For a day trip or a weekend getaway, Kingston is a fun city to visit. Its position where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River and the Rideau Canal has given it a rich history, from military institutions to former penitentiaries and other historic sites. Plus, downtown Kingston is bustling with plenty of artisan shops and a great food scene.
What’s especially fun about visiting Kingston is there are so many different ways to explore its downtown core. Here are three different ways to explore Kingston, Ontario. We’re sure at least one of these will be a new experience!
Tour Kingston by trolley
Kingston has its very own trolley tour. It operates as a one-hour tour during the spring and fall and a hop-on, hop-off tour during the summer months. Trolley and bus tours are offered in many cities around the world, but we recommend the Kingston Trolley Tour more than most. It’s helpful to leave your car at your hotel, especially to reach sites too far to walk to from downtown. This includes Fort Henry, which is on the other side of the Cataraqui River from the rest of downtown. Bellevue House National Historic Site, Gord Downie Pier (walkable from Bellevue House), and Kingston Penitentiary are reachable via the trolley.
More importantly, the tour guides offer historic context for many of Kingston’s landmarks. It’s worth taking the trolley tour for this aspect alone, which is very interesting and informative.
See downtown Kingston from a new perspective on a cruise
There are cruises into the Thousand Islands that depart from towns and cities all along the St. Lawrence River. But Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises is a fantastic option for a couple of reasons. One is that it gives you a unique perspective of downtown Kingston. The views as the ship departs Kingston Harbour can be only be seen from the water. Another is the way these cruises are flexible and can be anything from a quick excursion to a half-day event. We love the three-hour Heart of the 1000 Islands cruise. On top of the vistas in the Thousand Islands, you’ll enjoy live music, a full-service bar, and an optional VIP table-service brunch or lunch!
Solve a mystery while exploring downtown Kingston on foot
Walking tours are one thing, but have you ever seen an entire city transformed into an escape room? To give it a try in Kingston, head to Improbable Escapes. They host several outdoor escape room programs that will send you out into the streets of downtown Kingston to explore while solving clues along the way. You’ll notice details you would otherwise miss and tour the city in a way you never have before!