COUNTY DAYTRIPS | The Downtown Belleville Edition

With the outpouring of love and support for our last ‘County Daytrips’ article on the awesome little group of young, fresh businesses in the Village of Bath, we’re thrilled to continue the series in the local spirit of spreading the good word about the great things just beyond our borders. Next up: a little hotspot of gems just over the bridge from Rossmore in the North County that we like to call DTBV or “Downtown Belleville”. 

Belleville Pier and Bridge

Belleville is the mainland just north of Prince Edward County’s central-most bridge. It’s the spot where most of us go to get the things we just can’t get on the island—whether it’s a pumpkin spice latte or some big box retail therapy.  But one special niche in the city that our friends there affectionately call “Bellevegas” is the downtown drag.

Downtown Belleville

Downtown Belleville, Gates

Established in 1816, the downtown part of Belleville is a revitalized stretch of beautiful period buildings, many restored to their former glory and housing some really great little triumphs of coolness. So here are a few of our faves that County-goers looking for a day beyond the PEC borders can sink their adventurous teeth into. 

The Downtown District has partially closed the beautiful wide roads on the core stretch for ongoing installations and events throughout the season. From al fresco dining to big white hoop day swings—pedestrians can roam, play, and duck into dozens of shops and diverse eateries with joyful abandon. 

Coffee at The Brake Room

The Brake Room, Belleville

We love The Brake Room—everyone does. The first time we were there was because our County friends Kirstyn (Mayers, owner of The Bean Counter) and Lee (Baker, Winemaker at Redtail Vineyards) were slinging a popup breakfast menu that was insanely good and opened our eyes to cool stuff beyond the County’s borders. Then we connected with owners Laura (who runs the annual County Gran Fundo ride) and Adam (who delivered our kid’s first bike all the way to us in the County at the height of the pandemic) and these experiences fixed TBR firmly on our radar as ‘a good place to know’.

The Brake Room, Belleville

“The downtown Belleville vibe is optimistic these days,” says Laura, referring to three years of infrastructure improvement construction that ended just before Covid began. “The excitement of the new openings is palpable.”

Coffee and bikes are a great combo, as we know and The Brake Room also has a well curated selection of local and specialized treats and local craft beer by the can. Keep your eyes on this spot for guided rides and events and other fun stuff.

The vibe in here is great. We love the patio for watching the Dundas street traffic go by, but also highly recommend taking that latte to go for a walk down on the waterfront at Meyer’s Pier.

Croissants at Auberge de France

Auberge de France, Belleville

Once you’ve grabbed your coffee at The Brake Room, head over to Auberge de France for a gold standard almond croissant. Every Saturday, Auberge prepares hundreds of fresh croissants and really, the lineups outside speak for themselves. 

Auberge de France, Belleville

And don’t feel limited to croissants—all of the baked goods will move you and their sandwiches are literally works of art. Enjoy the beautifully curated marche whose solid selection of cheeses and other imported goods, not least of which is a gorgeous French bottle shop, is to swoon over, or buy something prepared and soak up the daylight on the patio.

Lunch at The Boathouse

The Boathouse, Belleville

While you’re down at Myers Pier with your coffee and croissant, though you may be a wee bit South of the downtown stretch, you might stop for a bite on the water at The Boathouse for a killer view. 

They have one of the most picturesque waterfront patios in the city with a good local drink selection to toast the sailboats cruising by the Victoria Harbour from the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club and a solid fish and chips–which is the only proper thing to have in a boat watching restaurant.

The Boathouse, Belleville

Tom, the new owner, is the self proclaimed “new kid on the block in Belleville, but The Boathouse has been a key spot here for many, many years. It’s a wonderful place to eat and enjoy the waterfront view throughout the summer. And when the lake is frozen,” he romanticizes, “and the bay gets turned into a skating rink, it is just as mesmerizing.” 

Adventure at Boretski Gallery

Boretski Gallery, Belleville

Boretski Gallery is a living museum of great vintage gear. Owner Marina is a real character who’s run this business for decades and it’s evident that her thumbprint is on everything in here—from antique lace wedding dresses to felt mountie hats to gear from film sets.

Boretski Gallery, Belleville

“I’ve been down here a long time and the vibe is cool,” Marina says. “It’s time for a cultural shift.” She describes streets filled with vibrant and creative shops and people, public artwork installations, outdoor venues and pop-up live music and we’re inspired by the over and above efforts small communities around Ontario are making to get out from under the shadow of Covid-19. 

“We’ve added a new website to allow for online sales,” says Marina, “but it will never replace the patronage of my beloved customers and friends.”

Explore Funk n Grüven

Funk & Gruven, Belleville

F&G is the antiques answer to Boretski’s vintage. Until recently, owner Michael would curate streetside displays of interesting items for passersby and road traffic to check out. Once inside, customers would find goods and curiosities packed in to the point that customers were forced to explore in order to really get a sense of what was available.

Shop for a unique piece of furniture with prices in the thousands or find something special for a fiver. The store is undergoing renovations, so shopping will be by appointment until September: call ahead.

Dinner + Drinks at The Lark 

The Lark, Belleville

The Lark was our first Bellevillian dinner experience. Our County friends were excited about the cocktails and there was a winemaker’s dinner that we couldn’t pass up. Alex, the owner, was a big part of the cultural boon happening in BV’s downtown core and we can’t help but think that some of the edginess is building up around their precedent. 

The Lark, Belleville

“They’re injecting a lot of life into the DT with their approach to drinks and Alex is a certified mixologist,” says Dug Stevenson from Bay of Quinte Tourism. “They’re also now doing more experiential stuff and serving a strong menu—their patio will be excellent.”

“We’ve put the best things of our wine school, catering and cocktail events and reimagined them into experiences that we can bring to guests wherever they are,” says Alex, who’s also a certified sommelier, and we can feel the vibe he’s pitching: even the glass dividers in the eating area don’t kill the great design and oeno culture.


There’s a community in the DTBV too and the shop and restaurant owners shout out to each other naturally. 

“We are big Lark fans over here at TBR,” Laura says. “Being able to roll down the hill from our house and right onto the patio for Handsome Dave’s choice of wine by the glass is the experience we’ve been waiting years for. I’ve always loved being able to pop into Funk & Grüven but especially since we moved into the East Hill: Mike knows the neighbourhood so well, it feels like all his finds fit in just right with the century homes here.” 

Belleville Pier

“My perfect day in the B would start by bringing the girls to The Brake Room,” Alex describes a day downtown with his family. “They have a cute patio outside and they make the kids ‘babyccinos’, which they are gaga over. We’d bike along the waterfront trail, probably rip a nice stop at the George Street concession stand. Celine and I had a really groovy time at the Escape Room downtown—they switch ‘em up enough that you always get a new challenge and they have different challenge levels depending on how inquisitive you’re feeling. Oh and Bay Barbers has become a really nice stopping place too.”

Marina is on board, “What I love about downtown Belleville, is that you can arrive without plans, stroll down alone, and you will find entertainment, food, music spilling out into the streets.” 

Downtown Belleville, Main StreetAs Downtown Belleville businesses return to normal operation and new ones pop up, the streets are vibrant and buzzing. In the fall, the community’s annual Porchfest event—where local musicians play from their porches around the city—will culminate in an afterparty in the downtown core with good food and live music. In the winter, the District will host a signature Enchanted event with lights, food and friends. And on any regular summer’s day, just strolling down the main drags, holding hands with a big one or a little one, sipping something cold and rubber-knecking at the pretty architecture is a lovely contrast to the County’s deliciously rural and small town vibes.

Belleville Buildings Downtown

For more info on what’s happening in Downtown Belleville, check out—

The Downtown District

Discover Belleville

Bay of Quinte



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