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37 Things To Do In Kingston, Ontario (Weekend Guide)

37 Things To Do In Kingston, Ontario (Weekend Guide)

If you’re looking to travel locally, Canada has some fantastic places that often go undiscovered by locals. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Kingston, Ontario, you’ve come to the right place! Kingston was featured on The Amazing Race Canada. It was home to the lead singer for the iconic Canadian band The Tragically Hip. Gord Downie passed away at 53 not too long ago. 

Kinston is chock-full of history as well. It was once the capital of Canada (1841 to 1844) before Ottawa took over. It was home to Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald. It has two forts (Fort Henry, Fort Frontenac), Queen’s University and a historic penitentiary (Kingston Pen) which once held the infamous dangerous offender Paul Bernardo,

So if you’re in town for the weekend or just passing through and wanting to explore the area, this comprehensive list of 37 things to do in Kingston will get you started.

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

things to do in kingston

A Little Bit of Kingston History

  • Kingston is nicknamed the “Limestone City” because of the many heritage buildings 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 a necessary military installation
  • It is also home to The Thousand Islands tourist region.
things to do in kingston this weekend

How To Travel To Kingston

As mentioned above, Kingston is very much on the way to or from the larger cities. And you’re just a 3-hour trip from Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. This makes it quite accessible, and there are plenty of ways to reach your destination.

  • Kingston Airport (YGK), also known as Norman Rogers Airport, is located within a 15-minute drive to the city’s historic downtown core.tings.
  • There are buses going to Kingston from most major centres around Canada.
  • My favourite way to travel between the cities, you can hop on a train from many of the major cities and arrive safely in Kingston.
  • This option gives you the most freedom to plan your Kingston itinerary as you wish. You can stop along the way and enjoy surrounding attractions, and when you’re in the city you have reliable, independent transportation.
things to do in kingston

What Do In Kingston, Ontario This Weekend… 

FYI., This list is pretty long, so you’re going to need at least two days to complete it. If you just don’t have that long, then pick your favourites and do just those. 

1) Stop Off At The Big Apple (From Toronto)

Location: 262 Orchard Rd, Colborne
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8 am to 7 pm

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 where you can climb up and get some great views of the surrounding countryside.
Petting zoo and the mini-golf course for the children aside, the apple pie is legendary.

The Night Before…

2) Enjoy Indian Cuisine At Curry Original Kingston

Location: 253 Ontario St A
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 5 pm to 9 pm

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.

curry-original - what to do in kingston

Things To Do In Kingston This WeekendDay 1

3) Try Out Delicious Treats From Pan Chancho Bakery

Location: 44 Princess St
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8 am to 5 pm

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.

to do in kingston
to do in kingston - Pan-Chancho-Bakery
to do in kingston

4) Take A Guided Tour Of Kingston City Hall 

Location: 216 Ontario St
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 4:30 pm 

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.

kingston this weekend - Kingston-City-Hall
things to do in Kingston

5) Walk Through Confederation Park 

Location: Between Ontario St and Waterfront Pathway
Opening hours: 24/7

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. This is definitely one of the top things to see in Kingston.

kingston this weekend - Kingston-City-Hall

6) Investigate Shoal Tower National Historic Site

Location: Seen from the Waterfront Pathway
Opening hours: 24/7

The Shoal Tower National Historic Site is a heritage site built as part of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) and used by the college for artillery training. 

things to do in kingston

7) Check Out The Spirit Of Sir John A. Canadian Pacific

Location: 209 Ontario St
Opening hours: 24/7

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. This is a great stop-off to get a few photos and take in the stunning train. 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.’

things to do in kingston

8) Step Inside The Charming St. George Cathedral

Location: 270 King St E

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10 am to 4 pm 

St. George Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Kingston, known for retaining its old charm. It’s a local landmark, and quite a sight to behold. There are still religious services held inside the church, but you can visit outside of worship hours to admire the structure. 

what to do in kingston - St.-George-Cathedral

9) Walk Along LaSalle Causeway

Location: LaSalle Causeway
Opening hours: 24/7

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. 

things to do in kingston
LaSalle-Causeway - things to do in kingston this weekend

10) Visit A Military Museum. The Royal Military College of Canada

Location: 13 General Crerar Crescent
Opening hours: Mon to Fri 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Admission is free.

The Royal Military College of Canada is located in Kingston, Ontario. It was founded in 1883 as the Royal Military College of Kingston. 

The museum displays many artifacts, including war trophies, guns, aircraft, ships, and tanks. The museum houses more than 7,000 objects and features exhibit about the Royal Military College of Canada with interactive games and activities for children.

Fort-Frederick - what to do in kingston
Fort-Frederick - what to do in kingston
Fort-Frederick - what to do in kingston

11) Tour Fort Frederick

Location: 15 Passchendale Dr #9
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8 am to 4:30 pm

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.

what to do in kingston - Fort-Frederick
Fort-Frederick - what to do in kingston
Fort-Frederick - what to do in kingston
Fort-Frederick - what to do in kingston

12) Head To Fort Henry

Location: 1 Fort Henry Dr
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 9:30 am – 5 pm

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. 

kingston this weekend - Fort-Henry
kingston this weekend - Fort-Henry
kingston this weekend - Fort-Henry
things to do in kingston
kingston this weekend - Fort-Henry
kingston this weekend - Fort-Henry

13) Grab A Drink At Sir John A. Pub (The Public House)

Location: 343 King St E
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11 am to 2 am; Sun 10:30 am to 2 am

The Public House is a cozy pub in the heart of historic downtown Kingston in a building that 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.

In addition to the Sir John A. There are several other great pubs in Kingston besides Pub (The Public House): The Iron Duke on Wellington St., Red House Tavern on Spring Gardens Rd., and Tir Nan Og on King St. W.

things to do in kingston - The-Public-House

14) Pig-Out At Chez Piggy

Location: 68 Princess St
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am to 9 pm; Sat & Sun 10:30 am to 9 pm

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 travel 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.

Chez-Piggy - things to do in kingston
things to do in kingston - Chez-Piggy
The Big Apple (Colborne, Ontario)

What To Do In Kingston This Weekend?Day 2

15) Satisfy Caffeine and Sugar Cravings – Crave Cafe, Kingston

Location: 166 Princess St
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 7:30 am to 8 pm

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.

things to do in  kingston

16) Go Straight To Jail – Kingston Penitentiary

Location: 560 King St W
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 8:40 am to 6 pm

Kingston Penitentiary is Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum-security prison. Once considered a dumping ground for Canada’s diabolical criminals, it’s 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 we’ve ever taken. The tour incorporates stories told by the actual guards who once worked there.

what to do in kingston on - Kingston-Penitentiary
what to do in kingston on - Kingston-Penitentiary
things to do in kingston
what to do in kingston on - Kingston-Penitentiary
things to do in kingston
what to do in kingston on - Kingston-Penitentiary
things to do in kingston
things to do in kingston
what to do in kingston on - Kingston-Penitentiary
things to do in kiingston

17) Visit Historic Portsmouth Tavern

Location: 560 King St W
Opening hours: Mon to Thurs 11 am – 6 pm, Fri to Sat 11 am – 12 am

The waterfront walking trail west will have you passing the Kingston Penitentiary, taking you to Portsmouth Village. While there isn’t much to do here other than visiting the Portsmouth Tavern, an old, classic bar/restaurant from 1863. Known locally as The Ports.

18) Explore The PumpHouse Museum

Location: 23 Ontario Street
Opening hours: Mon to Thurs 11 am – 6 pm, Fri to Sat 11 am – 12 am

A Steam Museum is a great place to see how people used to get around. People would use steam engines to power trains, ships, or even cars. The Pumphouse is fun for kids to learn about steam engines and modern technology.

19) Explore The Bellevue House

Location: 35 Centre St
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am to 5 pm 

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. A trip here includes an old maid as your guide, who shares her story as well as narrates the house’s rich history.

to do in kingston - to do in kingston
to do in kingston
to do in kingston

20) Learn About Murney Tower

Location: 2 King St W
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am to 5 pm 

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.

things to do in kingston - Murney-Tower

21) Discover Queen’s University Campus

Location: 99 University Ave
Opening hours: Visitors can take scheduled or self-guided tours

Queen’s University is a public research university in Canada. It was founded on October 16, 1841, via a royal charter issued by Queen Victoria but what’s interesting is the University predates Canada’s founding by 26 years. Even if you’re way too old to consider applying for the University, you can visit the building and learn more about its history. 

things to do in kingston on
things to do in kingston on - Queens-University-Campus
things to do in kingston on
things to do in kingston on

22) Check Out Some Art At The Agnes Etherington Art Center

Location: 36 University Ave

Opening hours: Mon Closed, Tues-Fri 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm 

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, located on the Queen’s University campus, is a great place to see some art. The Agnes is not very big but has many interesting pieces on display, including 3 Rembrandts. Admission is free, and donations are appreciated. It is located near the Trolley Tour stop. (More on the Trolley below)

23) Explore City Park

City Park is a large green space in Kingston where the locals go to play sports, walk around, skate, or picnic. With plaques and monuments scattered throughout the park, you can learn more about Kingston while escaping Kingston.

things to do in kingston on

24) Indulge Yourself At Dianne’s Fish Shack & Smoke House 

Location: 195 Ontario St
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am to 9 pm; Sat & Sun 10:30 am to 9 pm

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 Just steps from the waterfront is a classic East Coast Kitchen that meets the flavours of Mexico! You can grab ice-cold craft beer & local wine on tap from the bar: premium whiskies & tequilas, refreshing cocktails and the city’s best fresh-squeezed lime margaritas. Plus, savoury grilled steaks, burgers, salads, sandwiches and more! Think lobster rolls, fish n’ chips & oysters, tacos, guacamole, & Mexican BBQ.

kingston weekend getaways - Diannes-Fish-Shack-Smokehouse
kingston weekend getaways - Diannes-Fish-Shack-Smokehouse

25) Feast On All Things Sweet and Frozen At Mio Gelato

Location: 178 Ontario St
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 12 pm to 10 pm

Starting in 2010, Mio Gelato serves the best gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt and ice cream. Locals say they “come for the gelato, but stay for the sorbet”. Mango pineapple is the best flavour for sorbet and charcoal coconut for gelato.

things to do in kingston

26) Visit The KBC Kingston

Location: 34 Clarence St
Opening hours: Sat-Thurs 12 to 10 pm; Fri 12 to 11 pm

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, street-front patio, and a banquet room (known as the Dragon’s Lair) make this pub a must-visit. It has an extensive collection of beer memorabilia and pub photos, which can get distracting.
The KBC building was used as a telegraph office, and the original vaults are still in use.

things to do in kingston
kbc kingston - Kingston-Brewery-Company
kbc kingston - Kingston-Brewery-Company

27) Watch the Frontenacs Play At The Leon’s Center

Location: 1 The Tragically Hip Way

The Leon’s Centre is the main arena in downtown Kingston and home to the Kingston Frontenacs OHL team. The Leon’s Centre is the biggest arena in Kingston, Ontario. You can buy tickets online, but hockey season typically runs from September-April.

28) Take A Hike Along Kingston Waterfront Trail

Walking along the waterfront is excellent exercise and a relaxing way to spend time. There are benches, tables, and even a swimming pool. Plus, you can also see the city skyline in the distance. 

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Tours To Do In Kingston

Guided tours can be a great option for anyone looking to experience as much of the city as possible in a short time. They’re also a great way to meet other visitors, and of course, your tour guide is usually a bundle of information and travel advice.

29) 1000 Island Cruises – 9 Min Kingston Discovery Cruise

Location: 248 Ontario St, Kingston
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am – 7 pm
Average cost: $35 Canadian per adult

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. It 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.

Note: If you prefer to see things from above, there are also 1000 Island helicopter tours available.

My dear friend Kathryn from Kathryn Anywhere wrote all about it HERE: How To Vacation With Kids In The 1000 Islands. In addition, my long-time friend Kevin from Wandering Wagers wrote the Complete Guide To Thousand Islands National Park and A Tale of Two Castles in the Thousand Islands.

Tours To Do In Kingston

30) Hop-On-Hop-Off Trolley Tour

Location: Meeting point at 209 Ontario Street
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 9 am to 5 pm
Average cost: From $30 Canadian

When you’re short on time, it can be tricky to get around to each and every must-see on this list. This is why a hop-on-hop-off trolley works so well for Kingston sightseeing. You get a lift to the big-ticket spots, enough time to get off and explore, and then a punctual pick-up and off to the next one. 

Buy a 48-hour pass to the trolley and you can space your trip out between the two days. This will mean less rushing and plenty more time to delve into Kingston’s history.

31) Ghost Trolley Tour

Location: Meeting point at 209 Ontario Street
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 9 am to 5 pm
Average cost: $40 Canadian

For something a little different, take a guided ghost tour through Kingston’s older, apparently haunted areas. Enjoy a spooky trolley ride through the city as your guide tells legends and stories about the history of mysterious buildings. You also get the chance to get out and walk through the cemetery – if you dare.

kingston things to do this weekend
Image by Evi T

32) City Walking Tours

Location: Various
Opening hours: Various
Average cost: Some are free

Often the best way to see any new destination is on foot. This helps you slow things down and really get a lay of the land. Taking a guided walk through the city gives you the perfect opportunity to really see the landmarks, buildings, and Kingston attractions that you’re passing by. 

You can pick your favourite walks, choosing from historic, architecture, food, and even haunted strolls. Or try this walking tour with tea.

Things To Do Near Kingston 

33) Explore the Kingston Mills Locks

Location: Kingston Mills Rd

The same canal that runs through the city of Ottawa named Rideau is along the same route as the Kingston Mills Locks. A park nearby is excellent for picnics, or you can rent a boat and explore parts of the Rideau Canal.

34) Hike Lemoine Point Conservation Area

Location: 1440 Coverdale Dr

If you’re looking for a beautiful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then Lemoine Point is a good option. 

Tucked away between Collins Bay and Kingston Airport, Lemoine Point Conservation Area comprises field, forest & marsh. The lakeside nature area offers trails & picnic spots and great views over the bay.

35) Live in the 19th century At Upper Canada Village

Location: 13740 County Rd 2, Morrisburg, ON

About 1:30 minutes from Kingston is Upper Canada Village, built in 1875, and it shows how people lived back then. There were many shops and businesses, including a blacksmith shop, a miller’s shop, a shoemaker’s shop, a general store, a tavern, a hotel, a schoolhouse, a doctor’s office, a post office, a bank, a dentist’s office, a grocer’s shop, a bakery, a newspaper office, a telegraph office, a library, and a barbershop.

36) Take the Ferry to Wolfe Island

Wolfe Island is part of Frontenac County and the Township of Frontenac Islands. It is the largest island in Lake Superior, with Marysville its biggest town. Wolfe Island is a beautiful place for a summer vacation, with lots of beaches, fun and relaxing activities, fishing, swimming, hiking and biking, golfing, horseriding, kayaking, canoe­ing, sailing, and more!

37) Drive From The Former Canadian Capital TO The Current One (Ottawa)

Just under 2 hours from Kingston is The capital of Canada, Ottawa. If you’ve never been to Ottawa before, this would be an excellent time to visit. Ottawa has so much to offer, whether you like museums, shopping, food, culture, history, nature, art, or just plain relaxation.

In Ottawa, there are many things to do, such as visiting Parliament Hill, the Byward Market, the National Gallery of Art, the ByWard Museum, the ByWard Historical Society, the Canadian War Museum, and more!

ontario getaways

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 room’s average is around $220 CAD and is clean and well maintained with most of the rooms having 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 a comfy bed. Simple is good.

Enjoy More Kingston Weekend Getaways

I can see why my colleague was raving about visiting Kingston. It’s a beautiful city…and no Toronto is not the centre of the universe… it’s 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 many stories and true Canadians with genuine Canadian friendliness.

If you’re a foodie and don’t mind making the 28-minute drive to the nearby town of Gananoque, my good friend Chris from Traveling Mitch wrote about The Best Restaurants in Gananoque, Ontario! for Ultimate Ontario. 

things to do in kingston
Image by Evi T

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Theodora

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Great tour, thanks! Is there any night sky(Dark viewing places to visit in Kingston or nearby?

Christopher Rudder

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Thanks for your comment.

Near Kingston in Lennox & Addington County and within the county the is a Dark View Area in Erinsville (part of the Stone Mills Township). Here is a link (https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/)

Have fun and tell us all about your experience :)

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