One part of New York has shined brightest since this all started. The waters of the St. Lawrence River Valley, 1000 Islands and the Lake Ontario shoreline have been the antidote for 2020: wide open spaces, few people and a getaway experience for everyone in the family.
As the days grow shorter and more chaotic with the school year upon us, seek refuge for just a little while among the woods and waters of the place known as the 1000 Islands-Seaway Region. Here you can chase waterfalls and catch sunsets, hike gorges and walk downtowns, and – above all – just breathe easier knowing that you’re in a place that’s right for you and right for this time. Here’s what to expect this fall:
Get Here and Get Out
We’ve all been a little lost this year. Take time to discover these gems, and yourself. Check out the spectacular 110-foot Salmon River Falls from an accessible trail with scenic viewing areas, or the new hiking trail to the bottom of the gorge (recommended for physically fit only). Rather put your arms to the test? Find kayaks and canoes to rent along the water at places such as Hosmer’s Marina in Ogdensburg, where the Oswegatchie River meets the St. Lawrence. You can even hire a guided trip at places such as Boomerang Bicycle and Kayak Rental on Wellesley Island just off I-81 near Alexandria Bay, and guided kayaking, biking and walking tours at Oswego Expeditions.
Further south are the mostly undiscovered trails of the Tug Hill Region, far closer than you would have guessed. Head to VisitTugHill.com and download more than two dozen trail maps leading to gorges, waterfalls and meadows virtually untouched. Along the St. Lawrence River, several nature trails exist with beautiful views and accessible experiences. The interactive trail map on www.STLCtrails.com will ensure your adventure is well planned.
More interested in taking a leaf-peeping season by car or bike? Enjoy the Hammond Barn Quilt Trail featuring more than 80 public art exhibits with unique stories.
Outdoors + Kids
Looking for a more traditional fall outing but want to avoid crowds? Things move a little slower here without a major city funneling visitors to our pumpkin patches, U-pick orchards and autumn fun. Load up on fresh apples, cider and legendary fudge and doughnuts at Oswego County’s many orchards and roadside stands. Taste apple cider donuts and hard cider at Kaneb Orchards in Massena or enjoy picking pumpkins, apples and more at Fobare’s Fruits in Rensselaer Falls.
For something really unique, head to Old McDonald’s Farm in Sackets Harbor. Always good for fall fun, Old McDonald’s is this year letting visitors walk a massive cornfield maze shaped like Jefferson County, New York. The walk from the Thousand Islands Bridge to Watertown was never shorter…if you don’t get lost. The Farm is taking pre-arrival reservations so you can be sure your visit is well regulated for crowds.
Whether you’re teaching the kids at home full time, two-days-a-week or just doing your best, you’ll find a visit to the Seaway Region full of enough lessons to check a few boxes for your homeschooling duties. State Parks spots open throughout the year include the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center at Wellesley Island State Park, the Eugene Nicandri Nature Center in Massena. Each offers a glimpse into the flora and fauna of New York via modern exhibits and activities. Surrounding trails let you show the kids “nature’s classroom” to really earn points with their teachers.
For colorful local history and more hands-on activities, check out the H. Lee White Maritime Museum, Children’s Museum of Oswego, and the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum in Oswego County, home of the oldest freshwater port in North America. Art lessons and experiences are ready for you at the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg.
Stay and little, save a lot
Fall brings not only spectacular foliage reflecting off all of this water, but also deals on hotels, cottages and campgrounds that will light up your day as well. Since summer is the region’s “core season,” deals abound in fall. Hotel rooms offer discounts at local wineries or vouchers for area restaurants.
If you’re overnighting up north in places like Massena, Ogdensburg or the foothills of the Adirondacks, the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce lodging page is the best place to go. To find what’s out there in places like Alexandria Bay and Clayton or Sackets Harbor and Watertown, check out the Visit1000Islands.com site. For those looking to rest after being in the apple orchards or waterfalls of Oswego County, head to these lodging listings.