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Top Things to Do, See and Attractions in Kingston, Ontario

Updated: Apr 27

Kingston, Ontario, known as the "Limestone City" for its grand 19th-century buildings, offers a compelling blend of old-world charm and contemporary culture. Nestled at the confluence of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the Rideau Canal, this historic city is not only a gateway to the beautiful Thousand Islands, but it also boasts a vibrant urban center brimming with activities and attractions. From the echoes of its penitentiary walls to the whispers of the market square, Kingston invites explorers and history enthusiasts alike to discover its many treasures.


Whether you're a foodie seeking the tastes of local cuisine, a history buff stepping back in time, or an outdoor enthusiast looking to connect with nature, Kingston has something special for everyone. The city's rich heritage is complemented by its lively arts scene, engaging museums, and lively festivals that animate the streets throughout the year. In this article, we'll guide you through the top things to do, see and attractions in Kingston, ensuring you experience the full flavor of this enchanting city's past and present.


Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario

1. Delving into History at Fort Henry National Historic Site


Location: 1 Fort Henry Dr., Kingston, ON K7K 5G8

Website: Fort Henry


Start your Kingston adventure at Fort Henry, where you can step back in time to the mid-19th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers interactive exhibits, live military demonstrations, and stunning views of the St. Lawrence River. Witness the precision of the Fort Henry Guard drills and be sure to catch the spectacular sunset ceremony if you visit during the summer months.


2. Discovering Canada's Penitentiary Museum


Penitentiary Museum, Kingston
Penitentiary Museum, Kingston

Location: 555 King St. W., Kingston, ON K7L 4V7


Located at the former Warden's residence of the Kingston Penitentiary, this museum delves into the history of Canada's federal penitentiary system. Exhibits display artifacts from the Correctional Service of Canada, providing a thought-provoking look at life behind bars.


3. Taking a 1000 Islands Cruise


Location: 248 Ontario St, Kingston Ontario


Explore the breathtaking beauty of the 1000 Islands on a scenic cruise. Departing from downtown Kingston, options range from sightseeing cruises to fine dining experiences on the water. The stunning landscapes and opulent cottages dotting the islands make for an unforgettable journey.



4. Touring Kingston City Hall


Location: 216 Ontario St., Kingston, ON K7L 2Z3


The historic Kingston City Hall is an architectural masterpiece. Free guided tours offer a glimpse into Kingston’s municipal past and present, showcasing original furnishings, portraits, and a beautiful stained-glass dome.


5. Visiting the Bellevue House National Historic Site


Bellevue House National Historic Site, Kingston
Bellevue House National Historic Site, Kingston

Location: 35 Centre St., Kingston, ON K7L 4E5


Discover the home of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Bellevue House offers a peek into the life of this notable figure, with costumed interpreters providing insights into the mid-19th century.


 

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6. Enjoying Nature at Lemoine Point Conservation Area


Location: 1440 Coverdale Dr., Kingston, ON K7M 8X7

Website: Lemoine Point


Lemoine Point Conservation Area is a natural haven for hiking, cycling, swimming, and wildlife observation. With 136 hectares of forest, field, and marsh, there's plenty to explore in this serene setting.


7. Absorb the Atmosphere at Springer Market Square


Springer Market Square, Kingston
Springer Market Square, Kingston

Location: Springer Market Square, Kingston, ON K7L 1H3


As Ontario's oldest market, operating since 1801, the Kingston Public Market in Springer Market Square is brimming with local produce, crafts, and food. It's a lively spot to immerse yourself in the community vibe.



8. Unwinding at Breakwater Park and Gord Edgar Downie Pier


Location: 300 King St W, Kingston, ON K7L 2X1


Named in honor of the late Tragically Hip frontman, this waterfront park boasts revitalized swimming areas and the gorgeous Gord Edgar Downie Pier. It's a favorite local spot for a refreshing dip or a leisurely stroll along the water.


9. Exploring the Kingston Waterfront Pathway


Location: Waterfront pathway extends along the Lake Ontario shore


Kingston's Waterfront Pathway is perfect for a leisurely walk, bike ride, or rollerblading along Lake Ontario. The pathway provides access to parks, marinas, and historic sites while offering stunning waterfront views.


 

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10. Visiting the Agnes Etherington Art Centre


Location: 36 University Ave., Kingston, ON K7L 3N6


The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, situated on Queen's University campus, is a hub of art and culture. With an impressive collection of over 17,000 works, the centre holds significant exhibitions ranging from historical to contemporary art. The Centre also features the renowned Bader Collection, with a focus on Rembrandt and his circle.


11. Taking in a Performance at The Grand Theatre


The Grand Theatre, Kingston
The Grand Theatre, Kingston

Location: 218 Princess St., Kingston, ON K7L 1B2


The Grand Theatre is a cultural cornerstone of Kingston, offering a diverse array of live performances. From music and dance to theatre and comedy, it's a premier destination for an evening of entertainment.


12. Experiencing Marine Museum of the Great Lakes


Location: 55 Ontario St., Kingston, ON K7L 2Y2

Website: Marine Museum


The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes is a treasure trove for nautical enthusiasts. The museum features exhibits on the maritime history of the Great Lakes, including the original steamship, Alexander Henry, which serves as a living exhibit.


13. Indulging in Local Flavors on a Kingston Food Tour


Location: Various locations in Kingston


Embark on a culinary adventure with Kingston Food Tours. These guided tours offer a taste of Kingston's best eateries and specialty food shops while providing insights into the city's history and culture.


14. Hiking at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area


Location: 1641 Perth Road, Glenburnie, ON K0H 1S0


Just north of Kingston, Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area is an ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts. With trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, it's a year-round destination for nature lovers. The conservation area also hosts educational programs and workshops for those interested in learning more about the natural environment.


 

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15. Reflecting at the Kingston Memorial Centre


Location: 303 York St., Kingston, ON K7K 4M4


The Kingston Memorial Centre isn't just an arena; it's a central hub for community events, including markets, fairs, and sporting events. In the winter, the outdoor rink is open for public skating, making it a great place to enjoy the chilly weather with family and friends.


16. Experiencing the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning


Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, Kingston
Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, Kingston

Location: 370 King St W, Kingston, ON K7L 2X4

Website: Tett Centre


The Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning is a dynamic hub where visitors can engage with Kingston's artistic community. This heritage building houses artist studios, galleries, and workshops. Participate in a pottery class, watch artists at work, or attend one of the many events and exhibitions that take place here.


17. Visiting the PumpHouse


Location: 23 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L 2Y2

Website: PumpHouse


The PumpHouse, formerly the Kingston Waterworks, is a museum that offers a glimpse into the industrial past of the city. It features interactive exhibits, including the original pump engines, and hosts various temporary exhibits focusing on science, technology, and Kingston's history.


18. Exploring the Rideau Trail


Location: Various access points in Kingston


For the outdoor enthusiasts, the Rideau Trail offers over 300 kilometers of hiking paths between Kingston and Ottawa. The trail meanders through forested areas, wetlands, and along the historic Rideau Canal. Whether you're looking for a short walk or a long-distance hike, the Rideau Trail provides a great opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the region.



19. Enjoy Music in the Park


Location: Confederation Park, Kingston, ON


During the summer months, Confederation Park becomes a stage for the 'Music in the Park' series. Free to the public, these concerts feature a variety of genres and showcase both local and visiting musicians. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair, and enjoy an evening of live music with the backdrop of Lake Ontario and the historic City Hall.


20. Playing at Lake Ontario Park


Location: 920 King St W, Kingston, ON K7L 4V1


Lake Ontario Park is the largest urban waterfront park in Kingston. It boasts a sandy beach for swimming, a splash pad for children, and plenty of open green space for picnics and outdoor sports. With its waterfront trail and fantastic views of the lake, it's a perfect spot for family outings and relaxation.


21. Touring the Original Hockey Hall of Fame


Original Hockey Hall of Fame, Kingston
Original Hockey Hall of Fame, Kingston

Location: 1350 Gardiners Rd, Kingston, ON K7P 0E5


Hockey fans will not want to miss the Original Hockey Hall of Fame, which predates the one in Toronto. It's packed with hockey artifacts, memorabilia, and stories that celebrate the history of Canada's national sport.


22. Board a Ferry to Wolfe Island


Location: Wolfe Island Ferry Terminal, 295 Ontario St, Kingston, ON, K7L 2Z1


No visit to Kingston is complete without a ride on the Wolfe Island Ferry. This free service provides a scenic trip to Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands. Once there, you can bike, hike, or simply enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and scenic beauty of the island.


23. Enjoying the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum


Location: 2993 Highway 2 East, Kingston, ON K7L 4V1


The MacLachlan Woodworking Museum, located just east of Kingston, is a fascinating showcase of the art and craft of woodworking. Through its collection of tools, furniture, and interactive exhibits, visitors can learn about the skill and techniques that go into woodworking.


24. Discovering the Military Communications and Electronics Museum


Location: 95 Craftsman Blvd, Kingston, ON K7K 7B4


This museum offers an in-depth look at the evolution of military communications and electronics in Canada. From the early days of telegraphy to modern cyber warfare, the exhibits cover a wide array of technologies and their impact on military operations.


 

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25. Strolling Through Market Square


Location: Behind City Hall, Kingston, ON

Website: N/A


Kingston's historic Market Square is the bustling heart of the downtown area. During the warmer months, the square hosts a vibrant farmers' market and numerous public events, including live music and outdoor film screenings. In the winter, the square transforms into a public skating rink, offering a picturesque setting for a classic Canadian experience.


26. Wandering the Queen’s University Campus


Queen’s University, Kingston
Queen’s University, Kingston

Location: 99 University Ave, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6


Queen's University, one of Canada's oldest degree-granting institutions, boasts a beautiful campus that blends historic architecture with picturesque landscapes. Take a self-guided tour to appreciate the university's heritage buildings, stop by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, or simply enjoy the green spaces.


Kingston's nightlife may not be the biggest, but it's diverse and full of character. Whether you're looking for a relaxed evening with friends or an energetic night on the town, Kingston has a spot for you.


Kingston, Ontario, seamlessly blends history, culture, and nature. Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, or an outdoor adventurer, this city by the lake has something to captivate your interest. It's a place where the past is always present, and where every street corner tells a story. In Kingston, the doors to discovery are always open, inviting you to step through time and experience the richness of Canada's heritage.


As we wrap up Part 2 of our journey through Kingston, it's clear that this city's charm is as enduring as the limestone buildings that stand proudly along its waterfront. Kingston welcomes you to be a part of its continuing story.


 

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