This post includes information about Kingston Ontario and all the awesome things to do there.
Discover Kingston Ontario Canada
Kingston is a waterfront city located in eastern Ontario on Lake Ontario and St Lawrence River. The city of Kingston was formerly the first capital city of Canada.
Also known as the Limestone City, Kingston is a thriving community with a lot to offer its visitors. The nightlife and music scene of the city is excellent, with a bunch of outdoor experiences and historic sites.
Although it is often overshadowed by major cities of Ontario such as Toronto or Ottawa, Kingston is one of the best cities to visit in Ontario because of its rich history and culture. It is one of the most exciting destinations to visit.
The ever-lasting history of the city can still be seen, and mostly in Kingston’s downtown area. So, whether you enjoy doing exciting things or are a fan of history and culture, this city is certain to keep you filled.
What is Kingston Ontario Know For?
Kingston is an old city established in 1673; however, it is still very popular among visitors. It is of course known for all of the interesting places there are to visit. But it is also famous for its huge limestone buildings.
The thriving history is another reason. But the most compelling reason is that Kingston is home to the famous Thousand Islands. That is why it is also known as the Limestone City.
- Kingston is known as one of the most consistently windy cities in Canada. It is due to the mild to strong breezes that blow off Lake Ontario.
- Kingston’s name is short for “King’s Town,” which was in honor of King George III.
Top Reasons For a Vacation in Kingston Ontario
A vacation in Kingston Ontario is something that should be on every travel enthusiast’s bucket list. But why so? Let us take a closer look at the best reasons why Kingston is such a delightful destination for a vacation.
Kingston has one of the most vibrant and beautiful downtown’s in Canada
Downtown Kingston is something to die for (not literally). It is the city’s hub with most of the major attractions, including Kingston City Hall, Bellevue House, and much more.
Kingston expresses the real sense of Hometown Pride
The residents of Kingston truly love their city, and the visitors can feel it. Whenever a place is so full of love, it leaves a positive impact on the visitors.
Kingston has some of the best places to shop
Well, no vacation is complete without shopping. And Kingston has that covered for you. There are a few great places that visitors will love.
Plus, it hosts Ontario’s oldest market every Sunday- the Kingston Public Market.
Kingston is home to some fascinating museums.
There’s never anything better than strolling inside a museum, looking at all the amazing things.
These are just a few reasons; the rest I shall leave for you to discover. Why spoil the fun for you?
Kingston is home to some of the most popular tourist sites
The city has a lot of areas for tourists to visit. And some of them are popular such as the massive Fort Henry, the International Hockey Hall of Fame, St. Lawrence College, Murney Tower (built during the British Empire), and much more.
Things to do in Kingston Ontario
Now that we have told you a bit about Kingston Ontario, and why it is a good vacation destination, let us jump into all the awesome things to do in Kingston.
Just keep in mind that this list is a mix of everything, whatever the season it is. And of course, it isn’t a complete list of all the best things to do in Kingston Ontario because there are way more things to do than you can even think of.
And we can not put them all in one list. So, we picked out the best for you. Rest, let’s leave it to you to discover on your own when you visit. Because where’s the fun if we tell you everything, right?
1. Explore Kingston Waterfront
The Kingston Waterfront is one of the favorite attractions in the summer months. It is one of the liveliest parts of the city as soon as the summer hits, but it is more of a ghost town in winter.
The waterfront spreads about 8 kilometers and has walking paths/sidewalks where you can keep strolling, get some fresh air, and feel more alive.
There are many ways to explore the waterfront; you can go on foot, take a tour bus, maybe bicycle, or a boat. Every option has its way of giving you fantastic feels.
What else to enjoy?
There are shops, cafes, parks, and historic buildings nearby that visitors can explore and enjoy. In addition to that, there is a pier area where people can swim.
So, if you know how to swim, well it’s all yours.
2. Explore Fort Henry
1 Fort Henry Dr, Kingston Ontario
If you want to look into the military history of Canada, then Fort Henry is one of the most important sites. During the war of 1812, this fort was built to protect the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard.
And today, it is both a national historic site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a part of a larger historical site known as the Kingston Fortifications National Historic Site. It includes the old fortifications along with the entrance to the Rideau Canal.
What to do?
While exploring the military fort, you can learn all about its history. You can watch military interpreters give demonstrations and lessons on British Military life.
You can also grab a chance to fire a rifle (one of the most exciting things to do in Kingston Ontario). You can take up a guided tour, enjoy the views, or better enjoy the musical performances by the guards.
There is also a gift shop and a restaurant on the site.
3. Enjoy the Best of Princess Street
Princess Street is the main retail street of Downtown Kingston, lined by historic limestone buildings. The street was originally known as Store Street because of a large Government store at the lower end.
The street goes all the way to the waterfront and is pretty long. Princess Street is mostly famous because of its bustling shopping scene.
So, if you love shopping, this is the place to be in. There are loads and loads of shops. Most of the shops are owned by local sellers who sell foods, clothing, artisan crafts.
You will also find larger chain stores such as GAP; however, the local stores have unique things. You can buy GAP stuff from anywhere, but you won’t get local Kingston Ontario stuff everywhere, would you?
4. Explore a Military Museum
13 General Crerar Crescent, Kingston Ontario
If you are into military history, one of the best attractions in Kingston Ontario is the Royal Military College of Canada Museum.
The museum is located on the Royal Military College of Canada campus in Fort Frederick and is also run by the same. It features a collection of artifacts, records, and research of the college. Over 7,000 items are stored in the museum, some of which are from WWI.
You will find war trophies, tanks, artifacts, and various guns, including the Blomefield SBML 32-pounder Gun and HMCS Huron (G24) X Guns.
Note: Royal Military College is a mix of historic buildings and modern academic facilities, first located in Point Frederick.
5. Tour Queens University
99 University Avenue, Kingston
If you want to see beautiful historic buildings in Kingston, Ontario, you must take a Queen’s University campus tour.
Queen’s University was founded in 1841 and is one of the oldest post-secondary institutions in Canada. The campus is worth a visit, and maybe after a tour, you might want to enroll yourself (who knows).
Queen’s offers student-led tours of the campus; however, they strictly look for admissions to the University.
So, unless you don’t plan to get yourself in, you have to take on a self-guided tour. You can walk around the whole campus, check out the buildings, and enjoy the views nearby.
The campus is very pretty. You wouldn’t regret coming here.
6. Explore the Kingston Penitentiary
560 King St W, Kingston
Are you interested in knowing what life feels like behind bars? Well, if you are, Kingston has the right site for you. You can take a tour of the prison.
The Kingston Penitentiary was a maximum-security prison, the oldest prison in Canada that officially closed its door in 2013. Now it is one of the newest attractions of Kingston Ontario.
The prison is known to have held some of Canada’s most dangerous criminals. The prison was opened in 1835 and was running till 2013. After three years, in 2016, it was opened to the public for walk-in tours.
Several more prisons were built in the greater Kingston area in the later years.
What to do?
Here, you can know all about how life is behind bars. There are two tours offered by the prison daily; you can choose any you like.
There’s a 90-minute standard tour, where a guide takes you around the whole campus. There’s another tour that lasts for 2.5 hours; it is known as the extended tour.
You can experience what life behind bars feels like in this tour because you can step into some former inmate’s cell.
There’s also a Penitentiary Museum right across the street that you visit if you would like.
7. Attend and Enjoy a Festival
Well, Kingston Ontario has no shortage of fun things to do, like attending a festival. The city is known for its lively and thriving festivals throughout the year.
In any given month, you will find yourself a festival because that’s how often they host it. As I already mentioned before, the music scene here is pretty exciting, and most of the months are packed with music festivals.
Whether you are into art, food, or music, you will find every kind of festival to enjoy. The most popular festivals are the Limestone City Blues Festival, Kingston WritersFest, Wolfe Island Music Festival, Kingston Jazz Festival, and Kingston Buskers’ Rendezvous.
Whether it is winters or the summers, these festivals are there to keep you packed.
This is especially for the foodies, do not miss the Taste of Kingston and the Ontario Craft Beer Week. Both of these are hosted in the summers.
8. Throw Axes
785 Sir John Alexander Macdonald Boulevard Unit
One of the newest attractions in Kingston Ontario is throwing axes at the Kingston Axe Throwing (KAT). This recreation center was opened recently in 2017 with the mission to create a fun space for people where they can let out some steam.
Over the years, throwing axes has become a popular hobby, and people are developing a skill. Throwing axes is a fun way to test physical abilities.
KAT creates a fun and lighthearted environment so that everyone has a good time throwing axes and showing off their skills.
They have instructors with over 60 years of experience in ax throwing to help you throughout. It is a fun activity, and it allows some time to bond with the local community over fun and laughter.
So, if you want to try something new, popular and fun in Kingston Ontario, you must be here.
9. Take a Look at Art
36 University Ave, Kingston Ontario
Queen’s University has a research-driven art museum that you can visit for those of you who are much into artsy stuff.
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is the museum that features interesting and innovative programs and exhibitions all year round. The museum mostly focuses on the great artistic traditions.
You will find both historical and contemporary art; it features art from the past to the present. At present, the museum is home to over 17,000 works of art, of which the historical art is from Canada, Europe, and Africa.
You will also find a collection of Canadian dresses and quilts.
There is also a student-run Union Gallery on the same campus if you would be interested in checking.
10:30 AM-4:30 PM
10. Visit a Lake Ontario Park
920 King St W, Kingston Ontario
There are many parks in Kingston Ontario, but the best of all is Lake Ontario Park. The Park is located on the east side of Cataraqui Bay and along the shore of Lake Ontario.
It is the city’s largest waterfront park which was originally opened in 1984. This park is a great place to sit, relax and enjoy the vibes.
The park now features a playground, a waterfront walkway, a picnic area, and a splash pad. It also has a pretty big cobble beach and a volley court right on the beach.
During the winters, the park offers a natural skating rink. So, all in all, there’s a lot to do in here. But the best is to spend some time in the sand play areas or stroll in the walkways.
11. Check Out a Theatre
218 Princess St, Kingston Ontario
If you are visiting the theatre, it is best to check out the finest one in the city and that would be-The Grand Theatre.
The Grand Theatre is a historic theatre that opened in 1902 and is one of Kingston’s major performing arts venues. The theatre has an orchestra pit and a proscenium stage with a seating capacity of 776 people.
The theatre presents hundreds of performances every year, and if you have the time, you can sit for one. And they have a wide range of engagement programs.
It is a space for both professional and amateurs local artists because the theatre fosters cultural vitality.
Since 1964, the theatre has been home to the Kingston Symphony, and not just that, it has also featured celebrity performers such as Eddie Palmieri, Sandra Bernhardt, and Nellie Melba.
Speaking of art and entertainment venues, you can also check out Leon’s Centre.
12. Visit the Kingston City Hall
216 Ontario St, Kingston Ontario
Time to visit a National Historic Site of Canada, the Kingston City Hall. It is not just a historical site but one of the most stunning buildings in Kingston.
The gorgeous city hall was built in 1844 in a neoclassical style, and it features an iconic dome. The building faces Lake Ontario and offers great views of the surrounding areas.
It is now a prominent landmark, and it offers guided tours of the whole campus. You can learn about the architecture and history of the building during the tours.
Every year it is toured by thousands of visitors, as it is one of the finest 19th-century buildings in Canada. It has been home to various services such as banks, dry goods, governments, and the body of Sir John A. Macdonald.
And even today, it functions as the City’s administrative center.
13. Bellevue House
35 Centre St, Kingston Ontario
The Bellevue House, which is now a national historic site, was once the house of Sir John Alexander Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada.
The house represents the colonial system of class and privilege of the 1840s. It is now a museum that offers guided tours, exhibits, and programs. You can learn about the life of the Prime Minister.
Moreover, the house is worth checking out once as it has one of Canada’s first Italian villa-inspired architecture.
The house is filled with artifacts that you can take a look at during the tours. There are guides to guide to through the house and tell you all about its history. And the best part is they are all dressed in costumes from the 1840s.
14. Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area
1641 Perth Rd, Glenburnie
Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area is located north of Kingston, which offers various recreational opportunities so that visitors can have great fun.
Both during winters and summer, it boasts excellent outdoor activities. In winter, the area offers snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and ice skating.
And in summers, it is popular for camping, kayaking, bird watching, and canoeing. The whole area is spread across 394 hectares, so it is full of opportunities for fun, and the beautiful setting of the site is always bliss.
The area offers a great chance to explore local wildlife. It is one of Ontario’s popular locations for bird watching. And the entire area is visitor-friendly, with natural sights and sounds.
Kingston is a city that is ideal for visits and vacations and ideal for building a home. The city’s important sectors include education, health care, tourism, government (military and correctional services). So you can imagine what quality of life the city offers.
Moreover, the city is in such an ideal location that it is halfway to everywhere like Montreal, New York State, Toronto, all beautiful places nearby.
Even the weather is an absolute delight. These factors are important for both when you are looking for a place for vacation and relocation.
In this article, you have read about not all but most of the amazing things to do in Kingston Ontario. As we have about to finish, I am dropping a few tips to help you get around Kingston.
Here are few options that you can consider to get around Kingston Ontario. After all, for the first-timers, public transportation is the best.
- Kingston Trolley Tours: The trolley tours are a “hop-on-hop-off” bus tour that will take you around Kingston’s historic old town. The bus tour stops at 6 of the most famous attractions. You can get a day pass for the tours.
- Kingston Transit: The transit is another bus service that takes you to the urban area.
- Ferries: Well, if you want to travel a little outside of the city and check out sites such as Wolfe Island, you can travel by ferry.
So, this is it. I hope you had fun reading this article, and may you have more fun while you do some of these in real.