Things to Do in Kingston, Ontario

Murney Tower on Confederation Bay
Murney Tower on Kingston waterfront
Murney Tower on Confederation Bay
Murney Tower on Kingston waterfront

Kingston, Ontario may be known as a university town, but the city itself offers upscale dining and shopping, and historic buildings, which demonstrate its importance as a ┬ástrategic military post. The focal point of downtown Kingston is its magnificent Kingston Harbour, with a view of Wolfe Island in the distance. The historic Market Square is home to a Farmer’s Market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. You’ll find many upscale restaurants and boutiques on Princess Street, which runs diagonally across the downtown ending at the harbour.

Kingston Restaurants

The unpretentiously named Chez Piggy, known as the “Pig,” is one of Kingston’s finest restaurants, serving entrees such as Angry Hot Lamb Loin with citrus chutney and Memphis Pork Back Ribs with Elvis Sauce. A few blocks west on Princess Street, you’ll find the casual fine-dining bistro, Windmills, that prepares beef, chicken, fish and pasta dishes averaging $22 per entree. A popular downtown patio, the Merchant Tap House is steps from Kingston Harbour and offers 25 beers on tap.

Merchant Pub, Kingston
Merchant Tap House

Le Chien Noir at 69 Brock Street has built a reputation of quality, serving regional favourites such as Bay of Quinte Pickerel, Quebec Duck Confit and Nova Scotia Lobster Mac ‘N Cheese ranging from $24-$34. For one of the best views of Confederation Harbour, check out the recently renovated Holiday Inn Waterfront’s DOX Restaurant at 1 Princess Street for a superb breakfast. Although they no longer offer the popular weekend buffet, a la carte items now include banana waffles, stuffed French toast with cream cheese, strawberries and whipped cream, three types of eggs benny and Huevos Rancheros, eggs on black beans with tortillas and cheese. The Radisson Hotel Kingston Harbourfront, which is just west of the Holiday Inn, has a ground floor view of the harbour and offers a buffet brunch for $21.95 per person and half price for children 6 to 12.

Old Fort Henry

Step back in time to Kingston’s roots by visiting the National Historic site Old Fort Henry. This 19th century British military fortress is open for tours of its garrison cells where British soldiers were imprisoned for as long as 42 days for offences that most frequently included drunkenness. Visitors will also see the dry ditch, advanced battery, officers’ quarters, officers’ mess and the wine cellar.

Wolfe Island

Take the Wolfe Island Car Ferry from Kingston Harbour for free and discover the uncultivated Wolfe Island. The island’s Main Street defies change and reminds one of a southern U.S. town. Drive to the southwest section of the island and stop at Big Sandy Bay. The four-kilometre beach cannot be seen from the roadside; in fact, the beach is accessible only after a 1.3 km hike from the entrance. The beach is one of the most prized in the area due to its protected dunes, clear, shallow water and a variety of wildlife, and does not receive much boat traffic due to the bay’s sandy bottom. Entrance to the park is $8 per adult, with discounts for children and seniors.

If you want to take advantage of the low-traffic roads, rent a bike for $15 half-day or $30 full-day from Bill Speers at 1291 Hwy 96 in Marysville, 613-385-2240.

Wolfe Island has several B&B’s and cottages for rent overlooking Lake Ontario. Of note are the windswept Blue Horizon Bed & Breakfast overlooking the St. Lawrence River or the luxurious Wolfe Manor Bed & Breakfast where suites have poster beds, fireplaces and exposed brick walls, and the amenities include a pool, hot tub, library and billiard table. The Riverfront Golf Course boasts views of the St. Lawrence River from each of its nine holes. Before you return to Kingston, you may want to enjoy a cold drink at the Island Grill & Patio on Main Street, which is a few steps from the Wolfe Island ferry and has a spectacular view of Kingston Harbour.

Farmers Market, Market Square Kingston
Kingston Farmers’ Market
Wolfe Island Car Ferry
Wolfe Island Ferry