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Your guide to Sand Banks
All About Sandbanks Provincial Park
Named for its undulating sand dunes that stretch along the beach for miles in both directions, Sandbanks Provincial Park boasts three pristine beaches to choose from. Visitors come to this picturesque lakeside park on the northern banks of Canada’s Lake Ontario to stroll along the stretches of sand, discover the dunes, or hike the wetland area of the park. You can also go for a swim at Outlet Beach — perfect for swimmers of all abilities because of the shallow waters and gentle drop off — or escape to the limestone cliffs of West Point and have a picnic under the thick shade of trees.
Sandbanks Provincial Park also has plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy, such as bird-watching, cycling, and sailing. The park is a great starting point for exploring Prince Edward County, known for its bicycle touring, antiques, farm-to-table restaurants, and family-run wineries. The surrounding vineyards are home to the fastest growing wine-producing region in Ontario, and there are worse ways to spend a day than cycling out to a tasting room to pick up a bottle and bring it back for a sunset toast on the beach.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Sand Banks?
Sandbanks Provincial Park is at its best in summer. This is the peak season when the park often reaches capacity, so be sure to book your permit in advance. Your entry is guaranteed as long as you have a permit, but arrive early if you want to secure a particular spot in the park or beach. Things are also a little quieter on weekdays when there are fewer day-trippers visiting from Toronto. Visitors can beat the crowds by visiting in May or June, or after Labour Day. During the winter months, the cold weather brings fewer crowds, but the below-freezing weather is less suited for lounging on the beach.
What are the top things to do in Sand Banks?
Sandbanks Dune Trail
The Sandbanks Dune Trail loops through a unique dune habitat and travels along the edge of several pannes — a type of wetland habitat only found near dunes. Along the trail, you’ll spot plenty of milkweed that attracts butterflies and moths. It’s a popular evening hike, when temperatures are cooler and the white sand glows pink. This is an easy trail for beginners to hike by themselves, but you can also sign up for guided tours to make sure you don’t miss anything on the way.
Prince Edward County is an up-and-coming wine region with more than 40 wineries to choose from. Several of the top vineyards are located near the park and offer tours and tastings, and some even have full restaurants. While you can buy wine directly at any of the wineries, many offer shipping too. So you can have a bottle of wine waiting for you when you return home.
Bike Millenium Trail
This popular trail was formed along an abandoned railway line that once cut through the region. It stretches for 30 miles, from Carrying Place to Picton, and weaves through numerous towns along the way, including Wellington and Bloomfield. The trail is mainly rural, which allows you to enjoy the quiet and natural side of the region’s farm land. While it’s possible to hike the whole thing, the best (and quickest) way to experience it is on two wheels. Check the Prince Edward County website for local bike rental services — some of which deliver.