As the first (very short lived) capital of Canada, Kingston was originally settled in 1673 as Cataraqui, a French colonial outpost which became Fort Frontenac. Today, Kingston is one of the most historic cities in Canada with numerous churches, old buildings, picturesque neighbourhoods, and 19th century fortifications. The city provides venues for nightlife such as clubbing and pubbing, and provides weekend escapes for people living in the neighbouring cities of Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. There are ample historic sites and museums to visit, as well as many lively summer events.
Kingston is the home of two universities (Queen's University and Royal Military College) and one community college (St. Lawrence College). Along with tourism, these educational institutes and the students they attract provide much to the city's local economy. Kingston is also the home to a number of prisons.
Kingston is fully accessible by road, air and water. There are no scheduled connections by bus, train or air to any point on the US side from Kingston, despite its proximity (50km) to Interstate 81. However, ferry by car from the United States is possible by taking Horne's Ferry (May–October) from Cape Vincent, New York state to Wolfe Island (Ontario). By driving the short distance across Wolfe Island, you can get to downtown Kingston via the free Wolfe Island Ferry.
Driving into the Kingston area is usually done on Highway 401, although this highway does not go downtown.
Times from major cities are:
- Ottawa, located 2 hours to the northeast via Ontario Highway 401 and Ontario Highway 416
- Montreal, located 3 hours to the east on Ontario Highway 401 (Québec Autoroute 20)
- Toronto, located 3 hours to the west on Highway 401
- Syracuse, located 2.5 hours to the south on Interstate 81
Kingston may be reached in an hour or less from:
- Napanee and Belleville to the west on former Highway 2 or the 401
- Prince Edward County to the southwest on Highway 33 (the Loyalist Parkway)
- Smiths Falls to the northeast on Highway 15
- Sharbot Lake and the southern branch of the Trans-Canada Highway via former Highway 38
- The Thousand Islands. A year-round ferry to Wolfe Island and a group of seasonal tour boats leave directly from downtown Kingston.
- Front of Yonge, Gananoque, and Brockville to the east on former Highway 2 or the 401
Buses (Coach Canada) run Toronto-Kingston-Montréal several times daily and one bus (Voyageur) visits Ottawa twice daily. Buses usually take longer from each city and will drop you off on John Counter Boulevard (a converted trucking company warehouse in an industrial park) at the north side of town. Travellers can get downtown by taxi, or by local transit (both a taxi and bus stand can be found on the bus station property, across from the Tim Horton's). By bus, the #2 Division Street travels to the downtown core every half-hour (every hour evenings and weekends); the routes serving the train station (#7, #16, #18) also all stop at the bus station.
Kingston is also served by train (Via Rail Canada). Travel times from nearby locations are as follows:
- Ottawa: 2 hours
- Dorval (Montréal-Trudeau): 2.5 hours
- Montréal: 2.75 hours
- Toronto: 2.25-2.75 hours
The station is on John Counter Boulevard at what was the western edge of town; a metered taxi to downtown runs about $15. By bus, the #18 Train Station Circuit meets most scheduled train arrivals (note that VIA trains may well run late) leading downtown; the #16 Kingston Centre bus runs every half-hour (every hour evenings and weekends) to the Kingston Shopping Centre. The #7 bus to the Cataraqui mall passes, but does not enter, the station.
- Norman Rogers Municipal Airport, Front Rd, ☎ . At the western edge of Kingston near Lemoine Point conservation area. (IATA: YGK) Nominally an international airport with a 5000-foot runway, if you bring your own aircraft. Otherwise, scheduled Air Canada service is to Toronto Pearson International Airport in Malton (IATA: YYZ) only. As short-haul flight tends to be very expensive compared to car, bus or even train, this is usually only worthwhile if connecting onward to a longer flight. There is no public transit, no terminal restaurant and no airport hotel or other amenities in the immediate area; the on-site dining choices are a pair of vending machines. There is one car-hire agency desk.
The closest major international airports are all two to three hours distant by road:
- Ottawa Uplands IATA: YOW 175km/110mi - Closest international airport. While passengers transferring to bus or rail will need to cross downtown Ottawa, motorists can bypass urban Ottawa entirely by taking county roads through Manotick to the 416 motorway.
- Montréal (Dorval) IATA: YUL 275km - Easy connection to passenger rail (a shuttlebus joins Dorval's air and rail terminals, see viarail.ca for Montréal-Dorval-Kingston-Toronto rail links), reasonably wide selection of flights.
- Toronto (Malton) IATA: YYZ 275km - Canada's largest airport, widest selection of flights. Unlike Ottawa, Montréal and Syracuse (all of which place their airports in Kingston-facing suburbs), Mississauga is on the far side of Toronto with local traffic often dense from Oshawa westward. YYZ does have the advantage of direct scheduled bus (Coach Canada) and air connections to Kingston.
- Syracuse (New York) IATA: SYR 215km/130mi - In a foreign country, so onward connections to Kingston are limited (there is a seven-seat shuttle van at www.shuttlekingston.com +1-800-731-6335, but no rail lines cross the border until Montréal or Niagara). Primarily of interest to travellers entering from elsewhere in the US, as US domestic fares are cheaper than flight directly to Canada.
There is also Essential Air Service to Dexter, New York (IATA: ART) from Philadelphia, although the same issues with non-existent scheduled surface transportation across the border exist as for Syracuse.
The Rideau Canal goes from Kingston to Ottawa. Quite a few people travel it in various pleasure craft. Kingston is also the starting point of the St Lawrence River and the eastern endpoint of the Great Lakes, a strategic position which has afforded it a key military vocation since 1673.
Kingston has a number of marinas to accommodate boaters in boats of all sizes. These include
- Blue Woods Marina, 4000 Bath Road, Kingston K7M 4Y4, ☎ .
- Collins Bay Marina, 1270 Coverdale Drive, Kingston K7M 8X7, ☎ , toll-free: .
- Confederation Basin, 209 Ontario St (Opposite City Hall), ☎ .
- Kingston Marina, 349 Wellington St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-542-6515.
- Kingston Yacht Club, 1 Maitland St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-548-8876.
- Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, 53 Yonge St, ☎ .
- Treasure Island Marina, 1753 Highway #2, Barriefield K7L 4V1, ☎ .
The most interesting area in Kingston for out-of-town visitors is near the downtown core of the city, which includes Queen's University and the waterfront. As such, the "best" areas of the city are better seen on foot or by bicycle.
Taxi fares from the bus and train stations are approximately $10-15 depending on the number of passengers per car as well as luggage stowage. All cabs are licensed and metered; major operators include Amey's (+1 613-546-1111) and Modern (+1 613-546-2222).
Public transport by Kingston Transit is reliable and clean but is infrequent, running at most one bus every 15 minutes or half hour, depending on the route. An express service (which makes limited stops) runs on the most heavily-travelled routes such as Princess Street, Kingston's main street. Local bus fare is $2.75 one-way, effective January 2014.
- Ahoy Rentals, 23 Ontario St, ☎ . Downtown Kingston, sailing lessons (C$95/2hrs) and bicycle rentals (C$25/day). C$40/day canoe/kayak C$105/day sailboat.
- Fort Henry, 1 Fort Henry Drive at Highway 2, Barriefield (Between CFB Kingston and the Royal Military College), ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 613-542-3054. Historical military structures. 1850s stone fortress with cannons defends access to the Rideau Canal from US attacks; the fort is guarded by Fort Henry Guard in British uniforms and regalia of the era. Live military drills. Additional cost for parking and sunset ceremony. Seasonal (May–September). Visit time: 3 hours max. $15/person.
- CFB Kingston, Highway 2, Barriefield (east of Highway 15), ☎ . (museum)Modern military structures. Full of soldiers, including the Joint Signals Regiment (JSR), 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment, and their Military Communications and Electronics Museum (95 Craftsman Blvd. at Highway #2, )
- Royal Military College, 13 General Crerar Cres, Barriefield K7K 7B4 (On waterfront, Hwy 2 east of Lasalle Causeway), ☎ . Historical structures and wide avenues filled with soldiers and students. One of two universities in the region, RMC exists to train military officers. Visit time: 1 hour max.
- Bellevue House National Historic Site of Canada, 35 Centre St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-545-8721. 10AM-5PM, May–October. A finely-maintained Italianate villa with lush gardens which served briefly as the home of first Canadian prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald. House and grounds restored to the 1840's with guided tours by interpreters costumed in clothing of the era. A Parks Canada national historic site. Visit time: 1-2 hours. $4/person.
- Cataraqui River and LaSalle Causeway Bridge. Water and steel. 1915 two-lane Strauss trunnion bascule lift bridge carries Highway 2 across the southern endpoint of the Rideau Canal waterway directly to the foot of downtown Kingston. Fine scenic view of the downtown when approaching from Fort Henry Hill. Visit time: 15 mins max.
- Rideau Canal, ☎ . Completed in 1851 as a defensive route bypassing the St Lawrence, the original stone locks and wooden gates are still manually operated by Parks Canada for small pleasure craft. Kingston Mills locks , the first four of a long series ultimately extending to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, are reachable by small watercraft or by car on Kingston Mills Road, which runs between Battersea Rd (401 exit 619/Montreal St) and Hwy 15 (401 exit 623). Visit time: 45 mins max.
- Princess St and Downtown, ☎ , (merchants association)fax: +1 613-542-0274. Commercial main street with historic buildings and small, local independent boutiques. Food and shopping within easy walking distance of Queen's University and downtown hotels.
- St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, 279 Johnson St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-546-1947. Big, very tall Roman Catholic church in which the bells ring loudly. Visit time: 30 mins max.
- St. George's Anglican Cathedral, 270 King St. E., ☎ , fax: +1 613-548-7466. Big, very elaborate old Protestant church of architectural and historical interest. Visit time: 30 mins max.
- Murney Tower National Historic Site of Canada, King Street West at Barrie St, ☎ . 10AM-5PM May-Sept. One of four Martello towers constructed in 1846 to militarily defend Kingston's waterfront. Bloomfield cannon, carronades and domestic artefacts adorn what is now a Kingston Historical Society museum. Visit time: 45 mins. $5/person.
- Kingston Penitentiary, 555 King W. (museum), 560 King W. (jail), ☎ . One of Kingston's most famous institutions. One time home of notables such as Clifford Olsen and Paul Bernardo, people would kill (and have killed) to get in for well over a century. The Penitentiary Museum (located directly north of the jail on King St at Sir John A MacDonald Blvd) is open to visitors, as is the Olympic Harbour marina (adjacent to the jail) which served as home of the sailing events for the 1976 Summer Olympic games. Visit time: 2 years to life. If 'just visiting', allow a little over an hour to tour the museum. As of 2013, no permanent tour is in place to see the prison itself.
- Queen's University, University Ave at Union St, ☎ . Another of Kingston's most famous institutions. Many limestone buildings with ivy and students. Queen's has two art galleries: the student run Union Gallery in Stauffer Library, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
- Beamish-Munro Hall, Division St. For kids who are interested in how buildings are made, the Integrated Learning Centre, or Beamish-Munro Hall may be worth a visit. This building is the new centre of Applied Science (Engineering) at Queens. This 'live building' was designed to allow people to see how the building works and interact with it.
- Miller Museum of Geology, Miller Hall, 36 Union St W., ☎ . This is a fairly small museum, but is still interesting. Call ahead for tours.
- Museum of Health Care at Kingston, 32 George St (Ann Baillie Building, Kingston General Hospital), ☎ . A tiny museum with exhibits (and quite a lot of artefacts) related to the history of medicine. It co-sponsors a walking tour on the history of KGH for $5, but the museum itself is free (donations accepted). Usually not busy, since it's small and hard to find. Visit time: Two hours or less, including the tour.
- Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, 55 Ontario St, ☎ . 10AM-4PM March–November. History of shipping and shipbuilding on the Great Lakes in historic 1892 Kingston Dry Dock. Sir John A. MacDonald laid the cornerstone in 1890 but never lived to see this facility completed as he died in Ottawa in 1891. C$8.50/person.
- Pump House Steam Museum, 23 Ontario St., ☎ . 10AM-5PM (May-Aug) 12-4PM (Sep-Nov). (544-PUMP) City-owned steam-powered water pump house built with the latest in 1891 technology, restored 1973 by Frontenac Society of Model Engineers. C$5/person.
- Kingston City Hall, 216 Ontario St (opposite Confederation Park), ☎ . Designed by architect George Browne and completed in December 1844 to house the city government and marketplace. You can't fight City Hall, but guided tours of this national historic site are offered on weekdays from mid-May through Labour Day and on weekends during July and August.
- Grand Theatre, 218 Princess St, ☎ . Live theatre and musical performances.
- Waterfront. Kingston has a lively waterfront that, depending on the day, may afford opportunities to partake. Richardson Beach extends the full length of the Queen's University campus, Kingston General Hospital and City Park, and sports two large, permanent sculptures: "Time" and "Pollution".
- Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises, Brock & Ontario Streets (Confederation Park), ☎ . May-Oct, 11AM-6:30PM. Three boats (Island Queen, Island Belle, Island Star) leave Kingston downstream on the St. Lawrence River to circle the Thousand Islands. A round-trip is 1.5, 2 or 3 hours; selected runs offer sunset cruises, dinner or dancing. C$25-73/person.
- Additional tour options for the Thousand Islands are available in Gananoque (about 20 miles east of Kingston). Visitors looking primarily to tour Boldt Castle (which is near Wellesley Island and Alexandria Bay on the US side) may be best served by tours departing from that area. There is also a river tour in Brockville.
- Confederation Tour Trolley, 209 Ontario St (Departs from Confederation Park, opposite City Hall.), ☎ , fax: +1 613-548-4743. 10AM-6PM (high season). Local tour bus operated May–October by Kingston's Chamber of Commerce, designed to resemble a locomotive car which departs from the former Kingston & Pembroke Railway inner station. Stops at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Bellevue House, Fort Henry & Penitentiary Museum. C$17/person.
- Haunted Walk of Kingston, 200 Ontario St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-549-2704. 90-minute guided walking tours of Kingston (from Prince George Hotel), Fort Henry (from fort main gate) and Gananoque (from visitor centre, 10 King East, Gan) complete with ghost stories. The same company operates tours in Ottawa and Toronto. C$13.75-15.75/person.
- Personally Guided Tours of Historic Kingston, ☎ . Step-on guide services for visiting bus tours. A retired couple of mature guides show you the sights in Canada's First Capital City.
- The Screening Room, 120 Princess St. (2nd floor), ☎ . Independent downtown movie house with two screens showing a variety of art-house, foreign, alternative, and classic cinema. C$9/person.
- Market Square, behind City Hall, 216 Ontario St. In 2005 the city built a new outdoor skating rink in Market Square. It's refrigerated, and the surface is conditioned by a Zamboni every couple of hours, so the surface is more regular than other outdoor rinks in the area. Hockey sticks are not allowed on this rink.
- City Park, Bagot St (just west of downtown). Although the surface isn't as regularly conditioned as Market Square, this the place to go if you want to play hockey, since hockey isn't allowed on the Market Square rink.
- Victoria Park, Brock St (west of downtown and north of Queen's University). Facilities similar to "City Park", including a rink with boards for hockey, and an open rink for skating amidst the trees.
- Water Sports
- Kingston is considered to have some of the best freshwater sailing in the world, and hosted the sailing events for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
- Wind-surfing and kite-boarding are also popular.
- Scuba Diving, Kingston is considered to have the most and best fresh water wrecks in the world.
The city also hosts events in summer and fall such as the Jazz Festival, Blues Festival, and Buskers' Rendezvous.
Outside the city
- Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, North of Highway 401 and Division St, ☎ . Hiking, canoeing or kayaking in summer; snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or skating on the pond in winter. Rentals and lessons. C$5.50/person.
- Wolfe Island. A free hourly ferry  from Kingston to Wolfe Island provides a scenic view of the Kingston waterfront. Cycling on Wolfe Island is much less hectic than in Kingston proper. George Pyke's Strawberry farm is a good destination (~25 km round trip from ferry) in late June, and can easily make for a day long trip. Contra dancing happens regularly throughout the year either at Wolfe Island town hall, or some Kingston location.
- Fruition Berry Farm, 3208 Hughes Rd (Hughes Road meets Highway 15 five miles north of the 401), ☎ . June-Oct (weather and crop conditions permitting). Pick your own strawberries, raspberries, peas and beans. Fall corn maze and pumpkin patch. Picnic, nature walk, children's' playground in a beautiful country setting.
- Frontenac Provincial Park, 1090 Salmon Lake Road, Sydenham K0H 2T0, ☎ . 30 minutes north by car, opportunities for walking and picnicking, fishing, canoeing, wildlife viewing, boating, swimming and cycling. Winter activities.
- Waddell Apples, 2645 Washburn Rd. (at Hwy 15), ☎ . Orchard near Rideau Canal (Lower Brewers Mills), pick-your-own apples from August to October, pumpkins. On-site bakery with apple pie, cider, jam/jelly.
- Pick your own strawberries (usually around the Dominion Day / July 1 weekend) and apples (late summer / fall) in season in Adolphustown and Prince Edward County, less than an hour to the west.
- Cooke's Old World Shop, 61 Brock Street K7L 1R8, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 613-548-3449. A family-owned 1865 "old world" shop specialising in fine English and European sweets, sauces, preserves, and cheeses. Cooke's roasts their own coffee daily (approximately $9/pound) and prepares premium-quality gift baskets.
- Market Square, Market Street, K7L 2Z1 (behind City Hall). Apr-Nov, Tue/Thu/Sat. Farmer's public market, busiest in summer. Founded 1801 as oldest continuously-operating market in Ontario. Fresh local produce, baked and preserved goods, local art and clothing. Buy your maple syrup here, since it will be much cheaper than at the tourist traps and you'll get to talk to the person who tapped it. An Antique Market is in this same location on Sundays during the summer.
- Novel Idea, 156 Princess St, ☎ . 9:30AM-9PM. One of the last local independent new book vendors, good selection of books about Kingston or by local authors, postcards, calendars.
- Cornerstone Contemporaray Canadian Craft and Inuit Art, 255 Ontario St (On corner of Princess St), ☎ . Nunavut native carvings, prints, wall hangings and dolls with government of Canada label of authenticity and card with the artist’s name and community.
Kingston has one of the highest restaurants per capita of any city in Canada, with restaurants to fit anyone's budget.
- Famous King Restaurant, 505 Princess St (at Chatham St.), ☎ . Middle Eastern cuisine that is relatively cheap, filling and tasty.
- Golden Viet Thai, 206 Wellington St, ☎ . Excellent and cheap Thai menu. Every entrée comes with a free dessert of tapioca pudding. It's an Asian version though so be prepared! Expect the dishes to have a slight Chinese slant, in key with the decorations. under $8.
- Golden Rooster Delicatessen, 111 Princess St, Kingston K7L 1A8, ☎ . A very popular deli. They can be particularly busy during lunch time on weekdays, but take a number and get in line because it's worth the wait! They offer many Danish and Dutch options and have an extensive cheese and meat selection.
- Mekong, 394 Princess St, ☎ . Excellent Vietnamese food, cheap and fast; particularly known for its Avocado shakes.
- Wok In, 30 Montreal St, ☎ . A tiny storefront serving excellent quality, well-priced Thai and Cambodian food. It is run by a husband and wife and is usually busy. The #1 is a favourite on the menu and a good bet to try.
- Saigon Delights, 272 Bagot St, ☎ . Vietnamese restaurant with two locations (the other is on Division near Queen) known for its Pho and Bun. under $7.
- The Toucan/Kirkpatricks, 76 Princess St, ☎ . A great Irish downtown pub. The upstairs portion in Kirkpatricks, downstairs is the Toucan. Nightly specials, live music on Mondays after 10, cold beer on tap. Try the nachos with layered cheese (1/2 price on Wednesdays), the wings, or the sweet potato fries. Cash or credit only, but they do have an ATM.
- Royal Angkor, 523 Princess Street, Kingston K7L 1C6, ☎ . Fantastic Cambodian dishes, including various vegetarian options. The red curry chicken is a good starter dish if you've never had Cambodian food before.
- Peter's Place, 34 Princess St, ☎ . 7:30AM-7PM wkdys, 7:30AM-3PM Sa, 7:30AM-2PM Su. Breakfast, weekend brunch, coffee, burgers, fish and chips, soupes du jour, desserts. Small, crowded Greek/Mediterranean diner and takeaway. under $10.
- Cambodiana, 161 Brock St (opposite Hotel Dieu Hospital), ☎ . Used to be some of the best Thai/Cambodian food in Southern Ontario before the owners of this establishment sold it to other proprietors. To follow the original owner/chef and his food, go to Pat's Restaurant.
- Lone Star Café, 251 Ontario St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-548-3765. Texas-style steakhouse on downtown waterfront.
- White Mountain Homemade Ice Cream, 176 Ontario St, ☎ . Quality ice-cream that is a tad pricy, but truly is one of the best home made ice creams you will ever taste. The store provides a large variety of ice cream flavours that are served on store-made waffle cones. Avoid the "large" size cones as they are impossible to finish even halfway. Closed in winter.
- Wooden Heads, 192 Ontario St, ☎ . 11:30-midnight. Wooden Heads and Atomica specialize in pizzas made in wood fire brick ovens. The focus of these restaurants are more on the waitresses and less on the food, though the latter is not too bad at either place.
- Atomica, 71 Brock St, ☎ .
- Ta-Ke Sushi, 120 Princess St (near Bagot), ☎ . Well known locally for its Korean/Japanese food, one of best places for sushi in Kingston. Excellent lunch bento boxes and blue mountain maki, great atmosphere.
- Copper Penny, 240 Princess St, ☎ . Cozy atmosphere, great for lunch (wraps, sandwiches, gourmet burgers) or dinner (pastas and pizzas). Known for its French onion soup, gigantic wraps, and homemade pesto. The service is always friendly. Go early as this restaurant does not take reservations. C$10-13/person.
- Tango, 331 King St. E., ☎ . 11AM-midnight. A lounge known for its food as much as its martini list. Its specialities are its salads, sandwiches, and sweet potato fries. It has a full tapas menu, which is 40% off on Sunday and Monday evenings with the purchase of a drink (does not have to be alcoholic). On those nights, groups of 4-6 can eat for $6-7/person + drinks. Enjoy some chill DJ music on Friday nights after 11.
- Windmills, 184 Princess St, ☎ . A more upscale restaurant where you will find mixed greens rather than iceberg lettuce. Reasonably priced, tends to have some creative options on the daily specials menu, also offers catering. An excellent place for weekend brunch.
- Harper's Burger Bar, 93 Princess St (near Wellington), ☎ . A licensed gourmet burger joint. The meat is sustainably raised and a number of veg options are also available. A selection of microbrews and off the beaten path wines are served, as well as shakes and beer floats. C$7-12/burger.
- Pat's Restaurant, 455 Princess St, ☎ . 11:30AM-9PM wkdys, Sat: 12:30-9PM. Thai, Asian fusion. Proprietor formerly established (then sold) Phnom Pehn, Wok-In and Cambodiana in the same city. Menu $10-20.
- Chez Piggy Restaurant & Bar, 68R Princess St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-549-0364. Hidden inside the same block as Chien Noir. It has a reputation for serving good food. Quality of service is dependent on the extravagance of one's meal, as well as whether wine or water is ordered as one's primary drink.
- Pan Chancho Bakery, 44 Princess St, ☎ . Good for a quick bistro style lunch. Sells the best Italian and French style breads in Kingston. The bakery to Chez Piggy. Has an all day breakfast on weekends. Also has a take-out area selling sandwiches, salads, pre-cooked dinners, and pastries.
- Le Chien Noir Bistro, 69 Brock St, ☎ . Good French cuisine. Reserve since seating is limited.
- Casa Domenico, 35 Brock St, ☎ . 12:00 - 11:30PM. Serves excellent quality Italian food, and has consistently good service. The wine list is also quite good.
- The River Mill, 2 Cataraqui St, ☎ . Offers delicious contemporary cuisine, and has a great wine list
- The Sleepless Goat, 91 Princess St, ☎ . A worker's co-operative. Quite famous for their desserts, the goat serves coffees and teas, and a range of vegan / vegetarian foods. It is an alternative culture hangout. Located on Princess St near the intersection with Wellington St. Customer service can be slow at times, but the staff is amazing. Music and house blend "Dr. Joe" coffee are both very good. Free WiFi, but electrical outlets are limited to the front of the café.
- Coffee and Company, 53 Princess St, ☎ . Espresso, coffees, and good teas prepared from loose leaves. A common student study hangout located downtown (a second location near the university closed in 2007).
- Starbucks, Princess at Wellington. A common student study hangout in direct competition with "The Goat", which is a few doors down the street.
- Sipps Coffee & Dessert Bar, 33 Brock St, ☎ . 8AM – 10PM. Coffee shop facing Market Square. A great place to wind down in the evening with a dessert or latté, it is worth a trip just for the décor (look up, the ceiling is decorated with a design stamped into aluminum). Prices are not cheap; while coffee is under $4, a slice of cake runs about $8. Try a hot chocolate, made with Ghirardelli chocolate.
- Tim Hortons can be found throughout the city. Their corporate website lists 26 locations in the Kingston area.
- Country Style has two locations: west on Bath Road (Hwy. 33), and corner of John Counter Blvd. (formerly Elliot Avenue) and Montreal St. in the north end, next to the Community Spirit Bingo Hall.
There is a relatively healthy pub scene in Kingston with many high quality establishments. Many bars and pubs cater to Kingston's strong university & college student population. All pubs in Kingston are non-smoking.
- Kingston Brewing Company (KBC), 34 Clarence St, ☎ . Clarence St. near the intersection of Ontario St. As implied by its name, this pub brews its own beer and offers many seasonal beers. Notable brews from KBC include White Tail, Dragon's Breath, and the pub's own apple cider. KBC also offers beers from other companies, including Guinness, and other well known brands. They have a monthly "Brewer's Whim" which is usually a Canadian microbrew.
- Tir nan Óg, 200 Ontario St, ☎ . 11AM-1AM. Tir Nan'Og and Old Speckled Hen are two joint pubs located in the Prince George Hotel which differ in décor and specialize in beers and whiskies from Ireland and Britain respectively.
Kingston is separated from Barriefield (the area containing Fort Henry, the military base and the Royal Military College) by the Cataraqui River, part of the Rideau Canal system. Most of the popular Kingston attractions, including the downtown core, are west of the canal system and most travellers therefore seek lodgings in, near or just west of downtown. There are, nonetheless, a few points of interest on the east side... Fort Henry, a communications museum on the army base, a woodworking museum in a rural setting far east of town.
The Plaza Hotel on Montreal St, as home of Kingston's only remaining stripper bar, is best avoided for accommodations as the area attracts undesirable elements.
Unlike London or Toronto, where newer development has grown around the newer highway, Highway 401 in Kingston pulls far north to cross the Rideau Canal near Kingston Mills, bypassing the city. North of 401 is open farmland, with industrial parks or housing projects to the south. Staying near the 401 may make sense as a rest stop along the Windsor-Quebec corridor but may not be the best way to see the region. While national chains provide a variety of food, fuel and lodging options at Division and 401 to serve highway travellers, one cannot easily walk to museums, universities, the downtown waterfront, tour boats, ferries or points of historic interest from this area.
The area near the downtown waterfront is the most favourable location (as many but not all activities are within walking distance) but also the most expensive by far. Accommodations range from large chain hotels with full facilities to smaller historic properties, such as the Hotel Belvedère, to a niche market of small but upscale bed-and-breakfast style inns. There is plenty of good accommodation to be had in the downtown and waterfront area if one is willing to pay top dollar.
- Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront, 2 Princess St, ☎ , fax: +1 613-549-3508. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. 197 rooms (all non-smoking), room service, wifi, parking (C$14/night), indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, fitness centre, DOX Restaurant and Lounge, laundry, 8500 square foot meeting facility, business centre.
- Delta Kingston Waterfront, 1 Johnson St, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 613-547-3241. Renovated 2013, former Ramada/Radisson. $160+/night.
- Secret Garden Inn, 73 Sydenham St S, K7L 3H3, ☎ , toll-free: . Historic 1888 Queen Anne / Victorian style bed-and-breakfast inn with antique furnishings, fireplaces and stained glass windows. C$160-190/night.
West of downtown
Kingston's downtown area runs from the waterfront at Ontario Street one mile west-northwest to Division Street. The majority of upscale properties are in the lower (easternmost) part of downtown, near the waterfront area. Most main street motels/hotels from Division west to Sir John A. MacDonald Boulevard, as of 2014, have either closed or been converted to other uses.
Kingston's train station is awkwardly located at the northwestern edge of the city (the tracks were the pre-1998 town line); a few hotels serve this area:
- Fireside Inn & Conference Centre (Best Western), 1217 Princess St, ☎ , toll-free: . In-room fireplaces, meeting facilities for 6-70 people, whirlpool suites at C$250-350/night, 37" flatscreen TV, outdoor pool and patio. Bistro and restaurant on-site.
- Peachtree Inn, 1187 Princess St, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 613-546-9122. Modern hotel over ground-floor retail plaza, 74 rooms and suites, conference facilities for 20-200 people. C$110-170/night.
- Ambassador Conference Resort, 1550 Princess St, ☎ , toll-free: . Convention centre, extensive athletic and recreational facilities, indoor water park. JM's Restaurant and Lounge on-site. Near train station. C$160/night.
- Comfort Inn Kingston Midtown, 1454 Princess St. Under C$100/night for clean, modern accommodations but with no restaurant, no pool, no amenities on-site. This two-story hotel was built at the end of the 1970's as the second hotel in the former Journey's End chain (the first was in Belleville).
West of the city
West of Sydenham Road, the selection is dominated by low-priced (or at least under-$100) suburban motels on the old Highway 2 (now Princess Street), with many small independent operators. Most west-end motels are on this one main street, in what is now Kingston's fastest-growing suburb. There are no hotels or restaurants at Kingston's tiny airport and relatively little along the 401 this far west.
As the "Kingston Bypass" (built 1956 as what is now Highway 401 km 613 through 623) was not extended west of Sydenham Road until the early 1960s, a large number of motels were built on Highway 2 in the then-rural west end. Suburban development began to spill into the area in the 1980s, with Kingston's currently-largest indoor shopping mall constructed at Princess and Gardiners (near the then-rural Highway 2 and 38 crossroads) in 1982. While the small, independent roadside motels in this area are a throwback to an earlier era, most are reasonably-well maintained (with a few unfortunate exceptions) at moderate prices.
- LaSalle Hotel, 2360 Princess St, K7M 3G4, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 613-546-0867. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Suburban hotel with indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, Cavelier Room restaurant, Pierre's Lounge and Café La Salle. 67 hôtel and 38 motel-style rooms. Meeting and banquet facilities for 50-120 people.
Near the 401 highway
If staying near the 401 (and it may not make sense to do so if the objective is to see Kingston itself), lodging choices are growing but limited. Kingston was built around the Lake Ontario / St. Lawrence River waterfront and around Princess Street. Most popular local destinations (such as Bellevue House, Fort Henry or the museums) are between the main street and the waterfront. The one notable exception is the Rideau Canal, which begins north of the city at Kingston Mills and leads to Ottawa.
West of the city, the old and new roads (2 and 401) are nearly-adjacent in Odessa with one motel and a fuel station between the two highways (401 exit 599, Wilton Road). The roads then diverge as old 2 heads toward downtown Kingston and Highway 401 bypasses the urban area.
One relatively new Motel 6 hotel stands at former Highway 38 and 401 (exit 611) at the edge of the western suburbs. A few moderately-priced chains (Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Comfort Inn, FirstCanada Inns) are located among a growing selection of fast-food emporiums, highway services and outlet stores at Division & 401 (exit 617).
Further east, across the Cataraqui River (and the Rideau Canal, which begins at Kingston Mills) additional independent motels may be found at the Highway 15 & 401 interchange (exit 623). Highways 2 and 401 reconverge in the east end of Gananoque (exit 648) twenty miles beyond downtown Kingston.
- Comfort Inn Kingston 401. 55 Warne Crecent (@ Division Street Exit #617).
East of the city
Kingston is separated from CFB Kingston and Old Fort Henry in the east by the Cataraqui River and Rideau Canal. The city itself is west. There are a few small motels along the old 2 and 15 highways intended primarily to serve visitors to the Fort.
On Highway 15, motels are typically located near the 401 (exit 623). (See "Near the 401 highway", above). There is fuel at this crossroads but amenities are otherwise somewhat limited. Following 15 northward gives access to the Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills Road.
On Highway 2 (the old Kingston Road) motels are located to the east of Old Fort Henry and CFB Kingston. McDonalds and Tim Horton's are located near Highway 2 at one of the main entrances to the Kingston army base. This road continues eastward through Gananoque, where it crosses the 401 at the western end of the Thousand Islands Parkway near the casino.
In Gananoque, a town of just over 5000 people near the centre of the Thousand Islands region, a selection ranging from small B&B's to hotel/motel chains is available. Front of Yonge, also in the Thousand Islands, has a number of campgrounds available during the warmer months.
- Thousand Islands, Gananoque, and Front of Yonge
- Rideau Canal and Smiths Falls
- Prince Edward County and Napanee
|Routes through Kingston|
|Oshawa ← Napanee ←||W E||→ Gananoque → Montreal|
|Arnprior ← CR 29 ← Smiths Falls ←||N||→ END|
|Prince Edward County ←||W||→ END|
|Sharbot Lake ← CR 38 ←||N||→ END|