A Philadelphia Guide to Visiting the Thousand Islands
Bring your sunscreen and your swimsuit, we’ll get wet.
This chain of more than 1,800 tree-lined islands that dot the St. Lawrence River makes an ideal base for water sports. Start by renting a stand-up paddle or kayak at Boomerang ($ 20 per hour) in Thousand Islands Park on Wellesley Island. Paddle on a self-guided tour, keeping your eyes peeled for otters, bald eagles and walleyes. Even novice anglers should throw in the St.Lawrence, one of the best bass fishing destinations in the United States Seaway Charters has rods and bait, plus they’ll thread your catch and pack it to go.
Visit the only one accessible by water Boldt Castle, a 129-room presbytery inspired by the palaces along the Rhine in Germany. Hitchhike with a tour operator like Uncle Sam boat trips (tickets $ 9.50), which offers shuttles every half hour. Tour the landscaped grounds and step up to the sixth-floor balcony for panoramic views of the river and surrounding village of Alexandria Bay (“Alex Bay” for locals). Stay on the water a little longer with Clayton Island Tours (from $ 20) for a cruise of about three hours aboard a glass bottom boat that will take you Rock Island State Park, where you can soak up the scenery and climb to the top of the historic lighthouse.
Find a plush home base at Port hotel (from $ 199 per night), southwest of Alex Bay in Clayton, where rooms offer waterfront views, pillow-top mattresses, and mini-fridges to store your fresh catch. Find an Adirondack chair on the riverside patio to steal the sunset.
Published under the title “The Thousand Islands” in the “Escape to New York” guide in the September 2021 issue of Philadelphia cream magazine.