Here, there’s a vibrant arts and culture scene paired with picturesque natural surroundings. And do we even need to mention the beaches and wine?
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway, an active adventure, or simply a taste of local culture, Picton is a destination that won’t disappoint.
All on Picton, Ontario:
Where is Picton?
You’ll find this charming community on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. And it’s easy to get to. Hop in your car, and you’ll see it’s just a short drive from major urban centres such as Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston and Syracuse, New York.
This makes it an ideal weekend getaway for those looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and experience peaceful, small-town Ontario at its best.
If you’re coming here from Toronto, your total drive time will clock in at a little more than two hours. Not too bad for a quick out-of-town jaunt! Driving from Ottawa? We’ll see you in about 2.5 hours. Those coming from the Limestone City (also known as Kingston, if you’re not from here!), can be here in just over one hour. And if you’re visiting all the way from across Syracuse, NY, you can wander the downtown streets of Picton in about three hours.
What to do in Picton
This charming small town is a haven for people seeking a peaceful escape and an unforgettable adventure. Whether you want to go rustic and rural or prefer to remain in town, your must-see list will be extensive.
Here are just a few of the things to do in Picton. What’s first on your list?
Visit Sandbanks Provincial Park
One can hardly write a blog about things to do in Picton without mentioning Sandbanks Provincial Park.
With its three expansive, sandy beaches that some say are among the best in Canada, this park is home to the world’s (yes, world’s!) largest baymouth barrier dune formation.
An astounding 750,000 people sink their toes in the sand here each year, speaking to its immense popularity. So don’t go thinking you can plan a last-minute beach dash here. You’ll need to book a permit in advance, but it will give you access to the park’s three beaches, walking and hiking trails and more from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Get your day pass here.
Explore Picton’s Shopping Options
For travelers exploring the area, Picton is an irresistible destination brimming with history and a strong sense of community. It beckons you to become a part of its vibrant story.
Here, you can discover a delightful blend of quaint shops, cozy cafes and fascinating boutiques and galleries, while you immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the buildings that line the Main Street. The charming architecture will undoubtedly transport you to another era.
While it’s impossible to cover all the amazing places to explore during your visit, we’ve rounded up a handful of ideas for you to consider checking out.
- Mad Dog Gallery: Escape to the countryside just moments away from Picton and discover a hidden gem that will enchant you. Step into a magnificent, timber framed barn, lovingly restored to house a gallery that welcomes art enthusiasts from near and far. While you’re here, you can also embrace the beauty of nature as you explore 25 acres of gardens and meandering paths through meadows. The gallery showcases an exquisite fusion of contemporary and traditional art, featuring some of the most talented artists from The County.
- Books and Company: An enchanting haven for book lovers nestled in the heart of downtown Picton. This independent bookstore invites you to explore its literary wanders. But offerings don’t stop at books alone, there’s also a range of games, toys, puzzles, stationary, cards and magazines that are waiting to be discovered.
- City Revival: Here, vintage charm meets modern flair, with a treasure trove of carefully curated vintage finds. Discover clothing, accessories and more that tell tales of eras gone by. This is a great choice for those seeking sustainable fashion that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Arts on Main Gallery: A vibrant and captivating hub for art enthusiasts. Showcasing a diverse range of local and regional artists, the gallery offers a stimulating and immersive experience, where visitors can explore various mediums and styles that reflect the rich artistic talent of the area.
Before you head out, visit Experience Picton for an extensive look into restaurants, shops, accommodations and more.
Explore Picton Harbour
Get on some comfy shoes and take a walk along Picton Harbour to enjoy the scenic views of boats and the waterfront. You can also stop by the Picton Harbour Marina and watch the boats coming and going.
Additionally, the harbor serves as a starting point for various water-based activities, such as boating, fishing, and kayaking, allowing you to further immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.
Getting hungry? Pop by the Lighthouse Restaurant for a bite to eat!
Check Out Macaulay Heritage Park
This is a captivating historic site that offers a glimpse into the rich heritage of Picton.
At the centre of the park stands Macaulay House, a beautifully-preserved Regency-style house built in 1830.
While you’re there, you can explore the interior of the house, which is furnished with period pieces, and learn about the lives of the Macaulay family and early settlers through informative exhibits.
The park also features scenic gardens, a restored carriage house, and a heritage chapel, providing a serene and educational experience for all who visit.
Take a Winery or Brewery Tour
If you’ve ever Googled Prince Edward County, we’re willing to hedge a bet you stumbled on a page or two talking about the number of wineries and breweries that call the area home. Here, the unique climate and soil conditions make it ideal for grape growing and beer brewing.
A magical combination of lake-effect breezes, long growing seasons and well-drained soils rich in limestone and minerals create a unique terroir that produces high-quality grapes and hops, resulting in exceptional wines and craft beers.
It’s also good to know that many of the wineries and breweries in Picton are family-owned and operated, with a focus on sustainable farming practices and small-batch production. This dedication to quality and craftsmanship has helped to establish Picton as a premier destination for wine and beer enthusiasts, with visitors coming from all over.
Check out a local winery or brewery tour not only to learn about our local wines, but also to meet the makers, see some beautiful scenery and sample some new beverages you’ve never had the chance to before. (And if you hitch a ride with us, it means you can indulge safely!).
Where to Eat in Picton
A food lover’s paradise, Picton boasts a thriving culinary scene that includes everything from farm-to-table restaurants to artisanal bakeries.
We promise: there’s a tasty range of dining options that are sure to please every palate, whether you’re looking for a cozy cafe, quick bite or an elegant restaurant for a special occasion.
The County Canteen
Ontario craft beer is known for quality ingredients and innovative flavours. The County Canteen saw its potential and decided to run with it. And have they ever run far.
Here, you’ll find over 20 taps of Ontario craft beer, sourced from all over the province. We’re talking lagers from Muskoka, IPAs from Barrie and cream ales from just down the road. And that’s just for starters.
Pair your liquid bread with any of the items from the Canteen’s menu for a truly delicious experience. You’ll find everything from fries served with a creamy garlic aioli, to beer-battered fish and chips, to AAA dry aged angus ground beef burgers. In other words, you won’t leave thirsty … or hungry.
In a 19th-century mansion in the heart of Picton, you’ll find Merrill House, a luxurious boutique hotel and world-class restaurant.
With dishes expertly prepared by the restaurant’s in-house chef, you can choose from a variety of meals made from locally-sourced ingredients. You – and your tastebuds – will love the emphasis on fresh, seasonal flavours. Even better? It will accommodate dining restrictions such as veganism, dairy-free and gluten-free. Just let them know when you’re booking your table!
We promise you won’t leave disappointed. This place has been recognized as OpenTable’s “Most Booked Restaurant in Prince Edward County” for 2023.
A seasonally-driven, Spanish-inspired restaurant on Picton’s Main Street, Bocado is a 100-seat eatery that’s amassed quite a loyal following, and for good reason. Working closely with local farmers means that herbs and vegetables are freshly picked and that eating here is like taking a flavourful stroll through a garden of culinary delights.
It’s even gotten a name for itself in Toronto. An article in the Toronto Star once said, “Prince Edward County’s hottest new restaurant deserves the buzz.” Seems it was onto something. Reservations are recommended, though walk-ins are welcome and will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Slickers County Ice Cream
Life, as they say, is uncertain. So eat dessert first. Just make sure it’s at Slickers County Ice Cream, a sweet oasis in Prince Edward County that’s been around for more than 20 years.
Here, ice cream is made fresh daily in small batches in its licensed dairy, ensuring that you are sufficiently dazzled by the shop’s whimsical flavours, tempting concoctions and sprinkle of charm.
Best-sellers include apple pie and rhubarb ginger, but there’s also exciting flavours such as lemon chiffon and peanut butter.
One scoop’s just simply not enough.
Where to Stay in Picton
A captivating Ontario destination, Picton has a wide range of accommodation options that cater to every traveler’s taste and preferences. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious retreat, a cozy bed and breakfast, a rustic cottage or a charming inn, you’ll get a good night’s sleep and an experience that’ll exceed your expectations.
Here are just a few options to consider:
The June Motel
A hip, 16-room boutique hotel, The June is a “throwback to the good ol’ days.” Staying here is all about living in the sunshine and enjoying the simple pleasures of life in beautiful spaces.
The rooms have a uniquely cool, retro vibe, with an eclectic mix of mid-century and bohemian touches. The attention to detail is remarkable, with carefully-curated decor and an abundance of character. Every single element – from the furnishings to the artwork – is infused with a sense of nostalgia and creativity. You’ll love the delightful dose of retro-inspired flair.
A premier vacation rental vendor, we offer an unparalleled experience if you’re looking to explore the beauty of Prince Edward County.
With a commitment to excellence and a passion for providing unforgettable getaways, we’re a trusted choice for travelers just like you. We promise not only a comfortable stay, but an exceptional level of service and attention to detail.
Choose from any of our handpicked vacation rentals, ranging from cozy cottages to luxurious waterfront properties, and benefit from our knowledge of the area. We know all the best local attractions, activities and hidden gems, and we’re ready to provide personalized recommendations to make sure you make the most of your stay here.
Check out all the vacation rentals we have available here.
What to do in Picton in Winter
While the temps here may dip to frosty levels come winter, look at it this way: it’s your chance to embrace a quintessentially Canadian experience.
Here, you’ll find a delightful array of activities that’ll have you laughing in the face of the chilly temperatures. Just bundle up, grab your toque and have some fun, eh?
Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing
If you enjoy traipsing through snow-covered trails, you’ll love the abundance of them here in The County.
Head to Sandbanks Provincial Park for a truly magical and unique experience and immerse yourself in a winter wonderland of stunning beauty.
During the winter months, the normally bustling beach and dunes are transformed into a serene and peaceful setting, with glistening snow and ice creating a picturesque scene.
You’ll find a range of trails to choose from, depending on your level of ambition and how much time you have to spare. The Lakeview Trail, for example, provides 2.4 kms of epic Lake Ontario views. Explore other trails here.
Here in Prince Edward County, the region’s frozen lakes and bays offer a variety of species to target.
Check out Lake Ontario, which serves up yellow perch, walleye, northern pike and lake trout.
West Lake, located within Sandbanks Provincial Park, is another popular spot for ice fishing. Expect to reel in some yellow perch, walleye and smallmouth bass.
Just east of Prince Edward County, the Bay of Quinte is renowned for its ice fishing opportunities. There are numerous access points, and once you settle in, you can expect to catch everything from black crappie to northern pike.
A word to the wise: Remember to check for ice thickness and follow safety precautions.
Go on a Winery Tour
Mittens? Vastly overrated, especially when you can warm your hands with a glass of Prince Edward County wine.
While the vineyards themselves may very well be covered with a blanket of snow, it’s hard to beat sipping a rich, velvety red wine by a fireplace or sipping a crisp white amidst a wintry scene.
In Prince Edward County, more than 40 wineries have flourished, each showcasing its distinct style and winemaking philosophy. From charming, family-operated vineyards to renowned and well-established estates, every winery in The County invites you to explore, taste and savour some of Canada’s finest wines.
Depending on your travel companions, we offer a variety of tour options to choose from. Browse them here and get ready to sip like a connoisseur in a symphony, savouring every note and nuance of the magnificent melody that is wine.
Many area wineries also welcome dogs, so Fido can join in on the fun, too!
Visit Art Galleries
Prince Edward County is a true haven for art enthusiasts and culture seekers with a vibrant and diverse gallery scene that will leave you feeling captivated.
Here are just a few of our favourite galleries in Picton:
- 2gallery: A contemporary fine art gallery, this gallery boasts a selection of historical and secondary-market works by well-known Canadian artists. A little edgy, this gallery is captivatingly different. Here, you’ll find work by Patrick Adams, Carl Beam, Hilton Hassell and more.
- Arts on Main Gallery: Since 2007, Arts on Main has been known as one of the few cooperative galleries in Southeastern Ontario, and one devoted to showing work only by local artists. It’s a beautifully vibrant part of Picton’s Main Street, with a full stable of talented artists in a variety of art media: paintings, glass, sculpture, ceramics, fiber, wood and metal, jewelry, photography and mixed media.
What to do in Picton on a Rainy Day
Rain, rain, go away! But if it decides to stay, fear not, for Picton has a charm that shines even on the gloomiest of days. Don’t let the weather dampen your spirit. It just means you need to add a little splash of adventure.
Visit the Regent Theatre
Prince Edward County’s only purpose-built cinema and live performance venue, The Regent Theatre seamlessly combines elegance, history and a touch of enchantment. Here, you’ll find the best of movies, live performances, special events and digital programming.
As you step through the grand entrance, you’ll be transported to a bygone era of glamour of old-fashioned cinema. Here, time slows down and the silver screen becomes a portal to captivating stories and unforgettable characters.
Take a Cooking Class
Looking to escape the rain and expand your culinary repertoire at the same time? Lucky for you, Picton has the chance for you to discover the flavours of the area and create some delectable dishes that’ll give any Michelin Star chef out there a run for their money.
Cookery School at The Waring House
Since 2001, these classes have welcomed thousands of participants who are guided through the intricacies of preparing a variety of dishes.
Led by the uber-talented Chef David Correa, these classes “explore the culinary traditions of the world.”
Each class (just a short, short drive outside of the heart of Picton!) features a particular culinary subject, food type, ingredient or theme, and all are suitable for all levels of cooking experience. To reserve your spot, call their guest services desk at 613-476-7492 or (800) 621-4956 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cooking Classes and Interactive Dining at Littlejohn Farm
Immerse yourself in the charm of country living while embarking on a culinary adventure that harmoniously blends local farm-to-table delights with global inspiration.
During this experience, you’ll get a tour of the property and its gardens, a hands-on cooking class, dinner, beverages (you can even bring your own beer or wine!), a Littlejohn farm booklet with recipes and a Littlejohn farm tote.
If the forecast is calling for lots of rain, you’re in luck. This culinary adventure will take care of about four hours, including dinner.
Unleash Your Sense of Adventure in Picton
Here in Picton, there’s no shortage of laughter, surprises and memorable moments awaiting intrepid explorers like yourself.
Whether you’re strolling through the streets lined with adorable shops and boutiques that make you want to max out your credit card (oops, sorry bank account!), or daringly venturing into the great outdoors to conquer the breathtaking trails and beaches, this town offers a delightful mix of adventure and relaxation. Here, you’ll find the extraordinary is just an ordinary day.