Located at the mouth of the Cataraqui and St. Lawrence rivers is the city of Kingston, Ontario. Thanks to the noble 19th-century buildings which line many of its downtown streets, Kingston has become known as the Limestone City.’ Kingston City Hall and The Bellevue House National Historic Site, home to Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, are just a few must-visit spots when you tour the city. 

Although Kingston is an ideal place for history buffs, it is also home to a lively student population, making it a prime location for a night out. Whether you’re looking for a properly poured pint of Guinness, a finely crafted cocktail with a side of live music, or a historic pub drawing on the themes of downtown Kingston, you’re sure to find your niche here. So, if you’re ready to de-stress and enjoy a night out with friends (or even solo), here is your guide to the best bars in Kingston.

An Authentic Irish Pub Experience at Tir Nan Og

Address: 200 Ontario St, Kingston, ON K7L 4Y9

If you’re looking for a classic Irish Pub experience, head to Tir Nan Og, across from Kingston’s waterfront and Springer Market Square. Sometimes referred to as the Nog,’ the pub is named after a Celtic otherworld popularized in Irish mythology. Formalities aside, this is the place to be if you want to belt out some karaoke with a pint of beer and pub food in tow. They have plenty of beer on tap, while the fish and chips, meat pies, and burgers are other menu favorites. In the warmer months, enjoy these activities on the outdoor patio. Tir Nan Og offers a welcoming environment for everyone thanks to the diversity of the crowd — there always seems to be a healthy mix of locals and visitors, especially in the summertime.

Bring the Energy at The Ale House & Canteen

Address: 393 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B9

When you’re looking for things to do in Kingston, consider visiting The Ale House & Canteen. This downtown dance bar, located in the heart of Kingston’s nightlife scene, is the most energetic of the listed options and certainly the biggest of the bunch. The Ale House is two floors, often playing the latest and most popular top 40 music. Country fans will enjoy Tumble Tuesday,’ a night dedicated to playing and singing the catchiest country tunes. 

Physically connected to the Ale House is Canteen, a more relaxed section of the establishment that is popular for those looking to kick back and enjoy a big game over some good pub food and drinks.

Live Music, Great Food, and Of Course, Drinks — The Mansion

Address: 506 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1C5

The Mansion is no doubt one of the best bars in Kingston. This vibrant restaurant and bar offers a vast beer selection and is open for weekend brunch, where visitors can enjoy their beloved 32oz Schooners. When visiting The Mansion in the warmer months, guests can enjoy the large outdoor patio, which has a Tiki Bar and a beach volleyball court — yes, you heard correct! The upstairs living room hosts live bands on the weekend, while the wine cellar is a unique spot of the establishment to visit or host events. As you can probably imagine, The Mansion offers visitors a unique location to experience — day or night.

A City Staple Since 1963 — The Grad Club

Address: 162 Barrie St, Kingston, ON K7L 3K1

The Grad Club is a gorgeous heritage building on the Queens University campus. Although run by a branch of the university, don’t expect it to have the often boisterous atmosphere of a homecoming house party. Historically, the establishment has existed since 1963, providing a fun yet relaxing environment for students, professors, and staff of the university. Not a student? No need to feel left out. If you’re visiting a variety of Kingston bars and pubs, you can add The Grad Club to your itinerary. It is open in the daytime for anyone to enjoy cocktails, a variety of beers, and simple pub food. On select evenings during the school year, students can enjoy trivia and live music. This multi-purpose establishment also hosts meetings and school tutorials, doubling as a study space thanks to its homey environment.

Lose Track of Time at Red House

Address: 369 King St E, Kingston, ON K7K 2Y1 

Red House has one of the top social atmospheres of all the options listed thus far. It’s a great place for a solo visit or an outing with friends. While here, it wouldn’t be uncommon to lose track of time as you catch a game and enjoy some of the delicious food and drinks they have on the menu. They are big on locally grown produce, humanely raised meat, and sourcing items from artisanal food producers. Speaking of food, some of the menu options include pulled brisket, apple potato salad, and a Canadian classic — poutine. Although some may refer to Red House as a restaurant and not a bar, we thought it would make sense to include them in this listing as they have an extensive menu of drinks. They have local and Canadian craft beers on tap, chardonnays, cocktails, and a comprehensive scotch selection. Keep in mind that the atmosphere here can get quite loud, so if you’re looking for a more intimate experience, it may be best to look elsewhere. 

Enjoy Drinks and Grub by the Lake at Merchant Tap House

Address: 6 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1A2

The Merchant Taphouse is one of the top bars in downtown Kingston, located on the shores of Lake Ontario. The establishment is set in a historic building from 1836, uniquely laid out with different rooms and beautiful decor. The environment makes it suitable for an outing with friends or a one-on-one date. The main room is where you’ll find a large bar with plenty of beer on tap — over 25 draught beer options to be more precise. There’s also a stage where from Thursday through Sunday you can find live bands playing out their tunes. While you enjoy the live music and animated conversation, be sure to have a look at the food menu, where you’ll find options like pasta, a 40 Creek Whiskey Burger, and handmade pizzas. In the warmer months, take the experience outdoors to the large patio overlooking the nearby lake.

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