K-Town (Kingston, Ontario)

When you tire of rural delights and ‘cottage life’, Kingston has a lot to offer. Here are some of the options for a day out in the Limestone City.

Start the day with brunch

Our current favourite brunch spot, Northside espresso + kitchen,  is actually inspired by the Melbourne cafe culture. So strictly speaking it’s not a classic Canadian brunch but it’s so gooood!

Brunch at Northside Espresso and Kitchen

Other options include Toast & Jam, Pan Chancho (I tend to find their food sits a bit heavy), Le Chien Noir or Aquaterra  – we’ve eaten dinner but not brunch at these last two.

Heritage and History

One of the best ways to get an overview of Kingston is to pick up the Trolley Tour. This is fun and informative and offers the option of hopping off to see some of the key sites depending on your interests. These include:

There is also the possibility of buying the K-Pass, which covers a number of attractions, the Trolley Tour and a Kingston 1000 Islands Cruise. This possibly works better for people who are spending a couple of days in the city than a day visitor.

If you happen to be visiting on a Wednesday in the summer months, the Sunset Ceremony is a great way to experience Fort Henry. And during the winter for the last two years they have had the delightful Lumina Borealis.

Downtown

By Canadian standards, Kingston is an ‘old’ city, and it definitely has something of an old-world feel. Its City Hall is considered one of the finest nineteenth century buildings in Canada – guided tours are sometimes available.

Behind it, Springer Market Square is the heart of the city.  The Kingston Public Market is the oldest market in Ontario and has been providing food and a sense of community to residents of Kingston since 1801 (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, April to November).  In the summer, Thursday is movie night in the square. In the winter it transforms into a picturesque skating rink.

There are some lovely buildings throughout this area. You can meander randomly through the streets or perhaps follow one of the City’s  dozen or so self-guided historic walking tours. And, on a summer’s day, the waterfront is also a great place for a stroll.

Eat, drink and browse . . .

If you are so inclined, Downtown Kingston is where you will find specialty clothing and food shops (our personal favourites include General Brock’s Commisary, Sapori Bottega Italiana  and Pig and Olive);  galleries and more. There is also a good choice of coffee bars ( we particularly like Crave and, for truly wicked hot chocolate after skating, Cacao 70), pubs and restaurants. And don’t forget to stop in at Mia Gelato for ice-cream on a hot day (or just because!).

Hot Chocolate!

Downtown Kingston is also the focus for a range of festivals throughout the year – the Visit Kingston site has a good events listing section.

If you want to explore the wider options, the Visit Kingston site is a great source of information and inspiration.

Kingston Facts

  • Kingston is roughly equi-distant from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario and the Rideau Canal.
  • When Upper and Lower Canada united, Kingston became the first capital.
  • A stunning, historic city, KIngston consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in Canada.
  • It has a stated vision for itself as Canada’s ‘most sustainable city’ and also has a reputation as a ‘smart’ city with an innovation and technology focus.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly in the light of the above, it has the highest number of PhD graduates per capita of any city in Canada.
  • In 2014 it featured as one of the top seven most intelligent cities in the world.
  • The city has a population of 123,798 (metropolitan area 161,175) as reported in the 2016 census.
  • It is also known as ‘The Limestone City’ and ‘K-Town’.