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THOUSAND ISLANDS VACATION

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Thousand Islands International Bridge
Thousand Islands International Bridge
Photo © 1000 Islands International Tourism Council

The Thousand Islands is an understatement. There are actually 1,874 islands in the 1000 Islands, located where the St. Lawrence River, northern New York State and Ontario meet. They range in size from chunks of rock to islands several miles across.

Three bridges cross the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Islands Region—the Dam Bridge from Cornwall, the Ogdensburg-Prescott Bridge and the Thousand Islands Bridge, which links New York Interstate 81 and Hwy 401 in Ontario.

The New York State Welcome Center, in Alexandria Bay, next to the Thousand Islands Bridge and Interstate 81, offers travel information, free WiFi and picnic areas.

St. Lawrence River cruises

A Thousand Islands cruise is a great way to begin a tour of the 1000 Islands. Boat tours depart from Alexandria Bay and Clayton, NY, as well as from Kingston, Gananoque, Brockville and Rockport, Ontario. Visitors can choose from sightseeing cruises, lunch and dinner cruises.

Most 1000 Island tours include Boldt Castle on Heart Island. George Boldt, who owned the New York City Waldorf Astoria Hotel, began building the six-story, 120-room castle in 1900 for his wife, Louise.

When she died suddenly, in 1904, construction stopped and Boldt Castle remained vacant for 73 years. Since 1977, renovations have restored many of the rooms, décor and furniture, which visitors can see on self-guided tours.

Boldt Castle on Heart Island
Boldt Castle on Heart Island
Photo © George Fischer. Reproduced with permission
from 1000 Islands International Tourism Council

Thousand Islands fishing

St. Lawrence River fishing draws visitors to 1000 Islands communities like Ogdensburg, Clayton, Cape Vincent and Henderson Harbor. Fishing charters bring anglers out to catch muskie, pike, walleye and bass. Most villages have marinas, so boats, bait, gear and fishing guides are easy to find.

A highlight of any 1000 Islands fishing trip is a shore dinner. While anglers enjoy bacon and tomato sandwiches, fishing guides fillet and fry the day's catch. The freshly fried fish is served with salt potatoes (whole potatoes, with their skins, boiled in heavily salted water and eaten with melted butter) and salad.

1000 Islands salad dressing

The salad is usually dressed with Thousand Islands salad dressing. Its origins go back to George Boldt. According to the story, Boldt's steward served him a delicious new dressing on his salad, during lunch, as he cruised along the St. Lawrence River in his yacht.

George Boldt enjoyed the salad dressing so much, that he named it 1000 Islands dressing after the beautiful region where it was first served. He added Thousand Islands dressing to the Waldorf Astoria menu and promoted the steward to work in his New York City hotel.

Antique Boat at Rock Island Lighthouse in Fishers Landing, NY
Antique Boat at Rock Island Lighthouse in Fishers Landing, NY
Photo © George Fischer. Reproduced with permission
from 1000 Islands International Tourism Council

Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Driving the Seaway Trail, along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, is a good way to visit shoreline communities. Each town in the 1000 Islands Region has its highlights.

Sackets Harbor was a ship-building center and a battlefield during the War of 1812. History buffs can watch an orientation show and take self-guided tours at the Sackets Harbor Visitor Center. Grocery stores and the Sackets Harbor Brewing Company bar and restaurant sell War of 1812 ale.

The Seaway Trail Discovery Center houses interactive displays on the wildlife, scenery, historic attractions, lighthouses, recreational activities, food and wines found along the 518-mile Seaway Trail, one of America's Scenic Byways.

Near Watertown, NY, Burrville Cider Mill produces sweet cider, pressed from fresh apples every fall. Outfitters and rafting companies offer whitewater rafting, kayak tours and rentals on the Black River.

Wolfe Island Ferry

Tibbetts Point Lighthouse and Cape Vincent, NY, are located where Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River meet. Visitors can ride Horne's Ferry, the only international ferry for cars and passengers, across the St. Lawrence River to Wolfe Island, Ontario, between May and October.

In Clayton, NY, the Antique Boat Museum is housed in several buildings along the waterfront. Included in the collection of antique freshwater boats is a 110-foot houseboat, built in 1904. La Duchesse, a houseboat built in 1903 as a summer home for George Boldt, is docked at the Antique Boat Museum.

Visitors can rent St. Lawrence River skiffs to explore the Clayton waterfront. The oldest continuous Antique Boat Show in the world is held here every August.

NY wineries

Clayton is a good place to sample Thousand Island regional foods. Look for 1000 Islands River Rat Cheese, an aged cheddar made by Gold Cup Farms.

Frederic Remington bronze statue, Buffalo Signal
Frederic Remington bronze statue, Buffalo Signal
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Seaway Trail roadside stands and food markets sell fresh cheese curds and cheddar cheeses made by Great Lakes Cheese in Adams NY. The cheeses go well with Northern New York wines produced by wineries on the Thousand Islands Seaway Wine Trail, such as Coyote Moon Vineyards, Otter Creek Winery, Yellow Barn Winery and Thousand Islands Winery.

Remington bronze statues

The restored Clayton Opera House hosts live performances year-round. For more arts and culture in the Thousand Islands, follow the Seaway Trail along the St. Lawrence to Ogdensburg, NY.

The Frederic Remington Art Museum, in Ogdensburg, features the largest single collection of paintings, bronzes and sketches by this famous artist of the Old West.

Thousand Islands hotels

The 1000 Islands Visitors Guide, Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Magazine and their respective websites provide information on hotels, motels, housekeeping cottages, cabins, houseboats and camping in private and New York State Parks.

They also include information on things to see and do in the Thousand Islands, including watersports, golf courses, outdoor recreation, sightseeing tours and special events.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

1000 Islands Region: www.visit1000islands.com

Great Lakes Seaway Trail: www.seawaytrail.com

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Empire State Building - New York City

Corning Museum of Glass Features Glass Art, Glassmaking and Antique Glassware

Finger Lakes New York State Vacation

Buffalo NY - What to See and Do

Shopping in Buffalo Area Fashion Outlets, Malls, Duty Free and Boutiques