So much of the Ontario we know today started in the counties and cities that make up Southeastern Ontario. Steeped in history and heritage, lore and legend, Southeastern Ontario is home to the original capital city, historic mansions dotting the 1000 Islands and pioneer villages—not to mention it’s birthplace of Canada’s rock royalty, The Tragically Hip.
Experience serenity kayaking along natural waterways and aquatic wonders. Surround yourself with charm as you weave your way through local markets and quaint shops. Tantalize your taste buds while you indulge in the bounty and flavours from local farmers, winemakers, brewers, bakers, chefs and cheese makers. There’s no shortage of things to do in Southeastern Ontario. So what are you waiting for?
To learn more about all there is to see and do in Southeastern Ontario, scroll down or visit the region's tourism website.
Where is Southeastern Ontario?
Connected by some of Ontario’s most cherished and historics waterways, Southeastern Ontario is a stretch of long, narrow land running along the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River, from the Quebec border to its head at Lake Ontario and the zigzag route of the Bay of Quinte. The historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, flows down from Ottawa to Kingston to meet the St. Lawrence River.
Places to Visit in Southeastern Ontario
Southeastern Ontario includes many captivating cities like Picton, Brockville, Kingston, Gananoque and Cornwall—just to name a few.
Despite being the largest community in Prince Edward County, Picton maintains a friendly, small town vibe for residents and visitors alike. Located in the centre of town, the Regent Theatre is a century-old historic building where you can attend live concerts, movie screenings and variety show-style podcast recordings. If you’re visiting in the spring, summer or fall, take in the Saturday Picton Artisan Market or the weekend Farmers' Market in Wellington for a taste of local flavour.
In Kingston, you can experience heritage architecture, a mouth-watering culinary scene, live music, and more. The city is walkable, allowing you to stroll through hidden alleyways and find unique antique markets and restaurant patios around every corner. Explore the downtown shopping scene to find shops and boutiques offering one-of-a-kind items, or sample some of Ontario’s finest craft brews at one of nine awesome breweries. With dozens of museums and historic sites, including the historic Fort Henry and the infamous Kingston Penitentiary, there’s something for everyone to explore.
Known as the Gateway to the 1000 Islands, Gananoque is a beautiful waterfront town. Unleash your inner adrenaline-seeker and jump from a plane almost 5 km off the ground at Skydive Gananoque, or spend the day scouring for vintage finds at antique shops like Gramma Had That! Antiques and Collectibles.
In the easternmost corner of Ontario, Cornwall serves as the hub linking the counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Ontario’s Celtic Heartland. Live like the pioneers at Upper Canada Village and get a glimpse into life in the 19th century. Bike along the Waterfront Trail and take in the stunning views of the Cornwall Canal and St. Lawrence river.
Things to do in Southeastern Ontario
Experience the perfect balance between nature, culture and cuisine in Southeastern Ontario with award-winning local wine, craft beer, a rich live music scene, historical parks, lighthouses and the stunning 1000 Islands.
The St. Lawrence Seaway has long provided vital passage from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, so it’s no surprise there are sunken treasures in her waters. Over 200 shipwrecks are scattered throughout the 1000 Islands and St. Lawrence River and are popular scuba diving sites today.
From beaches to birdwatching, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission manages various natural and heritage sites along the river, ensuring treasured landmarks will remain for generations to enjoy.
Southeastern Ontario is also home to the Rideau Heritage Route, a heritage canal created to allow passage from Ottawa to the St. Lawrence. Navigate the canal by houseboat, boat tour or kayak between towns and villages along the way.
Bring a healthy appetite to this region because you’ll be treated to a bounty of local food and drink. Discover why Prince Edward County is Ontario’s fastest growing wine region. Let your tastebuds guide you through vineyards, farm stands, restaurants, cheese shops, cafes, bakeries and ice cream parlors.
In between meals, explore the white sandy beach and undulating sand dunes at Sandbanks Provincial Park, fish the Bay of Quinte, the Walleye Capital of the World or hike the trails in Frontenac, a UNESCO-designated Arch biosphere or climb the 1000 Islands Tower just north of Gananoque for one of the best views of this gorgeous region.
Last updated: November 1, 2021
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