Queen's University Queen's University

Family Fun

In this last post on our series on warm season fun in Kingston, I’m going to dedicate our time to family activities for grad students who have children. At An Clachan,* one of the Queen’s-owned graduate apartment complexes, many, if not most, residents have young children and they and the Housing Staff folks often organize activities or post suggestions for things to do on the lobby cork boards. I put out a call to friends with kids for their favourite activities and got a few gems.

*An Clachan is pronounced, at least by way of convention around these parts, as an CLACK-an, in case you’re curious. It’s Gaelic for “small village.” If anyone knows how it’s really meant to be pronounced in that beautiful and inscrutable language, post below.


1.) Big Sandy Bay on Wolfe Island

I have it on the good authority of a Wolfe Island resident with a son old enough to enjoy walking the beach and having a swim that this is always a favourite.


  • There is a per-person per-use fee of $8 but if you pay $15 ahead of time, you can get a family season membership – by far the cheaper option.
  • Consider enjoying lunch or dinner at the Island Grill – word has it it’s the best patio in the Kingston area (perhaps because, somehow, we don’t have any outdoor waterfront restaurants in this lakeside city).
  • Bear in mind that for anything on Wolfe Island, the ferry that docks in the village is currently being serviced and won’t be back until July, and the replacement ferry docks in the winter dock, which is 4.5km away from the village. There is now a shuttle service from the ferry to Marysville and back, but contact the Wolfe Island Tourism Association before your trip in order to be sure.
Big Sandy Bay in the summer

Big Sandy Bay in the summer


2.) Hell Holes

So much for family friendly, right? Standards, these days… This name actually refers to a geological attraction of sinkholes, caves, and rock formations created during a glacial period. There are also some unusual plants and forest environments, too, as part of this unique condition.


  • There is a small fee per person – call ahead to be sure
  • Out of town – accessible by car (see map)
  • Self-guided
  • If you’re going out this way, stop into the little village of Wilton and visit the cheese factory!


Kid in a hell hole.

Kid in a hell hole.

3.) Agnes Etherington Art Centre

The Agnes offers summer camps for people in their teens and also 8-12 year olds, conveniently located at the gallery on campus. These are led by local artists and there are even before- and after-camp care programs available for a small additional fee.


  • These day camps are extremely popular, so call as soon as possible.
  • Even if you can’t get your child into one of these camps, consider visiting the gallery together. There are knowledgeable docents who can talk to you about what you’re experiencing to help you get the most out of your visit.
Portrait of the kids as young artists. (Sorry for the clunky pun, James Joyce)

Portrait of the kids as young artists. (Sorry for the clunky pun, James Joyce)


Posted in Families, Kingston Tagged with: , , , , ,
3 comments on “Family Fun
  1. Stefan Merchant says:

    Having a car really helps. If so, I think great places to bring kids are Grass Creek park (halfway to Gananoque, near the woodworking museum on HWY 2), any of the locks on the Rideau system and Joel Stone beach in Gananoque. Grass creek park and Joel Stone beach both have beach swimming and a playground. If you are stuck at An Clachan, Lake Ontario Park is awesome (but cold and windy at times) and swimming at the YMCA is close by. The neighbourhood around An Clachan has many playgrounds and it is worth taking the kids to those ones, just for a change of scenery.

    • Sharday says:

      Thanks for this, Stefan. It’s true, we’re lucky around here that there are so many parks dotting the map. I know we’re looking forward to the beautiful gardening in Churchill Park.

  2. Sandra den Otter says:

    Some favourite free places to visit with children (none of which require a car):

    Kingston and Frontenac Public Libraries with fantastic programs, books, audio sources and kid’s programming for all ages https://www.kfpl.ca/kids

    Picnic and play in Kingston City Park: The splash pad is now up and running on weekends.

    Take the ferry as foot passengers to Wolfe Island for an ice-cream. http://www.wolfeisland.com/ferry.php

    Cycle along the waterfront or visit any of the city’s pools or splash pads: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/recreation/facilities/aquatic-facilities/wading-pools-splash-pads

    Further afield (requiring a car): Gould Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes with a public beach close to Kingston (with gentle water access for young children) and hiking trails. http://ontarioconservationareas.ca/78-summer-at-ontario-conservation-areas/84-gould-lake-conservation-area

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe to Gradifying

Gradifying Poll

Grad Community at Queen's
How connected do you feel to a community of other graduate students at Queen's?