If ever there was a summertime playground for cruisers, the Thousand Islands NY region region would be it. This 50-mile span of 1,800-plus Ice Age-formed islands is located along the St. Lawrence River, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. It offers summertime activities ranging from gilded-age castle tours and shipwreck dive sites to trophy- size trout fishing spots and riverfront restaurants that serve namesake Thousand Islands dressing.
It’s a perfect destination to tool around for a summer and discover exquisite hidden coves or cruise straight through and hit highlights of a 2,400 nautical mile circumnavigation of the Down East Circle Route, which begins and ends in New York City.
Boldt Castle on Heart Island is one of the most popular attractions, especially for first-time visitors,” says Julie Chavoustie, who has operated the Horizon Marina and the adjacent Thousand Islands Club in Alexandria Bay for about 35 years. “You can take your boat, hop off on the island and spend … a day exploring.”
Boldt Castle, a Rhineland-style mansion built by 20th-century Waldorf- Astoria Hotel owner George Boldt, is a monument to a glorious bygone past. Located a short shuttle boat ride away is Boldt Yacht House, where the family housed vessels in 128-foot long slips. Today, an impressive display of antique wooden boats is on loan from the Antique Boat Museum in nearby Clayton.
Boldt is also famous for a classic condiment. According to legend, when the millionaire’s chef forgot to pack a dressing for the greens served on a luncheon cruise, he whipped up something impromptu from available galley ingredients such as mayonnaise, ketchup and pickle relish. Thus, Thousand Island dressing was born.
WHERE TO DOCK
Located in Alexandria Bay, 135 seasonal and transient slips accommodate vessels up to 75 feet. Docks are outfitted with dock boxes, carts, shore power pedestals, water, WiFi and cable TV. Amenities include heated bathrooms, laundry, exercise room, pool, restaurant, playground, dog walks and tennis, volleyball and basketball courts.
Clayton Harbor Municipal Marina
Conveniently situated in the heart of Clayton are 49 slips for vessels from 30 to 68 feet and 88 feet on the T-ends. The marina offers electricity, water, Wi-Fi, laundry, restrooms and showers, and pump-out. It’s in walking distance to shops and restaurants and about a mile from the Antique Boat Museum.
WHERE TO DINE
Windows on the Bay
Fork into fish and chips, fish tacos, grilled rib eye or pork tenderloin for lunch and dinner while enjoying stellar views of the St. Lawrence River and Boldt Castle. Day, week and seasonal dockage are available, as are accommodations ashore at the Riveredge Resort where the restaurant is located.
Wood Boat Brewery
Locally brewed craft beer is the signature feature at this eatery located a block from the waterfront. The eclectic menu offers casual fare such as pulled pork sandwiches and a falafel-filled panini, brick oven pizzas, and salads with Thousand Island dressing.
Coal Docks Restaurant & Bar
Eat in or take out from this dockside restaurant that overlooks the St. Lawrence River to the north and Lake Ontario to the south. Known for breakfast, Eggs Benedict, make-your-own omelet, sausage gravy and biscuits, and breakfast burritos. Lunch and dinner offerings include salads, sandwiches, soup, burgers, seafood and pasta.