I can’t count how many times I’ve passed Kingston on the highway while heading to Toronto for some event. A hundred maybe? And every time I do I berate myself for not getting to know it better. This summer I made it a goal and with some help from Ontario Tourism we set up a perfect day. Mind you, there is enough to do in Kingston for a few days, but if it’s your first time like me here is an ideal itinerary to visit Kingston Canada.
Visit Kingston Canada – A Perfect Day
7:30 am – Depart Ottawa or Toronto taking the 401 Highway. Kingston is approximately 2 hours from either location. Four hours from London, Ontario and three and a half from Montreal.
10:00 am – Board the ferry to Wolfe Island. This is a 20 minute ferry ride and completely free of charge. Yes, that’s right, FREE! This day is off to a great start already. If you put your bikes on the back of the car, take a ride around the island and take in some of the amazing scenery the 1000 Islands has to offer. If you head over after August 1st, be sure to work your way through the Wolfe Island Corn Maze. Worth noting for the hockey buffs, Wolfe Island was also named Hockeyville in 2011.
12:00pm – It’s time for lunch and you know I’m a lover of the food, so I’m not sending you for fast food. First find parking near Confederation Square in downtown Kingston. Across from the square, you’ll find Dianne’s Fishbar. Here you’ll find an incredible menu with the thickest fish chowder I’ve ever seen, mouth-watering lobster rolls and a burger so divine I’m still drooling. Worth noting, Dianne’s also has one of the best kid’s menus going. If your kids are beyond the chicken nuggets stage, you’ll love the very reasonably priced but delicious and varied menu here!
1:30 pm – Don’t worry if you overdid it at Dianne’s Fishbar, you’re about to walk it all off anyway. Cross the street to Confederation Park and find the kiosk for In Sir John A’s Footsteps: Theatrical Walking Tour – named the best walking tour in Canada. I am a huge fan of living history to begin with but I was unprepared for how enjoyable this walking tour was going to be. I laughed, I laughed, then I laughed some more and I learned. I learned so much more about Sir John A Macdonald than I never got out of a history book in school. I love that my girls, 10 and 8, also received such a colourful education of Canada’s past from such characters as Sir John A. himself, Darcy McGee (not just a pub) and George Brown. This is an absolute must-do when you visit Kingston Canada.
3:00 pm – Phew, you’re probably exhausted. You need sustenance. Like ice cream perhaps? Grab a cone at White Mountain Ice Cream or maybe a delicious gelato at Mia Gelato on Ontario St.
3:30 pm – Time to head over to Fort Henry for the rest of the day, perhaps the coolest historical site you’ll ever visit. First stop is the brand new and very cool Discovery Centre which gives guests an interactive encounter with life in the 1800s at Fort Henry. Children, and adults, can fire a virtual cannon and ask questions to a spy or a mother and her two children to name a few. Watch for John A. Macdonald again here, only in hologram form and his beautifully restored desk. From here walk up to the Fort. I was pleasantly pleased to see that Fort Henry is working hard to shake off the stodgy image of a museum. Once inside the Fort you’ll find one of the most breathtaking views over the water, complete with umbrellas and bar service, and live music. Sit and unwind for a spell at the The Battery Bistro before you stroll through some of the shops within the Fort that showcase local artisans.
5:30 pm – Time for supper and you can put your fears aside. The grub is not only good, it’s delicious. Particularly in the Officers’ Mess where we ate. Waiters dressed in period costume serve up dishes such as braised beef or chicken in a mushroom sauce. Remember, you are not to say please or thank you to them the entire time! Officers never would have thanked enlisted men in the 1800s. I only had to correct myself ten times or so. Manners, it seems, are hard to shake.
7:00 pm – Head further down into the Fort and see how enlisted men lived and the Officers that led them. Grab your seats in the parade square for the Sunset Ceremony! Incredible re-enactments of battle and stirring music from the drum band will keep you captivated. If you’re with your kids you can also enlist them, temporarily that is, in the military. Children are taught how to march, salute and stand at attention. Transferrable skills for home, no?
10:00 pm – Now that was a full day! No sense driving home now. Collapse into one of the cloud-like beds at the Ambassador Hotel! Let the kids blow off steam at the indoor waterpark before heading home, or you know, you could stay another day. You may be surprised at how much there is to do when you visit Kingston Canada.