The options of things to do in the 613 are endless.
Playing tourist in my city helps me to re-appreciate where I live and the people I have met. There are so many things to do in this little city and I find it caters to nearly every type of traveller.
Whatever reason you’re visiting Kingston, you’ll find something to do!
Where To Stay
The Rosemount Inn
When choosing a place to stay in Kingston you should definitely consider a bed and breakfast in one of the stunning 19th Victorian style mansions.
I can’t mention places to stay without mentioning the newly renovated and reborn Rosemount Inn. Let me tell you, it’s the embodiment of luxury and elegance. Occupied as a boutique inn, there are 11 rooms and suites with jaw dropping amenities. There are luxuries such as fireplace rooms, walk-in showers, gourmet breakfast and so much more.
The mansion was built in 1849 by architect William Coverdale and has been an inn since 1990. Recently, The Rosemount has gone through changes including new owners Lucy and Matthew who have just completed an impressive renovation.
When we arrived, we were greeted by Lucy who had a plate of freshly baked cookies out and a pianist playing classical music in the lounge. Lucy’s energy was contagious and her warm personality made us feel like we’ve met before.
The renovation was a big undertaking considering the overhaul in creating a contemporary style inn while preserving the character of the Victorian mansion. The selection of colour combinations throughout the whole inn was one of my favourite experiences. From the choice of furniture styles and fabrics to the paint shades, the decor was one of my favourite parts of The Rosemount Inn.
Our room was located upstairs and was painted in a gorgeous shade of ochre pigment. There was also a King-sized bed with the most comfortable pillows I’ve ever laid my curly locks on. The room was equipped with modern comforts and amenities such as full-length mirrors, closets, walk-in shower, and of course your own coffee pod machine.
The next morning we were treated to a gourmet breakfast consisting of spinach frittata and a fresh fruit bowl. If you’re in the mood for extravagance, you’ll find it here at The Rosemount Inn!
Where To Eat And Drink
SanTur Brewing, Stone City Ales, Kingston Brew Pub
When you live in a city that has the highest number of restaurants per capita, it can be difficult to know where to eat. It might even be the biggest decision you’ll make while visiting! But in all seriousness, there is no shortage of options. I decided that for my staycation I was going to visit three of the six breweries in Kingston and try to pair my pints with my meals. Let’s call this the self-guided beer tour.
Kingston has always been passionate about its pints, long before craft beer was ~*cOOl*~ If you’re looking to sample different brews, then the following breweries would be perfect for that, considering how close in proximity they’re to each other.
Stone City Ales
I had the Uncharted IPA which is a West Coast style IPA. The stunningly refreshing citrus flavours of pineapple, grapefruit, and mango paired nicely with the spiciness of the pork ribs we ordered. I also had a pint of the 12 Star Session Ale which was perfect for how warm it was on the patio that day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by choices, try the 12 Star as its described as a crushable beer with tons of flavour.
I personally think SanTur was a bit of a game-changer for Kingston. Not only is their menu diverse with Iberian influence, but the owners have Portuguese, Spanish, and Finnish roots. The Brewmasters background includes German which is reflected in their beer. It’s a hodge podge that works!
SantTur is still fairly new to me so I started with a flight and then had a pint of the hoppy and flavourful Kolsch which paired nicely with the traditional grilled Piri-Piri Chicken. Before the summer ends, I’ll definitely be back to try more on the menu such as the charcuterie board and the Francesinha sandwich.
Kingston Brew Pub
Established in 1986, the Kingston Brew Company or simply ‘The Brew Pub’ is Ontario’s oldest brewpub. The pub is in an old telegraph office and is decked out inch by inch in random but wonderful beer decorations. The patio is so lovely that you’ll want to stay until the late hours when the lights are twinkling. They have nine of their own beers on tap plus a large list of Eastern Ontario guest taps.
My two favourite pints to have are the Framboise Royale, which is a raspberry wheat beer and the White Tail Lagered Ale, a slightly citrus bodied ale. Their menu will definitely have you writing off your cheat day meal. If you’re craving BBQ this is the spot in Kingston to go to! On this day I had a chopped brisket sandwich which is cooked in their in-house smoker.
The breweries here in Kingston are just as enticing as the beer itself.
If you’re interested in a deeper dive into learning about the history of craft beers and the brewery scene in Kingston, I would suggest trying the Beer and Bites Tour offered by Kingston Food Tour.
Things To Do
Kingston Food Tour
If you’re still having difficulties on where to go for food, the Kingston Food Tour helps you find your new favourite place!
With the Kingston Food Tour, you take a short walk through downtown Kingston sampling from some of the best local restaurants and speciality stores. Bring your appetite because you will be visiting seven foodie spots over the next couple of hours.
The start of our tour began at Dianne’s Fish Shack where we were welcomed with a margarita and fish taco. Next up, was Pan Chancho where we sampled freshly baked bread, summer sausage, cheese and melt in your mouth Maple Chomeur. From there, we stopped at General Brock’s Commissary for a quick history lesson and to sample jam, chutney, mustards, and shortbread. We then went to Atomica for some Donair pizza (ask for the homemade chilli sauce which adds a nice sweet heat to the pizza!) and a sample of Mackinnon Brothers Red Fox Summer Ale. Afterwards, we went to Olivea for gnocchi topped with some slow-cooked beef cheek ragu. From there, we went to The Common Market for a Spanish Cortado giving us a caffeine boost and finished the tour at Mio Gelato for some fresh strawberry gelato!
As someone who LOVES food, it’s rewarding to live in a city that has a thriving local food movement where restaurants help and support each other. Our tour guide Jess spoke so highly of this and you could feel the passion coming from her for the love of this city from its history to its future. You certainly will not regret this tour!
Nicknamed by some as the ‘Alcatraz of Ontario,’ the Kingston Penitentiary is a former maximum-security prison that after 180 years of being closed to the public, has reopened its doors to provide tours. The Kingston Pen opened its doors in 1835 and closed them in 2013. During this time, the prison was home to many infamous criminals, was visited by Charles Dickens, had its fair share of riots, and has had quite a number of masterminded escapes. Not to worry the jail cells are empty!
The tour was quite fascinating to learn about the dark history from our tour guide and being able to speak with the guards who worked in the prison. We learned about the deadly prison riot in 1971 which held 6 guards hostage, the story of inmate George Hewell from over 120 years ago who is an apparent ghost within the hallways, and Ty Conn, the not so great escape mastermind.
There’s the choice between the 90-minute tour or the extended premium tour. We took the premium tour that brought us around even more creepy areas of the prison while hearing more about its dark past. If you’ve purchased tickets to the Kingston Pen, make sure you head over to the Canadian Penitentiary Museum. Here you can learn and see even more!
The Kingston Penitentiary Tour is a must if you love all things criminology and love binge-watching crime documentaries on Netflix.
Fort Henry and The Haunted Walk of Kingston
No trip to the (past) capital of Canada is complete without a visit to Fort Henry. Constructed during the war of 1812, Fort Henry was built to protect and defend the Kingston harbour and Rideau Canal against invasion. The threat became so real that the Capital of Canada (which was Kingston at the time) had to be moved to Quebec to protect it.
Today, Fort Henry is a museum that is one of Canada’s premier historical attractions and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Fort has been restored to the 1812 time period where visitors can learn about the history with guided tours, watch military performances, and view the stunning location for photo opportnities.
We attended the Sunset Ceremony which is available during the summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It’s definitely worth the visit! The ceremony features a drill squad and artillery detachment recreating the time period using music, frills, and artillery manoeuvers. To finish the ceremony there’s a fireworks display on site.
There’s so many different tours available throughout Kingston but the Haunted Walk of Kingston is a great way to discover the erie past of the city. After the Sunset Ceremony, we stuck around for the ‘Ghost of the Fort’ walking tour. The only time I’ve been to Fort Henry at dark is in the Fall for Fort Fright where the historic site is transformed into a haunted playground with actors. In the pitch darkness, Fort Henry is quite spooky.
Touring in such a small group and listening to the multiple haunting stories on hangings and supernatural encounters gave me goosebumps! Our tour guide told us about the multiple – yes multiple spirits that roam the fort including soldiers who were stationed at Fort Henry. The most well known of spirits that have been spotted is John Gunner Smith who was a rifleman that accidently shot himself from a firearm malfunction – Ouch.
Whether it’s to learn about the historic site or get creeped out at night, Fort Henry is a must spot to check out in Kingston
Extra Places To Check Out
These are some additional places to check out that I can personally vouch for:
- Improbable Escapes – If you enjoy mystery, puzzles and creative-thinking, then this is the place for you!
- Public market – Located in the courtyard of the City Hall and full of local vendors selling fresh produce to crafts, jewellery, clothes and more.
- Lemoine’s Point – Over 300 acres of trails and fields.
- Agnes Etherington Art Gallery – Come to Kingston for the history and the culinary adventure but stay for the culture!
- Martello Alley – Kingston’s oldest stone alley displaying beautiful local artwork
- Screening Room – Independent theatre showcasing small, classical, and independent films
- Explore the nightlife – Kingston has a big local music scene with shows every night in local pubs and bars.
- Breakwater Park – Cool off from the summer heat with a dip in Lake Ontario
Whether you’re visiting Kingston for its historic attractions, a shopping spree at the local stores or munching down on all the best food, Kingston offers everything you need for a getaway. So if you’re looking to get away from the big city but still enjoy the urban city life, than Kingston is in the cards for you.