresh food is prepared daily with the intent to sell out prior to siesta." This model eliminates food waste, but also means that you want to get to the cafe early to enjoy its breakfast, lunch or pastries. Although the cafe remains open until 2 pm for coffee and counter service, the kitchen closes for menu service at 1:30pm or sell out, whichever comes first.
The food is delicious, with a lot of unique pastry options, which made Enid Grace Cafe a must-visit destination upon each of our family's visits to Wellington. Ignore the sighs and impatient pen tapping of the busy counter staff while you hem and haw over your selections, and you will be rewarded with the best coffee and pastries in Prince Edward County.
After your little ones are tired out from the playground, strap them in the stroller and take them for a walk along Wellington’s Main Street, which is populated with unique gift shops, artist studios, and restaurants (note that many restaurants are open only for dinner on weekdays).
If you do want to grab a bite (or a pint) midday, swing by Midtown Brewing Company (266 Wellington Main St, Wellington, ON), located right across from Wellington Park. Seating fills up quickly, so we advise going during non-peak hours, especially with young kids in tow. As vegetarians, we were able to cobble together a light lunch, and we had to strongly ration the fries with garlic aioli with our daughter.
Wellington is one of the few towns with a grocery store in Prince Edward County, so if you want to pick up produce, snacks, or make-at-home meals, make sure to stop at Foodland Wellington (279 Wellington Main St, Wellington, ON). Though much smaller than the grocery stores you'll find in Belleville or Picton, you'll find decent produce and many staples, at reasonable prices.
Or if you are visiting Wellington on a Saturday, stop by The Wellington Market , featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, pizza, art, food, clothing, jewelry, and crafts. The Wellington Market is located next to the Adventure Playground.
Prince Edward County's Most Baby- and Toddler-Friendly Beach - North Beach
Prince Edward County's beaches are surprisingly lovely, with swimmable waters and pristine sand.
Sandbanks in the more popular of PEC's two public beaches, which unfortunately means that in the summer, you may find yourself waiting in long lines simply to enter the Provincial Park.
For a quieter beach experience - and in our opinion - the most baby and toddler-friendly beach in Prince Edward County - visit North Beach Provincial Park instead (440 North Beach Rd, Consecon, ON). The North Bay portion of the beach (accessed by driving to the far end of the beach and following the road around the curve) is even quieter and provides great protection from wind on blustery days. With no wind and much tamer waves, as well as shallow entry for toddlers to safely splash around, the North Bay is ideal for young families. (The water does drop off past entry, so you'll always want to keep within hugs reach of your little kids at all times).
Amenities at PEC’s North Beach are sparse, but do include toilet facilities and picnic tables. There is a small canteen where traditional fast food and beverages can be purchased, located along the park's main road, though we'd recommend bringing snacks and a packed lunch to ensure your little one has plenty to eat - you won't want to pack up early due to a low blood sugar monster.
Park entry is $14.50 per car.
Favorite Prince Edward County Vineyard to Visit with Kids: Huff Estates Winery
Huff Estates Winery (2274 Prince Edward County Rd 1, Bloomfield, ON) is an excellent choice for parents with young kids, since there is plenty for the kids to explore and enjoy while the adults take turns partaking in a tasting.
Oeno Gallery, which shares the grounds with Huff Estates, has an outside sculpture garden that offers kids plenty of space to run around, darting from one sculpture to another that peeks their interest.
Huff Estates Winery offers a relaxed, kid-friendly eating experience. A parked tuktuk beside the outdoor pizza oven entertains the kids while waiting for their meal. The casual eating area offers pizza slices and wine with picnic table seating. If you're looking for whole personal pizzas (or other offerings) you will need to dine in the restaurant, either indoors or on the outdoor patio. Do note that the restaurant's menu is limited to full size pizzas after 4pm.
Kid-Friendly PEC Winery Honorable Mention: Karlo Estates
Housed in a barn, Karlo Estates’ (561 Danforth Rd, Wellington, ON) tasting menu includes treats for kids - grape juice packs as well as light snacks like salsa, guacamole and hummus - allowing parents to keep their little ones occupied and content through a short tasting. And if (when) your child gets restless, take him to find the six cats that roam the barn and property.
Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic basket and blanket to set up by the dry-stone bridge just south of the estate's vineyards. Bring along some plastic cups, and ask the estate to uncork one of their bottles. The little ones will have room to run around safely while the adults enjoy a glass in peaceful surroundings.
Also impressive - Karlo Estates is the first vegan certified winery in the world. If that's your thing, you can read more on the winery’s website.
Best Ice Cream in Prince Edward County: Slickers in Bloomfield, Ontario
Get to Slickers (271 Bloomfield Main St, Bloomfield, ON) by early afternoon to ensure that your family can sample the shop's most popular ice cream flavors before they sell out for the day. Campfire ice cream, with its smoky marshmallow flavor, is a crowd pleaser (how do they do it?!) but our little one loved the apple pie ice cream - vanilla and cinnamon flavored with small pieces of crust and soft apples.
Slicker's Bloomfield location is miniscule, with limited outdoor seating, but a short stroll downhill on Country Road 30 leads to Mill Pond Park. The park has a gazebo with seating, and after the ice cream is eaten (or melted), your little one can burn off some of the sugar in the park's small, well maintained playground.
(Note: Slickers also has a larger location in Picton, Ontario; 232 Picton Main St, Prince Edward, ON)
Where to Stay in Prince Edward County with Babies and Toddlers
When looking for a kid-friendly PEC accommodation option, parents will first need to decide on the experience they crave - town, country, or waterfront (or for the adventurous, outdoorsy families, camping is also an option).
A rental property in Prince Edward County’s countryside is best if you’re looking for absolute peace and quiet, few neighbors, and the opportunity to enjoy the stars around a fire pit after the kids are asleep. Staying in the country does require more driving to get places - even an afternoon ice cream requires piling into the car. Our family stayed in Carrying Place, Ontario and most jaunts were 20 minutes by car.
If you have a baby that's still feeding or napping often, you may prefer the convenience of an in-town rental. An in-town accommodation makes popping in to stores, cafes and eating establishments easier while your baby is awake - or you can amble around while the little one sleeps on the go. Wellington is our top recommendation, for its small town charms and kid-friendly amenities, while Bloomfield, a short drive to Wellington, is also quaint.
Prince Edward County’s lakefront rentals tend to be situated a very short distance from the water, so you'll need to keep an eye on your young kids at all times to make sure they don't wander in unattended. If you're hoping for a waterfront property, focus your attention on the North Beach/ Consecon area.