When people speak of New York and holidays, typically most people think of visiting New York City and not Upstate New York. But all the way up through Upstate New York on the border with Canada is the stunning Thousand Islands. This is a stunning massive inland archipelago that has long since been a tourist destination in America. They are located on the Saint Lawrence River just as it meets Lake Ontario. On the Canadian side sits the province of Ontario and on the American side is Upstate New York.


This area was once the site of skirmishing between British North America (later to be known as Canada) and the newly formed United States in the War of 1812. Today there are historic battlefields and forts to visit. After that and ever since the Gilded Age it was been on the retreats and playgrounds for the wealthy elite of the continent. It also has a history of bootlegging during the days of prohibition.

About The 1000 Islands

  • Number of Islands: Around 1,864
  • UNESCO: They Have Been Listed As A World Biosphere Reserve By UNESCO Since 2002

These islands range from teeny tiny to a maximum of over 40 square miles - to count as one of the "islands", an outcrop needs to have at least one square foot above the water year-round. Additionally, (and rather arbitrarily) it needs to support at least two living trees.

There are plenty of attractions here including camping, boating, excellent trophy fishing, hiking, and much more. Sightseeing includes hundreds of miles of stunning waterfalls, sparkling lakes, and picturesque state parks. For other cities worth visiting in Upstate New York see here.

Related: What To Expect On A Canadian "Lion African Safari" In Ontario


Visitors are spoilt with accommodation options. These range from high-end grand waterside resorts to woodland cottages, to campsites, to Airbnb rentals, and everything else in between that one can think of.

Accommodation in this large area is too much to list here, for cottage and other accommodation options check out the Visit 1000 Islands website.


There are many attractions over this large area but some of them are:

  • Clayton's Antique Boat Museum: Enjoy A Vintage Speedboat Ride
  • Boldt Castle: Uncle Sam Boat Tours Over Tours Of The Castle
  • Singer Castle: Uncle Sam Boat Tours Over Tours Of The Castle
  • Champagne Balloon Adventures: Stunning Bird's-Eye-View Of The Islands
  • Fort Ontario & Sackets Harbor Battlefield: Learn About The Military History With The Americans, Native Indians, And Canadians/British
  • Great Lakes Seaway Trail: One Of The Best In The Region
  • Other Attractions: Lighthouses, Amusement Parks, Scuba Diving, Wineries, Frederic Remington Art Museum

Even more attractions and activities are to be found on the Canadian side.

Kayaking And Water Fun

There are plenty of watersports on these waters and the many waterways and bays make for calm water to explore. Kayaking, boating, and other water sports are stunning ways to explore the islands in the summer months. There are also fast-flowing rapids on the nearby Black River with the rapids being classed as Class III to Class IV. Whitewater rafting is normally open for three seasons of the year - although the high level of the water in the spring means that season is the most thrilling.

  • Whitewater Rafting Location: On The Black River, Near Watertown, New York

There is also diving in the area with dive shops on both sides of the border in Canada and the USA. Go diving and explore unfortunate shipwrecks that have long since sunken beneath the waves.


There is no reason to be bored while here in the 1000 Islands. Events are being held all the time and cater to all visitors, including families with kids to adults alike. Events include everything like:

  • Concerts On The Waterfront
  • Goat Yoga at Old McDonalds Farm
  • Sunset Dinner Cruises At Kingston
  • Village Wide Garage Sales At Sackets Harbor
  • International Piano Competitions

There are so many more attractions than these. To check out what and when is on and if things have been changed by the Covid-19 Pandemic, check out Visit 1000 Islands.

Related: The Upstate Eats Trail Now Invites You To Eat Your Way Through Upstate New York's Best Cities

Cross The Border

The 1000 Islands straddles the border, so why not visit the other country while one is there? Just if one is planning for this or planning to keep the option open, don't forget to take one's passport! There are border crossings here between the United States and Canada. This can also be an opportunity to enjoy a spot of duty-free shopping on the border! In pre-Covid times crossing this border was typically easy and seamless. See here for duty-free shopping.

  • Tip: Take One's Passport To Keep The Option Of Crossing The Border Open
  • Open: Canada Is Open To Vaccinated Americans

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