Kingston, Ontario, is a city that's truly one of a kind in Canada. It's a place where everyone can find something to their liking, whether you're a fan of the eerie and supernatural, a history buff, an art enthusiast, or a nature lover. Known as the Limestone City, Kingston boasts a stunning architectural landscape crafted from (you guessed it) limestone! It's nestled right on the edge of Lake Ontario. The city was initially settled by Europeans on Native land and transformed into a French trading post. It even held the prestigious title of being Canada's first capital. Although it didn't retain this status, Kingston remains a tranquil yet exciting historic destination that's just waiting to be explored.
Kingston's penitentiary is one of the city's more chilling sites. Established in 1834, the Kingston Penitentiary was a maximum-security prison that housed some of Canada's most infamous criminals. Since its closure in 2013, it has been repurposed into a museum. Visitors can embark on a guided tour of the grounds, delving into its origins, infamous riots, and the daily life of its inmates. It's a fascinating if somewhat eerie, journey into the past that's sure to leave you with a deeper understanding of Canada's penal history.
The Bellevue House National Historic Site is a beautifully restored property from the 1840s located in Kingston. It's most famous for being the residence of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, and his family. Bellevue House doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of Macdonald's history, instead aiming to educate visitors about his complex legacy and his impact on Canada. When you visit this historic Kingston site, you're transported back in time through a guided tour of the home and its lush gardens.
For those who love hiking and the great outdoors, the Lemoine Point Conservation Area is a must-visit. With miles of trails to explore and a beautiful waterfront to enjoy, this conservation area offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Kingston city life. Whether you're in the mood for a picnic, a stroll through the woods, or some bird watching, Lemoine Point is the perfect spot. It's so peaceful you'll forget you're just a stone's throw away from the city as you breathe in the fresh, clean air.
If you're planning a visit to Kingston, be sure to dine at Chez Piggy. This restaurant is one of the city's most popular and well-known eateries. But don't let its fame fool you into thinking it's overrated. Not only does it serve delicious and highly rated food, but it's also a historical landmark, housed in a limestone horse stable dating back to 1806. So, why not stop by and sample something from their eclectic global menu or enjoy a refreshing cocktail on the patio?
Kingston has a rich maritime history that you can explore at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes. This National Historic Site is packed with artifacts, public records, and a wealth of information about ships and shipbuilding. It features permanent galleries as well as rotating exhibits. The Marine Museum is dedicated to educating its visitors about the history that unfolded here, as well as the ecosystem and water quality of the Great Lakes.
For art lovers, Kingston's Agnes Etherington Art Centre is a must-visit. This art museum, situated on Queens University's campus, is home to thousands of paintings, including works by the likes of Rembrandt and Picasso. It also features works by Canadian artists that delve into the country's deep history and indigenous roots. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre boasts a diverse collection of art, including quilts, silver, and artifacts. They also host special talks and tours open to the public, so be sure to check out their schedule before your visit.
At the Museum of Health Care in Kingston, you can delve into the evolution of medical science in Canada over the centuries. The museum's exhibits cover a wide range of topics, from medical treatments during World War I to the history of dentures and the impact of immunizations and vaccines in Canada. As you explore the museum on a self-guided tour, you'll have the chance to check out photo galleries, antiquated medical equipment, and fascinating case studies.
Why not set sail on a Kingston 1000 Islands Cruise? On board, you'll be treated to plenty of food, drinks, and entertainment as you learn about Kingston's history and folklore. Choose from a variety of cruises, such as the Discovery Cruise, Sunset Dinner Cruise, or the Ghost and Mystery Cruise. From this unique vantage point, you'll get to see sights like Fort Henry, the Kingston Penitentiary, the Royal Military College, and more.
If you're interested in learning about the history of waterworks in Canada, the PumpHouse Museum is the place to go. Steam-powered pumps were crucial in bringing running water to Kingston. At the museum, you can delve into the timeline of events through exhibitions and the museum itself. The original pumps from 1851 are on display for visitors to see. This site is a must-visit, as only six similar pumps still exist in North America.
If you're feeling a bit tired from all the walking, why not hop on a Kingston Trolley Tour? On the City Tour, you can see Kingston's historic city center and downtown shopping area from the comfort of a vibrant red trolley. A tour guide provides commentary for a leisurely learning experience as you pass iconic sites, museums, and galleries. For a more thrilling experience, you can also enjoy the Ghost and Mystery Trolley Tour that takes off at night, delving into Kingston's spooky past.
For history and military enthusiasts, Fort Henry is a must-visit. Built after the War of 1812, Fort Henry overlooks the naval dock. Over the years, it served as an internment camp for political prisoners during World War I and eventually became defunct. From 1936 to 1938, it was restored and became a museum and historical site. Take a guided tour to enjoy the view from Point Henry while learning about military history.
If you're not afraid of a little supernatural activity, the Kingston Haunted Walk is the experience for you. Take a guided tour through Kingston's eerie streets after dark, visiting City Hall, St. George's Cathedral, and the public market, some of Kingston's oldest sites. You'll have a historical and supernatural experience as you learn about the city's dark past with only the light of a lantern to guide you.
For a more artistic and creative experience, make sure to visit the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning. This hub of artistic expression offers galleries, a performing arts center, classes, and workshops for dance, painting, weaving, and more. It's located on the beautiful waterfront, and you can grab a bite to eat at the Juniper Cafe.
To appreciate local art, you must visit Kingston's Martello Alley Art Gallery. This gallery is tucked away in a historic alleyway, with vibrant artwork adorning every corner. As you wander through, you can even see artists at work. Engage with them, ask questions, and learn about their artistic processes while enjoying the works around you. It's a relaxed and fun atmosphere where you can truly appreciate creative expression.
The Murney Tower is a must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kingston. When you arrive, you'll see a squat little tower that holds a lot of historical significance. It protected Kingston's shores and served as barracks for British soldiers. In 1925, it was converted into a museum, allowing visitors to walk the grounds, learn about military history, and experience what life was like for 19th-century soldiers and their families.