A vacation in Kingston, Ontario, should be on every travel enthusiast’s bucket list. But why so? Let us take a closer look at why Kingston is such a delightful destination for a vacation.
Kingston is a waterfront city located in eastern Ontario on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
The city of Kingston was formerly the first capital city of Canada. Kingston’s name is short for “King’s Town,” which was in honour of King George III.
Also known as Limestone City, Kingston is a thriving community with a lot to offer its visitors. The nightlife and music scene of the city are excellent, with many outdoor experiences and historical sites.
Things to do in Kingston, Ontario
Although it is often overshadowed by major cities in Ontario, such as Toronto or Ottawa, Kingston is one of the best cities in Ontario because of its rich history and culture.
The city has a lot of areas for tourists to visit. And some of them are popular, such as the massive Henry fort, the International Hockey Hall of Fame, St. Lawrence College, Murney Tower (built during the British Empire), and much more.
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.
1. Explore Kingston Waterfront
The Kingston Waterfront is one of the favourite attractions in the summer months. It is one of the liveliest parts of the city as soon as the summer hits; the waterfront spreads about 8 kilometres and has walking paths or 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, bicycle, or boat. Every option has its way of giving you fantastic feelings.
What else to enjoy?
Visitors can explore and enjoy shops, cafes, parks, and historic buildings nearby.
2. Explore Fort Henry
Address: 1 Fort Henry Dr, Kingston Ontario
If you want to look into the military history of Canada, then this is one of the most important sites. During the War of 1812, this fort was built to protect the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard.
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.
And today, it is both a national historic site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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 take a guided tour, enjoy the views, or enjoy the guards’ musical performances. 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.
There are loads and loads of shops. Most shops are owned by local sellers who sell foods, clothing, and artisan crafts. So, if you love shopping, this is the place to be in.
4. Explore a Military Museum
Address: 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 Campus of the Canada Museum.
The museum is located on the Military College of Canada campus in Fort Frederick and is also run by the same; It features a collection of the college’s artefacts, records, and research.
One of the best military college of Canada, the Royal Military College offers many military and correctional services to military officers.
Over 7,000 items are stored in the museum, some of which are from WWI. You will find war trophies, tanks, artefacts, and guns, including the Bloomfield SBML 32-pounder Gun and HMCS Huron (G24) X Guns.
5. Tour Queens University
Address: 99 University Avenue, Kingston
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 enrol yourself. Originally queen’s college is one of the first liberal arts universities.
Queen’s offers student-led campus tours; however, they are strictly looking for admissions to the university.
So, unless you don’t plan to get yourself in, you have to take a self-guided tour. You can walk around the whole campus, check the buildings, and enjoy the nearby views.
The campus is very pretty. You wouldn’t regret coming here.
6. Explore the Kingston Penitentiary
Address: 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 doors in 2013. Now it is one of the newest attractions in Kingston, Ontario.
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 later.
What to do?
There are two prison tours daily; you can choose any you like.
There’s a 90-minute standard tour, where a guide takes you around the whole campus. Another tour lasts for 2.5 hours, known as the extended tour.
There’s also a penitentiary museum right across the street that you can visit if you like.
7. Attend and Enjoy a Festival
There are plenty of enjoyable activities in Kingston, Ontario, including festivals and events. The city is renowned for hosting exciting festivals all year round.
You will find a festival in any given month because that’s how often they host it. 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.
This is especially for the foodies. Do not miss the Taste of Kingston and Ontario Craft Beer Week. Both of these are hosted in the summer.
8. Throw Axes
Address: 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 centre 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 your physical abilities.
KAT creates a fun and lighthearted environment, so everyone enjoys throwing axes and showing off their skills.
They have instructors with over 60 years of experience in axe throwing to help you throughout. It is a fun activity, allowing 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
Address: 36 University Ave, Kingston Ontario
Queen’s University has a research-driven art museum that you can visit for those who are much into artsy stuff.
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is a museum that features interesting and innovative programs and exhibitions all year round. The museum mostly focuses on great artistic traditions.
The museum is home to over 17,000 works of art, of which the historical art is from Canada, Europe, and Africa.
You will find both historical and contemporary art; it features art from the past to the present. There is also a student-run Union Gallery on the same campus if you want to check it out.
10. Visit a Lake Ontario Park
Address: 920 King St W, Kingston Ontario
There are many parks in Kingston, Ontario, but Lake Ontario Park is the best to visit in summer.
The park is on the east side of Cataraqui Bay and along the shore of Lake Ontario. It is the city’s largest waterfront park, originally opened in 1984.
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 volleyball court right on the beach.
In conclusion, there is a lot to do here. The park provides a natural skating rink in the winter. The idea is to stroll along the walkways or spend some time in the sand play areas.
11. Check Out a Theatre
Address: 218 Princess St, Kingston Ontario
The Grand Theatre is a historic theatre that opened in 1902 and is one of Kingston’s major performing arts venues.
The theatre presents hundreds of performances yearly; if you have the time, you can sit for one.
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.
The theatre has an orchestra pit and a proscenium stage with a seating capacity of 776 people. It is a space for both professional and local amateur artists because the theatre fosters cultural vitality.
12. Visit the Kingston City Hall
Address: 216 Ontario St, Kingston Ontario
Time to visit a National Historic Site of Canada, Kingston City Council Hall. It is not just a historical site, but one of the most stunning buildings in Kingston.
The gorgeous landmark was built in 1844 in a neoclassical style and featured an iconic dome. The building faces Lake Ontario and offers great views of the surrounding areas.
Kingston City Hall now serves as a notable landmark and offers tours of the entire site. The tours offer information on the building’s history and architectural style.
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 centre.
13. Bellevue House
Address: 35 Centre St, Kingston Ontario
The Bellevue House, 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 architectures.
. There are tour guides available who can explain the house’s history and lead you through it. The coolest part is that they are all dressed in 1840s-era attire. During the tours, you can look at the many artefacts inside the house.
14. Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area
Address: 1641 Perth Rd, Glenburnie
Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area is located north of Kingston and offers various recreational opportunities for visitors to have great fun.
Both during winter and summer, it boasts excellent outdoor activities. The area offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating in winter.
And in the summer, it is popular for camping, kayaking, bird watching, and canoeing. 394 hectares make up the entire area. Kingston is a waterfront community on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario in eastern Ontario.
The area offers a great chance to explore local wildlife. It is one of Ontario’s most popular locations for bird watching. And the entire area is visitor-friendly, with natural sights and sounds.
Kingston, Ontario, offers a variety of places for tourists to pause, unwind, and take in the city’s beauty; as the list above indicates, there are many interesting things to see.
Kingston is a great city for establishing a permanent residence and for trips and vacations. Since the city is in such a prime location, it is conveniently located halfway between lovely local locations like Montreal, New York State, and Toronto.
Even the weather is wonderful throughout the year. These qualities are crucial when looking for a destination to relocate to or go on vacation.
In this post, you have read about most, if not all, of the incredible things to do in Kingston, Ontario. We hope you enjoy it.
Frequently Asked Questions
1, What are the best transportation options in the city?
Here are a few options that you can consider to get around Kingston, Ontario. After all, for 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. You can get a day pass for the tours. The bus tour stops at six of the most famous attractions.
- Kingston Transit: Transit is another bus service that takes you to the urban area.
- Ferries: Well, if you want to travel a little outside the city and check out sites such as Wolfe Island, you can travel by ferry.
2, What is the standard weather condition like in Ontario?
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.
Besides, it is pleasant all year long, and neither gets too hot during the summers nor does the temperature drop too much in the winters, making it a perfect location to travel any time you wish.
3, How far is Kingston, Ontario, from Toronto?
If you drive this relatively short distance without making any stops, it should be about 166 miles (267 km), and the driving time should be 2 hours, 45 minutes.
Even though you can drive this distance straight through, it might be more interesting to stop along the way and see the various spots on the way to Kingston or from Kingston, Ontario, to Toronto.
Notable spots on the way of your travel to Kingston, Ontario are:
- Oshawa: Oshawa is a small Ontario city located on the Lake Ontario shoreline. It lies in southern Ontario, 60 km east of downtown Toronto. It is viewed as the eastern anchor of the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe. 5 places you can visit in Oshawa are the Canadian Automobile museum, Parkwood National Historic Site, Lakeview park, and The Ontario Regiment RCAC Museum, and Tribute Community Centre.
- Port Hope: Port Hope is located in southern Ontario, Canada, 159 km west of Kingston. It is situated at the mouth of the Ganaraska River on the north shore of Lake Ontario, on the west end of Northumberland County. Port Hope’s three tourist attractions are the Capitol Theatre, Port Hope Conservation Area, and the Art Gallery of Northumberland.