Things To Do In Kingston This Weekend
Kingston has always been just there.
End of story.
Yet, I have a colleague who raves about Kingston all the time and like most Torontonians who think Toronto is Canada, I politely give her that “Yeah, yeah I’ll visit it one-day” nod and smile.
But then two things happened since I last politely nodded and smiled. Kingston was on The Amazing Race Canada which made me excited and then the lead singer for the iconic Canadian band The Tragically Hip, Gord Downie (Kingston native) passes away at 53 which made me sad.
Out of their many amazing, songs, there is one song that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it and now more than ever. The song is called “Bobcaygeon” and its the type of song that when I’m listening to it I just want to be left alone so I can think, reminisce, write, plan the future or just daydream.
I think it’s about time I paid a visit to Kingston this weekend.
Before we get started…
A Little Bit of Kingston History
Kingston is a city in eastern Ontario, Canada. It is on the eastern end of Lake Ontario, at the beginning of the St. Lawrence River and at the mouth of the Cataraqui River (south end of the Rideau Canal). It is also home to The Thousand Islands tourist region is nearby to the east.
Kingston is nicknamed the “Limestone City” because of the many heritage buildings that are constructed using local limestone. Kingston was once named the first capital of the United Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. While its time as a capital city was short (ending in 1844), the community has remained an important military installation.
The Day Before…
The Big Apple
Like Kingston, The Big Apple is another one of those places you drive by on your way to or from someplace else. When driving by it’s hard to miss Mr. Applehead, an observatory and the world’s largest apple-shaped structure in which you can climb up and get some great views of the surrounding countryside…
Meh. I’ll save that, the petting zoo and the mini golf course for the children.
Me, I’m after that apple pie, it’s legendary around these parts
Curry Original’s owners have been pioneers of fine Indian Cuisine in Kingston for the past 25 years. Using only authentic Indian herbs, every dish you eat – accompanied by the restaurant atmosphere (art on the walls, rich spicy aromas) feels like you just landed in India. if you like Indian food this is the spot.
Getting to Kingston
Kingston Airport (YGK), also known as Norman Rogers Airport is located within a 15-minute drive to the city’s historic downtown core.
Places to stay in Kingston, Ontario
Delta Hotels Kingston Waterfront
The Delta is located right on the lake and it’s close to many restaurants plus it’s easy to get around on foot.
The rooms average is around $220 CAD and is clean and well maintained with most of the rooms, views overlooking the harbour or the lake. The hotel also has its in-house award-winning restaurant the Aqua Terra.
Econo Lodge City Centre
The Econo Lodge City Centre is for those who are looking for a room under $200 CAD per night with a free breakfast. It’s a two-star accommodation offering a modest clean room with comfy bed.
Simple is good.
For us, we are ok with our Airbnb choice being located outside of the downtown core. Since we drove in from Toronto, we had access to my Jeep, so we were able to save money on accommodations and drive into town – and park for free at the Delta. (Thanks to their malfunctioning machine). Maria’s room is clean and bright with a large window as well a comfortable double sized bed with memory foam.
Things To Do In Kingston This Weekend
From the Kingston Pen to Fort Henry
Pan Chancho Bakery
Pan Chancho Bakery is a delicious European style bakery, a gourmet food shop and a dine-in cafe. They sell all types of artisanal bread, pastries, cakes and gourmet grab and go deli items. They even have their own line of canned goods and frozen meals.
In the evening, they have local beers on tap, signature cocktails and wines.
You can choose to have your meal in their courtyard patio or in a private dining room.
Kingston City Hall
Kingston’s City Hall is a national historic site and the centre for administering and governing the City of Kingston. It was built in 1844 and is one of the finest century buildings in Canada. There are free guided tours for those who want to learn more about its heritage and architecture.
Confederation Park is nicknamed – the heart and soul of Kingston. It’s the perfect spot to do your morning walk, watch the sunset or just hang out.
Concerts and festivals are also held there.
Since it’s been raining all morning the park looks sort of grey and sort of empty.
When I see trains, I get excited – especially these old trains. Before she retired my Mom worked at CN (Canadian National Railway) so as a result I hung out in train yards a lot!
Kingston was once home to the Canadian Locomotive Company for more than 100 years. This company built more than 3,000 steam, electric and diesel engines for the Canadian Pacific Railway, including ‘The Spirit of Sir John A.’
The Spirit of Sir John A. also called Engine 1095, is one of the rarest symbols of 19th-century technology and industry that still exists today.
St. George Cathedral
St. George Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Kingston, known for retaining its old charm.
LaSalle Causeway is a bascule bridge – which I admit I needed to look up. Bascule means movable bridge and it was named after René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle who oversaw the construction of Fort Frontenac in 1673, which is now, the western end of the causeway.
Frederick is a historic military building located on Point Frederick on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC). Its construction dates back to 1846 and the Oregon boundary dispute. The fort consists of earthworks surrounding a Martello tower and it is included in two separate National Historic Sites of Canada: Kingston Fortifications National Historic Site and the Point Frederick Buildings National Historic Site.
The original Fort Henry was built in the 18th century. It is located between Great Britain (Canada being a British colony at the time) and the United States of America but bears no resemblance to the existing fort. During the War of 1812, the British anticipated an attack on Point Henry due to its proximity to the Royal Naval Dockyards and to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.
Sir John’s Public House (The Public House)
The Public House is a cozy pub in the heart of historic Downtown Kingston in a building which once served as the law office to Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.
Earlier this year the bar came under fire, due to the fact that it was named after Sir John A. Macdonald, which didn’t have a stellar reputation for his treatment of Aboriginals. In the spirit of reconciliation with our Native Canadians, lobbyists started protesting in front of the pub which caused the owner to drop Sir John’s name and call it The Public House.
Lots of controversies started on whether this was a good move or a bad move. Personally, I’m on the fence with this one but feel free to leave a comment below so we can have a discussion.
Chez Piggy is Kingston’s best-known restaurant since 1979 despite the fact that it is located in what was once an abandoned limestone horse stable.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
Their menu is inspired by the flavours of world travels and is a destination in itself for foodies. It is a perfect choice for afternoon cocktails on the courtyard patio, your family celebration, a night out with friends or a romantic dinner.
Oh and to bring everything full circle Chez Piggy gets all its bread from Pan Chancho Bakery.
What to do in Kingston this weekend?
We go Directly To jail…
CRAVE Coffee House & Bakery
CRAVE Coffee House & Bakery is Kingston’s largest independently owned and operated coffee house, scratch bakery, and full-service kitchen. If you have a sweet tooth like me you’ll definitely love their seashell macarons, butter tarts and gluten-free carrot cake.
Kingston Penitentiary is Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum security prison.
Once considered a dumping ground for Canada’s diabolical criminals, its most well-known for holding one of Canada’s most notorious and evil inmates Paul Bernardo
A standard tour costs $35 each and honestly was one of the best tours I’ve ever taken. The tour incorporates stories told from the actually guards who once worked there.
Bellevue House National Historic Site of Canada was the home to Prime Minister Sir John Alexander Macdonald from 1848 to 1849. It was constructed around 1840 and is one of the first examples of Italian Villa architecture in Canada. Sir John A. Macdonald moved into the house with his wife Isabella Clark and their son John Alexander in 1848.
The Murney Tower was built in 1846 because of the Oregon Crisis to defend the St. Lawrence River from an American invasion. In 2007, Murney Tower became part of the Rideau Canal and Kingston Fortifications World Heritage Site – the 14th World Heritage Site in Canada and the only one in Ontario.
Queen’s University Campus
Queen’s University is a public research university in Canada. It was founded on 16 October 1841 via a royal charter issued by Queen Victoria but what’s interesting is the university predates Canada’s founding by 26 years.
Dianne’s Fish Shack & Smokehouse
Just steps from the waterfront is a classic East Coast Kitchen that meets the flavours of Mexico! Think lobster rolls, fish n’ chips & oysters along with tacos, guacamole & Mexican BBQ. Plus, savoury grilled steaks, burgers, salads, sandwiches and more!
From the bar; you can grab ice cold craft beer & local wine on tap. Premium whiskies & tequilas, refreshing cocktails and the city’s best fresh-squeezed lime margaritas.
Kingston Brewing Company
The Kingston Brewing Company is Ontario’s oldest brewpub and is Canada’s oldest wine-producing pub. Beers, wines, ciders and soda pops are made on the premises.
A courtyard and street-front patio, as well as a banquet room (known as the Dragon’s Lair), makes this pub a must visit. It has a large collection of beer memorabilia and pub photos which admittedly can get a little distracting.
The building where the KBC is located used to be a telegraph office — and the original vaults are still in use.
Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises – 9 min Discovery Cruise
Kingston’s Discovery Cruise introduces the unique sights and heritage of the 1000 Islands region and the historic waterfront of Canada’s First Capital. This cruise passes close to National Park Islands and National Historic Sites and includes a lively narration of Kingston’s history and natural setting. It focuses on the history and waterfront of the city of Kingston, and its place at the beginning of the St Lawrence River and the 1000 Islands region.
So using Google Maps we created a custom GPS guide and offline map based on this articles highlights and where all the places we visited can be found.
For us, we are ok with our Airbnb choice since we drove in from Toronto we had access to my Jeep so we were able to save some money by staying with Maria a little further away from the downtown core. Her room is clean and bright with a large window as well a comfortable double sized bed with memory foam. She also provided Apple TV and a private bathroom with a Jacuzzi/shower and bidet.
I can see why my colleague was raving about visiting Kingston. Its a beautiful city…and no Toronto is not the centre of the universe…its the centre of Canada.
All kidding aside.
I would absolutely come back here again or at the very least purposely stop by for the day or spend the night while on my way to Montreal or Ottawa.
There is so much history here, so much stories and true Canadians with genuine Canadian friendliness.
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