A family-friendly Kingston itinerary

By Emily Coppella

Explore Kingston with the kids this summer

Enjoy some brunch

Blueberry pancakes at Toast and Jam
Blueberry pancakes at Toast and Jam

Make sure to fuel up with some brunch before embarking on your exploration of the limestone city.

Toast and Jam offers delicious breakfast and lunch options made with local ingredients whenever possible. Everything—from Eggs Benedict to apple caramel French toast—is made in-house. They have their own kids’ menu as well, so even the pickiest of eaters can devour something delicious, from grilled cheese sandwiches to pink milk.

The locally owned and operated ’50s-style diner, Tommy’s, serves all-day breakfast (including old-fashioned milkshakes)! The only downside about this place is that it might take you some time to choose what you’ll be eating…their menu is extensive, from classic breakfast dishes to breakfast poutine or pancakes topped with banana cream cheese.

If you’re looking to fill up with a traditional diner-style breakfast, Morrison’s Restaurant is the place to feast. It’s one of the longest-running restaurants in the city and it has a spectacular view of Springer Market Square. This family-owned restaurant is known for its comfortable atmosphere, fast service, and extensive breakfast and lunch menu.

Grab lunch on a patio

AquaTerra Patio
AquaTerra Patio

Kingston is known for its incredible quantity (and quality) of restaurants. Check out our patio guide for a list of all the places ready to serve you al fresco.

Kids will love creating their own burger combo at Harper’s Burger Bar or diving into a slice of Woodenheads pizza (one of the greatest wood-fired pizza joints around).

Treat yourselves to an afternoon treat

Mio Gelato
Mio Gelato

Kingston has several local cafés that will keep the adults caffeinated and the kids’ sweet tooth satisfied. If you want some of the best donuts in town, drop by Coffee Way Donuts, where treats are made fresh daily. Feeling the heat? Head over to Mio Gelato and try to decide what you’ll treat yourself to from dozens of flavours. Pop into General Brock’s Commissary for a cup or cone of Kawartha Dairy ice cream or quench your thirst with their iced tea to-go. Or stop by White Mountain Ice Cream. We love their Cookie Monster, vanilla ice cream with Oreo cookies, fudge cookies, and cookie dough pieces.

Explore unique stores

Kids and adults will be fascinated with Minotaur, an activity store that sells everything from traditional games like chess to epic board games for the whole family. Minotaur also sells a variety of crafting items that just might inspire a new hobby.

Just up the street is The Rocking Horse, a toy store with a vast selection of classic and retro toys, games, and novelty items. While the store sells games for every age, its focus is on toys as tools to help develop children’s physical, social, and intellectual skills.

Wander Kingston’s public market

Kingston Public Market
Kingston Public Market

The oldest vendor-run open-air market in Ontario is always bustling with energy. If you’re downtown on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit Kingston’s Public Market. The market takes place from 9 am – 4 pm at Springer Market Square. You’ll discover local produce as well as gorgeous items created by talented artisans. The whole family will have fun browsing funky bath products, unique jewellery, and tie-dye tees.

The Katarokwi Indigenous Art & Food Market also takes place every Sunday this summer at Springer Market Square. Local Indigenous vendors offer art, jewelry, home goods, clothing, and food while performers showcase a variety of talents such as dancing and drumming. You can keep updated on dates and performances online.

Museums and tours

PumpHouse Museum
PumpHouse Museum

At the PumpHouse Museum, you can tour the site of Kingston’s first waterworks, which were in operation from 1851 to 1952. The building is now a museum that hosts dynamic exhibits, educational programs for kids and adults, and a cool collection of model trains. While simply exploring the building itself (where the original pumps can be seen) is interesting on its own, you can also participate in a site tour.

Check out the museum’s new exhibit, On the Move: 400 Years of Transportation in Kingston (on display through to November 2022.) The exhibit incorporates historical objects, interactive displays, and activities for both kids and adults who can learn about various modes of transportation, from snowshoes and toboggans to trains and roads.

In-person programs include a by-donation, drop-in program called Fort Night that takes place on Thursday evenings at 6 pm (beginning July 7, 2022 and ending August 25, 2022). Each visiting group receives a Fort Bundle, including building materials and a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) related challenge. Challenges can be done as a team or alone, with each group competing to see who best accomplishes the challenge. Any age is welcome. To ensure a Fort Bundle is available for your group, pre-register for Fort Night.

If you have a toddler to keep busy, check out the PumpHouse’s Trains and Tots series, happening Tuesday and Wednesday mornings all summer.

The PumpHouse is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm.

Fort Henry
Fort Henry National Historic Site

Impress the whole family with a visit to Fort Henry, a fortress dating back to 1823. This museum and historic site allows you to experience 19th-century military life, guided tours, stunning views, and musical performances courtesy of the Fort Henry Guard. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10 am – 5 pm. Tickets can be bought online.

The Military Communications and Electronics Museum displays all the military tech you’ve been wanting to discover; large military vehicles, radios, and phones abound. The site also has two escape room games created in collaboration with Improbable Escapes that families rave about. Museum visitors must book their ticket online or on-site to enter. The museum is open Monday to Friday, 10 am – 3:30 pm.

If you’re interested in learning about Kingston’s roots, step into a red trolley and enjoy Kingston’s most popular sites as they pass you by. The City Trolley Tour offered by Kingston Trolley Tours is a one-hour guided tour throughout Kingston. Sit back and relax as your tour guide explores more than 300 years of local history. Tours start at the Kingston Visitor Information Centre each weekday at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. On weekends, they depart every hour from 10 am to 5 pm. You can book your tickets online.

Haunted Walk of Kingston
Haunted Walk of Kingston

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Buy tickets to The Original Haunted Walk of Kingston and prepare yourself to be spectacularly spooked. This ghost walking tour explores Sydenham Ward in 90 minutes. Experience haunted hotels, grave robbings, Kingston’s famous cursed courtyard, and more. You’re sure to come away with a new (and creepy) perspective of Kingston—and the tour runs nightly throughout the summer season.

Kingston has many more kid-friendly museums for you to explore, such as the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes (with programs and exhibits dedicated to shipwrecks and marine life in Kingston’s waters), and Frontenac County Schools Museum (which showcases more than 200 artifacts from one-room schools that existed in Frontenac County from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s).

Free outdoor events

Music in the Park
Music in the Park

Starting June 21, 2022, enjoy free concerts all summer in Confederation Park. Music in the Park takes place in June, July, and August at 12:30 pm every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The park also hosts Downtown Country concerts at 7 pm on Thursdays, and the courtyard in Market Square hosts Big Band Fridays every Friday at 7 pm. More details and line-ups will be posted to the Downtown Kingston! website soon.

While these musical events are open to everyone, there is also a concert series a few blocks away specifically for kids: Silly Sounds on Sydenham. This series takes place every Saturday from mid-June to September 3, 2022, at 10 to 11 am between Princess Street and Queen Street.

Bring your popcorn and a comfy lawn chair to Springer Market Square every Thursday at dusk for Movies in the Square. Starting June 16, 2022, and running until September 1, you can enjoy free classic movies under the stars. The schedule will be made available online soon.

Remember to take a peek at the Downtown Kingston! event webpage when planning for your Kingston trip. There’s something happening around every corner.

Get moving

Family cycling
Family cycling

Ahoy Rentals offers hourly and multi-day children and adult bike rentals and even has tandem bikes. Kingston by Bike Tours, at the same location, offers a three-hour guided bike tour of Kingston. This leisurely tour is perfect for older kids and adults. Learn about significant cultural sites and landmarks while enjoying vibrant city and sparkling lakefront views. Book a tour online at least 24 hours in advance. online at least 24 hours in advance.

Ahoy Rentals also offers kayak and canoe rentals, as well as instruction sessions.

Blue Marble Learning Scene provides opportunities to connect with nature. They offer three free walks: Wetland Walk, Waterfront Walk, and Urban Water Walk. You’ll spend the one-hour walk with an impressive guide who will discuss rivers, lakes, reptiles, fossils, and much more as you stroll. While the walks are open to anyone, they are particularly great for families with kids over seven years old.

Lemoine Point Conservation Area
Lemoine Point Conservation Area

Nature-lovers will enjoy discovering Kingston’s green spaces. Lemoine Point and Little Catarqui Creek are popular conservation areas boasting wildlife and family-friendly trails. Grass Creek Park (a 95-acre park in Kingston East) and City Park (a 10-minute walk west of City Hall) offer plenty of space to enjoy a picnic.

Jump into some more fun at Kingston Xtreme Trampoline Park. This is the city’s largest trampoline facility, and it includes much more than just trampolines. It has a dodgeball court, ninja warrior course, crash pad, basketball area, and more. The most spacious area of the park is open to jumpers over four years old and there’s even a designated Kiddie Court available for jumpers under four. Remember to pre-book your jumping tickets online to secure your spot.

Other spaces that are perfect for energetic kids include The Fun Zone, a centre known for its Laser Tag Arena but also includes a Virtual Reality room, an arcade, and a soft-play structure for little ones. Walk-ins are welcome!

The Boiler Room Climbing Gym offers a variety of climbing activities for all ages—bouldering, auto-belays, lead climbing, and beyond. Don’t worry, everyone receives an orientation before making their ascent.

Solve a mystery with Improbable Escapes

Turn your family into a detective squad at Improbable Escapes. This award-winning escape room company offers a variety of (mostly family-friendly) indoor and outdoor escape rooms at two locations. Improbable Escapes HQ is located downtown at 303 Bagot Street and Improbable Escapes: Wonderland & Board Game Lounge is located just 15 minutes outside of downtown at 500 Gardiners Road.

These escape rooms are award-winning for a reason—they’re fully immersive and satisfy every adventurous spirit. All their escape rooms are designed in-house (sometimes taking up to a year to produce) and the team collaborates with local museums and other escape room companies to provide expertise.

Each room is unique with its own puzzles to solve, challenges to conquer, and mysteries to ponder. Improbable Escape’s newest escape room is The Undersea Overthrow, inspired by the lost city of Atlantis.

Wonderland Kingston
Wonderland Kingston

In addition to its escape rooms, Improbable Escapes’ west end location also offers a whimsical board game café and retail store. Kids and adults can choose from more than 600 games to play (including Catan, chess, or Trivial Pursuit) while enjoying a beverage and a snack. They’re known for their magical hot chocolate.

Kids walking across a rainbow crosswalk

Creative pursuits

The Barefoot Players at Queen’s University’s Dan School of Drama & Music offer a variety of summer workshops for youth of all ages. Kids between the ages of five and eight can create their own puppet at Puppets & Play or join the Broadway Babies workshop to explore musical theatre through singing, dancing, and acting. Older children between the ages of nine and twelve are offered workshops such as Art Comedy Creation, a drama workshop inspired by Commedia Dell’arte theatre from 15th century Italy. There’s also Picture Pantomime, a movement-focused workshop that incorporates mime, tableau, and mirroring.

The Barefoot Players also offer several week-long summer camps celebrating the performing arts. For more information on camps or workshops, you can contact barefoot.players@queensu.ca.

Entertaining every family member with a day in the limestone city is easy. However you choose to spend your holiday, Kingston offers both leisurely and adventurous activities for all ages.