Reasons Why Kingston Is The Perfect Day Trip From Montreal Or Ontario

Escape Canada's big cities and head to Kingston for a day filled with history, hauntings, and heaps of food and drink. Sitting near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and around 180 miles south of Montreal (via Google Maps), it's jam-packed with things to do and has a lovely location right on the eastern edge of Lake Ontario.

On top of its gorgeous natural setting, Kingston has a fabled history in Canada. It was the capital of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada for a brief three years in the 1840s and remains a busy port city, with the Rideau Canal listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There's so much to do here and one of the really wonderful things for vacationers is that it's a walkable city (per Visit Kingston). With this in mind, for a really relaxing trip, hop on the train from Montreal, Ottawa, or Toronto. It costs from CAD 49 one way from each of these cities if you book in advance. Here are nine reasons why Kingston is the perfect day trip.

History and heritage in Kingston

The first reason to visit the city is Fort Henry, a UNESCO-listed site. A stop here lets you explore the 19th-century fortifications, watch military reenactments, enjoy some traditional marching music, and get a glimpse of life in a Victorian-era school (per Visit Kingston).

Second, for an insight into a different side of history, head to the now-closed Kingston Penitentiary, where you can go on a tour of Canada's oldest and most infamous maximum security prison. Depending on your tour, you'll get to see some of the cells, the canteen, the hospital, and the gymnasium, and hear stories of escapes and a riot that took place here (this might not be suitable for little ones!).

And your third reason, especially If you have small kids in tow, is the Pumphouse. Here, you'll find hands-on experiences from watery science experiments to printmaking and a treasure hunt. Round out your historical day with the famous Haunted Walk of Kingston to learn about some of the ghouls that wander the streets here.

Architecture, food, and the outdoors

If you want to get your bearings in Kingston, Must Do Canada recommends taking the Kingston Trolley Tour, a 75-minute narrated ride past many of the city's highlights — number five on our list of reasons to visit! You can get on and off the trolley too, so it's a great way to get around and learn something via the hilarious commentary at the same time.

Break up your ride with a wander around the scenic grounds of Queen's University campus, one of Ultimate Ontario's picks in Kingston, and our sixth reason to visit (you can take a tour of the inside too if you wish). More recommendations from Ultimate Ontario give us our seventh and eighth reasons to visit. A stroll on the five-mile waterfront path with picturesque views over Lake Ontario, which passes Confederation Park, is one. If views from the shore aren't enough, Must Do Canada suggests taking a boat tour of the incredible Thousand Islands, a glorious waterway with historical houses and quaint villages on some of the islands.

Finally, we can't forget the foodie (and drinkie) side of Kingston. Ultimate Ontario loves the local craft beer scene and urges visitors to go to some of the breweries or to check out a classic food tour to discover some of the area's best restaurants. If you prefer to strike out on your own, South Eastern Ontario has a number of local food and drink recommendations.