The Thousand island region is a 50 mile stretch in the St Lawrence River bordering northern New York state, USA and southeastern Ontario, Canada region. The Thousand Islands is the official name for a group of nearly 2000 attractive islands with beautiful endless shorelines. The region is a popular tourist destination that offers not only breathtaking views but also surprises with rich history and unique culture. Cruising through this region mesmerizes with its fairytale castles, historic lighthouses, and impressive mansions. Thousand Islands is definitely an outdoor paradise and water wonderland for those who love outdoor vacation.
These photos are from our visit to Thousand Islands on July 4th weekend of 2010. After visiting Letchworth State Park, New York, we drove and stayed overnight at Alexandria Bay. The next morning we took a Singer Castle tour that stops at Boldt Castle from Uncle Sam Boat Tours and it was a wonderful trip!!
Quick Facts and Tips
- Best time to visit: June to early October
- June to mid August: Peak Season, Warm Temperature
- Late August to Early October: Shoulder season, Cooler temperature
- Fly Into:
- Syracuse Airport: Closest and almost 1.5 hours drive to Thousand Islands
- Buffalo Airport and Toronto: Nearest major airports. It takes more than three hours on the road to reach Thousand Islands and there are shuttles, trains and buses from airports to Thousand Islands, but they take longer.
- Clothing: Weather is warm, so pack light casual t-shirts, shorts, sundresses, tank tops, capris, skirts, sunscreen, hats, comfortable footwear, rain gears and a light jacket.
- Accommodation: Lodging in the region offer many options like rent private island homes, stay in waterfront inns, bed-and-breakfast or full-service hotels, and thousands of campsites
- New York, USA: Alexandria Bay, Clayton, Watertown
- Ontario, Canada: Gananoque, Kingston, Brookville
- Make sure if you need a passport and visa (US or Canada) before you book any tours.
- It is worth to include Thousand Islands in the trip plan if you are around the Finger Lakes region or Buffalo (New York, USA) or Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
- The only way to visit the islands is by boat/cruise. The boat/cruise tours are available from both sides of the United States and Canada. A boat ride from Alexandria Bay, New York, is about 20 minutes and it takes about 30 minutes from Gananoque, Ontario, Canada.
- Private boats are also permitted
- Booking a boat/cruise tour can be done in advance or tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth of the boat/cruise company (like Uncle Sam Boat Tours in Alexandria Bay, Clayton Island Tours in Clayton, New York and City Cruises Gananoque, Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises in Ontario, Canada)
- Tour companies offer cruises that take visitors to fantasy castles, historic lighthouses and majestic mansions. Choose an appropriate tour that best suits your interest.
- Open deck seating in the cruise is always better to get the best views
- Best Things to do
- Take any scenic cruise/boat tour that takes you between islands, through channels, under bridges and narrates the history of the region. Tours depart from both sides of the USA Canada border
- Visit and take a stroll through German-style Boldt Castle on Heart Island. Boldt Castle is open to the public only during the day between mid May and mid October. There are no facilities for overnight accommodations. There will be an entry fee for the castle. Tickets can be purchased at the Ticket Booth of the tour company or at Heart Island for the same rate
- Embrace the beauty and the history of Singer Castle on Dark Island with its Gothic windows and secret passageways. Singer Castle is open daily to the public seasonally from mid May to mid October. A 45-minute guided tour of Singer Castle on Dark Island beautifully describes the history of the castle
- Visit and enjoy the 360-degree views of the Saint Lawrence River from the top of Rock Island Lighthouse. Take a stroll through the museum, climb the stairs of the lighthouse and enjoy a bird’s eye view from the lantern room. The island is open from mid May to September and opens daily during the summer and on weekends during the shoulder season.