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Best Things to Do in Napanee Ontario: The Ultimate Guide

Here are the best things to do in Napanee and Greater Napanee, Ontario for an awesome day trip. I encourage you to spend at least a few days in the area, making your home base in Napanee. Please check out my 3 day itinerary for Lennox and Addington County where I provide a travel guide for the entire region.

If you only have one day in Napanee, I’ve got the perfect way to spend your time in this great place. Perhaps you’re traveling between Brighton and Belleville towards Kingston and the Thousand Islands. Napanee is one of the best small towns in Ontario to visit and a great road trip destination. It’s an unmissable spot in Southeastern Ontario.

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Things to do in Napanee Ontario

In this Town of Greater Napanee travel guide, I’m going to show you how to have an amazing day or weekend in Napanee. You’ll find details on the best things to do in Napanee, restaurants and cafes to visit, and where to stay in Napanee. You may know Napanee as the hometown of Avril Lavigne, but there’s so much more to Napanee beyond that fact!

Best Things to Do in Napanee, Ontario: Napanee Falls and Springside Park

Best Things to Do in Napanee, Ontario: Napanee Falls and Springside Park

If you love waterfalls and local parks, this is one of the top things to do in Napanee. Walk over to Springside Park where you can witness the magnificient Napanee Falls. Also known as Springside Park Falls, this waterfall is a gently flowing cascade that’s 30 to 40 metres long and 10 metres wide near the mouth of the Napanee River.

Best Things to Do in Napanee, Ontario: Napanee Falls and Springside Park
Best Things to Do in Napanee, Ontario: Napanee Falls and Springside Park
Best Things to Do in Napanee, Ontario: Napanee Falls and Springside Park
Best Things to Do in Napanee, Ontario: Napanee Falls and Springside Park

The Napanee River is one of two rivers in the world that experience “seiche”, which is a change in tide due to the wind. The tides naturally rise and fall with predictability every two hours or so due to prolonged winds across Lake Ontario. Witnessing high tide on the Napanee River also happens to be a registered Earth Cache on the Geocaching website.

What to Do in Napanee: Napanee Conservation Park

Things to do in Napanee Ontario

From the north end of Springside Park, walk south past the waterfall on the boardwalk towards the Napanee Conservation Park. This is one of the best walking trails with lots of beautiful scenery. Go for a stroll on the boardwalk until you reach Napanee Conservation Park.

Greater Napanee Sign
Napanee Conservation Park
Napanee Conservation Park

Napanee Conservation Park is a spot where people dock their boats, locals gather with their family and friends for a picnic, and where friends get together for a day outdoors. I walked to the far edge of the park to admire views from the banks of the Napanee River. Just across the river is where you’ll take the Norman Paul River Tours boat cruise later in the day.

Norman Paul River Tours: Pontoon Boat Cruise

Norman Paul Boat Tours - Things to do in Napanee Ontario

For a one of a kind experience, spend your evening taking a Norman Paul River Cruise from the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace. It’s a fully licensed 45 foot pontoon boat that gently drifts down the Napanee River to the entrance of Mohawk Bay.

Norman Paul Boat Tours - Things to do in Napanee Ontario
Norman Paul Boat Tours - Things to do in Napanee Ontario

You can pre-order food to enjoy during your sailing, and there’s also a bar on board with wine and beer. I ate a delicious falafel wrap and salad along with some locally brewed beer (from Mackinnon Brothers Brewing in Bath). You can ask for the falafel wrap to be prepared vegan.

Norman Paul Boat Tours - Things to do in Napanee Ontario
Norman Paul Boat Tours - Things to do in Napanee Ontario

The tour itself takes 1.5 hours and the pontoon travels 16km roundtrip. There are beautiful river views all around. Unwind and soak up your surroundings. I highly recommend the Norman Paul Boat Tour as a different way to go out for dinner, and also as an Ontario attraction that you’ll only experience in Napanee.

Things to Do in Greater Napanee: Public Art

Public art in Napanee - Palletable Art Project

For those who love public art, Napanee has a collection of works under the Pallet’able Art Program. It’s an initiative by the Greater Napanee Arts & Culture Advisory Committee.

Public art in Napanee - Palletable Art Project
Public art in Napanee - Palletable Art Project
Public art in Napanee - Palletable Art Project

These are sponsored works of art dotted throughout town. Each public art work features imagery painted across repurposed wooden industrial pallets or skids.

Public art in Napanee - Palletable Art Project
Public art in Napanee - Palletable Art Project

You’ll find the majority of this public art in downtown Napanee, specifically between Springside Park and Napanee Conservation Park. There is a map on the Greater Napanee website with photos of all of the art with information on where to find them.

Go Shopping in Downtown Napanee

Go shopping in downtown Napanee

Downtown Napanee has many unique boutique shops that are locally owned and operated. Be sure to take a stroll down the main strip (Dundas Street West), as well as Market Square. Here are some of the shops that I really enjoyed.

Starlet

Starlet Boutique

Starlet is a fun and fantastic boutique in downtown Napanee with all kinds of interesting goodies and gifts. They have a huge selection of clothing, jewelry, shoes, accessories, purses, housewares, gifts, and bath and body items. The store is beautifully designed with a very Instagrammable look to it.

Black Barn Company

Black Barn Co

Black Barn Co is a family owned and operated business in Market Square, Napanee. It was one of my favourite local shops to visit. They are a lifestyle and home decor boutique with hand selected housewares, personal care items and gifts. Every month, they also feature a local artist’s works in the shop, too. Definitely stop by to browse this beautiful store.

AYS Accessories

AYS Accessories

AYS Accessories, also located in Market Square, has a wide array of purses, bags, hats, and jewelry. It’s all about pairing your outfit with that perfect accessory and adding some flair to your wardrobe. I loved their display of floppy hats, which made me want to plan a beach day, stat. It’s a great spot to shop for gifts or treat yourself.

Convenient Candy Shop

Convenient Candy Shop

Got a sweet tooth? Convenient Candy Shop is not your average candy store. There are sweets and treats that you might not have seen since you were a kid. There are candies in all flavours imaginable! Once you set foot in the shop, you won’t be able to resist buying a snack or two.

Napanee Blooms

Napanee Blooms

Napanee Blooms is a flower shop that also has plants, greenery, and things for the home. When I walked into Napanee Blooms, I immediately smelled the fragrant candle they had burning and couldn’t resist buying one for my home. This is a lovely little shop for those who adore plants and cute decor.

Cafes and Restaurants in Napanee

There are a wide variety of restaurants and coffee shops in downtown Napanee that you need to check out. Here are a few of my top picks when it comes to cafes, bakeries, pubs and eateries.

Loaf N’ Ale Pub

Loaf N Ale Pub

For lunch, check out the Loaf N’ Ale Pub in downtown Napanee. It’s a British pub with a spacious patio out front. There’s an expansive menu with something for everyone. I sat on the patio and enjoyed a vegan veggie stir fry on rice.

The Waterfront River Pub & Terrace

While I didn’t dine at the Waterfront River Pub & Terrace, I did order one of their meals on board the pontoon river boat cruise. “The Persian” is their delicious falafel wrap that you can order vegan. In fact, they have an entire separate vegan menu featuring four entrees, four salads, and six appetizers.

Ellena’s Cafe and Pantry

Ellena's Cafe and Pantry

Ellena’s Cafe and Pantry is a wonderful place to stop for breakfast, lunch, coffee or shopping. There is a menu of light bites, sandwiches and other treats.

Ellena's Cafe and Pantry
Ellena's Cafe and Pantry

You can order any kind of coffee or espresso beverage that you like, and there’s an ample amount of seating at the back of the store. In addition, there’s a shop with housewares, things for the kitchen, and unique ingredients for your next homecooked meal.

The Bakery and Bistro Spot

The Bakery and Bistro Spot

The Bakery and Bistro Spot (formerly called Dundas Street Bakery) makes tempting pastries, donuts, cakes, and breads adding a touch of Europe. The recipes are over 75 years old, and you can also pair your treats and desserts with delicious coffee and tea. I was really excited to find some vegan donuts and cupcakes at BaBS, too!

Coffee Cravings

Coffee Cravings

Coffee Cravings quickly became one of my favourite coffee shops in downtown Napanee. They’ve got all of the classic espresso drinks and enticing specials. It’s a warm and inviting place to meet your friends and you can also enjoy their outdoor patio in the warmer weather.

Discover Old Architecture and Buildings

Downtown Napanee

Napanee is one of the oldest municipalities in Ontario. The United Empire Loyalists settled here after the American War of Independence. In 1785, residents built a saw mill on the river near the waterfall, followed by a grist mill in 1786. There were nearly two dozen buildings in town by 1830. Napanee was incorporated as a village in 1855 and as a town in 1864.

When you visit Greater Napanee, I recommend taking a self-guided walking tour to discover all of the local architecture and old buildings, especially if you’re a history buff. The Greater Napanee website has a complete historic walking tour that you can take on your own. Here are a few notable places to check out that date back to the old town of Napanee, even if you have a limited amount of time.

Greater Napanee Town Hall

Napanee Town Hall

Napanee Town Hall was built in 1856. It is an early example of a town hall and market combination, which was popular in Ontario before 1870. This city hall was once the centre of community life, and Sir John A. Macdonald made his campaign speech from its balcony in 1882. In 1928, more detailing and columns were added to the building, likening it to a classic Greek temple.

County Court House

Napanee County Court House

The County Court House was built in 1864 and has a classical and traditional style. The court room itself has the original 1864 benches and raked floor. There was an extensive renovation and addition completed in 1992. Today, the court house continues to serve Lennox and Addington County.

Napanee Post Office

Napanee Post Office

The Napanee Post Office was one of the first buildings to be designated by the Town of Napanee under the Ontario Heritage Act. It was constucted in 1888 on the corner of Bridge Street and John Street. It’s designed in a Romanesque style and the red sandstone for the building was obtained from quarries on the Rideau River.

Trinity Church

The Trinity Church is diagonally across the street from the post office building. It’s located on land once used by Wesleyan Methodists for Christian worship before 1840. Over time, there have likely been four buildings on this land, with the current church built in 1906.

Allan Macpherson House

The Allan Macpherson House dates to 1826 and has Neo-classical elements combined with Georgian design. Allan Macpherson was a merchant who leased the saw and grist mills from the heirs of Richard Cartwright U.E. Nowadays, there are special exhibits and events at the Allan Macpherson House, including displays set up by the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives. It’s also possible to take a tour of the house itself.

Where to Stay in Napanee

23 Market Square Airbnb

When I visited Greater Napanee, I stayed in a delightful Airbnb right downtown called the Town Hall Suite. It’s facing out into Market Square and it’s right across from Napanee’s historic town hall building. The kind and welcoming hosts, Darlene and Sarah, will make you feel right at home. If you have any requests at all throughout your stay, they will go above and beyond to assist you.

23 Market Square Airbnb
23 Market Square Airbnb
23 Market Square Airbnb

This apartment invites you to kick back and savour small town living. Walk straight from the apartment all over town. There’s free parking, so leave your car behind while shopping and wandering around town. I loved the exposed brick wall in the bedroom, and the bed is so comfortable. The apartment is very quiet, so I had a very restful night’s sleep. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Town Hall Suite apartment, and I wouldn’t hesitate to return in the future.

More Places to Stay in Napanee

Do you want to see more places to stay in Napanee? It’s an amazing Ontario road trip destination. Here are hotels and accommodations displayed on a map. Enter your travel dates and compare prices, locations, and more.

More Things to Do in Napanee

Can you believe that there are even more things to do in Napanee, Ontario? Here are a few of the places that I didn’t have the chance to visit this time around:

  • Lennox and Addington County Museum & Archives: local history collections and past stories of the region
  • Old Hay Bay Church: the oldest surviving Methodist building in Canada
  • Napanee Golf & Country Club: one of the oldest nine hole golf courses in Canada
  • Rent a kayak or paddleboard with Riverbank Rentals in Napanee to go paddling on the river
  • Strathcona Paper Centre to catch a local hockey game
  • Canadian Piano Museum in the historic Stevenson House
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