Tucked away on the St. Lawrence River, is an island paradise waiting to be explored. Formed by retreating glaciers, these granite islands have been everything from a hideaway for pirates and bootleggers, to a lush summer retreat for visitors from near and far.
Here’s six experiences not to miss while in the 1000 Islands.
Boating and the 1000 Islands go hand in hand. With a rich history in the region dating back to the 1950s, Gananoque Boat Lines offers a range of boating experiences and cruise types. The one constant on all tours? The stunning scenery that National Geographic described as “foreign, even mythical”.
There’s nothing like getting a new perspective and a helicopter tour is the perfect way to take in the true scope of the 1000 Islands. Choose from flights that take you over the St Lawrence River, Boldt Castle or even some of the famous shipwrecks and ruins which have fascinated locals and visitors for decades.
In neighbouring American waters, is Boldt Castle one of the most popular places to visit in the 1000 Islands. The castle was designed in the 1900s by millionaire George C. Boldt to be a summer dream home on the St. Lawrence River. When his wife passed away suddenly just months before the castle was completed, Boldt immediately stopped all construction on Heart Island. Today you can visit the restored house with local boat lines, or admire it from above with 1000 Islands Helicopters. Don’t forget your passport! Boldt Castle is an Official Port of Entry into the United States.
At the turn of the 20th century, the 1000 Islands were mainly a retreat for the wealthy, some of whom bought private islands for summer vacation homes. Dubbed Millionaire’s Row, these palatial homes are visible by taking a boat cruise down the river.
The first thing you’ll need to do in Gananoque, is perfect your pronunciation of the town name; gan-e-nok-way – an aboriginal name, which means “town on two rivers”. Spend some time exploring the historic waterfront, and the heritage buildings on the town’s main street. For some tasty refreshment, don’t miss the Gananoque Brewing Company for local craft beer, and the Socialist Pig for coffee, desserts and delicious dining.
Stay the night on the water at the historic Gananoque Inn & Spa, an Ontario icon that dates back to 1896!
Just north of the St Lawrence, the Rideau Canal makes its way from Kingston to Ottawa through the Eastern Ontario countryside. The canal is Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, notable as the best-preserved “slackwater” canal in North America, and the only canal from the 19th century still operating with most of its original structures intact.
Indulge in one of the local favourite summer pastimes – a picnic by the canal. Save yourself the trouble of packing your lunch with Rideau Tours, which offers a Picnic-Pedal-Paddle package, the perfect way to make the most of your time by the water.
One of the landmark hotels along the Rideau just reopened it’s doors! Originally built as a private home in the late 1800s, In 1921, main house and several cabins opened as the Opinicon Hotel. The same family ran the property – and its locally renowned ice-cream parlour – for 90 years! Don’t miss the restored (Pinterest-worthy cabins) and beautiful lake front. Over the next few years more renovations will see a new restaurant and pub added to the hotel grounds!
Discover more to see and do in the 1000 Islands here.
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