20 Best Things To Do In Kingston, Ontario, Canada - Updated 2024

20 Best Things To Do In Kingston, Ontario, Canada - Updated 2024
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The city of Kingston is located on Lake Ontario, at the beginning of the Cataraqui and St. Lawrence Rivers. It is referred to as “Limestone City” owing to the fairly large number of grand historic buildings built from limestone, one main one being the lakeside Kingston City Hall. Apart from colonial-era buildings, Kingston also offers high-end antique stores and a vibrant downtown with a wide range of charming restaurants and pubs serving delicious foods and seasonal cocktails. It features gift shops, boutique shops, and renowned sites as well. Planning a short trip over the weekend? Be sure to check out the best hotels with a pool for your accommodations. There are several vacation rentals as well if you would prefer a homey stay. In the meantime, continue reading to learn about the best things to do in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

1. Stroll through the historic and beautiful Queen's University campus

Kingston Transit on Queen's University campus
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user GHN83613 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the best places to visit in Kingston, the picturesque Queen’s University campus beckons as a hidden gem for a delightful day of exploration. Steeped in a rich heritage dating back to 1841, this distinguished institution boasts a campus that seamlessly blends academic excellence with natural beauty. A stroll through the lush campus dotted with elegant limestone buildings will transport you to a bygone era.

The grandeur of Grant Hall, with its stunning Victorian Romanesque architecture, adds an air of regality to the surroundings. Take a leisurely walk along Lake Ontario’s shoreline, where the serene waters provide a tranquil backdrop to the campus’s historic charm. The cultural events and campus tours offered here also add to the memorable experience.

Queen's University

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

Website: Queen’s University

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2. Visit Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning

For those in search of a unique and inspiring day of sightseeing in Kingston, Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning is an exceptional alternative destination. Housed in a beautifully restored heritage building along the waterfront, it is a cultural hub that invites visitors to explore their artistic and intellectual passions. Here, you can embark on a creative journey through various studios, galleries, and workshops, where local artists and artisans breathe life into their crafts.

From pottery and painting to music and dance, the center’s vibrant community fosters a culture of artistic exploration. You can even partake in a variety of workshops to try your hand at new skills.

Tett Centre

Address: 370 King Street West, Kingston ON K7L 2X4

Website: Tett Centre

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 8am - 9pm; Sun: 9am - 5pm

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3. Get in touch with nature at Lemoine Point Conservation Area

Lemoine-Point-Conservation-Area marshy-shore-2008jul27
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user SoftwareSimian used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Reconnect with nature when you visit Lemoine Point Conservation Area, one of the best tourist attractions in Kingston. Spanning 136 hectares (336 acres), Lemoine Point Conservation Area is perfect for family trips as it offers lots of outdoor recreational opportunities, picnic areas, and barbecue facilities. In addition to green spaces, there are wonderful trails where you can enjoy a peaceful hike. After exploring the trails, you can head to the lookout, which is just within walking distance, for some stunning water views. With a beautiful sandy area, activities such as swimming and fishing on a beach day are also possible here.

Lemoine Point Conservation Area

Address: 1440 Coverdale Dr, Kingston, ON, Canada

Website: Lemoine Point Conservation Area

Opening hours: 7:30am - 8pm (daily)

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4. Visit Lake Ontario Park

Lake Ontario Park - Kingston ON
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user P199 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Lake Ontario Park is Kingston’s largest urban waterfront park. After a lot of renovation, it was opened once again for the public a few years back. It offers a noteworthy natural landscape that attracts both residents as well as visitors for picnicking and walking along the waterfront. The park is open every day of the week from 8 am until dusk.

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5. Marvel at Kingston City Hall

Kingston on city hall edit
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kingston_on_city_... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Kingston’s City Hall is a national historic site and remains the city’s administration and governing center. Kingston City Hall is one of the best 19th-century buildings in Canada and is a nationally-nominated heritage site. The City Hall is visited by several thousand tourists as well as local citizens every year. The City Hall, apart from housing banks and governments also contains the body of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada. The City Hall is open on weekdays from 8.30 am until 4.30 pm to visitors.

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6. Check out Murney Tower

Murney Tower Museum
Source: Photo by Flickr user haven't the sligh... used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Murney Tower is a Martello tower and small defensive fort that was built in the 19th century throughout the British Empire. The construction of this tower dates back to 1846, built for the Oregon crisis (a border dispute). It was officially named Murray Tower, but the locals referred to it as Murney Tower since it was built on Murney Point. The name was eventually changed to match the local usage. This 19th-century tower makes for a nice short visit. The tower is open to the public from 10 am to 5 pm on all days of the year.

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7. See Fort Frederick

DSC00328 Tower at Royal Military College.
Source: Photo by Flickr user Dennis Jarvis used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fort Frederick is an important military building that is located on Point Frederick and situated on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston. The construction of this building also dates back to 1846, constructed during the Oregon boundary clash (Oregon crisis). The RMC museum that is housed in the Fort Frederick Martello Tower is a National Historic Site and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museum tells the story of the oldest military college in Canada.

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8. Head to the Penitentiary Museum

Kingston Ontario ~ Canada ~ Kingston Penitentiary ~ National Historic Site
Source: Photo by Flickr user Onasill ~ Bill - ... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Kingston Penitentiary is actually a former maximum security prison that is located in Kingston, near Lake Ontario. The museum is closed from November to January. You can visit Kingston Penitentiary by appointment from February to April, and from May until October. The museum is open on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm. Timings in Kingston Penitentiary are slightly different from June to September, with extended evening opening times. Instead of entry fees. donations are accepted in Kingston Penitentiary.

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9. Spend a relaxing time at Kingston Waterfront

Kingston Waterfront
Source: iStock

If you are looking for a fun walk that has a variety of views, the Kingston Waterfront is the place to go. Visitors say it is truly worth the time spent there. This place is highly recommended for families with young children. You can easily burn your energy and also have great fun at the same time as a family. When you’re not shopping for amazing gifts, you can try local eats and munch on some delicious food. Apart from this, being a waterfront, you can expect to see some boats, walk along the shore, or walk or bike along the pathway at the waterfront.

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10. Visit Bellevue House

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Illustratedjc used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Bellevue House is yet another National Historic Site of Canada. It was home to Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, from 1848 until 1849. It is noteworthy for its Italian Villa style of architecture, a non-symmetrical style at that. Bellevue House is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and open on the rest of the days of the week from 10am to 5pm. The entry fee is 3.90 CAD (approximately 3.00 USD) per adult. If interested, you could also choose to take the guided tours that are available on weekends.

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11. Ride along Kingston Mills / Rideau Canal (from USD 36.0)

Kingston Mills were built as a result of a series of falls on the Cataraqui River. The British built a grist mill and a sawmill to help the new settlers in that region. Kingston Mills is located at the southernmost end; it is one of the 24 lock stations of the Rideau Canal. You can camp here; an entry fee of 4.90 CAD per head (approximately 4.00 USD) is charged if you wish to camp here in groups.

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1.5-Hour Rideau Canal Cruise with Live Commentary in Ottawa

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

657 reviews

12. Stop by the Cathedral of St Mary

St. Mary's Cathedral, Kingston ON (2010-Apr-14)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user SoftwareSimian used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Cathedral of St Mary is a Roman Catholic cathedral. It was extensively renovated some years back, and today it stands in its fully restored glory. The church is open every day, with masses held at various times; you can check the timings on their website.

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13. Go bird-watching at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area

Little Cataraqui Creek
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user P199 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Explore some authentic local wildlife at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area! Featuring a stunning array of local, natural sights and sounds, many of them indigenous to the region itself, the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area is your effective introduction to the wonders of lush, Ontario life. No matter the season, there’s always a wonderful series of recreational opportunities in which to partake, from cross-country skiing in the winter, to kayaking and canoeing in the summer, to hiking through easy paths characterized by crisp leaves in the fall!

The entire conservation area is laid out in a visitor-friendly structure, typified by frequent bridges, green spaces, and photo opportunities! The area is set well within the city limits, so you’re not going to have to travel far from the center of town to get in on this unique shade of natural rejuvenation. Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area is also one of the ideal Ontario locations for bird watching! Catch a sensational variety of local aviation, from chickadees to robins to blackbirds to Canadian geese!

Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area

Address: 1641 Perth Road, Glenburnie, ON [no name], Canada

Website: Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area

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14. Check out the displays at Military Communications and Electronics Museum

Source: Photo by Flickr user cygk used under CC BY 2.0

The Military Communications and Electronics Museum is a military signals museum located in Kingston, Ontario. Lonely Planet describes this museum as a “comprehensive and well-designed museum offering chronological displays on communications technology and sundry military gadgets”. This museum traces the development of military communications from 1903 through the World Wars, during various other war times and peace-keeping missions right up till today, the era of communication satellites. The museum is highly recommended for people of all ages.

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15. Shop unique products at Memorial Centre Farmers' Market

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

You’re in for a delicious treat when it comes to the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market! A wonderful synthesis of sights and sounds, together with some of the finest tasting ingredients to be found in the immediate and extended Ontario area, are yours for the taking at the farmers’ market. Proving equal parts a recreational, outdoor walking experience and an effective introduction to some authentic Ontario culture and cuisine alike, the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market easily succeeds in delivering the best of that which was grown locally, right to your doorstep!

The Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market is set near the center of town, so it’s indeed a short journey to the beginning of the market itself. Locals love picking up a bite to eat at any one of the local eateries, before venturing through the picturesque streets, and discovering the constantly changing flavors and natural offerings of the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market. A bevy of top-tier flavors is available for your sampling, including the market’s famed giant pretzels, as well as their locally harvested carrots, apples, and preserves! You’ll find yourself the privileged guest of a constantly shifting portfolio of booths, each a respectively different local flavor or offering, each facilitated by a friendly local, willing to answer all of your questions! If you’re looking to kill time in Ontario, or if you’re looking to finish off a recipe with that ideal, locally grown ingredient, there isn’t an easier way to elevate a dish of an afternoon than the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market!

Memorial Centre Farmers' Market

Address: 484 Albert St, Kingston, ON K7K 1R7, Canada

Website: Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market

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16. Catch a show at Opera at The Grand Theatre

Switchfoot in Kingston
Source: Photo by Flickr user Tom Hodgins used under CC BY 2.0

Those who are children of the theatre and are certified thespians have got to find their way to see a show at the Grand Theatre on Princess Street, Kingston. This Ontario landmark has staged several iconic productions throughout the years and is a great place to experience and see culture and art firsthand. Some of the current productions on right now include Beethoven 5 & Tchaikovsky, the National Ballet Theatre of Odessa: Romeo and Juliet, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. The Grand Theatre hosts some of the finest artists from all over Kingston and of course the world. From ballet, modern dance, and orchestras to musicals and comedy shows, this local theatre is an avenue for a great Kingston experience. Grab the opportunity to see stunning local talent come to life and bask in the beauty of each production firsthand while supporting the arts in the process.

Opera at The Grand Theatre

Address: 218 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B2, Canada

Website: Opera at the Grand Theatre

Opening hours:12pm to 6pm, Mon-Sat

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17. Check out the art scene at Agnes Etherington Art Centre

Agnes Etherington Art Centre Winter
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user KingstonianW used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Kingston is filled with a bustling art scene and with many local students and amateur artists showcasing their work, here and there, there’s definitely space for people to come to take a look. There’s a huge interest in budding artists in Kingston and thanks to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, more educational institutions are likely to boost the morale behind the art in Kingston. Located on the Queens University campus, this art center takes a deep dive into what art and research can do together as a concept. The art center highlights traditional artistic techniques and boosts the innovative vision of many up-and-coming artists seen in the university’s students. Several exhibitions and galleries are plagued with a whopping 16,000 works which have a mix of contemporary art, historical art from The Bader Collection, the Lang Collection, and even 200 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. What’s even better is that visiting this museum is one of the free things to do in Kingston. Indeed, this one’s for the art enthusiasts, you won’t want to keep this off your itinerary.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre

Address: Queens University, University Ave & Bader Ln, Kingston, ON K7L 2V9, Canada

Website: Agnes Etherington Art Centre

Opening hours: 10am-4:30pm, Tues-Fri; 1-5pm, Sat-Sun,

Price: free admission

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18. Kingston Axe Throwing

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Axe throwing is a favorite among the locals, and Kingston Axe Throwing is definitely the place to visit in Kingston when you want to let some rage out, it’s an institution that has an accumulated experience of about 60 years in the coaching and throwing business. Kingston Axe Throwing is a sure bet for those who wish to experience something more interactive and unique when in Ontario. It’s open for drop-in visits and also available for parties and events, which starts at 29.99 CAD per person(approximately 23.8 USD) plus HST on Mondays and Wednesday nights for walk-ins. For parties and events, rates start at 44.99 CAD per head(approximately 35.7 USD) and have additional catering services along with the coaching and tournament to be reserved a week prior. For those who are uber-competitive, there’s the league at 130 CAD per head(approximately 103.4 USD) which happens once a week with coaching and requires attendees to sign up a month prior.

Kingston Axe Throwing

Address: 785 Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard, Unit 7J, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Website: Kingston Axe Throwing

Opening hours: 9 am to 11 pm, Mon & Wed

Price: 29.99 CAD(approximately 23.8)

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19. Go on a haunted walking tour of Fort Henry National Historic Site (from USD 23.0)

One great way to learn more about Kingston is through its eerie and chilling history - and there’s no better way to do so than through a haunted walking tour. Whether you’re a fan of the paranormal or just looking for a unique activity, then this tour is definitely for you. Lasting about 90 minutes, the tour is hosted by a well-versed local who will guide you and your friends along some of the spookiest spots of Fort Henry National Historic Site. Be sure to bring a camera and some friends if you’re not up to going alone. Venture along the picturesque streets of this site and slip into its rich past - this is truly a thing you must not miss when in Kingston, Ontario.

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The Haunted Walk Experience at Fort Henry National Historic Site

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

2 reviews

20. Join a mushroom and wild edibles hike (from USD 50.0)

Who would have thought that mushrooms could be so interesting? One of the most unique and best things to do in Kingston, Ontario, Canada is this Mushroom & Wild Edibles Hike. Truly a one-of-a-kind experience, this workshop lasted for about four hours. Hosted by Ruthie, a known expert in the field of mushrooms and wild indigenous edibles, this activity teaches you nearly everything you need to know about mushrooms. Not only do you get to enjoy a wonderful hike and green spaces, but you also learn the unexpectedly necessary skill of foraging. Make sure to dress appropriately for the weather, and bring some refreshments - this experience, however, also includes a light snack that you can enjoy during the mid-hike picnic.

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Mushroom & Wild Edibles Hike

Duration: 4 hours

193 reviews

How to get around Kingston

Should you plan on using public transport to get around Kingston during your holiday, here are a few options that you would find useful!

1. Kingston Transit

What is it? It is a bus service that travels within the urban area of Kingston.

Fares: 3 CAD (2.30 USD) per adult, free for children below 14

Website: Kingston Transit

2. Kingston Trolley Tours

What is it? It is a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Kingston’s historic old town and shopping district. During summer, the trolley would stop at six of the most renowned attractions in Kingston, including Fort Henry and the Kingston Penitentiary.

Fares: 32 CAD (24 USD) for an adult day pass, 21 CAD (16 USD) for a child day pass

Website: Kingston Trolley Tours

3. Ferries

What is it? Should you wish to explore the gorgeous Wolfe Island, a ferry would be the only way to get there.

Fares: It is free of charge.

Website: Ferry services

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Things You Must Do In Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Source: Trip101

History buffs and fans of nature should visit!

As you can see from the above list, Kingston is filled with history. It ensures that the important history of Canada is conserved and passed on to future generations. There’s interesting architecture to admire, peaceful parks that are perfect for relaxing, and plenty of sights and activities in Kingston. Amazing places to stay such as hotels with a hot tub, are available as well. Should you decide to get away to Kingston for the weekend, you can book one of the short-term rentals as well. So, what are you waiting for? Plan your visit to Kingston, Ontario, Canada, now!

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History-lovers and fans of nature should visit!

As you can see from the above list, Kingston is filled with history. It ensures that the important history of Canada is conserved and passed on to future generations. There’s interesting architecture to admire, peaceful parks that are perfect for relaxing, and sights and activities aplenty. Plan your visit to Kingston, Ontario, Canada!

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Kingston, Ontario

1. What are the top attractions to visit in Kingston?

Kingston boasts numerous attractions, from historical sites to museums and natural wonders. But if you’re looking for the best attractions here, the list of top must-visits should include Kingston Penitentiary, Bellevue House, Kingston City Hall, and Kingston Waterfront.

2. What are the most popular things to do with kids in Kingston?

Some of the most popular ways to keep little ones entertained in Kingston include visiting Lake Ontario Park and letting your children have fun at the playground or the water pad, biking along the Kingston Waterfront or have a picnic and watch boats come and go, and go camping at the Kingston Mills / Rideau Canal.

3. What are the best outdoor activities in Kingston?

Kingston offers numerous outdoor activities, including picnicking at Lake Ontario Park, strolling around Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market, biking at Kingston Waterfront, and camping and boating at Kingston Mills/ Rideau Canal.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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