Known as the “Limestone City” for its many striking 19th century buildings, Kingston, Ontario, is the gateway to the Thousand Islands, offering visitors a rich history that spans more than 350 years from its founding as a French trading post. Kingston was originally established as a settlement for British Loyalists displaced by the American Revolution. A number of those refugees initially settled on Carleton Island just north of Watertown, NY, but when the Island was ceded to the United States after the Revolutionary War, they relocated to Cataraqui, as the area around Kingston was then known. In 1784, they established a camp south of Fort Frontenac, naming the settlement King’s Town, which would eventually be shortened to Kingston.
Strategically located where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, Kingston is home to four of the nine surviving Martello Towers in Canada, fortifications built by the British in the early 1800s to protect Fort Henry and the Rideau Canal that connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario. Murney Tower and the tower on Point Frederick are now museums, open during the summer. Fort Henry, just across the Great Cataraqui River near the Royal Military College of Canada, is also worth a visit.
Locals refer to the city as “YGK” after its airport designation, and it’s reputedly become one of the coolest small cities in Canada in recent years. As proof of its hipness, the internationally known band The Tragically Hip hail from Kingston.
The city’s waterfront is home to numerous hotels, restaurants, interesting shops and boutiques, in addition to marinas, small parks, gardens and a maritime museum. It’s also where you’ll find the Kingston Rowing Club, Yacht Club and the Canadian Olympic Training Regatta (held in August). Bike enthusiasts and walkers should check out the Waterfront Trail that connects downtown to Lake Ontario Park. Bike rentals (as well as canoes and kayaks) are available at Ahoy Rentals on Ontario Street.
Confederation Park near the harbor is the site of concerts in the summer and local hockey games in the winter. The city hosts several festivals during the year, including Kingston WritersFest, Limestone City Blues Festival, the Kingston Buskers Rendezvous and Kingston Jazz Festival. Farmers markets are held three times a week in Market Square behind City Hall, and on Sundays you find a flea market there.
If you’re looking to stock up on gourmet provisions, try Cooke’s Fine Foods & Coffee on Brock Street (a Kingston institution since 1865), where you can select fancy foods, cheeses, fresh-roasted coffees and gift baskets, as well as chocolates, sauces and oils. For a night or two on land, consider the Rosemount Inn, a luxury boutique B&B “nestled within the “Old Stones” district of downtown Kingston” in an historic mansion.
Located in historic downtown Kingston, this spacious 350-slip marina accommodates both power and sailboats up to 100’. Amenities include laundry and shower facilities and easy access to local activities.
This Inner Harbour downtown location north of the Lasalle Causeway boasts both 105 slips for seasonal and transient vessels up to 200’. The marina is in walking distance of provisions and downtown attractions, with on-site amenities such as laundry, shower, fuel, storage, haul-out and repair services.
This full-service marina located just outside Kingston boasts 170 slips offering both serviced and non-serviced docks. The facility accommodates boats from 20’ to 45’ and amenities include fuel and winter storage.
Providing “a fresh perspective on Italian-style cuisine,” Casa Domenico is located downtown on Market Square. Its modern- meets-rustic decor offers the perfect setting to enjoy an extensive wine list, paired with classic dishes like carpaccio, calamari and an assortment of seafood, veal and lamb dishes.
The owner opened Tropicana, his first Kingston restaurant, in 1974 after emigrating from Greece, and the traditions he brought with him are now perfected and reflected in his third venture, Grecos, serving freshly cooked lamb, chicken and seafood, souvlaki, tzatziki, saganaki and other specialties.
This self-described “elegant outpost” draws discriminating diners with its gourmet New Canadian fare and fine wines, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create culinary gems like venison carpaccio and maple bacon cheesecake.
This tapas and wine bar offers unique, exotic cuisine complemented by carefully curated international, Canadian and local Prince Edward County wines. Chef Andrew Smyth came to Kingston from Montreal a decade ago and has built his reputation on signature dishes like foie gras pintxo, avocado tartare and Turkish ravioli.
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