The beautiful 1000 Islands that lie in between Canada and the US have been a major tourist attraction for centuries. People have always loved visiting and exploring these natural treasures during the warmest part of the year, and the still-unspoiled terrain is a welcome respite from urban life. If you’re planning on visiting yourself, here’s what you need to know about finding a place to stay.
The Lay of The Land
The 1000 Islands fill the lower end of the St. Lawrence River where it meets Lake Ontario. Evenly split between the province of Ontario and the State of New York, it’s an extremely popular summertime destination for both US residents and Canadians. The range of amenities available is roughly equal on either side of the border, with Canada enjoying a slight advantage in terms of total island acreage inside its territory.
The key point to bear in mind when booking accommodations is that demand and cost rise sharply during the peak season. This is typically defined as mid-May to mid-September. Some larger resorts and hotels may have “transitional” pricing during spring and fall. Room and rental rates tend to jump by 20 to 40 percent in peak months, and you’ll need to book well in advance, especially with smaller operators.
Because the 1000 Islands are particularly known for their unspoiled natural beauty, it is a very popular destination for camping holidays. There are campgrounds spread all along both shores of the river, although many campers looking for peace and quiet prefer destinations further to the north, away from the most intensively-developed areas. The Cardinal campgrounds in Ontario, for example, are roughly 40 miles northeast of the 1000 Islands proper. (They are still well worth a visit, though!)
On the US side of the river, campgrounds are sprinkled throughout the stretch from Cape Vincent to Alexandria Bay, with a few outposts further north. The grounds closer to town are typically somewhat cramped and cater to RV visitors (both short-timers and seasonal residents). Camping amenities around Clayton, roughly equidistant between the two towns, are more suited to hikers and boaters.
Resorts, Hotels and Motels
Speaking generally, large resorts and hotels on the Canadian side of the 1000 Islands tend to be spread out and may be some distance from the islands themselves. There is a cluster of fine hotels in Kingston, at the mouth of the river, but many of the other great accommodations are to be found anywhere between Lake Ontario and Cornwall.
American resorts tend to be more densely packed into Cape Vincent and Alexandria Bay, although there are more than a few outliers. Be careful to verify the location of any hotel when planning a trip to the 1000 Islands, as it can be somewhat difficult to tell the difference between a waterfront resort in Cape Vincent and a hotel in Adams Center that’s actually 20 miles from the river.
Note that a large majority of the resorts and motels in the area (especially the American ones) cater to boaters with ample marina facilities. If you intend to do some boating of your own, picking an appropriate place to stay can make it much easier to get on the water. On the other hand, if you intend to confine yourself to shore activities, staying at a hotel without boat access can save you some money.
B&Bs, Cabins and Vacation Rentals
Staying in a privately-owned house has long been a popular way to enjoy the 1000 Islands, and beautiful examples thrive on both sides of the border. As with camping sites, the availability and quality of rentals tend to increase the further north you go. Be aware that many of the region’s best opportunities (particularly B&Bs) may be a few miles distant from the river; this is by no means a deal-breaker.
Cabin and house rentals are ideal if you’re intending to stick around for an extended stay. Their weekly, monthly or seasonal rates can be much cheaper than larger resorts, and the amenities are typically more than adequate. Just as with larger resorts, a lot of smaller riverfront properties boast docks and boat access. Review boating resources carefully if you’re planning on docking at a rental property.
The 1000 Islands makes a great natural retreat for a few nights or a few weeks. Whether you choose to fight the crowds clamoring to enjoy the area’s great summertime temperatures or elect to save a little money by visiting during the off-peak months, you’ll find an ample range of choices when you’re picking out accommodations.
About the Author
Will Tottle is the Content Manager for Smart Price Warehouse. In his free time, he enjoys traveling and camping. Smart Price Waterhouse is a leading provider of affordable and high-quality home and bathroom renovation products to consumers. To learn more and check out their entire line of steam showers and bathroom renovation products, visit www.smartpricewarehouse.co.uk.