Top 10 Adventures in the 1000 Islands

So, you only have a couple of days in Alexandria Bay and you need quick suggestions for what to experience?

We made it easy for you to explore our 1000 Islands Region with the Best of Alex Bay Top Ten Adventures Guide!  All of these suggestions are suitable for a single adventurer, a family, or a whole gang of friends and neighbors too.  Here is a snapshot of what our local residents often recommend to visitors for some must-do experiences in the 1000 Islands Community.

The Thousand Islands Region truly offers one of the most breathtaking and surreal settings in New York State, with islands dotting the St. Lawrence River ranging in size from a few square feet to Canada’s Wolfe Island, with its 48 square miles. Some islands remain wild and uninhabited, while others are adorned with Victorian homes and even world-class castles!  Along the shores, nestled into nooks and near deep harbors, visitors find quiet villages, as well as lively towns, like Alexandria Bay, all regularly celebrating their enchanted surroundings. Here’s just a few of things worth doing while your visiting the Thousand Islands! 

1. Visit World Class Boldt Castle!

castlesOnce on the water, it’s hard not to be drawn to the beauty and mystique of Boldt Castle on Heart Island. It’s harder still to forget the romantically tragic story behind it. Hotel magnate George C. Boldt began construction in 1900, meant for his beloved wife Louise. She died suddenly before it was finished, leaving Boldt heartbroken. Construction halted and he never returned. Now owned by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, and recently restored, the public can visit the castle via boat tours, water taxis or private watercraft. To be sure, Boldt isn’t the only castle in the region. Also check out Singer Castle on Dark Island in Chippewa Bay, New York.

2. Visit Historic Singer Castle

IMG_3283A part of American history and local folklore meet at Singer Castle on Dark Island, located on the St. Lawrence River in Chippewa Bay, New York. Singer Castle is the only remaining/existing castle on our river to be completed, fully furnished and resided in during the heyday of the great builders and industrials in New York. Calumet and Castle Rest (Pullman) were both completed and lived in. (And both were prior to Towers.) The Castle remained in the possession of the original owners, the Bourne family, from its construction in 1905 until the mid 1960’s. Frederick Bourne was the fifth President of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, which is where the name “Singer Castle” came from. When the Bourne family summered there, it was called “The Towers” which comes from the inspiration that Ernest Flagg, the architect whom designed this structure, had after reading the book Woodstock by Sir Walter Scott.

3. Tour 1000 Islands Wineries and Distilleries

wine-resizedAnother way to get to know the region is by visiting the burgeoning collection of family-owned wineries and distilleries – and taking a tour!  A growing number of wineries, vineyards and distilleries are giving visitors more reasons to spend time in the St. Lawrence River Valley in Upstate, New York. First launched in 2007, the Thousand Islands-Seaway Wine Trail connects wineries in Cape Vincent, Clayton, Alexandria Bay and beyond, making it easy for travelers to sample award-winning wines and get to know the region.

4. Charter a Fishing Guide on the St. Lawrence River

If there’s another major activity that makes the thousand islands region famous it’s the freshwater fishing!  The lake side is known to hold salmon, trout, walleye and lots of bass. Up the river, more bass, northern pike and muskellunge rule. There’s no shortage of ways to wet your lines, from park access points to public fishing places. But the best way to do it is with one of the many experienced fishing charters that call the waters home – your guide will even cook a traditional “Shore Lunch or Dinner” after a great day of freshwater fishing. Bring a New York State fishing license, and you could catch a trophy-sized fish.

5. Visit Wellesley Island State Park's Nature Center

Just across the Thousand Island Bridge awaits one of the largest of the islands, home to small Victorian communities, summer homes and Wellesley Island State Park — the largest state park around. Visitors can swim, camp, fish or golf. Or they can just hike along the miles of trails and stop in at the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center to learn more about the region’s natural history. The park even offers two and three bedroom cottages for rent as well as a campground for outdoor enthusiasts.

6. Enjoy a Boat Cruise Aboard Uncle Sam Boat Tours

uncle-samSunsets.  Sunken boat wrecks. World-Class castles you typically only see in Europe.  Magnificent summer homes of the rich and famous. International ships traveling on the main shipping channel.  The best way to see the Thousand Islands is by boat, where seasoned tour guides will share the stories of the more than 1,864 islands that cover 50 miles of the St. Lawrence River between New York and Canada. From two-hour cruises to private charters, Uncle Sam Boat Tours in Alexandria Bay knows the waters best – family owned and operated since 1926!  Uncle Sam Boat Tours has a cruise designed for everyone. Whether you’d like to spend the day touring two castles or just have a couple hours and would like to experience the beauty of the Thousand Islands, there’s a Thousand Islands boat cruise to fit your needs, including: Two Nation Tour1 Hour TourLuncheon and Dinner cruises, Singer Castle and Boldt Castle ShuttleTwilight Cruise and more.

7. Visit the 1000 Islands Ontario's Aquatarium (Canada)

Discover a world of learning right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River – in Brockville, Ontario (Canada)! The new 1000 Islands Aquatarium is just a short drive from Alexandria Bay, across the border.  At the Aquatarium, we believe that learning can be as entertaining as it is educational. We offer a variety of interactive adventures and experiences that inspire critical thinking through storytelling and play while cultivating an appreciation of the unique history, culture and ecosystems of the 1000 Islands of Ontario region. Discover the diverse wildlife of the islands, explore the area’s unique history and culture, learn about the economics of the St. Lawrence River, and get your body moving in our recreational experiences. From hands-on explorations of nautical science to first-hand encounters with native wildlife, the Aquatarium invites you to join a passionate conversation about the world around us while providing a uniquely educational and wholly entertaining experience.

8. Catch a Performance at the Clayton Opera House

clayton-opera-houseThe revived and renovated Clayton Opera House is the year-round performance center for the region and is used for a wide variety of cultural, educational, social and community events. The Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund (TIPAF) is a 501(c)(3) organization, incorporated in 1980. TIPAF is dedicated to supporting the performing arts in the Thousand Islands region by offering and promoting outstanding performers and events.

9. Experience Pirate Days in Alex Bay

largeOne annual event captures both the island vibe and the irreverent local attitude, and makes for a fun visit for families and others looking for adventure: Bill Johnston’s Pirate Days. Held annually on the second and third week of August, the celebration turns the streets and docks of Alexandria Bay into a living tribute to the renegade lifestyle. Performances, parades and even a pirate ship invasion take place during this annual celebration named after infamous local patriot, fugitive and folk-hero buccaneer Bill Johnston.

10. Tour the Antique Boat Museum

-94051f68c54d6ddeTo truly get a sense of the 1000 Islands Region’s love affair with the water, and to check out some cool wooden boats, make sure to visit the Antique Boat Museum in the Thousand Islands (Clayton). The museum’s galleries include over 300 expertly-maintained and restored boats over 4 acres, with special collections focused on wooden speed boats, canoes and the St. Lawrence Skiff. The museum also hosts the 51st annual Antique Boat Show in the summer.

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