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Kingston (Ontario)

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Kingston[1] is a small city in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence, almost exactly halfway between Montréal and Toronto.

As the first (very short lived) capital of Canada, Kingston was originally settled in 1673 as Fort Frontenac. Today, Kingston is one of the most historic cities in Canada with numerous churches, old buildings, pictorial neighbourhoods, and 19th century fortifications. The city provide venues for nightlife such as clubbing and pubbing, and provides weekend escapes for people living in the neighboring cities of Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. There are ample historic sites and museums to visit, as well as many lively summer events.

Kingston is the home of two universities, Queen's University and Royal Military College, and one college, St. Lawrence College. Along with tourism, these educational institutes and the students they attract provide much to the city's local economy. Kingston is also the home to a number of prisons.

Get in

Kingston is fully accessible by road, air and water. There are no scheduled connections by bus, train or air to any point on the US side from Kingston, despite its proximity (50km) to Interstate 81. However, ferry by car from the United States is possible by taking Horne's Ferry (May-October) from Cape Vincent, New York state to Wolfe Island (Ontario). By driving the short distance across Wolfe Island, you can get to downtown Kingston via the free Wolfe Island Ferry.

By car

Driving into Kingston is usually done on the Highway 401. Times from major cities are:

By bus

Buses (Coach Canada) run Toronto-Kingston-Montréal several times daily and one bus (Voyageur) visits Ottawa twice daily. Buses usually take longer from each city and will drop you off on John Counter Boulevard (a converted trucking company warehouse in an industrial park) at the north side of town.

By train

Kingston is also served by Train (Via Rail Canada), also located on John Counter Boulevard at what was the western edge of town. Local city bus service to these points is limited (one bus may turn up once or twice an hour, with evening and weekend service rather limited). The best option for getting downtown from the bus or the train is by taking a taxi, which will run you under $15.

By air

By boat

The Rideau Canal goes from Kingston to Ottawa. Quite a few people travel it in various pleasure craft. Kingston is also the starting point of the St Lawrence River and the eastern endpoint of the Great Lakes, a strategic position which has afforded it a key military vocation since 1673.

Kingston has a number of marinas to accommodate boaters in boats of all sizes. These include

To get a general sense of where these are located, see the Marinas summary on the K7Waterfront website [6].

Get around

The most interesting area in Kingston for out-of-town visitors is near the downtown core of the city, which includes Queen's University and the waterfront. As such, the "best" areas of the city are better seen on foot or by bicycle.

Taxi fare from the Kingston Bus Station and Train Station are approximately $10-15 depending on the number of passengers per car as well as luggage stowage.

Public transport by Kingston Transit [7] buses, is reliable and clean. However, it is infrequent, running at most, once every 15 minutes or half hour, depending on the route.

Should you get a parking ticket during your visit, you have an option of contesting the ticket.

See

Do

The city also hosts events in summer and fall such as the Jazz Festival, Blues Festival [14], and Buskers' Rendezvous.

Buy

Eat

Kingston has one of the highest restaurants per capita of any city in Canada, with restaurants to fit anyone's budget.

Budget

Midrange

Higher

Splurge

Drink

Coffee

Alcohol

There is a relatively healthy pub scene in Kingston with many high quality establishments. All pubs in Kingston are non-smoking.

Sleep

Downtown

The area near the downtown waterfront is the most favourable location (as many but not all activities are within walking distance) but also the most expensive by far. Accommodations range from large chain hotels with full facilities (Holiday Inn, Radisson, Sheraton, Marriott) and smaller historic properties, such as the Hotel Belvedere, to a niche market of small but upscale bed-and-breakfast style inns. There is plenty of good accommodation to be had in the downtown and waterfront area if one is willing to pay top dollar.

The Plaza Hotel on Montreal St, as home of Kingston's only remaining stripper bar, is best avoided for accommodations as the area does attract certain undesirable elements.

Fort Henry Motel located on Highway 2, From down town in 5 min's. Clean rooms, clean sheets, with showers and very reasonable rates and friendly staff, it is worth checking out. There is a Mcdonald's close by for breakfast.

West of downtown

Kingston's downtown area runs from the waterfront at Ontario Street one mile west/northwest to Division Street. The majority of upscale properties are in the lower (easternmost) part of downtown, near the waterfront area. Continue westward into the land of the endless used-car lots and the choices initally are limited and disappointing at best. A few of these properties (such as Howard Johnson and Super 8) have had to ban all visitors after 11pm or 12pm due to problems caused by the local riff-raff, others (such as Conway's Inn) turn a blind eye and let them run rampant. Best to give this a miss if at all possible.

Continue further westward and there are a few hotels of better standing, starting with the Peachtree and the Best Western fireside inn among a few serving an otherwise awkwardly-located train station west/northwest of the city. The largest of these hotels is the Ambassador convention centre, which offers extensive indoor athletic and recreational facilities. Others in this immediate area include a Comfort Inn (no restaurant on site) and the Lasalle (a Travelodge with full hotel facilities).

Continue further west and the selection is dominated by motels, many of them independent or low-end properties.

Near the highway

If you stick near the 401, and it may not make sense to do so if you want to see Kingston itself, your choices are adequate but limited. Kingston was built around the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River waterfront and around Princess Street (old Highway 2, as the main street in town). Unlike London, where newer development has grown around the newer highway, Highway 401 in Kingston pulls well too far north of the local urbanized area in order to cross the Rideau Canal near Kingston Mills, effectively bypassing the city entirely.

There are a few moderately-priced chains (Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Comfort Inn, FirstCanada Inns) located amongst the endless fast-food emporiums at Division & 401 (exit 617) but nothing uniquely Kingstonian to see in this part of town. To the west is industrial park, to the east housing projects. A new outlet shopping centre is being constructed in this area.

Along the 401 in the west end of the city is a new Motel 6 hotel.

West of the city

There are several low-priced (or at least under-$100) motels on the old Highway 2 as it comes in from the west of the city, but the choices do seem to be limited to the low-end of the market with many small independent operators. Almost all of these stretch out along the one road, continuing well into suburbia.

East of the city

Kingston is separated from CFB Kingston and Old Fort Henry in the east by the Cataraqui River and Rideau Canal. The city itself is west. There are a few small motels along the old 2 and 15 highways intended primarily to serve visitors to the Fort, but these tend to be low-end in price and quality.

Continue 30 km further east into Gananoque, a town of just over 5000 people near the centre of the Thousand Islands region, and a wider selection (ranging from small B&B's to hotel/motel chains) becomes available.

Get out


Related Information


WikiPedia:Kingston, Ontario



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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [28].

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