Touring the Thousand Islands Region Series: Abay and Clayton

For fear of sounding like a tourism brochure, we’ll try to keep it brief, but we must tell you how fantastic our backyard is — no pride here!

View from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail

View from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail north of Chippewa Bay

Summertime in the Thousand Islands Region is the place to be. Whatever your water pursuit of choice is from fishing, kayaking, boating, swimming, scuba-diving, water-skiing and the new flyboarding, there are ample opportunities to spend time on the river.

With the Thousand Islands (actually 1864 of them) at our doorstep, we find ourselves day-tripping to the region most summer weekends.

Fun Fact from Wikipedia

To count as one of the Thousand Islands these minimum criteria have to be met: 1) Above water level year-round; 2) Have an area greater than 1 square foot (0.093 m2); and 3) Support at least one living tree.

Both the American and Canadian shorelines of the St. Lawrence River between Ogdensburg to Cape Vincent, Brockville to Kingston offer scenic byways. Along the route, you’ll find War of 1812 history, quaint towns and villages, national and state parks, cottages to turn of the century Mansions and Castles.

We like to cross the border into the U.S. at the Thousand Islands Bridge. Ten minutes east from the bridge is Alexandria Bay and west the village of Clayton.

Thousand Islands Bridge

Thousand Islands Bridge

Alexandria Bay is a busy town with the coming and going of ‘River Rats’ and tourists. Tour boats, speedboats, small fishing boats and cruisers, sailboats, houseboats, pontoon boats, cigarette boats, jet skis, you’ll find them all along the waterfront and all the inhabitants of these boats strolling the main streets restaurants and tacky tourist shops. In the evening, if you are looking for some action this is the place to be. Bars and nightclubs with live music, this is where it’s happening. If you meet someone in Brockville married to an American, there is a good chance they met partying in Abay.

flyboarding boots

Flyboarding boots

So maybe we don’t get out much, ’cause we had never seen this before, but apparently this activity is offered in the Caribbean–and nowhere in the Islands.

Flyboarding was invented in 2011 and introduced at the jet ski World Championship in 2012. A long hose hooked up to the back of the jet-ski and attached to boots at the other end which you slip on before the fun begins. The engines propulsion will shoot you up through the air. Trying to stay up and manoeuvre, twisting and turning is where coordination and balance skills come in.


Flyboarding in A-Bay

Flyboarding in Alexandria Bay with Boldt Castle in the distance

Boldt Castle viewed from Alexandria Bay

Boldt Castle viewed from shore in Alexandria Bay, NY

If you are looking for a low-key family place then Clayton is your destination of choice. When our kids were little we would often visit here. Just off the main road into the village, behind the  Catholic Church there is a huge wooden play structure where the kids would play for hours. We would then have a pizza dinner and a stroll along the waterfront enjoying an ice cream cone to complete the day. Clayton is also host to the annual antique boat show and the Clayton Antique Boat Museum.

playground, Clayton NY

Playground–Clayton, NY

Along the waterfront, the Dock Dogs Competition was entertaining a small but lively crowd. In this event, four-legged friends compete in a jumping for distance event from a simulated dock into the water. We told you it was a ‘for families’ kind of place.

Dock Dogs

Dock Dogs

Dock dogs--Black Lab

Black Lab covering some ground or should we say water.

Returning home, you should stop for dinner at one of the many restaurants along the shore of the St Lawrence River. Don’t be startled by the sound of a great lake freighter’s horn as you enjoy your meal dockside.

Summertime is here in the Islands!

8 thoughts on “Touring the Thousand Islands Region Series: Abay and Clayton

  1. Hey, you guys are a great tourist bureau. Don’t know much about the Thousand Lakes Area but I have spent a week kayaking in Voyageurs National Park between Canada and Minnesota out of International Falls. That was a great experience. –Curt

    • Haha, I can see you doing it! It looked like a lot of fun. One of the owners did a demonstration and he made it look so easy up and down, backwards, forward and diving in and out like a dolphin. Then a young kid tried and it no longer looked so easy, but within ten minutes he was getting the hang of it, at least holding himself up. Let us know if you come this way to try it, we’d want to see you in action:)

      • We saw this on Rick Mercer a couple of weeks ago and your description of it not looking so easy was the same for Rick. Will definitely let you know if I sign up. How are you at CPR? 🙂

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