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12 July 2023

6 Ways To Experience Ontario’s Thousand Islands In 2023

Photo c/o Parks Canada

Home to castles, shipwrecks, historical sites and incredible natural beauty, the Thousand Islands archipelago in South Eastern Ontario is a must-see destination.

While stunning year round, this UNESCO-recognized area really comes to life in the warmer months. In the summer, the islands turn a lush green that contrast beautifully with the blue of the water. In the autumn, they take on all the signature fiery red, orange and yellow that we love about the season. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the hiking, cycling and paddling opportunities available throughout the region.

Where are the 1000 Islands?

The Thousand Islands consists of 1,864 granite islands that dot the St. Lawrence River on the border between Ontario and New York State. On the Canadian side, the islands begin northeast of Kingston and end around Brockville. Formed millions of years ago, the islands are actually the tops of an ancient mountain range and are part of the ecologically important Frontenac Arch Biosphere that links the precambrian shield in Algonquin Park with the Adirondack Mountains in the United States.

Ways to Explore the 1000 Islands in 2023

If you’ve never been to the Thousand Islands, you’re in for a treat. There are many amazing ways to explore this stunning region and here we are listing our Top 6:

1. Stay in charming Gananoque

Known as the Gateway to the Thousand Islands, Gananoque is a lovely riverside town with quaint restaurants, unique shops and a waterfront theatre. Stay at the Pangea House, which sits along the pretty Gananoque River just steps from downtown. Enjoy warm hospitality and incredible food at this recently restored historic property — the hosts truly make this experience top-notch!

2. Visit historic Kingston

South Eastern Ontario Guards at Fort Henry, Kingston. Photo c/o Destination Ontario

Kingston is just 25 minutes from Gananoque and offers a different vibe for those who prefer city to town. Having once served as Canada’s capital, the city has many historic sites to explore as well as great dining, shopping and natural spaces. There are plenty of family-friendly options available for stays in the city as well as romantic getaways.

Try an adventurous getaway with our Seaway & Cider experience or get pampered in this urban oasis in the heart of Kingston.

3. Cruise the 1000 Islands by boat

Photo c/o Destination Canada

Perhaps the most popular way to see the islands is on one of the region’s many boat cruises. Depending on which cruise you pick, you might get an up close look at some of the amazing houses on the so-called Millionaire’s Row as well as the famous Boldt Castle. If your cruise allows you to disembark at Boldt Castle for a tour, you must have travel documentation as this part of the trip is on United States soil.

Cruises of different lengths are available, including ones that serve a meal. Sunset cruises are particularly scenic.

Reach out to us for more information on adding a cruise to your Gananoque or Kingston holiday.

4. Go on an extended St. Lawrence River cruise

If you love being on the water, you might want to consider a longer cruise along the St. Lawrence River.

This 7-day Discovering the Beauty of the St. Lawrence River cruise starts in Kingston and meanders through the 1000 Islands archipelago before setting anchor at a private buoy in the middle of this picturesque region. You go to sleep under millions of stars and wake up amongst thousands of islands.

Explore Gananoque, Brockville and Upper Canada Village before cruising on to Montreal and then Quebec City.

5. Fly over the 1000 Islands

Seeing the stunning beauty of the islands and the St. Lawrence River from the sky really gives you a sense of perspective on the area. Helicopter flights are available out of Gananoque and come in various lengths.

Even a short flight is enough to give you a jaw-dropping view of the area but the longer flights offer a more complex look at the region’s many charms. Reach out to us for more information on adding a flight to your South Eastern Ontario holiday.

6. Explore nature at 1000 Islands National Park

Photo c/o Parks Canada

Located just off Highway 401, the Thousand Islands National Park is a wilderness oasis that offers visitors access to the beautiful 1000 Islands region. There are waterfront oTENTiks available for rent, as well as many paddle-in campsites around the islands. Daytrips to the park are popular for hiking and paddling.

The trails at Jones Creek have family-friendly hiking options as well as more challenging trails with scenic lookouts. There are also six trails available at Landon Bay and two short trails at Mallorytown Landing. Click here for more detailed park maps.

If paddling is on your list of things to do, you really can’t go wrong at this national park. The many scenic islands offer a perfect escape for those looking to reconnect with nature along the water. For a quieter experience, visit during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) as summer can get busy.

The park is also very popular for swimming, birdwatching and cycling.