Kingston’s Night Life

By Claire Bouvier

By Holly Blommers and Claire Bouvier

FYI: There are countless exceptional venues to enjoy during a night out in Kingston.

Instead of choosing one, why not hit a number of them up in a pub crawl? Join us as we tour our favourite bars in Kingston’s downtown core and experience what each unique location has to offer.

The Mansion

506 Princess Street

Upon arrival at the Mansion we are immediately greeted by warm and busy staff, riding the final waves of the dinner rush. The atmosphere here is casual and relaxed – with most tables seating friends sharing pitchers of beer. Server Hayley advocates that “People come here for a hip, pub vibe that has a great mixed crowd.” Our favourite draw to The Mansions is their massive patio. On warm summer evenings you will find this garden patio filled with Kingston locals looking for somewhere to kick back and enjoy a pint.

The patio is home to a tiki bar and beach volleyball court – meeting all the demands of summer. The Mansion also has nightly live music with a venue space upstairs for larger crowds, featuring local Kingston bands as well as out of towners.

The Toucan

76 Princess Street

While participating in a Kingston pub crawl, it’s imperative to make a stop at The Toucan, a favourite local pub.

It’s the ideal place to gather with friends over traditional pub fare and a Guinness. We ran into a couple regulars who gave us some insight into why they love the Toucan. Cody commented that “This is the most authentically local pub in Kingston. It has an inexplicable charm to it. We don’t know why everyone comes here, but we have been coming here for years and we don’t want to stop.” After hanging out in the cozy, dimly lit space, it becomes clear that the customers feel at home here. The atmosphere is light and casual, and if you get lucky you can usually catch live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Merchant

6 Princess Street 

A great addition to the YGK nightlife is The Merchant. This bar is another local favourite and has enough space to house large, fun crowds.

The exposed brick and cozy couches encourage ease and comfort among customers. While mingling with some fellow bar-hoppers we quickly discovered that a lot of our new friends were from out of town. One of the visitors, Rob, told us “it’s the bartender Brad” that keeps them coming back. The service is always efficient and friendly, and they have a massive bar that allows for the optimal socializing and beverage enjoying experience. The typically mature crowd will often be seen mid dance party, enjoying great live bands that keep the party going all night long.

The Grad Club

162 Barrie Street 

This unique little bar is nestled in a repurposed house in a neighbourhood near the University.

Established in 1963, the club radiates tradition and community spirit. Most evenings you will find the bar is packed with Queen’s students and locals alike, enjoying some remarkable live music. Dan, a faithful customer of over 10 years tells us why he keeps going back: “Great food at reasonable prices, craft beer and they get some of the biggest names in the indie music industry.” The Grad Club has hosted several renowned Canadian bands like Winter Sleep and Rural Alberta Advantage, while also celebrating local talent. Know a lot of random information? Their trivia night on Thursdays always packs the house, and even if you don’t win, the beer is always delicious!

Red House

369 King Street 

No matter where our explorations of the city take us, our night always ends at Red House.

Friday and Saturday nights consistently bring a packed house, and the crowd is always vibrant and social. The exposed brick-lined establishment has two large wooden high top tables adjacent the bar, constructing the perfect set up for socializing. It’s one of those places where you will always leave with more friends than you had walking in. A Red House frequenter, Sarah, said “The red house is a tried and tested hot spot for the local year-round Kingston drinkers. It’s a really laid back spot and always seems to be a good way to cap off a night.” Owned by three local brothers, the vibe here is trendy, without being pretentious and welcoming. You’ll usually find Greg behind the bar, serving drinks and witty banter until the wee hours of the morning.

Thanks for joining us on our YGK pub crawl – we hope you will enjoy our favourite places as much as we do. Cheers and please drink responsibly!