For those interested in some regional history, the Thousand Islands Museum, 312 James St., Clayton (tel. 315/686-5794), is worth a half-hour stop. War buffs will want to check out the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, 504 West Main St. (tel. 315/646-3634). During the War of 1812, Sackets Harbor was rife with American naval and military activity. Now, there is an interpretive outdoor "History Trail" (also consider a cellphone tour) at the site, along with guided tours of a restored 1860s Commandant's House. The battlefield is also just a lovely place to walk around, perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario. Look for upcoming events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the war.
The Eagles Have Landed -- In the early 1900s, bald eagles thrived in the Thousand Islands. Unfortunately, years of pollution, pesticide use, and habitat loss contributed to the bird's gradual disappearance in the region. But now, bald eagles are slowly making a comeback. Groups on both the American and Canadian sides are involved in efforts to protect the eagles' nesting and overwintering habitats. Recently, there were three nests with a total of six eaglets on the St. Lawrence River -- a promising sign.
Especially For Kids
You can get your speed on at Alex Bay 500 Go-Karts on Route 12, 1/4 mile north of the Thousand Islands Bridge (tel. 315/482-2021); there's also a miniature golf course on-site. Or get lost in the 7-foot-high hedges of Mazeland, also on Route 12, 3/4 mile north of the bridge (tel. 315/482-2186). The whole family will get a kick out of the Bay Drive-In Theatre, Route 6 and Bailey Settlement Road, Alexandria Bay (tel. 315/482-3874).
Steven Conaway retired from the military in 2002, and -- in search of a new venture to sink his teeth into -- was struck by the similarities between the Thousand Islands landscape and the Rhine winemaking region in Germany, where he had been stationed. Both places are strikingly beautiful, with similar riverside locations noted for their dramatic stone castles. Of course, only one was known for producing Riesling, which Conaway grew to love while in Germany. But when he explored the possibility of making wine here, he was met with resistance: Conventional thinking held that the climate was too cold for grapes. This drove the persistent Conaway to dig deeper. After learning that a cold-hardy grape -- developed at the University of Minnesota -- was already being grown in Canada, he decided to go for it.
In 2003, Conaway opened the Thousand Islands Winery, 43298 Seaway Ave., Alexandria Bay (tel. 315/482-9306; www.thousandislandswinery.com), the northernmost winery in the United States. The operation has since grown from 1,000 gallons produced that first year to more than 33,000 gallons today. Along they way, they've garnered some impressive accolades -- their Riesling and vignoles are two of their standout wines, and they even won New York State's "Winery of the Year" in 2009. Conaway's pioneering efforts have helped put the North Country on the winemaking map. The Thousands Islands Seaway Wine Trail, of which the Thousand Islands Winery was a founding member, now includes the Otter Creek Winery, Yellow Barn Winery, and the Seaway Cold Hardy Grape Nursery.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.