Summer is for experiencing life to the fullest! These classic things to do in South Eastern Ontario are the ones returned to time and again for summer fun in the sun. Read on to add some unique experiences to your bucket list this season!
1. Quinte West Pop Ups
Now in its third year, Quinte West Pop-Ups overlooking the Trent River features eight wooden cabins and five food truck stations, to entice visitors with everything from ice cream to a beverage bar and a bakehouse. This year, Mini Pop-Ups are also on-site, featuring essential oils, totes, bows, and much more. Look for the Pop Ups from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am. To 7 p.m. in Centennial Park.
- Hotel packages elevate city experience
There’s so much to see and do in Kingston, it can take a few days to explore! Relax while discovering this unique city with hotel packages, showcasing attractions paired with the perfect places to stay. There is a package for everyone! Go behind the scenes at Canada’s most notorious prison with Kingston Pen Tours, then stay the night in comfort. Immerse yourself in history at Fort Henry and stay the night in the city that was once Canada’s capital! Enjoy a wellness retreat and rejuvenate with The Refinery Spa and Social House, or treat your taste buds and feast on the city’s culinary scene with Kingston Food Tours. Rover tagging along? No problem! Pamper your pooch dog packages with Green Acres Inn. Sip the afternoon away with a delightful afternoon tea package with the Secret Garden Inn. Rejuvenate with the Glow Skincare Spa Retreat and feel rested after your time away. Fondue? More like fun-due! Everybody’s favourite social meal is reimagined with this package through Secret Garden Inn.
- Improbable Escapes: Wonderland (West-End)
Inspired by storybooks and fairytales, the games at Improbable Escapes Wonderland in the west-end of Kingston are fully immersive puzzle-solving adventures! With themes like Seven Dwarves: Mining Mission and Neverland: Heist on the High Seas, these escape rooms promise family-friendly fun while still being challenging. Did you know all games at Improbable Escapes are fully designed in house by their development team? That’s means that set designers, illustrators, electrical planners, game designers and more work together for more than six months per game to bring new adventures to life!
- Sherlock Escapes
Become a detective! Choose a case to crack and dive into these story-driven escape rooms. Virtual rooms and Unsolved Mysteries are also available.
5. Freshwater Diving and Snorkelling
With exceptionally clear river waters and home to world-renowned freshwater scuba diving, Brockville is the perfect place to explore underwater! Intriguing shipwrecks and Canada’s first underwater sculpture park with more than 45 statues make diving even more enticing. Personalized charter boats run daily for offering access to world class shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence River. Visit Dive Brockville for an unforgettable diving adventure in the 1000 Islands!
- Archie’s Golf
Unleash your inner child! Archie’s Golf has been a fixture on the Cornwall scene since the 1950s. With a driving range, 9 hole course, 18 holes of mini golf adventure, and 9 holes of foot golf, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to indulge in a sweet treat from Archie’s beloved Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop!
- Cornwall Community Museum
Step back in time at the Cornwall Community Museum – check out the new temporary exhibit, Cornwall and the Crown, which showcases Cornwall’s intriguing relationship with Queen Elizabeth and the Crown. Discover archival materials, displays of textiles, household items and furniture as well as children’s games to enhance the museum experience for the family.
- Guindon Park BMX Track
BMX enthusiasts, this one’s for you! One of the longest sanctioned BMX tracks in Ontario is the Cornwall BMX Track located at Guindon Park. The track hosts more than 50 racing events a year and draws visitors from Ontario, Quebec and the United States, including a provincial qualifier this summer which sees top riders in the province compete! Guindon Park itself is a hidden gem, with access to the city’s off-road bike trails and the St. Lawrence River, as well, as walking trails.
- Cornwall Motor Speedway
Get your motor running at the Cornwall Motor Speedway! Hear the roar of the engines at this fun summertime tradition; the speedway promises several feature races every Sunday on the quarter-mile dirt track. Check out the upcoming events as the track often heats up with special races throughout the summer and fall as well, such as a Canada Day Spectacular and the Canadian Super Dirt Weekend in the fall.
- Avonmore Berry Farm
Nothing says summer like berry picking! Strawberries and raspberries complement 20 different varieties of veggies, as well as apples and pumpkins in the fall. Bring the whole family to enjoy children’s play areas with sandboxes, tire swings and hay mow and slides. Peek into the panty to take home some more produce from the farm, baked goods, ice cream or jam.
- Fields of Gold
It’s like a dream: strolling through sunflower fields then picking your own fresh bouquet of stunning zinnias, dahlias and mixed sunflowers. Make memories last by booking a private photo pod. The gardens create a colourful and whimsical backdrop for photos. A sunny day to remember!
- Crysler Park Marina
This is a full-service marina where little extras make it unique! Crysler Park Marina offers mooring, waterfront camping and cabins, fishing, watersport rentals and even recreational areas to toss some horseshoes, play soccer or ball with the kids or spend some time on the swingset. A great homebase for exploring the 1000 Islands area around Morrisburg.
Spotlight on Merrickville
With a brilliant combination of history, art and places to eat, Merrickville is a one-stop shop for a summer day along the Rideau Canal.
- Blockhouse Museum
This is a rare opportunity: go inside one of the few blockhouses built on the Rideau Canal! This National Historic Site was the largest blockhouse built on the Canal and dates back to 1832. It was originally a defensive building to protect the Rideau Canal from possible invasion. Eventually repurposed as the home of the lockmaster and his family, it now tells the story of the Rideau and Merrickville through displays and interpretive activities. Open daily for most of the summer!
- The Locks at Merrickville
The unique configuration at Merrickville is an impressive example of locking through on the Rideau. The Merrickville locks feature three manually operated locks separated by two basins. Dating to 1830, they have a combined lift of more than seven metres. Visitors from across the world come watch boats going through the locks and stroll along the Parks Canada lock station. Fun fact: the locks are located at the earliest mill site on the Rideau River.
- Intriguing Architecture and The Depot Friends of the Rideau Depot Visitor Centre is open throughout the summer season and offers maps, info and souvenirs, as well as public washrooms. It’s located in a charming historic building dating to 1900 that was once used as a storehouse. It’s a good pit stop while enjoying the famed historic architecture of Merrickville. In fact, the community is home to more designated heritage buildings than any other Ontario community of a similar size! Be sure to check out the Merrickville walking tour for a full history!
- The Ruins
Telling of a time when Merrickville was an important industrial community, the Merrickville Ruins show remnants of a woollen mill from the mid-19th century. According to the Merrickville walking tour, it’s part of an industrial complex that grew around William Merrick’s original sawmill. In that vicinity there were flour and grist mills, as well as a major foundry and the woollen mill. The Ruins provide an intriguing chance to explore history on foot, as visitors can walk through the site.
Art along St. Lawrence Street in Merrickville
Merrickville is a mecca of artisan creations at studios and shopping nooks. Plan a trip through the artistic haven and meet local artists to find your next eye-catching piece. One stroll along St. Lawrence Street in Merrickville provides your art fix!
17 .Rowland Leather
The real deal! Michael Rowland has been making leather goods of incredible style and quality for more than 40 years, winning awards for his designs and expertise with leather. Look for the famous Rowland original bags, keytags, eye glass cases, cell phone holders and coin purses all handcrafted one piece at a time in Michael’s studio. Available in store or online.
- Monsky Creations Gallery
These internationally-coveted, highly collectable works are created by artist Monica Viola, a multi-disciplined artist working with clay, glass, painting and fabric
- Anarchy Gallery
This is a boutique unlike any you’ve seen before, featuring Angelina Wrona’s internationally acclaimed paintings. Then head to Abel Mountain to find trendy fashions and cute must-haves for your home.
- Gray Art Glass
Witness creativity in motion at this gallery and studio which has been a fixture in Merrickville for decades. Featuring tree of life balls, witch balls, glassware, vases, workshops, memorial glass and much more, Gray Art Glass pieces are available in the shop and online.
Cure your appetite in Merrickville
- Violets on Main
The little place with big taste! Imagine buttertarts, fresh bread, custom cakes and that delicious bakery smell wafting out the door. That’s Violets in Main – goodies made with heart in Merrickville.
- Pickle & Myrrh
Well-loved artisan sea salt caramel shop in Merrickville, with a fairyland twist this season! Pickle & Myrrh has recently upped their offering of locally made pottery and paintings, as well as the variety of products available. Also a brilliant go-to for gift baskets and special market events throughout the year!
- Stella Luna Merrickville
This European style café is known for its excellent gelato made with passion and savoured with gusto. The gelato is prepared on site, from scratch daily, using only fresh and quality ingredients with no artificial colour or flavour. That recipe created top-notch gelato that has won over locals and visitors alike!
- Yellow Canoe Cafe
Food that soothes the body and soul? Yes, please! Think local with a view at this licensed café and bakery where everything is made fresh and in house. Soups, desserts and sandwiches are all made from scratch in the Yellow Canoe kitchen and served in the dining room or patio. Yes, there really is a yellow canoe here! If visiting in the summer, be sure to snag a spot on the garden patio as it overlooks the Merrickville blockhouse and historic locks on the Rideau Canal.