After seeing so many pictures on Instagram of the gorgeous buildings and architecture that Kingston, Ontario had to offer, I knew that I had to make the drive down there and spend a couple of days in this gorgeous city which is what I did last August. I’m finally now getting around to putting up all of the Kingston related blog posts so be on the lookout for that, but for now I’ll be sharing with you all today some of the best things to do and see if ever you’re in Kingston.
Be sure to also check out my Kingston photo diary for all of the pictures that I took while on my trip there.
Kingston is home to many mysterious and supposedly haunted places (full blog post on that coming soon) that you can explore and learn all about aboard the ghost and mystery trolley tour. This was one of the first activities we had planned for our first night in Kingston and it was amazing. The tour guide we had was great in explaining everything and it was definitely something that I would do all over again. On the tour you’ll get to learn about places around Kingston with a dark past such as Bellevue House and the Cataraqui cemetery.
The perfect place to hang out and enjoy the views of Lake Ontario is at the Lake Ontario Provincial Park. We actually found this place randomly when we were driving around looking for a place to hang out while we waited for our hotel to be ready and it was absolutely stunning. Visitors to the park can enjoy scenic walks along the cobble beach as well as other activities such as a splash pad for the summer days and a bunch of picnic areas to enjoy.
Hockey is a huge part of Canada’s history and much of the sport was created in Kingston. Spend the afternoon walking through exhibits at the Hockey Hall of Fame and learn all about the big names that helped create the path for the sport as well as the history of the sport itself. The museum is also free for anyone to enter but donations are greatly appreciated in order to keep the hall of fame running.
Go behind the walls of a former maximum security prison that has been closed to the public for the last 180 years at the Kingston Penn. This was one of the other main activities we did while in the city and it was so much fun. You can choose between a regular 90 minute tour or the premium one that will bring you to even more areas around the prison all the while learning about the sometimes dark history that went on behind the walls of the penitentiary.
Learn more about the history of the Kingston Penn as well as some of the inmates that called the prison home, at the Canadian Penitentiary Museum. Entrance is free but donations are appreciated in order to keep the museum running and though it is quite small in size, there is still lots to learn about and see.
Hop aboard a cruise ship for a 90 minute tour of the surrounding islands known as the 1000 islands. The cruise will take you to all of the unique sites and heritage areas that are there to explore all the while learning about Kingston’s history.
Learn about the history of Fort Henry with guided tours, musical performances, and military demonstrations. The fort also offers stunning, scenic views of the surroundings as well as little shops that sell handmade products to enjoy.
With essentially every type of cuisine available, there is no shortage of options for restaurants in Kingston. Choose a couple of them that would love to try out and spend a foodie weekend taste testing a bunch of different dishes.
Pay your respects to Canada’s first ever prime minister at the Cataraqui cemetery where Sir John A Macdonald is laid to rest along with his family. The site was deemed a National Historic Site of Canada and can be viewed any given time by the public.
Discover over 130 hectares of forest, marshland, and waterfront views at the Lemoine Conservation Center. There are 11 kilometers of hiking trails available as well as swimming at the beach, picnic areas, and much more outdoor activities to enjoy.
With many different tours available throughout different areas of Kingston, a haunted walk is a great way to discover the dark and spooky past of the limestone city. Venture off to places such as Kingston’s hidden burial grounds, learn about the hangings that went on at the courthouse, as well as the secret of Deadman’s Bay at Fort Henry.
Spend a day indoors browsing through the many stores available at the Cataraqui Centre Mall. The mall has over 140 stores and restaurants to choose from so there’s sure to be something for just about anyone.
If gorgeous architecture and old buildings are your thing, be sure to head out on a self guided architectural tour, specifically the John and Joseph tour which is among the many available in Kingston. Marvel at the magnificent buildings that the son and father duo had a hand in creating and spend the afternoon snapping pictures and exploring the city on your own time.
Explore the house and garden that was once home to Sir John A Macdonald and his family from 1848 to 1849. Costumed guides will bring you throughout the restored house and teach you all about the first Prime Minister’s life.
Take a free guided tour through the St Mary’s Cathedral and stare in awe at the gorgeous stained glass windows and the large organ. You can also freely walk through the church without a guide and marvel at the architecture all on your own.
Experience something completely out of this world at the only one of it’s kind in Kingston, 3D glow mini putt. All the obstacles on the course are drenched in fluorescent paint and graphics and with the black light flooding the room, everything glows. Every hole and room also has a different theme from deep sea to jungle.
Discover one of the many locks of the Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills, the site of the first mill built on the Rideau. Guests can explore the three locks, a turning basin, as well as a detached upper lock all the while learning about what makes the Kingston Mills so important.
Marvel at some steam machinery that helped shape Canada’s success at the Pumphouse Steam Museum. Housed in a 19th century pumping station building, the museum teaches its guests all about one of the country’s oldest water works and the pumps that helped supply water to Kingston’s residents since 1850.
Explore the museum that has been deemed a Natural Historic Site of Canada at the Museum of Healthcare, where you will learn about fascinating medical history ranging from the 18th century to modern times. The museum is housed in a limestone building like much of the buildings that can be found around Kingston and includes artifacts such as patient care items and surgical tools.
Found in the courtyard of the Kingston City Hall is the public market which is full of vendors selling items ranging from fresh produce, prepared dishes, handmade jewelry, clothing, crafts, flowers, and much more. Though the public market is only open during the summer months, if you are visiting in the winter time the square is turned into a skating rink for all to enjoy.
Though there are an abundance of different types of tours that happen in Kingston, one of the ones that mustn’t be missed (especially for you foodies) is the food tours. Walk through historic downtown Kingston along with an experienced guide to explore unique shops and restaurants all the while tasting some yummy dishes that’ll leave you wanting more.
Those who are interested in history and heritage sites won’t be disappointed in the Kingston City Hall tour. Walk through the limestone building that can be found in the center of the city and learn all about Kingston’s fascinating history as well as about the people and events that shaped Kingston into the city that it is today.
So there you have it, over 20 different things to do while visiting Kingston, Ontario that are sure to please just about everyone. Let me know some of your favorite things that you like doing or seeing while in the limestone city down in the comments below.