Kingston is a small city in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is on the north shore of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence, almost exactly halfway between Montréal and Toronto.
As the first (very short lived) capital of Canada, Kingston was originally settled in 1673 as Fort Frontenac. Today, Kingston is one of the most historic cities in Canada with numerous churches, old buildings, pictorial neighbourhoods, and 19th century fortifications. The city provide venues for nightlife such as clubbing and pubbing, and provides weekend escapes for people living in the neighboring cities of Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. There are ample historic sites and museums to visit, as well as many lively summer events.
Kingston is the home of two universities, Queen's University and Royal Military College, and one college, St. Lawrence College. Along with tourism, these educational institutes and the students they attract provide much to the city's local economy. Kingston is also the home to a number of prisons.
Kingston is fully accessible by road, air and water. There are no scheduled connections by bus, train or air to any point on the US side from Kingston, despite its proximity (50km) to Interstate 81. However, ferry by car from the United States is possible by taking Horne's Ferry (May-October) from Cape Vincent, New York state to Wolfe Island (Ontario). By driving the short distance across Wolfe Island, you can get to downtown Kingston via the free Wolfe Island Ferry.
Driving into Kingston is usually done on the Highway 401. Times from major cities are:
- Ottawa, located 1.5 hours to the northeast
- Montreal, located 3 hours to the east
- Toronto, located 2.5 hours to the west
- Syracuse, located 2 hours to the south
Buses (Coach Canada) run Toronto-Kingston-Montréal several times daily and one bus (Voyageur) visits Ottawa twice daily. Buses usually take longer from each city and will drop you off on John Counter Boulevard (a converted trucking company warehouse in an industrial park) at the north side of town. Travelers can get downtown by taxi, or by local transit (both a taxi and bus stand can be found on the bus station property, across from the Tim Horton's). By bus, the #2 Division Street travels to the downtown core every half-hour (every hour evenings and weekends).
Kingston is also served by train (Via Rail Canada). Travel times from nearby locations are as follows:
- Ottawa: 2 hours
- Dorval (Montréal-Trudeau): 2.5 hours
- Montréal: 2.75 hours
- Toronto: 2.25-2.75 hours
The station is on John Counter Boulevard at what was the western edge of town. Local city bus service to these points is limited (one bus may turn up once or twice an hour, with evening and weekend service rather limited). The best option for getting downtown from the train station is by taking a taxi, which will run you around $15. By bus, the best option is the #18 Train Station Circuit, which is timed to match most scheduled train arrivals (note that VIA trains may well run late). The #18 will deliver the traveler to the downtown core on Princess Street. The C Kingston Centre bus runs every half-hour (every hour evenings and weekends), and delivers the traveler to the Kingston Shopping Centre. From there, transfers are available to all points of the city. The fare is currently $2.25 one way.
- Norman Rogers Municipal Airport (IATA: YGK) on Front Road, in the west part of Kingston. Scheduled connections by Air Canada are to Toronto only and this tends to be the most expensive option by far. However, it may be reasonably priced if a connection is involved (e.g. you fly Vancouver to Kingston via Toronto). There are no local city buses that reach this airport.
The Rideau Canal goes from Kingston to Ottawa. Quite a few people travel it in various pleasure craft. Kingston is also the starting point of the St Lawrence River and the eastern endpoint of the Great Lakes, a strategic position which has afforded it a key military vocation since 1673.
Kingston has a number of marinas to accommodate boaters in boats of all sizes. These include
- Blue Woods Marina
- Collins Bay Marina, .
- Confederation Basin
- Kingston Marina 
- Kingston Yacht Club 
- Music Marina
- Portsmouth Olympic Harbour
- Rideau Marina 
- Treasure Island Marina
To get a general sense of where these are located, see the Marinas summary on the K7Waterfront website .
The most interesting area in Kingston for out-of-town visitors is near the downtown core of the city, which includes Queen's University and the waterfront. As such, the "best" areas of the city are better seen on foot or by bicycle.
Taxi fare from the Kingston Bus Station and Train Station are approximately $10-15 depending on the number of passengers per car as well as luggage stowage.
Public transport by Kingston Transit  buses, is reliable and clean. However, it is infrequent, running at most, once every 15 minutes or half hour, depending on the route.
- Fort Henry : Historical military structures. Visit time: 3 hours max.
- CFB Kingston: Modern military structures. Full of soldiers, including the Joint Signals Regiment (JSR), 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment, and their Communications Museum.
- Royal Military College: Historical structures and wide avenues filled with soldiers and students. Visit time: 1 hour max.
- Bellevue House: A finely-maintained Italianate villa with lush gardens which served briefly as the home of first Canadian prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald.The house and grounds have been restored to the 1840's, staffed with costumed interpreters (dressed in clothing from the 1840's). Bellevue House is a national historic site owned by Parks Canada. Bellevue (35 Centre St.) is located 1-2km west of the downtown and the university. Guided tours Visit time: 1-2 hours.
- Cataraqui River and LaSalle Causeway Bridge: Water and steel. Visit time: 15 mins max.
- Rideau Canal: Completed in 1851 as a defensive route bypassing the St Lawrence, the original stone locks and wooden gates are still manually operated by Parks Canada for small pleasure craft. Kingston Mills lock, the first of a long series ultimately extending to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, is reachable by small watercraft or by car on Kingston Mills Road, which runs between Battersea Rd (401 exit 619/Montreal St) and Hwy 15 (401 exit 623). Just far enough north of the 401 to be well into the countryside. Visit time: 45 mins max.
- Princess St and Downtown: Shops, food, and various stuffs. Visit time: 5 hours max.
- St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral: Big, very tall Roman Catholic church. The bells in this church ring LOUD. Visit time: 30 mins max.
- St. George's Anglican Cathedral: Big, very elaborate old Protestant church of architectural and historical interest. Visit time: 30 mins max.
- Murney Tower: A Martello Tower (historic military structure). Visit time: 45 mins.
- Kingston Penitentiary: One of Kingston's most famous institutions. One time home of notables such as Clifford Olsen and Paul Bernardo, people would kill (and have killed) to get in for well over a century. The Penitentiary Museum (located directly north of the jail on King St at Sir John A MacDonald Blvd) is open to visitors, as is the Olympic Harbour marina (adjacent to the jail) which served as home of the sailing events for the 1976 Summer Olympic games. Visit time: 2 years to life. If 'just visiting', allow a little over an hour to tour the museum.
- Queen's University: Another of Kingston's most famous institutions. Many limestone buildings with ivy and students.
- Art Galleries: Queen's has two art galleries: the student run Union Gallery  in Stauffer Library, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre .
- Beamish-Munro Hall : For kids who are interested in how buildings are made, the Integrated Learning Centre, or Beamish-Munro Hall may be worth a visit. This building is the new centre of Applied Science (Engineering) at Queens. This 'live building' was designed to allow people to see how the building works and interact with it.
- Miller Museum of Geology : This is a fairly small museum, but is still interesting. Call ahead for tours.
- The Museum of Health Care at Kingston : A tiny museum with exhibits (and quite a lot of artifacts) related to the history of medicine. It co-sponsors a walking tour on the history of KGH for $5, but the museum itself is free. Usually not busy, since it's small and hard to find. Visit time: Depends on your level of interest in the subject -- two hours if you're really into the museum and you take the tour.
- Waterfront: Kingston has a lively waterfront that, depending on the day, may afford opportunities to partake.
- Thousand Island Cruise: There are boats that leave from Kingston and go downstream on the St. Lawrence river and around the Thousand Islands. The round-trip is about 3 hours. If you have a car it is better to get on the boat tours that leave from the nearby town of Gananoque, about 20 minutes northeast of Kingston, because you get to see more.
- Heritage Cruise Lines: The small cruise ship MV Georgian Clipper offers 4-night, 5-day cruises from June to October in Lake Ontario, the 1000 Islands and St. Lawrence Seaway. The small cruise experience gets you up close and personal with the Islands, while providing interesting shore excursions throughout the area and luxurious dining and accommodations.
- Market Square: In 2005 the city built a new outdoor skating rink in Market Square. It's refrigerated, and the surface is conditioned by a Zamboni every couple of hours, so the surface is more regular than other outdoor rinks in the area. Hockey sticks are not allowed on this rink.
- City Park (just west of downtown): Although the surface isn't as regularly conditioned as Market Square, this the place to go if you want to play hockey, since hockey isn't allowed on the Market Square rink.
- Water Sports
- Kingston is considered to have some of the best freshwater sailing in the world, and hosted the sailing events for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
- Wind-surfing and kite-boarding are also popular.
- Scuba Diving, Kingston is considered to have the most and best fresh water wrecks in the world.
The city also hosts events in summer and fall such as the Jazz Festival, Blues Festival , and Buskers' Rendezvous.
- City Hall Tour, Ontario Street (across from tourist centre). 10-4. Enjoy free 45 minute guided tour of historic city hall Mon. to Sat. May to October. Free!. edit
- Cooke's Fine Foods on Brock St. near the intersection of King St. is an "old world" style shop that specialize in fine English and European sweets, sauces, preserves, and cheeses. The store also roast their own coffee on a daily basis, and sells it at around $9 a pound. Premium quality gift baskets are also sold.
- The Farmer's Market on Market Square happens every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday throughout the year. Summer is the peak time for the market, although there are a few devoted folks who will be out through the winter. In the summer, you can buy fresh local produce as well as baked and preserved goods, local art and clothing. Buy your maple syrup here, since it will be much cheaper than at the tourist traps, and you'll get to talk to the person who tapped it.
- The Antique Market (same location as Farmer's Market) happens on Sundays during the summer.
- Personally Guided Tours of Historic Kingston, (firstname.lastname@example.org), ☎ 613 389 465. Specialists in Step-on-Guide services for visiting bus tours. Sit back, relax and let the mature guides show you the sights in Canada's First Capital City! edit
- Cornerstone Contemporaray Canadian Craft and Inuit Art, 255 Ontario Street (On corner of Princess St), ☎ 613-546-7967, . All work shown at Cornerstone is sold with the government of Canada label of authenticity and card with the artist’s name and community. Cornerstone features carvings of Nunavut done in stone, whalebone and caribou antler. There is a good selection of prints from the workshops in Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung. Cornerstone also features the prints of Germaine Arnatauyok. Wallhangings and dolls from the Arviat / Baker Lake region made of wool duffel, and occasionally adorned with beadwork or caribou hide, are also available. edit
Kingston has one of the highest restaurants per capita of any city in Canada, with restaurants to fit anyone's budget.
- Antique Alley, 207B Wellington Street. Kingston's largest downtown multi-dealer antique shop with 8 vendors and over 4000 sq ft of antiques and collectibles. Open 7 days, 10am to 4pm. edit
- Peter's Place, On Princess right above ontario, across from the Smith-Robinson building. Serves Greek and Canadian cuisine, and is well-known for it's breakfasts, which are very inexpensive.
- Famous King Restaurant, on Princess and Chatham street (505 Princess St.), provides Middle Eastern cuisine that is relatively cheap, filling and tasty-
- Golden Viet Thai, located on Wellington Street between Princess and Queen has an excellent and cheap Thai menu. You can easily have a full meal for under 8$ and every entree comes with a free dessert of tapioca pudding. It's an Asian version though so be prepared! Expect the dishes to have a slight Chinese slant, in key with the decorations.
- Golden Rooster Delicatessen on Princess St. near Wellington, is a very popular deli. They can be particularly busy during lunch time on weekdays, but take a number and get in line because it's worth the wait! They offer many Danish and Dutch options and have an extensive cheese and meat selection.
- Mekong, located on Princess Street near Division, serves excellent Vietnamese food. It is cheap and fast and is particularly known for its Avocado shakes.
- Wok In is in a tiny store front on Montreal St., just east of Princess St. It serves excellent quality, well-priced Thai and Cambodian food. It is run by a husband and wife and is usually busy. The #1 is a favourite on the menu and a good bet to try.
- Saigon Delights is a Vietnamese restaurant with two locations, one on Division north of Queen and one on Wellingston just off Princess Street. Most meals are under $7. It is known for it's Pho and Bun.
- The Toucan/Kirkpatricks is a great Irish pub located downtown on Princess St between Wellington and King streets. The upstairs portion in Kirkpatricks, downstairs is the Toucan. The place as a whole is usually referred to as The Toucan though. They offer nightly specials, live music on Mondays after 10, and plenty of cold beer on tap! Be sure to try the nachos with layered cheese (1/2 price on Wednesdays), the wings, or the sweet potato fries. Cash or credit only, but they do have an ATM.
- Royal Angkor is a Cambodian restaurant at 523 Princess Street (between Chatham and Alfred). They serve fantastic dishes, including various vegetarian options. The red curry chicken is a good starter dish if you've never had Cambodian food before.
- Cambodiana on Brock St. right across from Hotel Dieu Hospital. Used to be some of the best Thai/Cambodian food in Southern Ontario before the owners of this establishment sold it to others proprietors. To follow the original owner/chef and his food, go to Pat's Restaurant.
- Lone Star Cafe on the waterfront downtown. At Lone Star, they're all about the big, bold tastes of Texas, from their fajitas to their mesquite grilled steaks and ribs to authentic Tex-Mex specialties.
- White Mountain Homemade Ice Cream serves quality ice-cream that is a tad pricy, but truly is one of the best home made ice creams you will ever taste. The store provides a large variety of ice cream flavours that are served on store-made waffle cones. Avoid the "large" size cones as they are impossible to finish even halfway. Closed in winter.
- Wooden Heads and Atomica specialize in pizzas made in wood fire brick ovens. The focus of these restaurants are more on the waitresses and less on the food, though the latter is not too bad at either place. Wooden Heads Located on Ontario St., Atomica located on Brock St.
- Ta-Ke Sushi on Bagot and Princess is well known locally for its Korean/Japanese food. It's one of best places for sushi in Kingston. Excellent lunch bento boxes and blue mountain maki, great atmosphere.
- Copper Penny has a cozy atmosphere and is great for lunch (wraps, sandwiches, gourmet burgers) or dinner (pastas and pizzas). Lunch is usually under $10, with the pastas averaging around $13/person. It is known for its French onion soup, gigantic wraps, and homemade pesto. The service is always friendly. Go early as this restaurant does not take reservations.
- Tango is a lounge known for its food as much as its martini list. Its specialities are its salads, sandwiches, and sweet potato fries. It has a full tapas menu, which is 40% off on Sunday and Monday evenings with the purchase of a drink (does not have to be alcoholic). On those nights, groups of 4-6 can eat for $6-7/person + drinks. Enjoy some chill DJ music on Friday nights after 11.
- Windmills is a more upscale restaurant where you will find mixed greens rather than iceberg lettuce! It's still reasonably priced and tends to have some creative options on the daily specials menu. Located downtown on Princess St between Montreal St and Bagot St. They also offer catering.
- Harper's Burger Bar is a licensed gourmet burger joint on Princess near Wellington. The meat is sustainably raised and a number of veg options are also available. A selection of microbrews and off the beaten path wines are served, as well as shakes and beer floats. Burgers range from about $7-12.
- Chez Piggy  is hidden inside the same block as Chien Noir. It has a reputation for serving good food. Quality of service is dependent on the extravagance of one's meal, as well as whether wine or water is ordered as one's primary drink.
- Le Chien Noir  located on Brock Street between King St. and Wellington St. and provides good French cuisine. Reserve since seating is limited.
- Pan Chancho  near the intersection of Princess and King St. Good for a quick bistro style lunch. Sells the best Italian and French style breads in Kingston. The bakery to Chez Piggy. Has an all day breakfast on weekends. Also has a take-out area selling sandwiches, salads, pre-cooked dinners, and pastries.
- Casa Domenico is located on Brock St., near Ontario St. It serves excellent quality Italian food, and has consistently good service. The wine list is also quite good.
- The River Mill  offers delicious contemporary cuisine, and has a great wine list.
- The Sleepless Goat ("The Goat")  is a worker's co-operative. Quite famous for their desserts, the goat serves coffees and teas, and a range of vegan / vegetarian foods. It is an alternative culture hangout. Located on Princess St near the intersection with Wellington St. Customer service can be slow at times, but the staff is amazing. Music and house blend "Dr. Joe" coffee are both very good. Free WiFi, but electrical outlets are limited to the front of the café.
- Coffee and Company sells espresso, coffees, and good teas prepared for loose leaves. A common student study hangout located downtown.
- Starbucks at Wellington and Princess. A common student study hangout for those not concerned with politics. This Starbucks was vandalized three times (paint is still visible on canopy above the door) before police put cameras on nearby buildings. Service is good. In direct competition with "The Goat", which is a few doors down the street.
- Tim Hortons can be found throughout the city.
- Country Style has two locations: west on Bath Road (Hwy. 33), and corner of John Counter Blvd. (formerly Elliot Avenue) and Montreal St. in the north end, right next to the Community Spirit Bingo Hall.
There is a relatively healthy pub scene in Kingston with many high quality establishments. All pubs in Kingston are non-smoking.
- Kingston Brewing Company (KBC) is on Clarence St. near the intersection of Ontario St. As implied by its name, this pub brews its own beer and offers many seasonal beers. Notable brews from KBC include White Tail, Dragon's Breath, and the pub's own apple cider. KBC also offers beers from other companies, including Guinness, and other well known brands. They have a monthly "Brewer's Whim" which is usually a Canadian microbrew.
- Tir Nan'Og and Old Speckled Hen are two joint pubs located in the Prince George Hotel. The pubs' differ in decor and specialize in beers and whiskies from Ireland and Britain, respectively. The Prince George Hotel is currently closed for renovations.
- The Toucan  is another Irish pub. There is a selection of domestic and imported draught to choose from. There are two different bars, and an elevated area overlooking the upstairs bar. Seasonally, there is also a covered patio in a quaint limestone courtyard. The food is standard pub fair. The $2.99 breakfast is the best value in Kingston.
The area near the downtown waterfront is the most favourable location (as many but not all activities are within walking distance) but also the most expensive by far. Accommodations range from large chain hotels with full facilities (Holiday Inn, Radisson, Sheraton, Marriott) and smaller historic properties, such as the Hotel Belvedere, to a niche market of small but upscale bed-and-breakfast style inns. There is plenty of good accommodation to be had in the downtown and waterfront area if one is willing to pay top dollar.
The Plaza Hotel on Montreal St, as home of Kingston's only remaining stripper bar, is best avoided for accommodations as the area does attract certain undesirable elements.
Fort Henry Motel located on Highway 2 East, close to RMC and CFB kingston, From down town 5 min's drive. Clean rooms, friendly staff, clean sheets, with showers, free local phone and WI FI and very reasonable rates and friendly staff, it is worth checking out. There is a MC Donald's close by for breakfast.
West of downtown
Kingston's downtown area runs from the waterfront at Ontario Street one mile west/northwest to Division Street. The majority of upscale properties are in the lower (easternmost) part of downtown, near the waterfront area. Continue westward into the land of the endless used-car lots and the choices initally are limited and disappointing at best. A few of these properties (such as Howard Johnson and Super 8) have had to ban all visitors after 11PM or 12PM due to problems caused by the local riff-raff, others (such as The Knight's Inn) turn a blind eye and let them run rampant. Best to give this a miss if at all possible.
Continue further westward and there are a few hotels of better standing, starting with the Peachtree and the Best Western fireside inn among a few serving an otherwise awkwardly-located train station west/northwest of the city. The largest of these hotels is the Ambassador convention centre, which offers extensive indoor athletic and recreational facilities. Others in this immediate area include a Comfort Inn (no restaurant on site) and the Lasalle (a Travelodge with full hotel facilities).
Continue further west and the selection is dominated by motels, many of them independent or low-end properties.
Near the highway
If you stick near the 401, and it may not make sense to do so if you want to see Kingston itself, your choices are adequate but limited. Kingston was built around the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River waterfront and around Princess Street (old Highway 2, as the main street in town). Unlike London, where newer development has grown around the newer highway, Highway 401 in Kingston pulls well too far north of the local urbanized area in order to cross the Rideau Canal near Kingston Mills, effectively bypassing the city entirely.
There are a few moderately-priced chains (Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Comfort Inn, FirstCanada Inns) located amongst the endless fast-food emporiums at Division & 401 (exit 617) but nothing uniquely Kingstonian to see in this part of town. To the west is industrial park, to the east housing projects. A new outlet shopping centre is being constructed in this area.
Along the 401 in the west end of the city is a new Motel 6 hotel.
- Comfort Inn Kingston 401 , 55 Warne Crecent (@ Division Street Exit #617). This convenient location offers easy access to all major attractions in the region including: Fort Henry, Thousand Island Boat Tours, Murney Tower, Thousand Island Parkway, 1000 Charity Casino, Queen's University and Royal Military College.
- Fort Henry motel Kingston 401 and Hwy 15 exit
Fort Henry Motel located on Highway 2 East, close to RMC and CFB Kingston, From down town 5 min's drive. Clean rooms, friendly staff, clean sheets, with showers, free local phone and WI FI and very reasonable rates and friendly staff, it is worth checking out. There is a MC Donald's close by for breakfast.
- Midway Country Motel , 3206 Highway 2, Barriefield (401 exit 632). Five-room motel and cabins on Hwy 2 between Joyceville and Middle Roads. In-ground pool, colour TV, near Grass Creek Park and St. Lawrence River. A home away from home when visiting Fort Henry, the 1000 Islands and the Kingston-Gananoque area.
West of the city
There are several low-priced (or at least under-$100) motels on the old Highway 2 as it comes in from the west of the city, but the choices do seem to be limited to the low-end of the market with many small independent operators. Almost all of these stretch out along the one road, continuing well into suburbia.
- Comfort Inn Kingston Midtown , 1454 Princess St.(Hwy. 2). This convenient location is only 5 min from downtown and resides on highway #2 which provides a very scenic and historic alternative to highway #401.
East of the city
Kingston is separated from CFB Kingston and Old Fort Henry in the east by the Cataraqui River and Rideau Canal. The city itself is west. There are a few small motels along the old 2 and 15 highways intended primarily to serve visitors to the Fort, but these tend to be low-end in price and quality.
- Fort Henry Motel at 848 Highway 2 East , close to RMC & CFB and 5 min's to down town.
Located on Highway 2 East, close to RMC and CFB Kingston, From down town 5 min's drive. Clean rooms, friendly staff, clean sheets, with showers, free local phone and WI FI and very reasonable rates and friendly staff, it is worth checking out. There is a MC Donald's close by for breakfast.
Continue 30 km further east into Gananoque, a town of just over 5000 people near the centre of the Thousand Islands region, and a wider selection (ranging from small B&B's to hotel/motel chains) becomes available.
- Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area: This conservation area is north of the 401, so you'll need a car (or bike) to get there from downtown. There is a small fee to enter the park. In the summer, you can go hiking, canoeing or kayaking. In the winter, you can go snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or skate on the pond. They offer rentals and lessons for many of these activities.
- Wolfe Island, . Ferries  from Kingston to Wolfe island are free and run hourly. Cycling on Wolfe Island is much less hectic than in Kingston proper. George Pyke's Strawberry farm is a good destination (~25 km round trip from ferry) in late June, and can easily make for a day long trip. Contra dancing happens regularly throughout the year either at Wolfe Island town hall, or some Kingston location.
- Fruition Berry Farm, . Kingston's favourite strawberry farm is just off Hwy 15 (at Hughes Road) just five miles north of the 401. Open from June to October, weather and crop conditions permitting, Fruition Berry Farm offers pick-your-own Strawberries, Raspberries, Peas, Beans and fall Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch! Enjoy a picnic, nature walk or childrens' playground in a beautiful country setting.
- Frontenac Provincial Park is just 30 minutes drive from Kingston central and provides opportunities for walking and picnicking.
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