Things to Do

A Trip to the Thousand Islands: The region offers boat tours, museums, parks

Thousand Islands
Photo by Michael Davis

Now that school is out for the summer, are you hoping to take a trip with your family?

Located just 90 minutes from Syracuse, the Thousand Islands region offers a plethora of family-friendly activities.

Alexandria Bay

Alexandria Bay is known as the “Heart of the Thousand Islands.”

One of my favorite spots to visit is Scenic View Park. The park includes a pirate-themed playground and a swim area – or you can walk over the footbridge (it is a replica of the Thousand Islands bridge) to Casino Island. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a great view of a cargo ship (or two) passing by!

A short walk down the riverwalk, next to the hospital, is the final resting spot of the Islander, a steamship that sank in 1909 after catching on fire at the dock. Though you can’t see it from above the water (you’ll need scuba gear to explore the wreck), there is a sign that explains the history – and the area offers stunning views of Heart Island and Boldt Castle. George C. Boldt, a millionaire, began building the castle for his wife, Louise, in 1900. Sadly, she passed away months before it was finished, and construction was halted. The structures were later restored, and visitors can now tour the castle and its grounds.

Also nearby is the Cornwall Brothers Store and Museum. The stone building dates back to 1866 (it used to be a general store), it is the town’s last remaining landmark from the 19th century. Today, there are three floors of exhibits, covering topics such as the history of the Thousand Islands, International Marathon races, and notable local individuals and families.

If you’d like a closer look at Boldt Castle, check out Uncle Sam Boat Tours. They offer a variety of options, including boat rides to Boldt and Singer Castles and a tour of Millionaire’s Row, a stretch of islands with luxurious homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

When you’re done exploring, head downtown for shopping and a bite to eat – or catch a movie at Bay Drive-In Theatre, located just a couple miles outside of town.

Did you know?
The Thousand Islands region is home to 1,864 islands.

Clayton

About a 17-minute drive from Alexandria Bay is the town of Clayton.

Start at Frink Park, and take in the views of the St. Lawrence River from one of its Adirondack chairs. During the summer months, the park also hosts concerts and a farmers’ market.

Clayton is also home to three museums: Thousands Island Museum (exhibits about decoys, wood working tools and horse racing – and the Muskie Hall of Fame); the Antique Boat Museum (more than 320 boats and thousands of boating artifacts); and the Handweaving Museum, which is located in the Thousand Islands Art Center.

End the day with a glass-bottomed boat tour to the Rock Island Lighthouse (offered by Clayton Island Tours).

Each of the four times we visited, we just spent the day, but if you’re planning a longer trip, there is plenty of family-friendly lodging in both Alexandria Bay and Clayton.

Of course, with more than 1,100 islands, there are many other places you can explore in the Thousand Islands, but Alexandria Bay and Clayton are a great place to start!


If You Go

Alexandria Bay

Bay Drive-In Theatre
Where:
State Route 26, Alexandria Bay.
More information: baydrivein.com.

Boldt Castle
Where:
1 Heart Island, Alexandria Bay.
More information: boldtcastle.com.

Cornwall Brothers Store & Museum
Where: 36 Market St., Alexandria Bay.
More information: alexandriahistorical.com.

Scenic View Park
Where:
8 Fuller St., Alexandria Bay.
More information:
villageofalexandriabay.com.

Uncle Sam Boat Tours
Where: 45 James St., Alexandria Bay.
More information:
usboattours.com.

Clayton

Antique Boat Museum
Where:
750 Mary St., Clayton.
More information: abm.org.

Clayton Island Tours
Where:
39611 Chateau Lane, Clayton.
More information: claytonislandtours.com.

Frink Park
Where:
300 Riverside Drive,
More information: villageofclayton.com.

Thousand Islands Art Center and Handweaving Museum
Where: 314 John St., Clayton.
More information: tiartscenter.org.

Thousand Islands Museum
Where:
312 James Street, Clayton.
More information: timuseum.org.

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