Travel Kingston, Ontario: Where to go (and not go) with your dog

dog along lakeshore in Kingston Ontario“I wasn’t sure what to do with the chicken,” the server says as she places my muscles with a side of grilled chicken on the table. Understandable. It’s a weird order.

“The chicken is for him,” I say, pointing to my dog under the table.

That’s right. I’m eating at an Ontario restaurant with my dog Victor. Take that stupid provincial laws.

Chez Piggy Restaurant & Bar

Chez Piggy, one of Kingston, Ontario’s favourite restaurants, is dog friendly – outside in the courtyard, which frankly is where you want to be on a warm summer day. Because this restaurant is a converted limestone stable and originally zoned to contain animals, the site pre-dates many provincial laws and therefore permission to allow pets is grandfathered, making Chez Piggy exempt from Ontario’s ‘no dogs on patios’ laws.

It’s the place to dine with your dog. And it’s good too. Chez Piggy adds contemporary edges to traditional Canadian dishes and all bread is baked next door. Eating in the courtyard feels like finding a secret European hot spot in tucked away in a historic old town.

Victor loved the chicken though admittedly he’s not discerning. He characteristically fusses a bit but ultimately settles down under the table far from other pups … and there were several.

Otherwise, there are a few places in Kingston, Ontario to take the dog, even if Fort Henry isn’t one of them. (Victor could check out Fort Mackinaw in Michigan when we visited).

Kingston is a historic picturesque town located between Toronto and Montreal that prides itself on being Canada’s first capital in 1841. But it’s location on the shores of Lake Ontario made it vulnerable to American attack so inland Ottawa it was. The city was settled by Europeans in the 1600s on First Nation lands named Cataraqui, later called King’s Town in honour of King George III, but fortunately shortened to Kingston in 1788.

Today Kingston is known for Queens University, The Royal Military College and, oddly, maximum security prisons.

Breakwater Beach, King Street

We started our day in Kingston (before heading to the annual Kingston Sheepdog Trials running again August 9 to 11, 2019) at Breakwater Beach along King Street West and the shores of Lake Ontario.

Breakwater Beach is part of the 8 km Waterfront Pathway, and we spent about two hours walking the paved pathway and running over large rocky cement blocks that hold back the powerful Lake Ontario, frequently splashing over the top. The splashing water startled my excited roaming dog, but that didn’t stop him from venturing out for more. The day was windy and sunny – a combination resulting in a surprise sunburn.

Clearly, dogs are supposed to be leashed but Victor had a great time running along the shore, past people sunning themselves on rocks, toward the pier now named after the late Gord Downie, front man for The Tragically Hip who called Kingston home.

We visited shortly after the park renovations were complete in 2018. A significant park addition includes the reconditioning of a derelict post-industrial dock making it the first deep water urban swimming pier in the country. Swimming in the rough water wasn’t in the cards for us but racing across the rocks was.

Kingston Public Market, Springer Market Square

From there we drove past the former maximum-security penitentiary now offering tours. The infamous Kingston Pen was open 1835 and closed in 2013, housing some of the country’s most notorious killers and violent criminals. Now run by the St Lawrence Parks Commission, you can take the 1.5 tour daily but unfortunately not with the dog.

The Kingston Market, established in 1801, is also a popular visitor attraction and one more uplifting than the jail – also Springer Market Square behind city hall is entirely outdoors, so April to November the pooch can stroll with you past tables of veggies, flowers, and artisan foods, three days a week.

Sunday, the place becomes an antique market from 9 am to 4 pm, April to October, also pet-friendly.

The Market is within walking distance of downtown, along the waterfront, and near where you’ll find Chez Piggy. The Delta Waterfront is pet-friendly (advertised with a big poster) in the centre of the action within easy access to the many summer festivals lining the street.

We stayed at the Motel 6, slightly out of town and closer to the highway. Motel 6 is pet-friendly for no extra fee and rooms are clean good quality motel style, and the most economic value in an otherwise expensive city. Motel 6 is easier access to The Kingston Sheepdog Trials, which are far from downtown. Check out our Sheepdog Trials adventure here.

TRAVEL GUIDE: Chez Piggy, 68R Princess St., Kingston is open for lunch and dinner daily with the popular Sunday brunch starting at 10:30 am. Breakwater Beach is accessed from King Street West (park along the street) near Queen’s University.

The Kingston Public Market behind City Hall runs April to November on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. The Antique Market runs every Sunday, 9 am to 4 pm, April to October.

The Delta Waterfront, 1 Johnson Street, Kingston is within walking distance of downtown, the waterfront and market. Motel 6, 1542 Robinson Court, along Highway 401 but a 10-minute drive to Grass Creek Park, host to the Kingston Sheep Dog Trials in August.

The Original Haunted Walk of Kingston gathering most summer nights at 8pm is dog-friendly. (We missed the Kingston one but previously attended the company’s Toronto version here). The company also runs a Haunted Walk at the historic Fort Henry (also a popular tourist site), but unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed inside the fort.

One comment

  1. […] Surprisingly, Victor didn’t like cheese curds, but he did love the grilled chicken breast he had at Chez Piggy in Kingston, Ontario the night before. But dog-friendly Kingston is a post for another day. (Read our dog-friendly Kingston article here) […]

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