Lifestyle Take a detour to Prince Edward County The beloved Sandbanks Provincial Park is popular among locals. Photo Credit: Ontario Tourism By KEITH FLANAGAN July 20, 2015 2:28 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email Canadians are known for their annual escape to the south -- often to the United States. According to projections from Euromonitor International, a research company, Americans are returning the favor, making our northern neighbors our second-most visited international travel spot this year. So where should we flock? The most promising destination this season lies just a quick flight to Toronto and a 2-hour road trip east. Prince Edward County is more popular than ever, thanks to a boomlet of artisans setting up shop in this part of the countryside. The area skirts Lake Ontario's edge, with winding roads flanked by historic barns and villages that make it the quintessential weekend road trip destination. Where to go The friendly locals in Prince Edward County will all suggest a drive to their beloved Sandbanks Provincial Park (3004 County Rd., 613-393-3319). The protected area embraces one of the world's largest freshwater dune system, and whether you're paddling Lake Ontario's waters by canoe or sprawling out to enjoy the sandy shores and cool Canadian air, you won't be disappointed by the park's three beaches. After soaking in the sun, drive to Bloomfield, first parking at KIN Cafe (254 Main St., 613-393-3332), known for one of the best cups of coffee in the county, for an afternoon pick-me-up. Stroll through the cluster of shops in the area, but keep Kokito (285 Main St., 613-393-2828) a priority. Check out the shop's selection of cozy contemporary items, from handmade wooden crafts to peculiar hand-stitched "egg hats," most of which are made by Canadian designers. Stop your engine at Mustang Drive-In movie theater (1591 County Rd., 613-393-2006) with the locals by nightfall. The retro experience is one of the few nightlife activities the area has to offer, but makes it worth your while with a double-feature under the stars. If you're tuned out after one film, turn toward The Hayloft Dancehall (344 Salmon Pt., 613-476-0200), which keeps the county's soul pumping on weekends, sometimes until 2 a.m., with country bands in the newly refurbished barn. Where to eat While on the road, consider taking a meal on-the-go by picking up a picnic lunch at a number of local favorites. Agrarian (275 Main St., 613-393-0111) is perfect for a boxed lunch of local items, spreads and meats that can be easily taken to the beach. No trip to Prince Edward County is complete without visiting a handful the nearly 50 wineries in the area which produce cool climate varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. If food is your focus, route yourself to Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard (1152 Greer Rd., 613-399-5297) for a sip, as well as a slice of wood oven pizza that the locals are crazy about, made with recipes sourced from some of Toronto's brightest chefs. If there's only room for one dinner during your stay, The Hubb Eatery (433 Bloomfield Main St., 613-393-3301) and its gregarious staff will keep you around for seconds. Helmed by a wife-and-husband duo, their seasonal menu is speckled with crunchy greens from their garden and ingredients sourced from farmers a stone's throw away -- like malted honey and sheep's milk cheeses. Without even dwelling on its house-made Dilly Bars for dessert, it's the type of restaurant that's worth a trip to Prince Edward County all on its own. Where to stay The usual lodgings for Canadians who frequent this southeastern section of Ontario once meant staying in its many bed and breakfasts, the most charming of which are perched atop working farms. But for an updated version of this classic road trip, head to the new Drake Devonshire (rates start at $329/night; 24 Wharf St., 613-399-3338), a reimagined contemporary inn located in Wellington. Cornered by Lake Ontario and a steady stream where you can spot salmon and trout spawning, the inn's folksy mid-century furnishings and custom art from around the world will make any Brooklyn hipster swoon. By KEITH FLANAGAN Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.