Beautiful water, awesome small towns, history of the rich and famous, great food, and outdoor fun are just a few of the things we found when visiting the 1000 Islands area during our recent Lake Ontario Road trip. Before our trip we had heard about the 1000 Islands, but knew very little. The pictures looked beautiful and we wondered if the area would really be that great. It was!
The 1000 Island area is located on the western end of the St. Lawrence River, where the river meets the northeast corner of Lake Ontario. The 1000 Islands area includes the small towns in the US and Canada on the shores of the river and over 1,800 islands on the river.
We started our 1000 Islands experience on the US side (the south shore of the river) in Sackets Harbor. We followed the Seaway Trail, a road around the southern Lake Ontario shore, and visited the towns on the US side between Sackets Harbor and Alexandria Bay. After crossing the bridge to Canada, which is located a few miles west of Alexandria Bay, we drove about 12 miles/20KM west to Gananoque.
Sackets Harbor looks like a town out of a picture book… a beautiful little harbor, cute shops and restaurants, and a park at the lakeshore that’s also a War of 1812 landmark.
Due to the flooding on Lake Ontario, the water in the harbor was very high. However, everything in town seemed fully operational.
We visited Sackets Harbor at dinner time and had a number of great looking restaurants to choose from. We decided on Goodfellos based on the reviews and Daniel’s unrelenting lobby for pizza. Todd and I are not huge fans of pasta so we were hesitant at first. However, Goodfellos offers a lot more than pizza and pasta and we were blown away with amazing meals!
Todd and I split the Classic Salad for Two, Todd had a Mediterranean tuna special, I had the scallop appetizer, and Daniel had a pizza. The pictures tell the story… everything was fantastic!
An item to note about the US side of the 1000 Islands area… the lodging in the small towns is primarily B & B’s and independent motels. We stayed in Watertown, which is inland and about 15 minutes driving from Sackets Harbor, and has lots of chain hotels and restaurants. When we visit again we will consider a B & B or the hotel in Clayton so we are closer to the water.
Alexandria Bay is a hub of activity! It’s larger and a bit more touristy than the other towns we visited, but has a lot to offer including Uncle Sam Boat Tours.
There are two main 1000 Island area boat tour options options: Uncle Sam Boat Tours from the US side and Gananoque Boat Line from the Canadian side. We chose Uncle Sam Boat Tours because it is less expensive and offers the option to get off at the Bolt Castle at the end of the tour without deciding ahead of time. We weren’t sure if we’d want to get off at Bolt Castle and didn’t want to lock ourselves in.
The Uncle Sam Two Nation Tour was awesome! The tour was about 2.5 hours and included a guide who provided fantastic information. We learned about the huge homes (and their owners!) on the islands and shorelines, the stunning Bolt Castle, the history of the area during US Prohibition, the ecosystem of the river, the split between the US and Canadian islands, and lots more!
The boat also offers a nice snack bar and full bar… there really is something for everyone!
The boat boards 15 minutes before departure and we recommend getting in line a bit earlier if you want to make sure you have a good seat on the top deck.
We opted not to get off the boat at Bolt Castle. However, Uncle Sam Boat Tours runs a shuttle to and from the island regularly for no additional charge so visitors can get off and stay as long as they like.
Could our visit to the 1000 Islands get any better? Yes! We fell in love with the little town of Gananoque!
When researching Gananoque we found The Gananoque Inn & Spa, which is located in town and on the water. We were tired of staying at chain hotels out of town and were excited to find a room on the river available!
The Gananoque Inn & Spa exceeded our expectations. The 2 Queen Waterfront room is spacious, very clean and comfortable. However, the real highlight is the river area. The room opens up to a large lawn and garden right on the river. There are multiple seating areas for guests to sit and enjoy the scenery.
A couple other notes about The Gananoque Inn & Spa. It’s a very short walk to the Gananoque Boat Line. Also, breakfast is included in the room rate and is very good.
Gananoque has a number of highly rated restaurants. Todd and I were in the mood for sushi, but that wouldn’t work for Daniel… we decided on Stonewater Gastro Pub and wow! We had a great experience!
Stonewater Gastro Pub has both indoor and outdoor seating options. We loved the vibe of both but decided on outdoor option. The menu is expansive and offers lots of regular favorites (like chicken tenders for Daniel) and some really unique items like Red Thai Curry, Butter Chicken, and Spicy Curry Bangers.
I had an awesome salad, Todd had the Red Thai Curry with chicken, and Daniel had chicken tenders. Everything was fantastic… high quality ingredients and delicious!
As we ate we struck up a conversation with the group at the table next to us… Stonewater is a very friendly place that lends itself to meeting new friends! As we talked longer we found that we were talking to the owners of Stonewater, Jeff and Sue Girling! Not only did we have a great conversation, but they had us sample the cheeseburger, which is totally next level, and sent out their special dessert for Daniel’s birthday.
Ok, so this dessert really is special… it’s a cheesecake with big pieces of luscious carrot cake baked into it. We don’t have a picture because we were so excited to eat it!
Stonewater isn’t just a restaurant and pub… it’s an adults only B & B… a great place for a little getaway!
A few things before you leave…
· Leave a comment below with any questions and share your experiences so others can learn from you!
· Share this with other adventurers… just click share below.
· Are you part of the community? If not, you’re missing out on valuable information that is only shared in our regular emails. Click here to sign up!