Kingston Attractions: A Guide to the Limestone City

Kingston Attractions: A Guide to the Limestone City

Kingston, Ontario, is a charming city located at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, where the lake meets the St. Lawrence River and the Rideau Canal. Kingston is known as the “Limestone City” because of its many historic buildings made of local limestone. Kingston is also rich in culture, history, and natural beauty, making it a great destination for travelers who want to explore a different side of Canada. In this article, we will introduce you to some of the best attractions in Kingston, from museums and galleries to parks and islands. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway, a fun-filled adventure, or a learning experience, Kingston has something for everyone.

Fort Henry National Historic Site

One of the most iconic landmarks in Kingston is Fort Henry, a 19th-century British military fortress that overlooks the city and the waterways. Fort Henry was built between 1832 and 1837 to protect the naval dockyard and the entrance to the Rideau Canal. Today, Fort Henry is a national historic site and a living museum, where visitors can experience the life of a soldier in the 1860s. You can watch the daily ceremonies, drills, and demonstrations, explore the barracks, dungeons, and museum, and enjoy the panoramic views from the ramparts. Fort Henry also hosts special events throughout the year, such as the Sunset Ceremonies, the Fort Fright Halloween festival, and the Lumina Borealis winter light show.

Kingston Penitentiary Museum

If you are interested in the darker side of history, you might want to visit the Kingston Penitentiary Museum, which is located in the former warden’s residence of Canada’s oldest and most notorious prison. The Kingston Penitentiary was opened in 1835 and closed in 2013, after housing some of the country’s most infamous criminals, such as Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, and Russell Williams. The museum displays artifacts, documents, and photographs that tell the stories of the inmates, staff, and events that shaped the prison’s history. You can also take a guided tour of the prison itself, where you can see the cells, workshops, exercise yard, and other areas that were once off-limits to the public.

Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises

One of the best ways to enjoy the scenic beauty of Kingston and the surrounding region is to take a cruise on the 1000 Islands, a group of over 1800 islands that straddle the Canada-US border along the St. Lawrence River. Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises offers a variety of cruises to suit different tastes and budgets, from sightseeing and dining cruises to themed and private cruises. You can admire the stunning views of the islands, castles, lighthouses, and wildlife, while listening to live commentary, music, or entertainment. You can also savor the delicious food and drinks on board, from breakfast and lunch buffets to dinner and cocktails. A cruise on the 1000 Islands is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Kingston.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre

If you are a fan of art and culture, you should not miss the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, which is located on the campus of Queen’s University, one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious universities. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is the largest and most diverse art museum in southeastern Ontario, with a collection of over 17,000 works of art, ranging from European, Canadian, and contemporary art to African, Caribbean, and Indigenous art. The museum also features temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and public events that showcase the local and global artistic expressions. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is a place where you can discover, appreciate, and learn about art in a welcoming and inspiring environment.

Bellevue House National Historic Site

Another attraction that showcases Kingston’s history and heritage is Bellevue House, the former home of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister and one of the Fathers of Confederation. Bellevue House was built in 1840 in the Italianate style, with a symmetrical facade, a tower, and a veranda. Macdonald lived here with his family from 1848 to 1849, during his first term as the premier of the Province of Canada. Bellevue House is now a national historic site and a museum, where visitors can learn about Macdonald’s life, career, and legacy, as well as the social and political issues of his time. You can also explore the restored rooms, the gardens, and the visitor center, where you can watch a film, browse the gift shop, and join a guided tour.

Kingston City Hall

One of the most impressive buildings in Kingston is the City Hall, which is located in the heart of downtown, facing the waterfront. The City Hall was built between 1843 and 1844 in the neoclassical style, with a dome, a clock tower, and a portico. The City Hall was designed to be the seat of the government of the United Province of Canada, but it never served that purpose, as the capital was moved to Montreal in 1844. Instead, the City Hall became the center of Kingston’s municipal affairs, as well as a venue for various cultural and civic events. The City Hall is open to the public, and you can take a self-guided or a guided tour of the interior, where you can see the council chamber, the mayor’s office, the banquet hall, and the civic collection of art and artifacts.

Kingston Mills Lockstation

If you are looking for a relaxing and picturesque spot to enjoy nature, you might want to visit the Kingston Mills Lockstation, which is located at the southern end of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Kingston Mills Lockstation consists of four locks, a dam, a bridge, and a historic mill. The locks were built between 1826 and 1832 as part of a military and commercial waterway that connects Kingston to Ottawa. The mill was built in 1784 by the British loyalists and is one of the oldest mills in Ontario. The Kingston Mills Lockstation is a popular place for boating, fishing, picnicking, and hiking, as well as for learning about the engineering and history of the canal.

Kingston Waterfront

One of the most enjoyable and accessible attractions in Kingston is the waterfront, which stretches for over 8 kilometers along the shore of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The waterfront offers a variety of activities and amenities for visitors of all ages and interests, such as walking, biking, skating, kayaking, sailing, swimming, and fishing. You can also find many attractions, restaurants, shops, and events along the waterfront, such as the Kingston Marina, the Pump House Steam Museum, the Confederation Park, the Kingston Public Market, the Breakwater Park, and the Wolfe Island Ferry. The waterfront is also a great place to admire the views of the lake, the islands, and the city skyline, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Kingston Museum of Health Care

If you are curious about the history and development of health care in Canada, you should check out the Kingston Museum of Health Care, which is located in the Ann Baillie Building, a former nurses’ residence that dates back to 1904. The Kingston Museum of Health Care is the only museum in Canada that is dedicated to the history of health and health care. The museum features a collection of over 40,000 artifacts, documents, and photographs that illustrate the evolution of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, and other health professions from the 18th century to the present day. The museum also offers exhibits, tours, lectures, and workshops that educate and engage the public on the topics of health and health care.

Lemoine Point Conservation Area

If you are a nature lover, you will love the Lemoine Point Conservation Area, which is a 136-hectare park located on a peninsula that juts into Lake Ontario. The Lemoine Point Conservation Area is a natural oasis that offers a variety of habitats, such as forests, fields, marshes, and shoreline. The park is home to many species of plants and animals, including deer, foxes, beavers, turtles, frogs, birds, and butterflies. The park also has many trails, picnic areas, and viewpoints that are open to the public year-round. You can enjoy hiking, biking, birdwatching, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the park, or simply relax and appreciate the beauty and tranquility of nature.

Kingston Military Aviation Museum

If you are a fan of aviation and military history, you will enjoy the Kingston Military Aviation Museum, which is located at the Kingston Airport. The Kingston Military Aviation Museum is a volunteer-run museum that preserves and displays the history of Canadian military aviation, especially in the Kingston region. The museum has a collection of over 20 aircraft, ranging from biplanes and jet fighters to helicopters and trainers. Some of the aircraft are in flying condition, while others are undergoing restoration. The museum also has a library, a gift shop, and a simulator room, where you can experience what it is like to fly a plane. The museum is open from May to October, and you can also book a flight in one of the vintage aircraft.

Kingston Food Tours

One of the best ways to experience the culture and cuisine of Kingston is to join a Kingston Food Tour, which is a guided walking tour that takes you to some of the best local eateries in the city. 

You can choose from different themes and routes, such as the Classic Kingston, the Beer and Bites, or the Maple Madness. You can sample a variety of dishes and drinks, from cheese and chocolate to beer and wine, while learning about the history and culture of Kingston and its food scene. A Kingston Food Tour is a fun and delicious way to explore the city and support the local businesses.


Kingston is a city that offers a lot of attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you are into history, art, culture, nature, or food, you will find something to enjoy and appreciate in Kingston. Kingston is also a city that combines the charm of the past with the vibrancy of the present, making it a unique and memorable destination. If you are looking for a place to visit in Canada that has it all, you should definitely consider Kingston. You will not regret it.

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