If you’re anything like us, you’ve noticed that islands have a special vibe. Islands are a little more relaxed, fun, carefree, and beautiful. Islanders are welcoming and want visitors to have a great time. During our recent road trip to Lake Ontario we found the island vibe. Where was it? The north coast of Lake Ontario!
From Gananoque in the 1000 Islands region, we drove west along the lake shore bound for Prince Edward County. Prince Edward County is considered an island, although on the map there appears to be a small piece of land that connects it to mainland Ontario. Regardless, as soon as we entered Prince Edward County we knew we were in a special place! (Something to note… when you search for Prince Edward County, make sure you use the word “county” and not “island” because there is a Prince Edward Island elsewhere.)
Sandbanks Provincial Park
Prince Edward County is a beautiful blend of rural areas and small towns. Our first stop was Sandbanks Provincial Park in the northwest area of the County. We heard that Sandbanks Provincial Park has “big sand dunes”. Having visited both Silver Lake and Sleeping Bear in Michigan, we were skeptical that these dunes would compare. They do compare, and in some ways are better!
Sandbanks is a large park with several areas. To visit the dunes, go to the “Dune Day Use” area. The dunes are a short walk from the parking lot. Due to flooding, you have to walk through some shallow water to access the dunes. Though we visited a few weeks ago, this alert is still on the park website.
We weren’t troubled at all by the walk through the water and the dunes were totally worth it. They are very large, but you can choose your own experience and catch beautiful views of the lake without walking very far. Only foot traffic is permitted, so no ATVs, and the atmosphere is very peaceful.
Following our hike on the dunes we drove Lake Shore Lodge Rd. to the Westpoint area of the park for a picnic. This area of the park doesn’t have a beach, but does have some beautiful grassy areas and picnic tables.
Due to flooding, some areas of Sandbanks are closed. However, the flooding didn’t stop us from having a great time. The website has an alert area that you can check to find out which areas are closed.
Our original plan was to leave Prince Edward County after visiting Sandbanks, but on our way to Sandbanks we went through the little town of Picton and loved it so much that we didn’t want to leave. There aren’t many motels/hotels in Prince Edward County and we were excited to find a room at the Picton Harbour Inn.
The Picton Harbour Inn is located in the harbor and the rooms have great views of the marina. The Inn is going through a renovation and some rooms are renovated and some aren’t. Though the room we stayed in hasn’t been renovated yet, we enjoyed our time and an evening sitting on the deck overlooking the marina.
In addition to being on in the harbor, the Inn is a very short (about 1 minute!) walk to the beautiful town of Picton! There are lots of restaurants and shops in Picton and we chose Portabella Bistro for dinner.
Portabella Bistro has a great vibe and great food. Todd had pickerel tacos, I had a pear salad with shrimp, and Daniel had a burger. All of the ingredients were very fresh and delicious!
Following dinner, Daniel persuaded us to visit Slicker’s Ice Cream shop for a taste of the local ice cream. His “Chocolate Fudge Cookie” ice cream in a waffle cone was divine!
Before heading out of Picton we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise on the harbor and an excellent breakfast at The Lighthouse Restaurant located in the lobby of the Inn. The Lighthouse Restaurant is known as the best breakfast spot in the county and packed a crowd! We had to wait a few minutes for a seat, but it was worth it! Todd had and I had great omelettes and Daniel was delighted to have chicken tenders for breakfast!
After leaving Prince Edward County, we headed west along the lake shore. We thought our island experience was over until we stumbled upon the little town of Cobourg, which is about an hour West of Prince Edward County.
We parked our car in the public lot by the lake and started to explore. Cobourg’s lakefront area is very impressive and includes a marina, pier, beautiful beach, boardwalk, playground, a food truck, and a large campground!
The town of Cobourg is just north of the beach… it’s beautiful and has a very fun and relaxed vibe. We meandered in and out of the shops and noted lots of different restaurant choices. Daniel was hungry and we decided to stop for a snack before heading onward. Across the street we saw a little alley with a funky sign for a place called Oasis and we decided to check it out.
From the front, Oasis looks like a very small place, however it opens into a sizable dining room and awesome patio. Daniel had a fantastic pepperoni pizza and Todd and I split a Greek salad, which was excellent! Later on we checked the reviews for Oasis and found that they weren’t good… we were shocked because we had a great experience with the atmosphere, food, and service!
Wrapping It Up
Check out Prince Edward County and Cobourg to catch the island vibe! We’re already excited to return!
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