A Great Trip Along Lake Ontario To Kingston Ontario
When we travelled along Lake Ontario to Kingston in Ontario, Canada we had a great three day trip. The Delta Kingston Waterfront was a lovely spot as our base in Kingston. From there we wandered and saw some of the sights of Kingston.
On this visit, we headed off for two day trips and explored the Thousand Islands. We cruised along the St Lawrence River and saw the islands from the water. And then drove along the Thousand Islands Parkway for a view from the land.
Travelling Along Lake Ontario From Toronto To Kingston
We left Toronto early so we had enough time to stop as we meandered along Lake Ontario to Kingston. The highways took us through the busy morning traffic. By the time we passed the iconic “Big Apple” on Highway 401, the going was easy.
Our morning break stop was in Port Hope. As we did as we travelled around the Great Lakes in Ontario, we headed straight for the water. We found a perfect bench for relaxing with a water view.
We realized we should have stopped for a snack to take to the bench. So we headed back into the quaint downtown area. There were several bakeries. But Queenies drew us in. We spoke with the owner Adam about the devastating drop in business that Covid-19 caused on small businesses like this.
There was a great selection of fresh baked goods. We liked to try new butter tarts as we travelled in Ontario. But this time we went straight to the peanut butter and chocolate bar.
We ate our treats on the Muskoka chairs socially distanced on the empty sidewalk. And then looked out over the Rene Racine Bridge at the fall colour views.
Port Hope was a great stop when we travelled along Lake Ontario to Kingston. And don’t miss a stop at Queenies!
A Room With A View In Kingston
We continued to add to our points and status on local trips in Ontario. For this stay in Kingston, we booked two nights at the Delta Kingston Waterfront. Our awesome upgrade to the top floor corner suite gave us a 270° view over the waterfront area.
It was a delightful surprise when a note in the room told us to check the fridge! A wonderful amenity with Prosecco and snacks awaited us. Amenities were one of the things that many hotels abandoned in this age of Covid-19. So this was a really welcome treat!
From the room we saw the Town Hall and Centennial Park across the marine basin. We saw the dock where our boat for the Kingston Harbour Cruise departed. It was a short walk to all downtown sights.
The one advantage of winter coming was that sunrise times were a little later. One morning we threw open the curtains and got an amazing show as the sun rose on the horizon.
Changing rules around indoor dining impacted restaurants in Ontario. Since we booked our hotels very close to our travel dates, we usually had a good sense of what dining was available. We were happy that the restaurant at the Delta Kingston Waterfront was open. And we even got free breakfast for our Ambassador Elite status. After a long day trip, it was good to be able to eat at the hotel.
When we travelled along Lake Ontario to Kingston we were delighted we spent our two nights at the Delta Kingston Waterfront. When we first planned our visit we considered changing hotels each night. But this hotel was a great refuge when we returned from our day travels. And a great spot that we used to explore Kingston.
Explore The Waterfront In Kingston
We walked along the waterfront in Kingston several times. The Kingston Visitor Centre looked a little like an old train station. This idea was reinforced by the old Spirit of Sir John Canadian Pacific engine car located on that spot. A mini replica was the perfect spot to pose with the Kingston sign.
Confederation Park was a great green space on the waterfront. The fountain was on and flowers still decorated the area. When we looked closely, we found interesting statues at play.
The large marine basin included a small lighthouse and the Shoal Tower National Historic Site (aka Victoria Tower). Shoal Tower was a Martello tower built in the 1840s. It was one of four towers that protected Kingston’s harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal. A Martello tower is generally a small coastal defensive tower. The round shape helped it deflect cannon fire. The other defensive spot in Kingston was Fort Frederick on the grounds of the Royal Military College which we saw on another day.
The Kingston City Hall was located in this waterfront area. It was the seat of the local government. Built in Neoclassical style, it had a large dome and clock tower on top. The impressive building was originally built when Kingston was the capital of Canada. In non-Covid-19 times, tours were available to see the inside.
There were many things to discover when we walked along the waterfront in Kingston.
Some Downtown Gems
We always loved when we wandered the old town areas when we travelled. Many of the shops along the downtown streets were historic.
We stopped in one local art shop. Martello on Brock that had some wonderful unique art pieces. Re-purposed old windows displayed ‘Group of Seven’ like stained glass art in them. When we spoke with the shop owner David, he noted that the interesting sign on the exterior of the building showed that it once was a plumbing shop.
Ever since we visited Bologna and did an Italian food tour, we always visited shops that specialized in olive oils and balsamic vinegar. The Kingston Olive Oil Company had an impressive variety of oils and vinegars on display. We went home with several bottles!
We moved between the streets in Kingston using the fun alleys we found. There was fanciful street art on display. We were told to check out Martello Alley for local art works. We were not disappointed. Martello Alley and the attached Delightfully Different Tea Room patio had wonderful fun art pieces everywhere.
Everywhere we looked around Kingston we saw domes and church steeples. We knew there was much more to see in the area. But on this trip along Lake Ontario to Kingston, we just ran out of time.
Staying For The Springer Market On Saturday
The one thing we did not want to miss on our visit was the Springer Market in the large square behind the City Hall. During the week we found a few booths open. But when we returned on Saturday, the market was a lively spot. The vendors showed off fall crafts and fall produce. Bright colourful flowers were still available.
We stopped at the Wolfe Island Bakery and checked out the butter tarts. We had not finished our butter tart research! From our room, we saw the Wolfe Island ferry on its regular transit route. This ferry was considered an extension of the road system in Ontario. So there was no charge to take the ferry. One day we will return and see maybe stop at the bakery again.
Maple syrup is a Canadian treat. Several of the shops had maple syrup available. But when we stopped to talk with the owner Todd of Vader’s Maple Syrup we knew we found our supply. After much deliberation we took home several bottles of the Whiskey Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. And when we finally tried it at home, we were so glad we took two bottles!
We always loved when we visited local markets as we travelled. It was worth a late departure from Kingston to visit the market on Saturday when the vendors were all there.
Historic Fort Henry In Kingston
On our day trips in and out of Kingston we went right past historic Fort Henry. One day we stopped and got a closer view.
The original Fort Henry was built during the War of 1812. This was conflict between Canada and the United States of America. Kingston sat at the mouth of the St Lawrence River and was the gateway to the Great Lakes and the rest of the country. So this was a vital strategic defence point. The original fort was left to deteriorate until it was restored as a living museum.
Fort tours were suspended during Covid-19. But we saw the fort high on the hill from outside. When we did our cruise in the Kingston Harbour, we got a good view of this from the water.
At the entrance to Fort Henry, was the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada. Fort Frederick was there and was part of the strategic defence towers in Kingston. RMC is the Canadian military’s university (where David’s degree is from). Another major military presence is Canadian Forces Base Kingston. The base housed over 30 different units including the armies 1st Canadian Division Headquarters.
A visit to Fort Henry and the Royal Military College was a reminder of the history we found when we travelled along Lake Ontario to Kingston.
Booking A Cruise In The Kingston Harbour
We always loved to see a city from different perspectives. The night lights we saw on a river cruise in Budapest made a lasting impression on us. The architecture river cruise in Chicago was a fascinating tour. So we were excited when we booked our sunset cruise of the Kingston Harbour.
In season and in normal years, there were many cruises from Kingston. We had two choices with Kingston 1000 Island Cruises. The Island Queen boat still ran on a regular schedule and the sunset cruise was the last of the day. The other interesting choice was a dinner onboard the Island Star in the harbour.
Before we boarded the Island Queen, we completed a Covid-19 questionnaire and our temperatures were taken. On our other boat cruise of the Thousand Islands, the boat was pretty empty and there was lots of outdoor deck space. The Island Queen had mostly enclosed spaces with one open deck. While the boat sailed with reduced passengers due to Covid-19, there were a lot more people on this harbour cruise.
There were bars on two levels and a piano player for music. We kept our masks on at all times. But the open bars in all closed areas encouraged people to take off their masks for the entire 90 minute cruise. This certainly made the trip a little less enjoyable since it was quite cold on the open deck after dark!
We got a nice view of sunset as we cruised. It was a great way to see Fort Henry and the Royal Military College grounds. We saw a bit of the fall colours and the city from the water as we cruised in a circle around the harbour. But once the sun set, there really was little to see on shore.
This sunset cruise was really designed to be a party cruise. And in these days of Covid-19 it was hard to relax and party. Probably not the right choice for us!
Fun In Kingston After Dark
When we got back from our cruise of the Kingston Harbour, we saw the colourful lights on Island Star boat and the City Hall.
When we walked back to the Delta Kingston Waterfront, we were delighted when we found the new outdoor Aqua Terra patio and fire pits lit up. We enjoyed the food from the main restaurant at the hotel. So we were eager to try a different venue.
We got the last spot and drooled over the patio menu. It was not a hard choice to pick adult hot chocolate and a s’mores plate for our evening treat.
Colourful lights and outdoor treats were a fun way to finish our day when we travelled along Lake Ontario to Kingston.
Ways To Explore The Thousand Islands From Kingston
We used Kingston as a base as we explored the Thousand Islands. On our first day, we cruised amongst the Thousand Islands and got a great water view. The fall colours were a perfect offset to the views of islands, houses and Boldt Castle.
On our second day, we headed to Brockville and then travelled along the Thousand Islands Parkway and saw this waterway from the land.
When the weather fell apart at the end of our stay in Kingston, we decided not to head back to see the Thousand Islands from above. A visit to the Thousand Islands Tower and a helicopter ride were saved for another trip.
A Great Trip Back To Toronto Along The Loyalist Parkway
After we visited the Springer Market, we packed and left the hotel. We decided to return to Toronto along the water and followed the Loyalist Parkway. There were great water views and fall colours on display.
We loved when we found iconic fall activities on our travels in Ontario. When we visited Muskoka, we spent the day at a cranberry farm and even took a plunge in the cranberry bog. Apple picking was another iconic fall activity in Ontario. We pulled over when we saw the large sign for the Spring Meadow Orchards. Many people picked apples in the large field. But the market sold fall produce. And of course, lots of apples!
The Loyalist Parkway even offered us a short water trip on the Glenora Ferry. Like the Wolfe Island Ferry, this was another ferry considered part of the Ontario roadway system and there was no fee.
We continued along the Loyalist Parkway on the other side and entered Prince Edward County. This was a part of Ontario we had not explored before. As we saw the wine route and winery signs, we knew we needed to plan a return trip.
We made one detour and visited Sandbanks Provincial Park. The road went through the park and we were able to drive through without a day pass. We stopped the first time when we saw a bunch of wind surfers on the water. David got a close up view of a new Naish wing foil. A quick stop at the Dunes beach showed us the distinctive sand features this park was named for.
When we headed along Lake Ontario to Kingston we followed the faster route. On the way back it was fun when we travelled slow and enjoyed the sights along the Loyalist Parkway.
Head Along Lake Ontario To Kingston Ontario For Lots To See And Do
We travelled along Lake Ontario to Kingston and used it as our base as we explored the Thousand Islands. Our great panoramic suite at the Delta Kingston Waterfront offered the perfect spot to start our day with sunrises. And finish with s’mores by the fire.
We also enjoyed a little of downtown Kingston. It was great to get our first view of this historic city.
We carefully assessed the risk of all local travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. This short visit to Kingston and the Thousand Islands was a great wonderful break from our condo in Toronto. Even though Kingston was not in a hot spot in the province, we were impressed at the precautions in place. And with how many people even wore masks outdoors at all times.
Businesses had good processes in place and were diligent at enforcing the rules. Only once did we feel uncomfortable. And even then, we had some options to move ourselves to a safer spot. This attention to detail has helped as we continued to travel locally in Ontario.
We arrived home and stayed only one night before we headed out again. Our next trip returned us to the Muskoka area north of Toronto where we followed the Cranberry Route. Yet one more taste local adventure.
Have you travelled along Lake Ontario to Kingston in Ontario? What should we plan to do for a return visit?
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