Welcome to the Weekend Route your guide to one-of-a-kind eats, locations, and featured routes. This curated route for our weekend route adventurers is the Scenic Border Towns of Lake Ontario East starting in Rochester. This route explores the historical nature of New York state while discovering off-the-beaten-track experiences and stops in these historic border towns. Brace yourself for classic New York state food; like garbage plates, historical monuments and maritime museums, as well as spooky locations sure to leave you quivering from fear. Follow the Scenic Border Towns of Lake Ontario East starting in Rochester around the gorgeous Lake Ontario this summer and fall.
Nick Tahou Hots is a historic landmark of Rochester NY famous for its garbage plate. The plate typically consists of two hamburger meat patties, a mysterious sauce, beans, home fries, and macaroni. Opening in 1918, Alexander Tahou created a Rochester classic that other restaurants copied for many years after. Rumour has it that one night a college student stumbled into Nick Tahou Hots after a night of boozing and asked for a plate of all the garbage that the restaurant sold. Alexander Tahou piled his plate with macaroni, beans, ketchup, hot sauce and all the other garbage plate essentials. Since then, the garbage plate and Nick Tahou Hots has become a trademarked Rochester location, a classic college student’s favourite after-bar meal, the perfect hangover cure, a family dinner hotspot, or simply the staple in satisfying your craving for greasy food.
George Eastman was a pioneer of popular photography. Throughout his time dominating the craft of photography he built what is now known as the George Eastman Museum, he lived there until his death. Before death, he left his most prized possessions, his work, and his home at the University of Rochester to be used as teaching material. While it was originally used as a non-for-profit educational institution after the University signed the home and relics over to the Museum it became a Museum for all things photography and related art pursuits. They also have screenings of classic movies that portray the history of film and acting almost every day, you must visit at a time when they are screening and revisit the beauty and regality of early movies. Check out all three of their photography exhibits and grab a bite to eat at the eatery in the museum called Open Faced.
There is something ambivalent about visiting a cemetery, the beauty and history it holds while also being the final resting place of loved ones makes a visit bittersweet. Mount Hope Cemetery is more than a cemetery it acts as a museum, as its architecture is unlike anything anyone has ever seen, it acts as a wildlife sanctuary to the animals who reside there, a place to grieve, a place to reminisce, and a place to soak in the glory of the many notable residents buried there. Susan B. Anthony was a women’s activist and a crucial part of the anti-slave movement and incorporation, visiting her in her rest is something that every woman, activist, or individual should do especially during these times. Mount Hopes green burial section is located within the historic heart of the cemetery, surrounded by statues and gorgeous mausoleums. Birdwatch, take a stroll, visit a women’s rights activist in her final resting place, gaze at the architecture, or simply relax in this historic and gorgeous cemetery.
Warner Castle is one of Rochester’s grandest shows of architecture. Based on the Scottish Clan Douglas Castle, it is constructed of limestone from local quarries. Horatio Gates Warner built this castle and lived in it until his death, he then passed the castle down as a family heirloom to another generation of Warner. The Castle was originally built at the edge of the city amongst a farm. When the castle was sold in 1902 to the Ramsdell they transformed the barn into the Sunken garden yet another gorgeous work of art in Rochester. The garden has long stairs winding down below the dirt, the garden is encompassed by eerie yet lavish gates. The garden is fitting for this castle, while you may be in Rochester NY in 2022 you truly feel as though you are in Scotland in the age of gilded royalty and knights.
Passenger service in Rochester’s once glorious subway system ceased in 1956, and while it still had some usage; since those years it has been abandoned. There was a discussion about filling this subway system with dirt, but after much debate, Rochester decided that it was most important to keep the subway untouched; if they planned to have a subway system in the future it would be far more cost-efficient to refurbish instead of rebuild. Now the subway system is Rochester’s home to the most unique street art and underground eerie walkway. While portions of the tunnel are dark, thrill seekers are welcome to try their hand at navigating the once bristling with life system.
Craving that authentic island getaway, filled with beachfront Pina Coladas, music that just needs to be accompanied by drunken dancing, and food that just hits the spot. Well, it’s not technically an island getaway, but a Lake Ontario getaway that checks off everything on that bucket list. Marge’s lakeside Inn is a beachfront tavern that has become a 60-year staple in the Rochester community. It features a unique bar, a retro jukebox, live music performances, and a fireside seating area on the beach. Upon walking into the tavern and onto the outdoor gathering area, often you may find yourself amongst the locals and regulars singing along to Rochester live performances, while you may not be family by blood after a couple of songs around the fire you will leave Marge’s Lakeside Inn feeling like one. Stop at Marge’s Lakeside Inn for drinks on the water, live music, good food, and even better friends.
Fun for the whole family is bound to be had when visiting Rochester’s very own amusement/ water park. This park is post-war made as the creator anticipated a need for fun in the late 40s. They started with small children’s rides and eventually made the jump into larger rides and eventually their water park. Their water park is the true treasure. With all of the classic rides, such as the splash zone, the wave pool, the lazy river, all the staples needed to make a water park one of the best. Gather around their waterpark-catered picnics and rest in a waterpark cabana while your kids or partner floats down the lazy river. The waterpark is ambient of early 2000s first waterparks and maintains the vintage, (is early 2000s vintage now?), yet playful aura through all of the rides. Get as wet as you can in the splash zone or enjoy the wave pool shores or deeps during your next trip to the Seabreeze Waterpark.
Corn Hill Quadrant is Rochester’s oldest neighbourhood, these 19th-century mansions are next door to the modern townhouse, it almost seems as if you are stepping into a new world as you cross the street. Corn Hill is Rochester’s most historic location, so walking through this neighbourhood is truly an authentic experience. Each August for two days, a quarter million people pack the streets for the annual art festival; there are many events that occur throughout the summer which incorporate both old and new elements.
Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park is a boat launch, and a jungle gym, and provides fishing access to visitors. It is 44 acres in size and provides easy access to the many restaurants lining Monroe County’s small waterfront. There is also a small beach where you can dip your feet into the gorgeous water. Irondequoit is worth the stop, the State park is a five-minute walk to Rochester tavern; Marge’s Lakeside Inn.
Hedges Nine Mile Point Restaurant is a classic fine dining experience right on the shores of Lake Ontario. You can take your meal on one of their many outdoor picnic tables, underneath their gazebo, or within the actual restaurant. Their restaurant has a wide variety of seafood and could technically be labelled a surf and turf restaurant for their large selection of steak as well. This fine dining experience, while the food is spectacular, it is the view that should be dragging you into this restaurant. Watch the waves roll over the beach from your comfortable position on the patio or grass dining area.
This restaurant has been dominating the truck stop scene in Williamson for the past 90 years on Route 904. Orbakers Drive-In Restaurant has become a staple dinner location for passerby’s who frequent New York, as not only is it extremely affordable but delicious. This restaurant is a blast from the past, the red and white decals remind you of old diners now only seen in movies. There are not many locations that allow you to park transport trucks as well as large automotive vehicles, unless they are on routes or truck stops; the inclusivity truly gives this restaurant that homey feel. Try their famous ground steak for only $6 or their fan-favourite Hollywood Burger for $7!
Boom Point Winery is a location on the Lake Ontario Wine Trail, and is open from 1-5pm Friday to Sunday. Their in store wine tasting location is set on a large working farm consisting of almost 50 acres. In each visit the people at Boom Point Winery will inform you on their craft, their passion for the wine, the creative inspiration behind it, and their attention to detail. You will be able to taste these different aspects of their craftsmanship through your first sip. Stop in and try a glass of wine, or a bottle of wine,…or maybe even two bottles of wine.
Sodus Point Beach Park is one of New Yorks best beaches it is quite large and sandy; not rocky. There is a jungle gym playground for the young kids directly on the beach so parents can kick back and relax but still have their sights on their kids. What Sodus Point is truly known for is its gorgeous rustic lighthouse, take a walk on the pier and visit the lighthouse up close. Often you will find many people fishing off the pier, so if you would call yourself an angler or fishing enthusiast we recommend bringing your rod and tackle box.
Erosion and other natural sculpting of terrain have gifted Chimney Bluffs State Park with some of the most wondrous landscapes of all time. Earth pyramids or what some call Spires of the Earth have been created by the rush of water on the land in this state park. Wander through the Bluffs’ many hiking trails and gaze upon some of the earth’s most insane creations. Spend your day hiking, kayaking, or just relaxing by the shore of this state park. Pack a picnic lunch and lots of water as you are sure to be exhausted after a long day of hiking and more.
This tavern is pirate themed, the outside of this tavern is made with wooden siding strikingly similar to a plank of wood used to force prisoners over the side of the boat. On the roof of the Tavern rests a lifesize pirate statue resembling Captain Jack Sparrow from everyone’s favourite childhood film franchise, The Pirates of The Caribbean. Captain Jack’s Goodtime Tavern often features live performances from local artists and if you take a glance at the interior of this tavern you may find yourself lost in the many pirate and sailing decorations. Their menu features many seafood options as well as classic sandwiches and burgers, we recommend trying their Seafood Athena a truly fishy option fit for a pirate.
The Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum has acted as a museum for the past 38 years by the Sodus Bay Historical Society. This society protects and restores Sodus’s history through the lighthouse and its focus is on emphasizing local maritime history. Exhibits within the lighthouse include ship models, a tribute to the War of 1812, lighthouse tools, maritime artifacts, and much more.
The Franklin House Tavern is known for its fresh dough pizzas, fish fry, strong booze, and more tavern food. The people at this tavern are dedicated to providing you with large smiles, great service, and even better homemade tavern food. This Tavern has a wide selection of beer and is soon widening its horizons to include locally crafted beer as well. The inside of this tavern is quite rustic and adds to the homey feel of the restaurant, take your meal inside or on their outdoor patio.
Little Sodus Inn is right on the water and is a restaurant that caters to locals and newcomers who are looking to explore local life. You can often find this restaurant’s interior decorated to match the season, with fall leaves in the autumn months, Christmas and winter decorations when it becomes frigid, and much more. Dining at this inn always feels like a celebration, and their mission statement states that “he who enters here is a stranger but once”. You can often find live music being performed and in the winter your meal can be served with a view of snowmobile racing. Stop by on their wing Wednesday or try their other classic pub food!
Historic Sodus Point is where large ships banked in Sodus to a town that was completely burned down in the War of 1812. After Sodus was rebuilt they became known to others around the world for their large coal supply, boaters travelled far and wide to historic Sodus Point to bring coal back to their homeland. Stand at Historic Sodus Point and feel the history of the boaters and the war around you.
Beechwood State Park is a state park managed by the town of Sodus. It provides plenty of hiking trails, engaging views, and campgrounds. Explore the many trails and definitely check out the abandoned girl scout camp which provides an eerie feeling to the entire park. Find the hidden entrance to the water on the hike and take a swim. This state park is a perfect adventure for thrill seekers looking for a spook as well as families looking to relax into a weekend of hiking, fishing, and swimming.
Fair Haven itself is a gorgeous town fit for walking around and enjoying the scenery and the unchanged business and storefronts that give this small town a vintage feel. The quaint library, the gorgeous old homes, and the cemetery filled with Fair Haven history and gorgeous artifacts are worth stopping into. My favourite time of year to visit is the end of September- the beginning of October, as while the weather is still warm and sunny the cool breezes and fall smell in the air makes this town even sweeter.
For over 110 years Pleasant beach Hotel has been providing rooms to travellers in the Sodus and fair haven area, great food, and access to the gorgeous Sodus Bay. This Hotel is reminiscent of hotels and mansions featured in summer love films, and the wrap-around porch resembles the one in the Notebook. With ten rooms, each with private baths, and a stunning view of the water from the waterfront attached restaurant; what is there not to love? Indulge in a classic meal of fish and chips and one of pleasant Beach Hotels’ lavish cocktails while watching the little Sodus Bay waves rush in.
This State Park is home to one of New York’s best beaches; featuring clear water, and a long beach, it also is home to towering bluffs in the line of sight from your towel on the beach. Campout on one of their many campsites, there are also many cottages or cabins to rent for the night or a couple. What makes this state park even more special is the 18-hole golf course that is hidden within the beauty of this park.
The Village Tavern is a small restaurant in Hannibal that allows a reprise in travels. This restaurant is one of the only establishments on this road for miles yet the food here is better than that served in highly populated restaurant areas. This classic restaurant serves authentic bar food with a few oddities on the menu that truly sets this roadside classic apart from the rest.
This restaurant is a 70+ year old seafood restaurant of which has kept its vintage set-up, it is a drive-in and take out to their beach front picic tables. This restaurant has been purchasing their meat from the same butcher for 65 years and their vegetables and produce comes from local providers. The beach which this classic restaurant is situated provides opportunities for swimming, skipping rocks, paddle boarding and more; plan to spend a large portion of your day at this drive-in restaurant. This seafood and grill restaurant is the perfect place to grab lunch with your family.
Fort Ontario, the current facility, is built atop three historical building in use during the War of 1812, the French, and Indian War. The current structure was in use during the end of World War Two and was the sole refugee camp for survivors of the Holocaust in the United States. This historic site opened to the public as of 1949 and has preserved the history if the wars waged and peace given in the past.
This museum is dedicated to preserving the maritime heritage of the Oswego River and its drainage. This building used to be used for management, a powerhouse, and the workshop for ther Oswego grain elevator. Now this building has become the H Lee White Museum where you can visit and learn abou the ships used in the maritimes, maps, charts, and photos of the old times.
The Midway Drive-In Theatre was created post World War 2 in the year 1948. Often this theatre has dusk till dawn promotions which is an event where five movies play back to back, from dusk until dawn. The drive-in is only open from the spring to mid fall, make sure you drive into this theatre and catch the brand new movies as well as the oldies.
Oswego Expeditions is committed to providing outdoor adventure through kayaking in the Oswego river and surrounding waters. They provide kayaking lessons, paddle board, and more; while also providing tours. In the Winter months try your feet at snowshoeing with the owner Jen, she will teach you not only how to use them but will also take you on a snowy adventure.
The Haunted History Trail of New York State is a spooky tour which explores 90 haunted and historic places. Visit haunted hotels with ghostly residents, spooky restaurants, abandoned asylums and more. For an even scarier time we recommend you stay in one of two featured hotels; The Brae Loch Inn or The Shanley Hotel. Either way, you are going to be clutching the covers close to your face the entirety of your rest; is rest too ominous? The entirety of your sleep.
The Oswego Sub Shop has been open since 1969, has maintained the same recipe, and the same family name. This small sub shop has over 40 employed members, as preparing the highly sought-out subs not only takes loads of ingredients but loads of help. Take your pick out of the 60 subs they have as options, each one crafted with the same love and ingredients as 50 years earlier.
This state park is situated right on Lake Ontario and is 122 acres large and home to a lush history of politics, battles, to elegant parties. This state park was once the grounds of the classic and gorgeous Mexico Point Inn which was home to some of the most lavish and star-studded parties, including Theodore Roosevelt’s 4th of July Celebration. All that remains of the Inn is the stone ruins which you can visit on a hike through the state park. Visit the gorgeous State park, take a swim at the gorgeous beach, and then hunt for the long-abandoned ruins of the inn.
Casey’s Cottage at Mexico Point is a frightening location full of ghosts, eerie noises, and beautiful scenery of course. This haunted cottage used to be home to Dr. William Casey who turned this used to be carriage house into a manor. After his death reports of screams, organ music, furniture squealing, and reports of a little girl seen hanging out by the tree began to come in like clockwork and since then this has become a famous haunted location.
This state park is home to mesmerizing sand dunes and wetlands but is most known for its incredible sandy beach. Follow the boardwalk path spanning the 1500 ft span of sand until you reach the water. The water is so blue it is seemingly Caribbean. Spend the day kayaking, swimming, lounging, and BBQing with the family at this gorgeous dune-filled beach.
This charter takes passengers on tours and fishing trips through Lake Ontario Tributaries such as Salmon River. These charters are open for fly fishing in all months except the summer, in the cooler months try your hand at a cast on these waters and see what you can reel in. Cobble Creek Outfitters was created in 2017 by Captain Andrew Sponable who grew up waiting for the next time he could get on the water and go fishing.
Pulaski is a quaint fishing town in New York home to some of the best salmon fishing holes of all time. Salmon River is not only the most fished tributary apart of Lake Ontario but a famous fishing destination for king salmon runs in the fall.
This state park is historically renowned for its use as training grounds for the United State Air Force, when walking through the park today you can still see remnants of the training that occurred. Now there are 13 different trails to hike throughout this park, as well as tennis and volleyball courts, snowshoeing trails, and more. Hike through the park to the limestone shoreline; the lake is bordered by smoothened rocks that provide a comfortable and gorgeous lookout site.
This is one of NY’s first conservation areas and is known for the prehistoric dunes that span the majority of the park. Lake currents washed over the park in the prehistoric ages and left behind what we now see as sand dunes, these dunes are still in formation today and will continue to.
The Sunset Motel is a small motel of 7 rooms, 5 fit with two double beds, one with french doors leading onto a balcony overlooking the water, and the last one with a deck opening onto the street. This motel has a long deck right on lake Ontario, and the sunsets from your room are unlike any other. This is not just a place to rest your head after a long day but rather a scenic location designed with the beauty of Lake Ontario in mind.
When visiting Henderson’s lakefront we understand that the urge to get on the water, feel the cool breeze on your face, as well as the droplets of water from the crashing waves, is one that is irresistible. At Harbor’s End Marina they have multiple boat options for rent so you can scratch that itch of getting on the water. Explore Lake Ontario from atop it, in your choice of a boat from Harbor’s End Marina.
Sackets Harbor Village Historic District is a national historic district with a total of 156 historic buildings within the district. The featured buildings have been standing since the early 1800s when European settlers arrived. Within the district, you can explore the Sackets Harbor battlefield, Fort Pike built for 600 U.S soldiers after the war of 1812, or stay at the Union Hotel, a gorgeous hotel built in the early 1800s.
The Whiskey Coop is a fried chicken and bourbon location in Sacket’s Harbor location. They provide a wide assortment of whiskeys, whiskey imported from all over the world with many different flights you can try. Try their signature Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich and finish with their Blackberry Lavender Cheesecake.
Tin Pan Galley is a restaurant in one of the historic locations in the Village Historic District. This cozy restaurant is located within a building built in 1835 and covered in lush greenery, included in the building is the top floor lookout which used to be called the Widow’s Walk which allowed wives to look out at the harbour in search of their veteran husbands. The restaurant serves its food on antique dishes made of tin collected from 1812, reminiscent of the ships passing through. Try something off their delicious brunch menu, or their fish concentrated menu.
The Sackets Boathouse is a restaurant located in an early 1900s boathouse reformed to serve quality meals with the view of Lake Ontario as the main course. Enjoy their menu of plentiful seafood with one of their signature cocktails right on the water. Their wrapping deck allows for a large outdoor seating area, the sunset from this location is something you do not want to miss. Enjoy one of their delicious entrees, for olive lovers like myself I recommend the marinated warm olives to start, then finish off with their Boathouse Seafood Boil.
After the war of 1812 came an influx of ships and naval activity in Sackets Harbor. Here, lumber from the surrounding bush was used to build barracks for soldiers coming to conquest Canada. Now spend time in this location learning about the history and enjoying the harbour.
Continue up the route or take a trip to Watertown…
Thompson Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and is said to hold a time vortex within that when found transports visitors to another location in the park. Visitors have said that the vortex seems to move around the park. The Paddock Mansion is also on the Haunted History Trail of New York, it was built in 1878 by Olive and Edwin Paddock one of the founding families of Watertown. Visitors see you can sometimes still catch Olive in the upstairs window or walking through the upstairs halls, as well as other unexplained paranormal activity.
The oldest restaurant in Watertown is The Crystal Restaurant, which came in replacement of saloons in the early 1900s. The restaurant has been owned for many years by the Dephtereos family when Otto Dephtereos was hired as the head chef in 1928. This restaurant believes that an affordable hearty meal should be available to everyone, and that no one should go hungry. For ten decades the family has run this restaurant. Few things have changed at the restaurant since, maintaining a lot of its tin decor and the till that rang through Franklin Roosevelt.
Maggies on the River is located on the black river in Watertown, a town known for its historic landmarks and lush stories of the lives lived there. Maggies has a large variety of dishes on both their lunch and dinner menu as well as a whopping 44 different beers on tap, unique yet each equally delicious.
Jean’s beans have been open since 1953 and owned and operated by the Fuller-Bowman family ever since. Their classic fish fry has long been locally renowned and cherished. As well as fish fries they serve homemade rolls, baked beans, and even doughnuts. You cannot go wrong with this family-owned business and you will always be greeted with a warm smile and tummy-warming food upon walking in.
Watch the blending of apples at the Burrville Cider Mill to make the best apple cider perfect for cold fall weather. The aroma of fresh apples and sweet cider will fill your nose upon walking into the mill. Do not forget to bring your camera to take pictures of the gorgeous falls that surround the rustic and scenic mill.
The Public Square Historic District is a section of Watertown that ultimately serves as an open mall, which has a total of 58 different buildings and businesses, with a few historic monuments included. The architecture used in this town is Art Deco a style of architecture that blossomed in France before the first world war. If you are a Lana Del Rey fan, this town and its art deco nature within the historic district embodies her song, “Art Deco”. If you visit this district during the holiday seasons, the large Christmas tree in the center of it all will make the trip worth it. This town is out of any Christmas Hallmark movie; it even has the staple gazebo beside the large Christmas Tree as well as countless historic monuments and rustic buildings.
This deli is a staple in Watertown and has been known as the spot for sandwiches for years, due to their incredible sandwich selections, soups, and potato salads. This deli encompasses the taste of an authentic New York sandwich while projecting a rustic storefront that serves as a time machine transporting you to earlier years. Once you have surely gorged yourself on their delectable selection of sandwiches, pop over to the Historic Paddock Arcade and indulge in old arcade games; a rare excursion nowadays.
Adirondack River Outfitters is a white water rafting guide and has been the leading company in New York for the past 40 years. This company grew out of love for family, and friends, and cruising into waves on the water. Moose river which is this company’s home river is wild and known for its insane rapids, but there are two other rivers which provide a similar experience. This experience is like no other, book a trip with family or friends and lose yourself in the water.
This is not just any diner, but one filled with history, secrets, and history with the mob. Friedes used to be home to regulars, the Egan family, who were at fault for many of the robberies that happened in Watertown in the 60s. This family died from bullets to the head through car windows and left; just like in the old mob movies. Go for the history and stay for the food, each meal is prepared in front of you on the grill, and this Southern-style meal is known for hitting the spot just right.
This diner has been in the business of serving great food for 70 years. Stop into this historic restaurant in Watertown for a filling breakfast, delicious lunch, hearty dinner, or even a dessert! Their nine-page menu has something for everyone, they also include gluten-free options! This restaurant is a blast from the past, the gorgeous storefront has remained untouched over the past 70 years, and the inside of the diner has maintained the same timeless charm.
This ice cream shop is located in Dexter right on the river in a shoppe resembling an old barn. There is a wide selection of soft serve flavours available, as well as sundaes, and splits. Take your choice of treat down to the riverbank and while enjoying your cool dessert skip rocks, or climb the bridge traversing the scenic view.
For twenty years, Bob and Sue the owners of B.O.B White Water Rafters have been running a white water rafting tour business with the motive to treat other whit water rafting enthusiasts the way they wanted to be treated when they were first trying it out. The White Water Rafting company takes groups of up to 5o through the Black River and into the crashing waves. The best equipment is used, and the employees there to provide you with this experience make it all more memorable. What is unknown to many people on their first trip with B.O.B is the meal they provide you with at the end, after two hours of rafting on the water be prepared for a delicious bbq meal to wrap up.
Chaumont/ Chaumont Bay
Calling all runners, I know that when we take a vacation running is the last thing that is on our mind; but taking a break from the same boring suburban loop we do in our home towns is something we all vie for. The Point Salubrious Loop is a 6.7 mile scenic loop, which is all flat and provides runners with great views of Chaumont Bay and Guffin Bay. These views are enough to make you hit a new P.R on your mile time, as your spirits will be lifted by the scenery and the barely trafficked path will provide runners with the isolation needed to surprise even themselves with their new pace.
Point Salubrious Historic District consists of historic remnants in Point Salubrious, it contains 11 historical locations. These locations include an old farmhouse, old homes, as well as a couple old buildings now housing businesses. The Greystone is Point Salubrious’s oldest homes, made with beautiful brick and an old timey architecture it is truly demonstrative of the history within it. Each year on the birthday of Point Salubrious many community members parade the street of the Greystone and say Happy Birthday to this 200 year old home, wish the home as well as the town well by visiting its’ historic district.
Tibbett’s Point Lighthouse marks the point where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence river in New York State. This lighthouse is almost 200 years old, built in 1827, yet it still holds the original and working Fresnel Lense in Ontario. This Lighthouse is unique in that it is still working today and is used by boaters to help them navigate the waters, the original structure built in 1827 was replaced by a circular tower in 1854 and it has not been touched since, yet many renovations have occurred on the inside. The lighthouse is now a part of the Cape Vincent historic society, and the parts not still in use today are available for visiting.
This small town diner fills all your needs, with fast service, quality and comfortable meals, and pancakes so large you truly only need one. Ann’s Fisherman’s fare is a classic diner specializing in sandwiches, their storefront is old and cozy and the inside maintains its rustic and fishy charm. This is the type of diner where you walk in and immediately feel at ease and as cozy as one would be if they were eating breakfast at home. There is no doubt you will be pulled into conversation with locals who have been dining there since the dawn of time; but that makes this experience all the more worthwhile.
The Roxy Hotel and Restaurant is an old hotel which was founded in 1804, the outside of the hotel has remained untouched over the years and through its time has collected a lush history from the thousands of people who have stayed there. Their attached restaurant serves classic American dishes and often has live music performers. The stained glass windows within the bar show the timeless nature of this establishment and the ornate furniture within the hotel rooms demonstrate the history within the hotel.
Maple Grove is one of many historical locations in Cape Vincent yet the collection of artifacts, buildings, and acres are what makes this location unique. The estate house on the property is fit for 14 guests and is a greek revival style mansion. This property is available for rentals and would be the perfect getaway for a large family get together. The carriage house situated on the Maple Grove property as well is a luxury apartment, that is perfect if part of the family would like to be sectioned off of the perfect vacation for two. The large deck provides views of the wonderful 7 acres of property as well as the surrounding waters. Maple Grove is in walking distance of the Tibbetts Point lighthouse and many other historical locations!
This retreat is located in the heart of downtown Cape Vincent and is located within walking distance of the best attractions and local stops in the area. The house can be rented room by room or by the entire house, the rustic yet homey nature is reminiscent of the picturesque cottages and homes seen in TV shows and movies; for me when I see this home and its location I immediately think of Gilmore Girls. The rooms and house have pleasant waterfront views and highlight the lake town that is Cape Vincent.
This unique coffee shop; Cup of Joy, was created in 2018 after the owners had fallen in love with authentic costa rican coffee during their trips abroad. This cafe while it sells their specialty Gato Diablo Coffee they also serve smoothies, delicious breakfast treats, and more. Their shoppe and specialty coffee brand is committed to providing coffee that is not only bird friendly, but forest, and eco friendly while maintaining the delicious coffee that can only be created in the founding location. Their home location is in Cape Vincent but have begun selling their devilish coffee online as well as in select locations. Stop in for a bagel, an egg sandwich, and a refreshing cup of eco friendly delicious coffee.
The Cape Vincent Brewing Company is a family owned brewery which started in 2016. Originally it opened up as a tap room, but when they purchased an old inn they were able to expand not only their brewing but their menu and beers with the new space. There is quite often live performances from local artists and when these live experiences are combined with freshly brewed beers it becomes an experience you do not want to miss.
In East End Park Cape Vincent you can often see scuba divers diving into the waterfront. While it is simply a great spot to scuba, what lays beneath is what truly draws the crowd. Underneath the water are 200ft of remains of the St. Louis Steamship built in 1864. She launched in Ohio, but by February of 1914 the ownership changed and she was left to rot on a dock, now sunken under the water. You can dive around and close to the shipwreck as long as you do not remove anything from the wreck or disturb it as per the shipwreck act.
The Thousand Island Marina is a one stop shop for all your basic needs! Rent one of their six lakefront cottages, marina services, boat rentals, and yummy food all on the water. This is also port for many Thousand Island expeditions, if you know anything about New York, Lake Ontario, Ontario, and what they share; then you would have heard of the illustrious thousand islands that provide the best campgrounds, the best old castles to explore, and the most gorgeous waters to navigate.
Cedar Point Stat park is one of the oldest parks in New York and is widely known for its cool camping locations, excellent boating, and swimming. They have a wonderful sandy beach where you can often catch freighters traversing the waters from Canada to the U.S. Camping is more outdoor fun than ever at Cedar Point State Park, with its fantastic views, swimming, and spacious campsites; plus it is within walking distance to multiple outdoor adventures.
Martin’s Marina has it all, camp right on Lake Ontario or rent one of their many vintage or new boats and explore the Lake. They have a full service marina, meaning; docking, live bait and tackle, boat launch, jet skis, and more are all provided and available for use. Do not miss out on the campgrounds friendsgiving on October 8th, or the children’s halloween on September 3rd!
Learn about and see the wondrous fish in Lake Ontario in an aquarium, that is open and free to everyone. There is also a lovely picnic site outside of the aquarium that should be put to good use.
This dining location is a historic landmark in Clayton as well as a unique farm to table dining experience. They also work in collaboration with the distillery located on the grounds, not only are you eating authentic food you are drinking homemade brews. While it is an experience in itself to dine with the Saint Lawrence Spirits Chateau, staying the night in their fruitful accomodations brings this to the next level. Try their fan favourite brunch delight This..Is…Sparta!
The Clayton Opera House is dedicated to supporting the art community in thousand islands. The opera house is located in a four story historic building, it is a year round performing arts center and is used for a range of educational performances, as well as cultural, and social.
The Antique boat Museum is dedicated to protecting and preserving boats and related artifacts to ensure that their history and importance in the growth and beginning of globalization within North America is not forgotten. In 1965 came the first annual boat show which has now become a staple for this museum. This museum has now become a crucial piece in Clayton’s history as well as its foundation, as the educational and nationally recognized museum has become foundationally imperative to this town. Explore the museum and the history surrounding boats inside of it as well as the vintage houseboat they have in their inventory. The Antique Boat Museum also offers on the water experiences where they will set you up with paddle boards, rowing or sailing, speed boating, or sunset cruises.
Seaway Slips is a large camp in which you can rent waterfront cottages in one of America’s most beautiful towns, Clayton; as recognized by many. This gorgeous collection of cottages is located within walking distance of the antique Boat Museum, the Clayton Distillery, as well as the water taxi that can take you to Boldt Castle. Each cottage is newly renovated as well as large enough that your home may even pale in comparison.
Islander marina and lodge is located in the heart of Clayton within walking distance of all their most esteemed restaurants and shops. The marina of course offers boaters a place to dock, but they also over a 7 room lodge available to rent for those interested in vacationing in the lovely lake town Clayton.
Wintergreen Island is a scenic island located directly in the middle of the thousand islands and the town of Clayton. On the island resides 6 cottage homes, 5 of which can be rented seasonally and one that can be rented at any time. Built in the 1890s these cottages and island are historical but are made new again with each passing guest. The current rental cottage can fit up to 8 guests, so immediate family and some special extended family members. This cottage is quaint and if it weren’t for the two stories the exterior would be resemblant of a hobbit home.
To actually indulge in the many island cottages littered across the way of Clayton you have to traverse the waters. Luckily there is a water taxi available to take you day or night at any time. They prefer 24 hours in advance but are not opposed to last minute accomodations. I don’t believe I have ever ridden a taxi and claimed it to be fun, but when that taxi is now a boat on the water I’m sure the word fun will be included in my taxi vocabulary.
These three locations are the perfect spots for a cottage weekend away. Each cottage is secluded on its own island, yet each one differs from the rest in size, and interior. If you are looking for a cozy and rustic home away from home; Island Boat House B & B is the option we recommend to you. If you are in search of a cottage that is reminiscent of the going away camp we all visited in our childhood, then Buck Bay Cottage is a perfect fit. If you are still not satisfied the more modern yet still maintaining its vintage charm; Whiskey Island Lodge is the one for you. Each cottage has docks leading to the water, swimming areas, decks for relaxing, and enough space for the entire family.
Clayton Distillery is a classic Clayton location for those interested in consuming locally sourced alcohol. Currently this distillery is producing vodka, whiskey, limoncello, bourbon, moonshine and more. As we venture into the thousand island days of boating, swimming, biking, exploring and more await; each of these things cannot be done under the influence of alcohol. Indulge in delightful and flavoured locally distilled alcoholic beverages during one of our last stops before reaching the illustrious islands.
Di Prinzio’s Kitchen is an Italian eatery and large restaurant, including a staggering waterfront patio dedicated to providing authentic and unique tastes to visitors. Their wood-fired pizza’s are a classic hit with loyal customers and paired with their preferred pour Riesling you may decide to simply move to Clayton to enjoy this combination every night; although maybe you would not be the healthiest?
Bella’s is a full bakery, breakfast hot spot and, coffee location. Bella’s takes pride in their views of the river 2which you can gaze upon from your pillowed seat on their patio. This bistro is set on providing you with tasteful meals, treats, and coffees that warm your stomach.
River Rat Cheese selects only the oldest tangiest cheeses and lets them become more aged in a controlled environment. People come from all over tot taste the aged river rat cheese and their famous squeaky cheese. Try their aged cheddar, their delicious cheese curds, or their cheese spread!
This old timey breakfast, lunch, and dinner location is the perfect spot for a delicious meal with family and friends. This restaurant is the epitome of vintage locations left untouched, their breakfast bar and bar stools not only look old but the colour scheme of the restaurant is classic like an old movie. Try one of their delicious breakfast omelettes on your trip to Tricia’s.
We have now entered the illustrious thousand islands, by boat, ferry, or water taxi each of these islands has something unique and special you must see.
The historic lighthouse on Rock Island is open to visitors visiting the island by boat. The lighthouse beckons you to climb its’ stairs and gaze out its watch tower window onto the sprawling water. The lighthouse was built in 1847 but the light itself turned off in 1955. After its closure it wasn’t till the late 70s that it became open for public touring.
This abandoned and eerie villa was built in 1894 for William O. Wyckoff, after the house was built and William moved in he alsted all but one night in the house before suffering a fatal heart attack in the night. The house had been passed through the family until half a century ago when the house was no longer resided in. Since then the house has groaned and decayed and is now once again on the market yet not able to be sold due to the millions that would have to be put into it in order to restore this victorian home. While you cannot enter the house unless you are a prospected buyer, you can visit the old Fort Haldimand runes. The Fort Haldimand runes are all that is left of the fort that was created to protect the island from war. Nobody lives on this island full time, so if you visit you may not see a soul.
While you can not actually step foot on this location asking the captain of the boat driving you through the thousand islands to whip around to this stop should not be too difficult. This cottage/cabin/retreat is an elite location only open to undergraduates of Yale who have been initiated into the top secret Skull and Bones society, being named a Bonesmen. This society owns the entirety of Deere Island including the hidden retreat, that is not hidden well enough from the shore. For the high class nature of Yale and its preppy reputation, this retreat is an eye sore but would you expect anything more from a society called skull and bones? Pass by the island and dare to sneak a peek at this hidden society!
This castle is something out of a fairytale and you may not believe me when I tell you that this castle rivals those in Europe. Before the castle construction had been completed Boldt himself passed away; and the castle was left vacant for many years to come. The Yacht house also situated on the island is open to the public for tours as well, and inside you will find a collection of boating relics and vintage water vehicles.
This castle is identical to those in the Disney Princess movies. Before you look at the picture provided, picture Prince Eric’s castle in Ariel; the one that sits on the shore of the sea, staggeringly tall, and orange and yellow. Think about. Have you pictured it? That is exactly what this castle resembles, and for me that is enough to drop everything and visit it. Not only can you spend a day at Singer Castle but you can also spend the night in this magnificent place. Can you find all the secret passageways on your visit?
This winery is located on a small farm in the thousand islands. Since 2012 their small farm has grown to have 2000 more vines which produces around 710 crates per season. the winery is dedicated to preserving the agrarian history of the islands while maintaining the health of the land. They encourage visitors to come taste their wine and watch the wine process occur.
This beach preserve holds many trails and expeditions for visitors to go one. But what it is known for is Potters Beach the one naturally occurring sandy beach in the Thousand Islands. This island is the fourth largest of the islands and the beach provides a great harbour for swimming in.
In between our next Island adventure stops when passing through the islands via boat you can see from the water; Calumet island and Round Island.
Canoe Point being a part of the thousand islands is only available by boat, this makes for a quiet and secluded camping experience one we often do not find anymore with the influx of camping occurring. The park itself is gorgeous, and the picnic point is a staple visiting location. At the edge of the park is an open eating area with a pavilion and gazebo overlooking the surrounding waters. Enjoy a family picnic or simply sit by yourself and watch the waves crash over the shore; either way you don’t want to miss this.
This island preserve was established in 1995 as aa way to preserve the wetlands on Wellesley Island. This preserved area acts as safe passageway for animals trekking from the Adirondack mountains to Algonquin Provincial Park. The animal preservation makes Wellesley island Preserve an ideal spot for animal and bird watching.
Wellesley island State park is home to the largest camping grounds in the Thousand Islands, has a 9 hole golf course, as well as a park store, as well as a sandy beach, full working marina, as well as a sandy beach which is perfect for suntanning and swimming. The park is know for its incredible source of muskie fishing, as well as perch, small-mouth bass, and pike. For those who find no appeal to sleeping in a tent and feeling little rocks digging into your back for the entirety of your sleep, there are cottages and cabins for rent that are quite cozy.
The Wellesley Hotel Restaurant and Pub is a rustic hotel set with white pillars and a large wrap around porch. The stunning exterior is warm and welcoming, their food is just the same. The hotel is often home to many balls, galas, and events, yet their eclectic menu is not as proper; serving comfort foods and oddities creating a perfect casual dining experience.
This State Park while small is mighty in its abundance of amenities, as well as fishing opportunities, views of the St. Lawrence River, and more. They are known for their cabin colony as well as their attracting of a large amount of fishers. If you are not looking to camp-out, Waterson Point State Park is a simpler option being that the park is only large enough for dockage, beautiful views, a picnic place, and a gazebo that is over a century old. Opt for one over the other, or hit up both on your venture through the islands.
While Wellesley may have been one of the final islands we visited on this American half of the featured route, you could always alternate the order on your own accord. If you started by venturing to Wellesley Island, instead of travelling by water taxi to each and every island counting on someone to drive the boat for you; you could do it yourself with Wellesley boat rentals. Working alongside a rental and boating expert find the boat that is right for you and suits your needs while venturing through these islands. they promise they have boats suited for every budget and group size! Just make sure you have a boating license.
Captain Visger House is a kitchen/restaurant, boutique, and hotel; a jack of all trades. They strive to provide a unique experience to each visitor that arrives at the house. They curate this experience to the carefully decorated rooms, to their delicious farm to table meals, and finally with their thousand island wines. Each item, meal, or drink available to purchase is locally sourced and farm to table. The house is charming and reminds you of staying at your grandparents cottage for the weekend as a kid, the weekend full of boating, eating until your belly could burst, and your hair becoming bleached from the sun.
Schermerhorn Harbor and Marina is located just minutes from Alexandria Bay. The marina offers dockage, boat rentals, cottage rentals, general store, and the owners family restaurant Foster’s Harbor Inn.
For lots more off-the-beaten-track experiences, one-of-a-kind eats, and hidden gems only locals know about check out the Scenic Border Towns of Lake Ontario East- the coastal route.
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