It’s a beautiful time to be alive here in our nation’s first capital – Kingston, Ontario, Canada – for those of you from other parts of the world! Lake Ontario is bustling with swimmers, boaters and kite surfers. The 1000 Islands are a mere stone’s throw away and lots of tourists descend to appreciate our city’s history, art, culture, and waterfront.
Even with all of the excitement that summer weather brings to most parts of Canada, I am still always overwhelmed by the number of people I see out and about in our small city. We know how to enjoy the great weather! That’s why I thought this might be the right time of year to write a blog about my favourite things to do and see here in this great city so many of us call home. Hopefully, you get a chance to visit us if you’ve never been here and this list is helpful!
Here’s my list from #1 to #6. (That’s right! I’m starting at the top with my very favourite!)
#1) Woodenheads Gourmet Pizza
My favourite restaurant for about 15 years or so. I’ve celebrated most of my birthdays there, most of my friends’, kids’ and husband’s birthdays as well. Our wedding rehearsal dinner was on the entire back patio and the night I met my husband, we chatted about our mutual favourite restaurant in town and couldn’t believe we hadn’t met after all of those years, each sitting solo at the bar enjoying our pizza and drinks. The world’s greatest pizza is the Nonna Mela (with an apple butter base!) and the sauce on the Poulet Baton Rouge is possibly the best I’ve ever tasted anywhere in the world. The service is excellent and the atmosphere is fun and lively. Also, the playlist is the best (no, I haven’t made the cut yet, but one of these days!). 😉
#2) Music in the Park
The Downtown Kingston BIA organizes SO MUCH FREE LIVE MUSIC during our warmer months! It’s incredible! Lunch Time Series, Downtown Country, Big Band Friday and more! These awesome concerts entertain our locals and tourists and provide paying gigs for our extensive population of professional musicians.
For more info and the calendar of events, check out: www.downtownkingston.ca
#3) Gord Edgar Downie Pier
Located at our beautiful Breakwater Park, Downie Pier has put Kingston on the map as Canada’s first urban natural swimming pier. Named after our great frontman of famed Kingston rock band The Tragically Hip, many people of all ages, stages, and levels of mobility are able to enjoy a beautiful afternoon in and around the waterfront of our gorgeous city. Watching this breathtaking transformation on our city’s waterfront over the past couple of years has brought me so much joy. So many people making so many memories and loving the natural beauty that Kingston offers.
#4) Live Music Venues
My early bar gigging days were spent at my home away from home ‘The Merchant Tap House’ at the foot of Princess Street. Only a stone’s throw from the water, The Merchant supports live music multiple days a week and owner Dave takes pride in his live music selections. He covers several genres of music in any given week and years ago provided me with a regular gigging income even early on when the bar wasn’t busy enough to support live music. He invested in live music with his business and Kingston is a better city because of it, in my opinion. (*On a side note, I also went into labour on that stage and used to breastfeed my daughter in her early months on set breaks while I sold CDs. Ha!). The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts was built by Queen’s University (with a lot of help! It cost $72 million to build!) and has stunning design and exquisite acoustics. It’s a piece of art in itself and I’m honoured to say I’ve been fortunate enough to perform several sold-out shows in the past couple years there. It hosts many different types of music from symphonies to B Rich. There’s usually something for everyone within a given season! Aside from these two notable venues, great spots like Blu Martini, Musikki (check out their huge awesome back patio!), The Grand Theatre and The Mansion, among others, provide opportunities for the professional musicians in this city and those on tour.
#5) Skeleton Park Arts Festival
We have a LOT of great festivals in this city, but perhaps my very favourite would have to be SPAF! Launched in 2006, this festival has grown and presented such greats as Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, and Sloan.
There are great vendors, lots to do for kids, music for everyone and the most charming and sincere lovely community vibe! Hosted on Summer Solstice weekend each year, SPAF is one of the greatest events that takes place in our city.
#6) The Kingston Independent Restaurant Scene
Who has a Top 6??? I do. My daughter Piper went over my list and pointed out that food should be on here at least twice. As my mother-in-law likes to say “You never met a girl that enjoys her food quite as much as this one!” Hahaha… She’s right! I LOVE FOOD! GOOD FOOD! Part of what drew me to Kingston was the plethora of independent restaurants. Many have been established for years and even when the big chains moved in, they remain popular and thriving. If you love food as I do, check out Olivea, Chien Noir, Chez Piggy, Casa, Curry Original, Pan Chancho or one of the other awesome options (I can’t possibly list them all here!).
Kingston is one of the greatest cities in the world, I like to say! It also has supported me as a full-time musician for over 15 years. Given the size (approx. 135,000), this is truly remarkable. The support of independent businesses like mine still warms my heart.
This is a very special place.
MANAGER – Gord Hunter – firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLICIST – Eric Alper – email@example.com
MERCHANDISE – Jude Murano – firstname.lastname@example.org
SOCIAL MEDIA – Amanda Relyea-Voss – email@example.com
ARTIST – Miss Emily: firstname.lastname@example.org
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