You like adventure but your partner likes shopping. You're a foodie but a concert is what your other half prefers. There's only one thing you're in agreement with — you want a weekend getaway that's close to home. Before you throw your hands up in despair, think about Kingston, Ont. — a historic and vibrant city that's only a train ride away from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. In partnership with Ontario Tourism and the Parks of the St. Lawrence, we list reasons Kingston is the place for you.
With more restaurants per capita than any other city in Canada, Kingston's dining choices are diverse. Start your day at the Kingston Public Market, Ontario's oldest stop for local meats, fruits, honey, jams and more. Then head to Olivea for rich Italian food, Pan Chancho Bakery for gourmet sandwiches, or Chez Piggy—a lovely, atmospheric spot housed in a former limestone stable. Just steps from Market Square, dine in the courtyard of Le Chien Noir and enjoy a deliciously modern take on French fare.
Indulge in some retail therapy
Kingston has a thriving independent retail scene centered on Princess, King, Queen and Brock streets in the heart of the city. Gourmet food stores, independent shops and art galleries featuring local creators abound, including Cooke's Fine Foods and Coffee (don't miss the 19th century pressed-tin ceiling), Kingston Olive Oil Company and Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery.
Do some time travelling
In the 1840s, Kingston proved to be so politically important that it served briefly as Canada's first capital. Delve into the city's long and fascinating history at Fort Henry, where you can fire a rifle, take a ghost tour or witness the thrilling sunset ceremony among many other activities. Don't miss the wildly popular tours of Kingston Penitentiary, Canada's oldest prison.
Kingston is alive with youthful vitality and artistic presence year round. Applaud cutting-edge young performers at the spring Juvenis Festival and summer Kick & Push Theatre Festival. Catch a reading at Kingston WritersFest in late September. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre houses the largest collection of Rembrandts in Canada as well as an impressive collection of African art. And a performance at the city's grand dame of the arts, The Grand Theatre, is a must.
As the hometown of the Tragically Hip, Kingston takes live music seriously. The K-Rock Centre is a great spot to catch shows by acts from around the world. The core is also dotted with live music venues and clubs where you might just spot the next great Canadian talent.
Escape to the islands
Kingston is a gateway to the 1000 Islands, incredibly scenic spots dotting the St. Lawrence River. Cruises of the islands, as well as lunch and dinner cruises, leave right from downtown and offer a water view of Fort Henry and Kingston Penitentiary.
You can also enjoy superb views of the islands by driving or cycling along the nearby Thousand Islands Parkway where the lush green scenery will transport you to another world.
Kingston is a great base for athletic adventures. Rent some bikes and hop on the ferry from downtown Kingston to Wolfe Island, where you can cycle past beautiful farms and eat lunch in a charming pub. In Collins Bay, scuba divers congregate to explore almost a dozen shipwrecks, ranging from an 1800s schooner to a modern car ferry, all submerged in dazzlingly clear water. Right off the Thousand Islands Parkway, you can clamber across rope bridges and whizz through the forest canopy on a zip line at Skywood Eco Adventure, Canada's largest aerial adventure and zip line park.
Get some rest and relaxation
Not surprising for a place nicknamed the Limestone City, Kingston is packed with historic buildings. These days, many of them house chic inns or charming bed and breakfasts. Conveniently, many of them are within walking distance of the shops, restaurants and bars of downtown Kingston—making the end of your evening easy.
Plan a couple's adventure in Kingston this summer to soak in all the beauty and history the city has to offer. Learn more here.