Let me start by welcoming all the new graduate students:
Welcome to Queen’s University, and the city of Kingston. And to those who journeyed beyond their home country to be a part of Queen’s – Welcome to Canada!
How was your first week of graduate school? Did you become friends with that student who made that one brilliant comment in class about that one landmark study? You know, the paper that took you half the day to read, and another half to understand. Did you manage to squeak a question or two during classes? Did you get a chance to talk to that faculty member with that impressive CV? By this time, I’m sure you’re having lunch and sharing stories with that student and realizing that it took him just as long as you did to decipher that landmark study. You also realize that the floor doesn’t open up to swallow you whole when you ask questions in class. That faculty, she is as nice a person as she is an accomplished academic. And if you haven’t come to these conclusions yet, sooner or later you will. Just keep calm and carry on.
Other than getting to know your peers and faculty members, and adjusting to graduate student life at Queen’s, have you had a chance to get to know your Kingston? Well, if you are interested in getting to know Kingston a bit better, I’d like to suggest a favorite pastime of mine. This pastime has the following advantages:
- Easy on the wallet
- Easy to reach location – public transport is available
- You have full control in terms of how you go about it – you may wish to enjoy this activity alone or with your family, significant other, or friends
- You have full control in terms of how much time you spend on it – 30 minutes, and hour or two, or even an entire day
- You get all the benefits of being active
I hope I got you interested. Well, this favorite pastime of mine is (drum-roll please) … exploring Kingston’s downtown retail and recreational district. Here’s how I go about it:
- From the Metro grocery store on Princess St., walk east towards the lake. Discover the numerous restaurants and shops along Princess St. The choices for restaurants and foods range from burgers, pizzas, sushi rolls, kebabs, coffee shops, and your typical fast-food chains. I love to stop by one of the bubble tea stores (there are two along the street) and continue my walk while sipping my bubble tea drink. There are also different stores that you can go in and out of, just to look around, or enjoy a bit of retail therapy. A few of my favorites:
- Canadian brand stores – Lululemon and Roots
- A cute stationery and souvenir store called Midori
- Bargain stores – Dollarama and Dollar Tree. If you are on a budget and in need of kitchen items, cleaning products, or stationeries, you can probably get them here.
- A game store called Minotaur. Check out their game nights and knitting club!
The above is only a handful of shops that I can recall off the top of my head. There are many others that are more quaint and interesting.
- When you reach Wellington St., turn left and walk a few steps to visit Martello Alley. Martello Alley is an art themed historic alley where you can find original and printed artwork. The alley also leads to a beautiful courtyard with an original artwork gallery at the end.
- From Wellington St., go back to Princess St. and walk one block east towards King St. East. Turn right on King St. East. You’ll reach the heart of Kingston – the Springer Market Square. From April until November, the Market Square hosts a public market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, where you can find locally made products (soaps, scarves, maple syrup and the likes) and locally grown produce. There is also an antiques market on Sundays. In winter, the Market Square is turned into a free skating rink. And in summer, the Market Square offers free movie showings on Thursday nights.
- The Kingston City Hall is located right behind the Market Square. Across from the City Hall, you’ll find the Confederation Park. If you find yourself in the Confederation Park, don’t forget to be the ‘I in Kingston’ and take a selfie. The City Hall is also the starting point for the Haunted Walk of Kingston, which is a fantastic way to spend Halloween or any October night.
- From City Hall on Ontario St., if you walk north for about three blocks, you’ll find the ferry dock for Wolfe Island. You can take the free(!) ferry to visit Wolfe Island. If you have a car or a bike, you can bring it – again for free(!) – on the ferry with you.
I prefer to go about my way on foot. Another way is to bike. If you don’t have a bike of your own, you can rent one or join the Kingston community bike sharing program. You can split the above activities and enjoy one or two of them on one weekend, and the others on another weekend. Chances are you have until early November before the weather gets too cold, so you have a few weekends available.
You can visit Downtown Kingston! for a more comprehensive listing of events and things to do in the downtown area. If you’d like to explore other parts of Kingston, check out TripAdvisor’s top things to do in Kingston.
Now, wouldn’t it be nice to get to know Kingston and take a break from work? Go ahead – Explore and enjoy!