If you are looking for Island vibes in Ontario then you need to head to Pelee Island. After visiting Pelee Island, I can see why it is known as Canada’s best-kept secret. Well, the secret is out of the bag.
Pelee Island is the ultimate Ontario Island getaway that will take you back in time. I was surprised to hear that so many people have never visited Pelee Island. It is a charming island that will have you leaving your busy life behind.
Point Pelee National Park is the southernmost part of mainland Canada extending for 15 kilometers into Lake Erie.
Pelee Island offers so many fun things to do. Enjoy Ontario’s southernmost beaches, explore Pelee Island winery, hike the various trails, and enjoy the local culinary scene.
How to Get to Pelee Island
The 90-minute ferry service from Leamington, Ontario runs several times per day. Make sure to make reservations in advance as there is limited capacity and it tends to fill up quickly.
You can bring your vehicle on the ferry or you can walk or bike. If you are looking for the ultimate island experience then walk onto the ferry and rent a golf cart once you arrive.
How to Get Around Pelee Island
Even if you bring your car with you to Pelee Island, I would recommend exploring the island by bike or golf cart. We zipped around the island in a golf cart. Although slower than a vehicle, it really helped us to slow down and take in the entire island. Rent a golf cart or e-bike at Pelee Island Adventures.
Where to stay in Pelee Island
The Wandering Dog Inn is a cozy and charming Bed and Breakfast run by Kevin and Cathy Miller. The Main House is a 125-year-old farmhouse with an open-air veranda with tons of character.
It has 4 rooms upstairs, 2 full bathrooms upstairs, and 2 full bathrooms downstairs.
The Inn also offers 5 private suites located at the back of the property with private entrances. We stayed in a spacious King suite that was equipped with everything that we needed.
Each of the suites has a bar fridge, a microwave, and a coffee maker. We really enjoyed coffee in the morning on our own private screened porch that also has a hammock.
No need to pack your toiletries. They have you covered with all-natural soaps, shampoos, and conditioners in the washroom. This helps to reduce the chemicals in the water.
If you love grilling, make sure to pack some steaks to grill on your own grill outside of your room.
A daily buffet breakfast is served in the main house where you will also find a common area that offers board games, a library, and a community fridge.
Kevin and Cathy have done a wonderful job in making sure that everyone has a comfortable stay. They have truly put their heart and soul into the Inn and we felt like family by the end of our stay.
Take note, the Inn does not have TVs nor do they offer wifi. Take this time to truly unwind and unplug.
Things to do on Pelee Island
After speaking with many of the locals, the main question they get asked is what is there to do on Pelee Island. The main response is, you are doing it!
You can choose to explore the island by bike, go-cart, or car, you can hike the trails or simply just soak up the sun on the beach. Remember, you are on island time and can do as much or as little as you like.
The island is actually bigger than I thought and we were never bored.
Pelee Island Winery
You can’t visit Pelee Island without enjoying a wine tasting at Pelee Island Winery.
Pelee Island winery wine growing history dates back more than 170 years and is regarded as the birthplace of winemaking in Canada.
Make sure to sign up for the tour that is held at noon daily for only $5 per person. Book your tour here.
After your tour, enjoy a flight of wines in the outdoor pavilion wine garden.
We enjoyed a flight of white and red wines along with charcuterie and pizza. The menu items are pizza, charcuterie box, or purchase meats such as sausage, burgers, steak, and even plant-based items to grill yourself at the winery.
Enjoy an easy hike through the wooded area along a dirt trail and wooden walkways as you head down to the beach to Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve.
The lighthouse was originally built in 1833 and restored in 2000. It stands at the tip of the spit and is surrounded by water on each side. It is a great place for nature lovers and wildlife viewing. The lighthouse is the second oldest Canadian lighthouse on Lake Erie.
There is a small parking lot on the right-hand side before the entrance of the park. Note that swimming is not recommended at Lighthouse Point due to the undertow.
Vin Villa was founded in 1866 and is one of the most historical viticultural sites in North America. It is Canada’s first commercial winery and the birthplace of Champagne in North America.
I highly recommend booking an exclusive tour of Vin Villa with Pelee Island Adventures. It is a unique experience as you stroll through the beautiful treed grounds and ruins and get a peek into the restored wine cellar.
The Mission Hall Sanctuary
The Mission Hall Sanctuary lies in the heart of Pelee Island surrounded by vineyards and a lavender field. It represents the true essence of Pelee Island.
It is a small open-air building that offers a quiet sanctuary to reflect and take in the quietness and tranquil surroundings. It is a beautiful setting for a small wedding.
Pelee Island Heritage Centre
Pelee Island Heritage Centre was founded in 1988 and houses exhibits that will immerse you in the history of Pelee Island. It is located across the ferry terminal.
There are several exhibits that will take you back in time. You will read about the history of winemaking on Pelee Island, learn about the native wildlife and so much more.
Pelee Art Works
Enjoy local shopping at Pelee Art Works. Pelee Art Works is a non-profit organization that was established in 1995 to create a centre for arts and culture on Pelee Island. Enjoy shopping for local handmade souvenirs and beautiful pieces of artwork.
Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve
The path to the right takes you out to the beach. Walk along the beach for 10-15 minutes and you will reach the end point of Pelee Island.
There is limited parking at Fish Point along with some bike racks near the entrance of the trail.
Note that swimming is not permitted due to the undertow.
Where to eat on Pelee Island
Coneheads is the perfect first stop when you arrive on Pelee Island. As you depart the ferry terminal, make a left, and Coneheads is located on the right-hand side in a cute little colourful building. They have a great selection of delicious ice cream flavours
Even though we had a hearty breakfast at the Inn, we found ourselves at The Bakery daily for a coffee and dessert fix. They also offer slow-cooked meats and breakfast sandwiches.
They have several picnic tables and Muskoka chairs lined up to sit and enjoy your coffee and baked goods.
The Westview Tavern was established in 1978 and has been family owned and operated for three generations. It is the local’s favourite spot. After speaking to a few locals, they convinced us that we need to try the Lake Erie perch and hand-made burgers.
Stone House 1891
The Stone House 1891 offers local Canadian craft beer along with Ontario wine.
Their newly updated full-service menu incorporates seasonal flavors, sourcing Local Island ingredients whenever possible. Now offering a full selection of Salads, Appetizers, Sandwiches, Fresh Local Fish, and a variety of entrees to meet everyone’s palate.
Cool off with a flight of beer from Bayside Brewing Company and other local brewing companies.
They use an 800° wood-burning oven to create their Signature Stone House Pizza and Wood Fired Entrees!
Muscedere vineyards isn’t on Pelee Island but I would recommend visiting the winery on your way home from Pelee Island. It is approximately a 30-minute drive from the Leamington ferry.
Make a stop for a wine tasting and enjoy one of their wood-fired pizzas.
Tips for Visiting Pelee Island:
- Book your ferry in advance
- Book your accommodations in advance
- Enjoy the quiet time and unplug as cellphone data is limited
- There is no wifi
- The best way to enjoy the island is by bike or golf cart
- Bring your own groceries if you plan on grilling
- Bring bug spray
- Pack sunblock
- Bring a good book
- There is an LCBO located on the island across the ferry terminal
- Pack your patience, you are on island time
- Check the operating hours of restaurants
For complete visuals of exploring Pelee Island check out all the highlights on Instagram Thank you Tourism Windsor Essex for giving us the opportunity to explore Canada’s best-kept secret. For more information visit www.visitwindsoressex.com