11 Aug Out & About In Kingston
As one of our favourite cities in Ontario, Kingston is full of great things to do and fun facts. For example: its nickname is the “Limestone City ” and it was the original capital of Canada!
This connection to the past makes Kingston one of the best places to visit in Ontario for history buffs, foodies, and everyone else in between. We think Kingston makes a pretty good weekend getaway in Ontario!
From exploring the historic downtown to walking the Kingston waterfront, there are plenty of free, paid, romantic, or fun ideas that are great for kids, couples, or groups!
Keep in mind, this isn’t a complete list – but it’s pretty good. We like to think it mixes both local bits of knowledge with the top tourist attractions worth your time – whatever the season!
Take a Ride on the Kingston Trolley Tour
One of the top attractions tours in Kingston is hopping on the red Trolleys and doing the Trolley Tour!
This “hop-on hop-off” style tour takes you all around to the highlights a visitor would want to see. You can even get off, explore the attraction, and catch another Trolley – they come by very frequently in the summer!
The trolleys have a live commentary from the driver and/or audio guide so it’s a great way to learn about the historical points of the city – and then some. Eric has done it and loved the tour. It’s also a good mode of transportation to get to Fort Henry – but we will cover that.
If you want to take the Kingston Trolley around, you can check here for Trolley Tour tickets. It leaves right outside the Tourist Centre.
Hit the Water on a 1000 Island Boat Cruise
The other very popular activity that leaves from close to the Visitor Centre is the 1000 Island Boat cruise.
The waterway near Kingston – the Thousand Islands and the Saint Lawrence River – are historically very important and beautiful places to explore from the water.
There are loads of different boat tours you can do – some are quick while others are the whole day. Some are sunset dinner cruises on different boats. You can pick the one you want and plan accordingly based on price and timelines. With live guitar performance, the audio commentary was full of interesting knowledge, and the sun shines on the top deck all day!
Historic Fort Henry
Want to dive into Canada’s military history at one of the most important sites? Then Fort Henry, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is definitely a stop you should make when visiting Kingston!
Fort Henry is actually part of a larger historical site known as “Kingston Fortifications National Historic Site”. This site includes the old fortifications around Kingston Harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal.
Besides Fort Henry itself, the historic sites include the Shoal Tower (right by the waterfront downtown), the Murney Tower, and the tower/walls of Fort Frederick which is out near the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) close to Fort Henry. This “authentic” experience in a British military fort is complete with tours, a restaurant, rifle shooting, and a sunset cannon firing ceremony in the summer.
This is something that you should NOT miss. If you want to check out Fort Henry, here is the official Fort Henry website to plan your visit.
City Hall & Springer Market Square
Across from the Visitor Centre dominating the waterfront is the dome at historic city hall. It’s a beautiful building – and you can go inside to do a self-guided tour.
Outside – and around the back away from the water – is a large open-air square called Springer Market Square.
This place is a hub for activities in all seasons. In the summer, there are farmers/flea markets, and “movie in the square”. You can check the market schedule here.
In the winter, the square gets an ice skating rink and you can go ice skating! Skating is free and you can rent onsite for a fee – the rentals and lockers are in City Hall close by.
Kingston Waterfront Trail
If you just want some fresh air, you can walk along the Kingston waterfront. There are walking paths/sidewalks along most of the areas close to downtown, in front of Queen’s University, west towards Portsmouth, and east towards Fort Henry across the Causeway.
Fun Fact – the Kingston Waterfront Trails are 8 kilometres and part of a WAY longer 900 km trail that runs from Niagara Falls and into Quebec.
There are benches, tables, and even a pier area where people swim in the summertime. Definitely hang out by the water if the weather is nice – and watch the cold wind off the ice in the wintertime!
Lemoine Point Conservation Area
If you want to get away from downtown without going too far north or outside of Kingston, then Lemoine point might be for you. Located to the west of downtown – out by Kingston Airport – this conservation area is a nice little nature getaway.
The parking area is big and the trails are well marked. There’s a variety of paths to take – from thick woodland trails to open fields.
There are even ones that give you great views out over the water, Collins Bay, and ones that bring you right to the shore of the lake.
Climbing at The Boiler Room
Want to check out Canada’s highest indoor rock climb? Head over to The Boiler Room for a little workout!
This former mill/red brick factory complex has been converted into usable space for shops, offices, and a climbing gym that is great for all skill levels.
If you’ve got kids, it may be a great place to burn off some energy. It’s also a great activity for all seasons since it’s indoors.
The highlight of the Boiler room is the 100 foot tall brick chimney – which you can see from areas of the Kingston waterfront.You can climb the inside and sneak a peek through the windows of the city below. Hopefully, you aren’t afraid of heights! You can learn more hours and prices at the Boiler Room website.
If you are just hearing about Kingston, you might find out that it is home to one of Canada’s most (if not, THE most) notorious prisons: Kingston Penitentiary.
Opened in 1835, this prison held Canada’s worst criminals for decades.
These days, “The Pen” as it’s called is closed down and features a museum and tours. To book a tour, check the official website.
And there you have it – a highlight of the best things to do and see in Kingston, Ontario. In the end, we may have missed a few things but this is a pretty comprehensive list – if we do say so ourselves! Kingston is a fun little city with lots to explore – so visit the Tourism Centre (or print out this post!) if you are unsure where to start. Let us know what you get up to!
As always, Keep Exploring!