My husband and I are proud graduates of the Queen’s University Faculty of Education (the Trent/Queen’s Concurrent program), so what better place to take the girls for a mini-break than the beautiful city of Kingston, Ontario?
We started our visit with some creative fun at Crockadoodle. The girls each chose an item of pottery from the huge selection shown below (a cupcake box for Maggie and a dog for Frannie) and very carefully painted it with their selected colours. Items are marked on the bottom with prices (for example, the cupcake was $22), which include the paint, glaze and kiln process.
Owner Lisa Ustel filled us in on how busy her Crockadoodle location has been since opening before Christmas, and this March Break day was certainly no exception. Not just for kids (though a great birthday party destination), the pottery painting process is very popular with adults too, and her weekly ladies’ nights are sold out far in advance.
A few careful coats of paint later (with lots of support from Theresa and other helpful employees), the girls had their creations ready to go:
We left the items behind to be glazed and then placed in the large kiln to be heated – to over 1800 degrees F – overnight. Since there is a turnaround of a couple of days (the only downside of the whole experience), Lisa kindly agreed to ship our items to us, but tourists should make sure to visit Crockadoodle at the beginning of their trip to have creations ready by the end!
When the final products arrive, I’ll be sure to update this post with an “after” photo!
Next, we were off to our hotel, the gorgeous Delta Kingston Waterfront
. The downtown location is very convenient (and if spring didn’t feel like winter we really could have walked everywhere). Covered parking was steps from the lobby door, and as soon as we walked inside we were impressed with the clean, modern look.
The girls are posing dutifully for this photo, pretending that they weren’t just fighting over who got to push the elevator button. They roll their own suitcases, which of course they pack and unpack themselves, too. Though that did mean Maggie came without pajamas…
The room was also modern and sleek, with just enough space for our family of four.
The view from our window (Kingston is located where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario)
Even the hotel toiletries made me happy, with their inspirational names and messages.
You may be wondering why I am showing this small closet. Well, dear reader, it’s to share with you that somehow my daughters managed to turn the space into a private change room. You gotta love kids.
Once we had unpacked, the agenda called for some fun (kids) and relaxation (me) at the top-floor pool and hot tub. (Loyal readers know which one I actually spent time in.) We arrived at a quiet time, prompting Frannie to announce “They must want a really good review from you, Mom! We have our own private pool and hot tub!”
The incredible view from the pool window:
This is my idea of a relaxing March Break – lounging by the pool with all the latest magazines on Next Issue. (Delta offers free wifi – a much-appreciated perk!)
For dinner, we headed up Princess Street to Megalos
, a favourite for my husband and me, but a first-time visit for the girls. It’s warm, inviting and private (lots of cozy booths), and while it’s welcoming to families, it has a classy feel, perfect for grownup meals as well.
The kids’ menu offers the standard fare you would expect, but also healthier options like a stir-fry and a chicken breast meal. All four of us were thrilled with our food (pasta for the girls, pizza for my husband and fish and chips for me) and the portions were large enough that we left with some take-out containers to stash in our hotel room fridge. Other “adult” selections on the menu
include pastas like Shrimp Florentine, Lobster Ravioli and Vegetarian Gnocchi, chicken dishes, stir-fry, salmon, steak, burgers and sandwiches. They also do lunch, weekend breakfast and special occasions/large parties.
It took a while to discuss the merits of linguine over penne, but eventually Maggie made her choice!
While we did have leftovers, we managed to find some room to share this delicious chocolate concoction, the perfect way to end any meal!
The service at Megalos was excellent, and combined with the delicious food and warm atmosphere (they call it “upscale casual, yet family-friendly”), it gets a very high recommendation from not only me but the (picky) girls and (even more discerning*?) Daddy. (*Update: I originally used the word “pickier”, but it’s not to say that he is unduly selective about what he eats – like his wife is – but that he appreciates good food and ambiance and would never give a good review if he didn’t mean it!)
Walking on Princess Street after dinner, I snapped this shot of the girls outside Gap. The reason? When we first found out we were expecting Frannie, and hadn’t yet told anyone, we took a trip to Kingston and at Gap I bought my baby-to-be her first gift: a little unisex white onesie with a cow and the word “Moo” on it. (Appropriate for country folk like us.) The onesie is now in her box of mementos, and every time I go by this Gap the memory rushes back.
Another downtown Kingston purchase that has been saved for the sake of sentimentality is a pair of “I got a job!” jeans, flares with detailed bottoms, picked up at a boutique on the February day I found out I had been hired with our school board for the following year. As a student, I had never spent so much (around $80) on one item of clothing!
I had hoped to take a picture of another landmark, the downtown Indigo store, but I learned that it closed a couple of years ago. It was there, on a trip almost seven years ago, that I decided I really was going to give the freelance writing thing a go, and I bought all of the parenting magazines I could find in order to immerse myself in that world. The rest is history.
Speaking of history, we took a few minutes to drive by the Faculty of Education, and answered the girls’ many questions about our university days!
After dinner we headed back to the pool at the Delta Waterfront, where I ended up meeting someone I haven’t seen since high school! (Small world, right?) Her two girls are around the same ages as mine, and they all had a good play together in the pool while my former schoolmate and I caught up. (For those who want to be a little more active during your hotel stay, Delta also offers a fitness room with elliptical machines, treadmills, bikes and free weights.)
At bedtime, we all took advantage of the luxury of watching TV in bed (something none of us can do at home) and as tired as the girls must have been, they insisted on watching the entire 10 p.m. episode of Love It Or List It. (Spoiler: They listed it.)
No matter what time my beautiful daughters go to bed, their little biological clocks wake them up by 7 a.m. every day, so we were off to an early start. After a smooth and speedy checkout from Delta and great breakfast at Peter’s Place (a diner-style restaurant right at the bottom of Princess Street) we visited the Museum of Health Care, where the girls learned a lot in a short period of time. I’m pretty sure Frannie will never forget that in the 1800’s, doctors might drink a patient’s urine in order to come up with a diagnosis. Ew!
An iron lung
The girls were invited to sit in on a free educational March Break program, where they were talking about the very important topic of being active. Admission to the museum is by donation, and there are tons of great activities and events for kids, so Kingston locals and visitors should be sure to check it out!
Kingston is an amazing city to visit, for couples or families, and we didn’t even come at the best time of year. When the weather warms up, there is so much to see and do downtown Kingston and beyond. Next time, we’d like to check out Canada’s Penitentiary Museum – lots of learning to be done there – and take in all of the fantastic shopping opportunities.
If you live in or are familiar with Kingston, I’d love to hear your ideas for other family activities we may have missed in this beautiful city. For others, I’m always happy to answer any questions you might have about our travel adventures.
Disclosure: We were provided with free accommodations at Delta, pottery painting at Crockadoodle, and meal at Megalos for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.