Embarking on a self-care pilgrimage

The best four places for alone time


With 2017’s rollercoaster of a summer finally over  which peaked in temperature around September 20  the crisp, invigorating autumn air has finally arrived. This is prime time to do all those fall activities you’ve looked forward to all year including apple picking, baking and of course, going out with your housemates. But amid midterm season, be sure to invest in self-care too by indulging in some much-needed alone time.

The following are a selection of my favourite solo activities to do around Kingston.


Fall can make you want to curl up under your duvet and begin hibernation – but you have all winter for that. Before the weather takes an icy turn, layer up with your favourite fall apparel and get outside for a walk around the city. According to the Mayo Clinic, you really can “walk your way to fitness” and improve your mood and overall outlook simultaneously.

Kingston has many great walking routes including by the waterfront, downtown and Portsmouth Village. You can also go on mini excursions during the week by taking a different route to class.

Pro tip: don’t wear a bag on walks to improve posture and do some light stretching before and after.

Kingston Coffee House

As an employee myself, I’m familiar with the magical atmosphere that is Cogro. However, I also know you can’t visit Cogro without running into every possible person you’ve met during your time at Queen’s.

For this reason, visiting an off-campus café can be best for your alone time.

While Kingston has an abundance of cafes to choose from including Balzac’s and Small Batch, my favourite is Kingston Coffee House (formerly known as Coffeeco). Located at 322 King St. East, Coffeeco is in a masonic building across from Springer Market Square. The open concept architecture, exposed brick and bookshelves create a welcoming space for settling in with a cappuccino.

Pro tip: take advantage of their half-price hot drinks every week day from 5-6pm.

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre

If you haven’t been to the Agnes since frosh week, then you are long overdue for a visit. Open six days a week and free to all patrons, the Agnes is Queen’s own research-intensive art museum offering year-round exhibitions. Founded in 1957, the gallery is comprised of Agnes Etherington’s neo-Georgian mansion and a more recent modern edition. Enjoy the “old meets new” architecture and the gallery’s balance of classical and contemporary pieces.

Pro tip: get lost in the Bader Collection’s assortment of Rembrandt pieces including more than 200 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.

The Isabel Bader Centre for Performing Arts

The Isabel is the pinnacle of your self-care pilgrimage. There are a myriad of ways to make your Isabel visit unique but my favourite sequence of events goes as follows; proceed off-campus by walking, not bussing — to the Isabel on the shores of Lake Ontario, grab a latte and breakfast sandwich from Juniper Café in the Tett Centre next door, enjoy your goodies on Juniper’s patio, then head to the Isabel’s light-filled atrium for a seat by the front windows — inevitably take an Instagram story of the view — and finally get down to work on your day’s agenda.

The Isabel is great for both studying and working on personal projects such as writing, reading or filling out postcards to friends far away. Whatever you’re doing at the Isabel, you’re in for a productive and fulfilling day with a beautiful view.

You can easily make the Isabel into a day trip (depending on how many delectable treats you’re willing to buy from Juniper) or just spend an hour or two catching up on some alone time.

Pro tip: befriend a film and/or music student to enjoy their 24-hour VIP access via their coveted FOB keys.

While in a university setting, we’re often tempted to surround ourselves with our friends 24/7, but it’s important to make sure we’re taking time to ourselves every now and then and prioritizing self-care.

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