A River Runs Through It

The St. Lawrence River region includes summer destinations in the Thousand Islands.

Michael Davis photo

Filled to the brim with summer attractions, the St. Lawrence River region in New York state is a hop, skip and a jump from the Syracuse area, with many opportunities to make lasting summer memories. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended vacation, the region, which includes notable areas like the Thousand Islands, Alexandria Bay/Clayton, and Chaumont Bay, is perfect for an affordable, in-state getaway.

Flowing in a northeasterly direction toward the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Lawrence River was named by European explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534. One of the longest rivers in North America, it is the outflow for the Great Lakes system, and is the catalyst for the world-famous Thousand Islands region. A bi-national waterway, flowing through Canada and the United States, the river is vital to a tourism-based economy, which includes the upper-eastern shore of Lake Ontario, the Thousand Islands and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, as well as other northern regions of New York state.

Fishing, camping, swimming, dining, museums and other attractions await the spirited traveler. Check out the upcoming events to see what’s happening this summer.

1000 ISLANDS - Clayton

Clayton. Michael Davis photo

Through June 19. Spring Artshow. Sackets Harbor Arts Center, 119 W. Main St., Sackets Harbor. ( Artists of all levels will display their best works during the 16th annual event, including oil/acrylic, pastel, drawing, photography/digital art, three-dimensional art, and youth categories.

June 10. Donna the Buffalo. Clayton Opera House, 403 Riverside Drive, Clayton. (686-2200; The Finger Lakes-bred outfit has proven to be a consistent purveyor of Americana music. The band includes Jeb Puryear (vocals, electric guitar), Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, fiddle, accordion, scrubboard), David McCracken (Hammond organ, Hohner clavinet and piano), Kyle Spark (bass) and Mark Raudabough (drums).

June 11. Thousand Islands Family Day. Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary St., Clayton. (686-4104; The annual event offers free admission and discounted boat rides, plus skiff rowing, fishing for kids and more. Discount picnic lunches are available while supplies last.

June 18. Classic Cars Classic Wines Car Show and Cruise In. 17371 East Line Road, Clayton. (686-5600). Enjoy live music by the Tommy Gunn Band, classic hot rods and motorcycles, food, award-winning wines, beer, wine slushies and craft vendors.

June 18. Family Fun Day. Boldt Castle, Heart Island, Alexandria Bay. (482-2501; Heart Island will host several well-known costumed PBS Kids cartoon characters such as Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog and more. Children can interact with their favorite characters and also partake in activities such as face painting, planting a flower garden or making a birdhouse.

June 25. Strawberry Festival. Stone Mills Museum, 30950 Route 180, LaFargeville. (658-2353). June is the month for harvesting locally farmed, mouthwatering strawberries and creating fresh fruit desserts. The 12th annual Strawberry Festival will host family activities and features strawberry-themed desserts for sale at the museum’s concession stand.

June 25-26. Cape Vincent Historical Weekend. Vincent Village Green, 350 Gouvello St. and Broadway, Cape Vincent. (654-2481; Enjoy a variety of informative events, with an encampment, re-enactment, historical walking tours, lectures, period musical performances, period watercraft, tall ships and crafters village among the highlights.

June 30. Rusted Root. Clayton Opera House, 403 Riverside Drive, Clayton. (686-2200; The longtime Pittsburgh band will rock the opera house.

July 1. Canada Day. Downtown Brockville, Ontario, Canada. ((613) 342-4357; Enjoy Canada Day celebrations all day long, with a 11:30 a.m. parade down King Street, a noontime singing of “O Canada,” the strawBEARy festival at Hardy Park, and fireworks at 10 p.m.

July 4. Independence Day Fireworks. Boldt Castle, Alexandria Bay. (482-9531; This fireworks display has been a tradition for generations, with the 2016 edition promising even bigger thrills, with a tentative starting time of 9:45 p.m.

July 8-10. French Festival. Cape Vincent. (654-2481; French pastries, parades, arts and crafts and more will fill Cape Vincent during the 48th annual event. A parade begins on Saturday, July 9, 2 p.m., with Napoleon leading the way. On Sunday, July 10, 1 p.m., the Antique and Classic Car Parade will follow the same parade route.

July 9. Thousand Islands Concours d’Elegance. Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary St., Clayton. (686-4104; The fastest-growing classic car show in the Northeast is back for its sixth year at the museum’s unique waterfront campus. This competition of elegance offers a gathering of rare, prestigious cars.

July 12-17. Jefferson County Fair. Watertown Fairgrounds, Coffeen Street. Every July the fairgrounds makes room for good, old-fashioned family fun, with midway rides, foods, entertainment, agricultural displays and competitions. An admission fee is charged. Still going strong after 199 years, this is the nation’s oldest continuously run fair.

July 14-17. Buskers in the Bay. Alexandria Bay. (482-9531; Street performers take over Alexandria Bay with free entertainment (plus tips!) all weekend long.

1000 ISLANDS - Sackett's Harbor

Sackett’s Harbor. Michael Davis photo

July 16. CanAm Festival. Sackets Harbor. ( The love fest between Sackets Harbor and Canada continues 45 years later, as the Canadian American Festival celebrates both sides’ friendship and love of Canada.

July 23. Fort Henry Tattoo. Fort Henry, 1 Fort Henry Drive, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Feel the thrills of finely tuned pipes, big brass instruments and booming bass drums during the annual Tattoo, an impressive display of musical traditions delivered by a diverse group of talented musicians. The finale features more than 200 performers in the parade square, topped off with a fireworks display.

July 30-31. Dingman Point River Artists Tour. Dingman Point Road and Country Route 1, Alexandria Bay. (482-2833). Meet the local artists, tour their galleries and studios, and view their new works in progress. Art raffles will be held at each studio and refreshments will be served during this free event.

July 30. Lyme Community Days. Copley House, 12030 State Route 12E, Chaumont. The sixth annual community celebration features arts, antiques, crafts, bake sales, food, music, wine tastings, free zumba and more.

Aug. 4-7. Brockville Rib Fest. Hardy Park, corner of Home and Water streets, Brockville, Ontario, Canada. ((613) 345-0281; A free, fun-filled, family food festival. Sample from a variety of ribbers and vote on your favourite (as they spell it in Canada) selections, plus many other food and clothing vendors on site, live bands, a rib eating contest, volleyball tournament and a kids’ zone including a petting zoo.

Aug. 5. Lady Antebellum. Watertown Fairgrounds, I-81 Exit 46, Coffeen Street. ((800) 533-2859; The country music favorites take the stage in Watertown. The group has sold more than 12.5 million digital singles and 10 million albums in the United States.

Aug. 5-7. Antique Boat Show and Auction. Clayton. (686-4104; North America’s longest-running antique boat show, now in its 52nd incarnation, features the theme “Disappearing Propeller Boats” for 2016. Admire hundreds of boats on display in-water and on land, shop the popular Marketplace flea market, and enjoy a campus full of activities for the whole family.

Aug. 7. National Lighthouse Day. Tibbetts Point Lighthouse Hostel, Cape Vincent. ((804) 384-8682; The hostel hosts an open house, with tours for the public of the original lightkeepers house.

Aug. 12-21. Bill Johnston’s Pirate Days. Alexandria Bay. (482-9531; The 36th annual event will feature block dances, a pirate festival at the TI Winery, children’s games and crafts, story times, skits on James Street and much more. Just say “Arrggghh!”

Aug. 19-21. Antique Raceboat Regatta. Clayton. Some of the finest antique race boats in North America convene for this festive weekend race.

Sept. 1-5. Blues in the Bay. Alexandria Bay. ( Wrap up your summer with this annual fabulous five-day music festival, featuring spectacular waterfront views, a pleasurable atmosphere, and fantastic blues music.

Sept. 23-25. Clayton Jazz Festival. Clayton Opera House and other venues, Clayton. ( The whole village joins in with jazz music at bars and restaurants as well as two main shows at the opera house.

Fun Facts

The St. Lawrence Seaway stretches 2,342 miles in its entirety from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean.

Since 1959, more than 2.5 billion tons of cargo have moved to and from Canada, the United States and nearly 50 other nations by way of the St. Lawrence River.

At its deepest point, the St. Lawrence River is more than 250 feet deep.

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