Hotels in Kingston, Canada
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Kingston, ON: Canada’s First Capital
While it has passed the torch to Ottawa long ago, Kingston was the original capital of Canada. The result is a lot of history in a small place. Kingston has no less than 21 National Historic Sites of Canada, and a bustling tourist trade to prove it. But whether you’re a history buff or not, this picturesque city on the shores of Lake Ontario is worth a visit for its arts and entertainment scene, surrounding lakes and rivers, and its enviable position between Montreal and Toronto. And with so much old world charm, Kingston hotels, B&Bs and historic inns often seem like something out of a Charles Dickens novel. If the city’s walls could talk, a story would be hiding behind every corner waiting to be discovered.
The Limestone City is Ready to Greet You
Kingston is often called the Limestone City due to the large number of buildings made from limestone. This is thanks to an unfortunate 1840 warehouse fire that spread to the neighbouring downtown area, destroying much of the original architecture. But the city rose from the ashes, and now has many attractive limestone building exteriors that look like originals. One of these is historic Murney Tower, an important part of Kingston’s military history, and an interesting place to spend a few hours. As soon as you enter, you’ll notice just how much limestone it took to build the tower, with some walls as thick as 15 feet. It was a key defensive fortification built in 1846, and visitors can view 19th century military artifacts spread over three floors. Shoal Tower is another limestone tower built to protect Kingston’s harbour, and its location on Lake Ontario’s waterfront means that you can easily visit both towers while enjoying the views across the water. Kingston City Hall sits adjacent to Shoal Tower and is perhaps the best example of limestone architecture in the city. Free guided tours really bring to life the history of politics in Canada, and you might even be able to picture the country’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, walking the hallowed halls. For an equally historic place to hang your hat at night, The Frontenac Club Inn is a limestone treasure that is one of the oldest hotels around. Part former bank and gentleman’s club, rooms are named after past distinguished guests, and there’s a good chance that you’ll also feel like an important guest when staying here.
History Surrounds You
Since you can’t go far without running into a building with historical significance, or a museum that does its best to preserve the past, you might as well embrace it. One of the best ways to see a lot of history in a short amount of time is with a Kingston trolley tour. This hop-on, hop-off tour will show you the city in classic red trolley style, while giving guests the option to visit most of the top historic sites in Kingston. A must-see stop on the tour is Bellevue House, home to Canada’s first Prime Minister from 1848 to 1849. The house is considered a shining example of Italian Villa architecture, and staff in period costume do a good job of detailing life as it was over 100 years ago. Other trolley tour highlights include the many museums that call Kingston home, with the Penitentiary Museum, Museum of Health Care, and Pump House Steam Museum being some of the best.
When you’re ready to step back into this century, turn your attention to some of Kingston’s world-class art galleries. The contemporary feel of the Modern Fuel Art Gallery will be a nice juxtaposition after a day soaking up the past, and this artist-run gallery and arts centre might be one of the most unique art galleries around. Emerging and mid-career artists’ work is often on display, and maybe you’ll be able to experience a new artist before they hit the big time. Thankfully, because of Kingston’s small size, you won’t have far to return to one of the hotels in the city after all of that sightseeing, especially if you choose to stay in the downtown core.
If it’s a Sunny Day, Go and Play
It wouldn’t be a proper visit to Kingston without a stop at one of the area’s many parks and lakes. Swimming, fishing, boating and enjoying nature are activities that Kingstonians take seriously- especially when watersports can only be enjoyed for part of the year. If you’d like to stay within the city limits, Lake Ontario Park has a long waterfront walking trail dotted with benches and plenty of places fit for a picnic. Lemoine Point Conservation Area also has a fantastic lakeside location, and its 136 hectares of forest, field and marsh provide an extensive trail system with lots of opportunity to see wildlife. Spring is an especially good time to visit the conservation area for a chance to see wildflowers and migratory birds returning for the summer months. If you’re willing to venture just outside the city, there are hundreds of lakes and green spaces waiting to be discovered. Loughborough Lake is a popular day trip for its accessible boat launch and shallow swimming areas, and a ferry ride to the 1000 Islands is an unforgettable experience. With everything from a castle to island camping, it can’t be beat for a place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Price rangefrom NZ$54to NZ$341
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