Kingston is one of the most historic cities in Canada with many 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, and 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 nicknamed the "Limestone City" because of the many heritage buildings constructed using local limestone.
The group that first occupied the area before the arrival of the French was probably the Wyandot people (Hurons), who were later displaced by Iroquoian groups.
At the time the French arrived in the Kingston area, Five Nations Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) had settled along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Although the area around the south end of the Cataraqui River was often visited by Iroquois and other groups, Iroquois settlement at this location only began after the French established their outpost. By 1700, the north shore Iroquois had moved south, and the area once occupied by the Iroquois (which includes Kingston) became occupied by the Mississaugas who had moved south from the Lake Huron and Lake Simcoe regions.
Growing European exploration in the 17th century and the desire for the Europeans to establish a presence close to local Aboriginal occupants to control trade led to the founding of a French trading post and military fort at a site known as "Cataraqui" (generally pronounced "kah-tah-ROCK-way") in 1673. This outpost, called Fort Cataraqui, and later Fort Frontenac, became a focus for settlement. Cataraqui was renamed Kingston after the British took possession of the fort and Loyalists began settling the region in the 1780s.
In 1783, the British governor of the Province of Quebec established a settlement for displaced British colonists, or "Loyalists", who were fleeing north because of the American Revolutionary War. The British Crown entered into an agreement with the Mississaugas in October 1783 to purchase land east of the Bay of Quinte.
During the War of 1812, Kingston (with a population of 2250) was a major military centre. It was the base for the Lake Ontario division of the Great Lakes British naval fleet, whose aim was to control Lake Ontario. Fort Henry was built on Point Henry in 1813. The present limestone citadel, constructed between 1832 and 1836, was intended to defend the Rideau Canal at the Lake Ontario end, the harbour and the naval dockyard.
Kingston became an important port for commodities shipped along the lake from the west. Wheat, flour, meat, and potash were unloaded and stored at Kingston to await transfer to vessels that could navigate the risky St. Lawrence.
Queen's University, originally Queen's College, one of the first liberal arts universities, first held classes in March 1842; established by the Presbyterian Church, it later became a national institution. The Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) was founded in 1876.
Kingston Penitentiary, Canada's first large federal penitentiary, was established in 1835 and operated until 2013. Several more prisons were established later in the greater Kingston area.
Kingston was chosen as the first capital of the united Canadas and it served in that role from 1841 to 1844. The city was considered too small and lacking in amenities, however, and its location near the border made it vulnerable to American attack. Subsequently, Kingston's growth slowed considerably and its national importance declined.
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 (50 km) 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, 2 hours to the northeast via Ontario Highway 416 to 401 exit 721, or via Hwy 7 and Hwy 15 for a more direct route.
- Montreal, 3 hours to the east on Ontario Highway 401 (Québec Autoroute 20)
- Toronto, 3 hours to the west on Highway 401
- Syracuse, 2½ 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.
- Gananoque, Leeds and the 1000 Islands, Brockville to the east on former Highway 2 or the 401
There exists a carpool service called Poparide where one can share a ride with another driver going the same way. It is often cheaper than taking the train or bus, but one gets to travel in a private vehicle, which is often more comfortable. There are usually plenty of rides from Toronto or Ottawa, often used by Queen's University students. Rides to/from Toronto range from $30-40, to/from Ottawa range from $25-35.
- Megabus (Coach Canada) serves Toronto-Kingston-Montréal several times daily and has service from Pearson International Airport. A limited number of Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa runs (Thu-Sun only) terminate at OCTranspo's St. Laurent station. This carrier services 1 Kingston Bus Terminal, 1175 John Counter Blvd, ☏ . Daily 8:30AM-8PM. . Travellers can get downtown by taxi, or by local transit (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. Travel time to Kingston from Toronto is 2.5-3 hours and from Montreal is 3-3.25 hours.
- Rider Express is another service in competition to Megabus. It runs a Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa route, often at prices lower than Megabus. (Toronto-Kingston is usually $40, as opposed to Megabus's $70). However, it runs fewer services compared to Megabus. It also drops passengers off at a gas station, which is an unpleasant 20-minute walk to the Kingston Bus Terminal where one can connect to Kingston Transit services. However, if you're lucky with the schedules, you might be able to catch the #7 bus to get you to the Bus Terminal for further connections. Travel time to Kingston from Toronto is 3 hours and from Ottawa is 2 hours.
- Equinox Bus. Bus service from Toronto, Gananoque, and Upper Canada Village.
- FlixBus. Service from Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, and Whitby.
- Book A Ride. Service from Belleville, Brockville, Ottawa, and Toronto.
- 2 VIA Rail Canada, 1800 John Counter Blvd (Stops at Kingston station), toll-free: . Station hours: M-F 5AM-11:30PM Sa 6AM-9:30PM Su 10AM-10:30PM. Operates train routes across Canada.
- The following routes serve Kingston:
- Between Montreal and Toronto including stops in Dorval, Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston, Belleville, Cobourg, and Oshawa. Travel time to Kingston from Montreal is 2.5-2.75 hours and from Toronto is 2.25-2.5 hours. Operates multiple times daily.
- Between Ottawa and Toronto including stops in Smiths Falls, Brockville, Kingston, Napanee, Bellevile, Cobourg, Port Hope, and Oshawa. Travel time to Kingston from Ottawa is 2-2.25 hours and from Toronto is 2.25-2.5 hours. Operates multiple times daily.
- 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 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, and the #4 local bus on Princess Street pass near, but does not enter, the station. A walk to either is possible but it's a rather hostile pedestrian environment on the way.
- The following routes serve Kingston:
- Kingston is served by train (Via Rail Canada). Travel times from nearby locations are: Ottawa: 2 hours, Dorval (Montréal-Trudeau), 2½ hours, Montréal: 2¾ hours, Toronto: 2¼-2¾ hours.
- 3 Norman Rogers Municipal Airport (YGK IATA Kingston Airport), Front Rd at Len Birchall Way, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. At the western edge of Kingston near Lemoine Point conservation area. Nominally an international airport of entry with a 5000-foot runway, if you bring your own aircraft. There is no public transit, no restaurant, no airport hotel or other amenities in the immediate area; the on-site dining choices are a pair of vending machines. A metered taxi to downtown costs around $30. There is one car-hire agency and a taxi stand. All Air Canada scheduled service was discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21. There are two scheduled routes: Toronto and Montreal.
- Pascan Aviation, toll-free: (reservations). Scheduled regional service from Montréal-Dorval YUL IATA two or three times daily, beginning May 2022. Flight takes 1h 5min one way, with onward connections available at Dorval to Air Canada and Air Transat. $120-270/pp one-way.
- flyGTA Airlines. Scheduled regional service from Toronto Billy Bishop Airport YTZ IATA twice on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturdays. Flight takes 30 minutes one way. around $100/pp one-way.
- Avis, ☏ . Hire car desk in airport terminal.
The closest major international airports are all two to three hours distant by road:
- Ottawa Uplands (YOW IATA, 175 km/110 mi) is closest by road.
- Montréal-Dorval (YUL IATA, 275 km) has both an easy shuttlebus connection to VIA's passenger rail service (which runs Montréal-Kingston-Toronto) and connecting flights which reach Kingston (on Pascan Aviation).
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ IATA, 275 km) has direct scheduled bus (Megabus). It has the largest selection of flights, but is awkward as one must cross all of Toronto to reach its suburban Mississauga (Malton) location.
- Syracuse NY USA (SYR IATA, 215 km/130 mi) has a seven-seat shuttle van (+1-800-731-6335), but at more than $200 (one way) its cost wipes out anything US travellers might have saved by flying domestic. Tiny Watertown International Airport (ART IATA), while closer, has the same cross-border transportation issues.
The Rideau Canal goes from Kingston to Ottawa. Quite a few people travel it in 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
- 1 George's Marine and Sport (Blue Woods Marina), 4000 Bath Road, Collins Bay, ☏ .
- 2 Collins Bay Marina, 1270 Coverdale Drive, ☏ , toll-free: .
- 3 Confederation Basin, 209 Ontario St (opposite City Hall), ☏ .
- 4 Kingston Marina, 349 Wellington St, ☏ , fax: .
- 5 Kingston Yacht Club, 1 Maitland St, ☏ , fax: .
- 6 Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, 53 Yonge St, ☏ .
- 7 Treasure Island Marina, 1753 Highway #2, Barriefield, ☏ .
- 8 Wolfe Island Ferry, 295 Ontario Street (in downtown Kingston: Ontario and Barrack St.; on Wolfe Island, Marysville (Wolfe Island Village) dock in summer season, about Apr–Dec, and Dawson's Point dock, 4.8 km east of Marysville, in winter season, about Dec–Apr), ☏ , toll-free: . Daily 6AM-2AM, year-round. This free ferry makes the 20-minute crossing from downtown Kingston to one of two docks on Wolfe Island year-round. The 55-car ferry also takes pedestrians. Departs every hour or so in each direction. Check web site and call operator for large groups, or large vehicles. free.
- 9 Hornes' Ferry, 2262 Highway 95, Wolfe Island (from Kingston ferry, turn right, go about 300 m, then turn left (south-east) on Ontario 95; this road is paved, and other parallel roads are gravel), ☏ , , email@example.com. seasonal, 1 May–15 October. Runs hourly from end of Ontario Highway 95 on Wolfe Island to downtown Cape Vincent, New York, about 10 minutes. Privately owned, established 1814. C$15/car one-way, C$2/passenger.
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.
By public transit
- Kingston Transit, ☏ . Public transport is reliable and clean but runs at most once every 15 minutes or half hour. An express service with limited stops runs on three heavily-travelled routes. $3.25 one-way, kids 0-14 ride free.
Taxi fares from the bus and train stations are approximately $10-15 depending on the number of passengers per car and luggage stowage. All cabs are licensed and metered.
By ride hailing
- 1 Ahoy Rentals, 23 Ontario St, ☏ . Downtown Kingston, sailing lessons ($95/2hrs) and bicycle rentals ($25/day). $40/day canoe/kayak $105/day sailboat.
Various dive charters run from Kingston (or its suburbs) into the islands:
- Kingston Dive Charters, 4034 Bath Road, Collins Bay (behind the Royal Canadian Legion), ☏ , .
- Limestone Dive Centre, 61 Yonge Street, Portsmouth, ☏ , toll-free: .
- 1 Fort Henry, 1 Fort Henry Drive at Highway 2, Barriefield (between CFB Kingston and the Royal Military College), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . 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.
- 2 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).
- 3 Royal Military College, 13 General Crerar Cres, Barriefield (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.
- 4 Bellevue House National Historic Site of Canada, 35 Centre St, ☏ , fax: . May–Oct: 10AM-5PM. 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 1840s with guided tours by interpreters costumed in clothing of the era. (During the 2018 season, interpretive programming and guided tours of the heritage grounds and heirloom orchard will continue but the interior of the house will be closed for maintenance; there will be no admission fee.) A Parks Canada national historic site. Visit time: 1-2 hours. $4/person.
- 5 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 min max.
- 6 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 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 min max.
- 7 Princess St and Downtown, ☏ (merchants association), fax: . 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.
- 8 St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, 279 Johnson St, ☏ , fax: . Big, very tall Roman Catholic church in which the bells ring loudly. Visit time: 30 min max.
- 9 St. George's Anglican Cathedral, 270 King St. E., ☏ , fax: . Big, very elaborate old Protestant church of architectural and historical interest. Visit time: 30 min max.
- 10 Murney Tower National Historic Site of Canada, King Street West at Barrie St, ☏ . May-Sept: 10AM-5PM. One of four Martello towers constructed in 1846 to defend Kingston's waterfront. Bloomfield cannon, carronades and domestic artefacts adorn what is now a Kingston Historical Society museum. Visit time: 45 min. $5/person.
- 11 Princess of Wales Own Regiment, 100 Montréal St. Sep-May: Tu Th 7PM-10PM; late May-early Sep: M-F 10AM-4PM, closed holidays. Active Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces (one battalion). The historic limestone armoury contains a small one-room military museum with weapons, equipment, insignia, uniforms, swords and medals from the 14th Battalion of Rifles (formed 16 Jan 1863) and from both world wars. Free/by donation..
- 12 Kingston Penitentiary, 560 King St. W.. 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 in the old warden's house (555 King W, ☏ , May-Oct: daily 10AM-4PM; Nov-Apr: M-F 9AM-4PM, by donation) 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. A guided tour of the jail is available seasonally (mid-June to end-Oct, $35/person); this is separate from the museum tour. Visit time: 2 years to life. If 'just visiting', allow a little over an hour to tour the museum and ninety minutes to tour the prison.
- 13 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.
- 14 Beamish-Munro Hall, 45 Union St (at Division). 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.
- 15 Miller Museum of Geology, Miller Hall, 36 Union St W., ☏ . This is a fairly small museum, but is still interesting. Call ahead for tours.
- 16 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 Kingston General Hospital for $5, but the museum is free (donations accepted). Usually not busy, since it's small and hard to find. Visit time: Two hours or less, including the tour.
- 17 Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 36 University Ave, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–F 10 AM–4:30PM, Sa Su 1–5 PM.
- 18 Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, 55 Ontario Street, ☏ . History of shipping and shipbuilding on the Great Lakes, including the history of the Calvin Shipyard formerly on Garden Island. This museum reopened at the 1892 federal Kingston Dry Dock, a national historic site, in late 2021.
- 19 Pump House Steam Museum, 23 Ontario St., ☏ . May-Aug: 10AM-5PM; Sep-Nov: noon-4PM. Steam-powered water pump house built with the latest in 1891 technology, restored 1973 by Frontenac Society of Model Engineers. Like other city-owned tourism and recreation venues (such as the Woodworking Museum, pools, arenas and the Grand Theatre box office) this museum is prone to being closed on statutory holidays. $5/person.
- 20 MacLachlan Woodworking Museum, 2993 Highway 2 East (Grass Creek Park), ☏ . late May-early Sep: Tu-Su 10AM-5PM; closed Victoria Day and Labour Day. The most extensive, nationally significant collection of woodworking tools in Canada. This 1855 log house was relocated from Lanark County by a lumberyard owner who has since gone broke. 16 km (10 mi) east of downtown, free admission 5-8PM Thursday nights. $5.13+HST/person or $12.30+HST/family.
- 21 Original Hockey Hall of Fame, 1350 Gardiners Road, 2nd Floor (on the second floor of the Invista Centre), ☏ , email@example.com. Th-Su noon-6PM. Founded 1943, the oldest sports hall of fame in Canada. The NHL withdrew support in 1958 in favour of a Toronto hockey museum. The collection of hockey memorabilia, which goes back to a square puck used in the first organized game in Kingston in 1886, is housed upstairs at a city-owned four-pad arena in a west-end suburb. By donation.
- 22 Frontenac County Schools Museum, 414 Regent St, Barriefield, ☏ . Summer: Tu-Sa 10AM-3PM, reduced hours off-season. History of education, back to the era of one-room schoolhouses.
- 23 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.
- A total solar eclipse on Monday 8 April 2024 starts at 3:22PM local time and lasts three minutes. The chances of a clear sky are 35%. The track of totality is northeast from Mexico and Texas to Ohio, straddling the Canada–New England border through Lakes Erie and Ontario, then across Maine, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
- 2 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 1½, 2 or 3 hours; selected runs offer sunset cruises, dinner or dancing. $25-73/person.
- A K-Pass (issued for 1, 2 or 3 days, $78-162/adult, $48-120/child) bundles one of the Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises with Kingston Trolley Tours, Fort Henry, Bellevue House, the Pump House Steam Museum and Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, Murney Tower, the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum, a three-hour bicycle rental from Ahoy Rentals and admission to Morrisburg's Upper Canada Village.
- Additional tour options for the Thousand Islands are available in Gananoque (about 32 km 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.
- 3 Confederation Tour Trolley, 209 Ontario St (D/departs from Confederation Park, opposite City Hall), ☏ , fax: . 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. $17/person.
- Haunted Walk of Kingston, 200 Ontario St, ☏ , fax: . 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. $13.75-15.75/person.
- 4 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".
- 5 Grand Theatre, 218 Princess St, ☏ . Built in 1901-02, and home of the Kingston Symphony since 1964,. The main theatre seats 776 people for live theatre and musical performances.
- 6 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. $9/person.
- Skating (in winter): operating dates are dependent on the weather.
- Market Square, behind City Hall, 216 Ontario St. The outdoor skating rink in Market Square is 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.
- 7 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.
- 8 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 has among the most and best fresh water wrecks in the world.
- Improbable Escapes Inc., inside LaSalle Mews 303 Bagot Street, Suite 16B, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9AM-10PM.
Outside the city
- 9 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. $5.50/person.
- 10 Wolfe Island. A free hourly [ferry http://www.wolfeisland.com/ferry.php] 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.
- 11 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.
- 12 Frontenac Provincial Park, 1090 Salmon Lake Road, Sydenham, ☏ . 30 minutes north by car, opportunities for walking and picnicking, fishing, canoeing, wildlife viewing, boating, swimming and cycling. Winter activities.
- 13 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 Canada Day (July 1) weekend) and apples (late summer/fall) in season in Adolphustown and Prince Edward County, less than an hour to the west.
- Buskers' Rendezvous. Buskers from around the world take over the streets of Kingston for one weekend in early July. Downtown.
- Reelout Arts Project, ☏ . Annual LGBT film festival, late January. Kingston also hosts an LGBT Pride parade in mid-June; "out/in kingston" has local gay event listings.
- Skeleton Park Arts Festival. Late June (summer solstice). A free, community-focused arts and music festival.
- Kingston Canadian Film Festival. Ten-day festival in early March. Most events take place at the Screening Room, as the only commercial cinema hall still open in the downtown core.
- 1 Cooke's Old World Shop, 61 Brock Street, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . 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.
- 2 Market Square, Market Street (behind City Hall). Apr-Nov: Tu Th Sa. 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.
- 3 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.
- 4 Cornerstone Contemporaray Canadian Craft and Inuit Art, 255 Ontario St (on the corner of Princess St), ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. 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 among the most restaurants per capita of any city in Canada, with restaurants to fit anyone's budget.
- Golden Viet Thai, 304 Bagot 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 influence, in line with the decorations. under $8.
- Golden Rooster Delicatessen, 111 Princess St, ☏ . 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 bún. 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 10PM, 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, ☏ . 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, ☏ . M-F 7:30AM-7PM, Sa 7:30AM-3PM, Su 7:30AM-2PM. Breakfast, weekend brunch, coffee, burgers, fish and chips, soupes du jour, desserts. Small, crowded Greek/Mediterranean diner and takeaway. under $10.
- Morrison's Restaurant, 318 King St E, ☏ . Daily 8AM–3PM. Longtime diner with a relaxed, retro vibe offering a classic menu of breakfast & lunch favourites.
- Stooley's Bar & Grill, 118 Division St, ☏ . Daily noon–9PM. Serving Stooley’s famous signature fries the menu includes premium quality sandwiches, wraps and char-broiled burgers.
- 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: . 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, ☏ . 11:30AM-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. $10-13/person.
- 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 are shakes and beer floats. $7-12/burger.
- Pat's Restaurant, 455 Princess St, ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa 12:30PM-9PM. Thai, Asian fusion. Proprietor established (then sold) Phnom Pehn, Wok-In and Cambodiana in the same city. $10-20.
- Dianne's Fish Shack & Smokehouse, 195 Ontario St, 2Y7, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:30AM - 9PM. An upbeat restaurant featuring Mexican-inspired seafood and BBQ fare, plus a full bar with margaritas.
- Toast & Jam, 1530 Bath Rd, ☏ . 7:30AM-3PM. This relaxed contemporary cafe makes full use of the fresh baked goods from its own bakery.
- The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro, 298 Princess St, ☏ . 11AM-10PM. A burger joint.
- Tommy's, 377 Princess St, ☏ . M - Th 9:30AM to 2:30AM, F-Su 24 hr. Typical diner fare, including all-day breakfast, served in a 1950-style space with a full bar.
- Northside espresso + kitchen, 281 Princess St, email@example.com. Daily 8AM-3PM. Airy-chic Australian cafe offering coffee drinks, along with salads, breakfast & daytime bites.
- Sima Sushi, 66 Princess St, ☏ . Daily 11:30AM - 9:15PM. This cozy eatery serves sushi, Japanese kitchen entrees & sake in a casual, contemporary space.
- Grecos, 167 Princess St, ☏ . Daily 11:30AM-10PM. Long-running, informal gathering place for wine & traditional Greek cuisine such as lamb & souvlaki.
- Chez Piggy Restaurant & Bar, 68R Princess St, ☏ , fax: . 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.
- Olivea, 39 Brock St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 11:30AM-4:30PM, 5PM-close. A popular establishment with a patio featuring refined Italian cuisine in a modern, industrial space.
- Tango Nuevo, 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 11PM.
- Casa Domenico, 35 Brock St, ☏ . noon-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
- 1 Coffee and Company, 53 Princess St, ☏ . Espresso, coffees, and good teas prepared from loose leaves. A common student study hangout downtown.
- 2 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.
- 3 CRAVE Coffee House & Bakery, 166 Princess St, ☏ , email@example.com. 8AM-6PM. Kingston's largest independently owned and operated coffee house, scratch bakery, and a full-service kitchen.
- 4 Balzac's Coffee Roaster, 251 Princess Street, ☏ . Daily 7:30AM - 6PM. Eastern outpost of the Stratford ON-based chain. Offers the full range of coffee and tea, as well as baked products.
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.
- 5 Kingston Brewing Company, 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.
- 6 Stone City Ales, 275 Princess St, ☏ . M-Th 3-11PM, F-Su 11AM-11PM. Craft beer brewery with an eatery inside. It has a standing selection of craft beers (Belgian wheat, IPA, oatmeal stout, session ale) with seasonal rotating brews. Beers can be bought in bottles or in larger jugs to go. Stills are visible from the dining room in the back. There is a patio on the street in the warmer months.
- 7 Tir nan Óg, 200 Ontario St, ☏ . 11AM-1AM. Tir Nan'Og and Old Speckled Hen are two pubs in the Prince George Hotel which differ in décor and specialize in beers and whiskies from Ireland and Britain respectively.
- 8 The Brass Pub, 403 Princess St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 2PM-late. Easygoing, wood-panelled hangout offering typical bar fare & pitchers of draft beer.
- 9 The Ale House & Canteen, 393 Princess St, ☏ , email@example.com. 5PM-2AM. Spacious, rustic-chic tavern with pub grub, Canadian beers & a sizable stage for concerts.
- 10 The Mansion Restaurant & Bar, 506 Princess St, ☏ . 11AM-2AM. Low-key restaurant, bar & live music venue with a pub menu, wine cellar, patio & TVs showing sports.
- 11 The Iron Duke on Wellington, 207 Wellington Street (Half a block north of Princess Street.), ☏ . 11:30AM–midnight (closed Mondays). Upscale pub featuring a wide selection of draft beers and cocktails. Well-prepared meals and snacks.
Kingston is separated from Barriefield (Fort Henry, military base and 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 bridge; most travellers therefore seek lodgings in or west of downtown.
There are also some franchise chains (food, fuel, lodging) near the freeway (401 exit 617, Division St.) which serve highway travellers; if it's near the 401, it's not near the main attractions (museums, universities, the downtown waterfront, tour boats, ferries or points of historic interest) as 401 is a bypass road.
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. Accommodations range from large chain hotels with full facilities to smaller historic properties, 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.
- 1 Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront, 2 Princess St, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. 197 rooms (all non-smoking), room service, wifi, parking ($14/night), indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, fitness centre, DOX Restaurant and Lounge, laundry, business centre.
- 2 Delta Kingston Waterfront, 1 Johnson St, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Renovated 2013, former Ramada/Radisson. $160+/night.
- 3 Secret Garden Inn, 73 Sydenham St S, ☏ , toll-free: . Historic 1888 Queen Anne/Victorian style bed-and-breakfast inn with antique furnishings, fireplaces and stained glass windows. $160-190/night.
- 4 Hochelaga Inn, 24 Sydenham St. South, ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. A bed-and-breakfast with 21 rooms, in the Sydenham district close to the waterfront. $150 Queen-bed room for 2.
West of downtown
Kingston's train station is at the northwestern edge of the city far from the centre (the tracks were the pre-1998 town line); a few hotels serve this area:
- 5 Fireside Inn & Conference Centre (Best Western), 1217 Princess St, ☏ , toll-free: . In-room fireplaces, meeting facilities for 6-70 people, whirlpool suites at $250-350/night, 37" flatscreen TV, outdoor pool and patio. Bistro and restaurant on-site.
- 6 Peachtree Inn, 1187 Princess St, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Thriftlodge hotel over ground-floor retail plaza, 74 rooms and suites, conference facilities for 20-200 people. $110-170/night.
- 7 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. $160/night.
- 8 Maple Crest Inn, 1454 Princess St, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Under $120/night for clean, modern accommodations but with no restaurant, no pool, no amenities on-site. This two-storey hotel was built at the end of the 1970s as part of Journey's End, one of the first economy limited service hotel chains, but is now independent.
It is possible to rent short-term residence/dormitory accommodation at Queen's University and St. Lawrence College during the summer; these are unavailable during the main fall/winter academic term as the students return. The university may be able to provide conference facilities for large groups.
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 small, independent roadside motels in this area pre-date the freeway and the economy limited-service hotel chains, but the majority are reasonably-well maintained (with a few unfortunate exceptions) at moderate prices.
- 9 LaSalle Hotel, 2360 Princess St, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Suburban Travelodge 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.
There are no hotels, motels or other services around the airport.
Near the 401 highway
- There are two limited-service hotels (a Motel 6 and a Quality Inn) near the factory park on exit 611, Hwy 38/Gardiners Road.
- A few moderately-priced chains (Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Comfort Inn, FirstCanada Inns) sit among the fast-food emporiums, highway services and outlet stores at Division & 401 (exit 617). These primarily serve motorway traffic.
- Comfort Inn Kingston 401, 55 Warne Crescent (at Division St; exit #617).
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kingston, 11 Benson Street, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Comfortable, modern hotel by the Division Street exit from the 401. Spacious rooms with good mattresses, bathtub, refrigerator, microwave, and coffee/tea machine. Rate includes wireless Internet and breakfast. 10–15 minutes’ drive from the city centre and university (buses also available). $130–$150.
- There is a pair of independent motels on exit 623 (Highway 15).
East of the city
As most of the attractions (except for Old Fort Henry and the military base) are on the west side of the Cataraqui River, the east end has relatively little to offer in travel accommodation. There are a few low-end motels on old Highway 2 near the base and a couple of independent motels at the Hwy 15/401 crossroads.
There are additional options across the county line into Gananoque, a population-5500 town where properties ranging from small B&Bs to hotel/motel chains serve visitors to the Thousand Islands region. Leeds and the Thousand Islands has a number of campgrounds available during the warmer months.
For those cruising on small craft, sleeping on a boat docked at one of the 1000 Islands National Park islands may also be an option.
- Wi-fi and public access computers are available at all Kingston Frontenac Public Library branches. The hotspots are shut down when the library branch is closed. The Central branch (130 Johnson St, +1 613-549-8888) is open six days a week, as are suburban branches in Calvin Park (88 Wright Cres) and Bayridge (935 Gardiners Road, near the mall). West of the city, there's a county library branch in the recreation centre in Amherstview (322 Amherst Drive, ☏ ).
- Open wi-fi is available throughout the Cataraqui mall (945 Gardiners Road) in the west end. Coffee shops and fast-food chains (Tim Horton's, Wendy's, Harvey's, McDonald's) operate Wi-Fi hotspots in many locations.
- Postal service is available from the main post office (120 Clarence St, downtown) until 4:30PM weekdays. Some drugstores operate retail postal outlets with extended hours. The UPS Store (427 Princess St downtown, 829 Norwest Road in the west end) provides commercial parcel receiving services and photocopies.
- The four main domestic mobile telephone companies (Bell, Telus, Rogers, Freedom Mobile) are readily available. Kingston is not close enough to the border to directly receive US-domestic cellular signals (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) as it's separated from the US mainland by Wolfe Island.
- Thousand Islands, Gananoque, Leeds and the 1000 Islands
- Rideau Canal and Smiths Falls
- Prince Edward County and Napanee
|Routes through Kingston|
|Toronto ← Napanee ←||W E||→ Gananoque → Montreal / Ottawa|
|Toronto ← Napanee ←||W E||→ Gananoque → Montreal / Ottawa via|
|Carleton Place ← Smiths Falls ←||N S||→ END|
|Prince Edward County ←||W E||→ END|