What to do 1000 Islands area
September 5, 2014 7:59 PM   Subscribe

We'll be staying in Watertown, NY Sept. 25-28. I'll be doing other research but I wanted to ask the Green for recommendations. So... any must sees, recommendations for tours, food, etc...

Caveats: 30s couple, wife's preggo so nothing too active.

I did see this question, but it was a while back and not exactly the same.
posted by pyro979 to Travel & Transportation around Watertown, NY (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Food: Pete's Trattoria on Breen Street is great, and has a mix of northern NY classics (half-hots, GIANT portions) and classics (salmon, burgers). Pretty much one of the best restaurants in Watertown. Sboro's also has a good reputation but I haven't eaten there.

For activities, there's the zoo and the historical society. I'm not trying to minimize Watertown's appeal and I'm from there but... there's not a ton of stuff to do there that you can't do in most other small cities in the US.

In September, it's still nice enough to drive a bit out of town to Sackets Harbor and wander around there. It's right on the water and there are always weekend activities going on, and some great restaurants too.
posted by bedhead at 8:24 PM on September 5, 2014

Boldt Castle is definitely worth a visit.
posted by fairmettle at 4:05 AM on September 6, 2014

Agreed on Sackett's Harbor is a cool little village and The Hops Spot is a great little gastropub. I

f you go north to Alexandria Bay, I recommend taking an Uncle Sam boat tour around the islands. I've been going up there my whole life and I still found it interesting and informative. It's also just nice to take a boat ride.

You can couple a visit to Boldt Castle on Heart Island as part of that tour, if you wish. It's a bit of walking around, if you're feeling antsy after sitting for a couple hours.

A-Bay is just a little tourist town and it might be slow by that time of year, but it's a nice visit if you haven't been. I wouldn't give any of the restaurants or coffee shops super-high ratings, but I'm a bit of a snob like that.

I don't have much Watertown-specific knowledge; we only really went there to go to the movies at the mall. If you want to take an international jaunt, Kingston Ontario is about an hour away (North over the Thousand Islands Bridge, then West on whatever Highway that is. It's one of my favorite cities. They have a wonderful Cafe called The Sleepless Goat. Or if you stop in Gananoque on the way, the Socialist Pig coffeehouse is pretty great too.

Have fun!
posted by JimBJ9 at 4:14 AM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I lived in Sackets Harbor for a spell and highly second The Hops Spot as a great place for food and top notch beer selection. The owners have recently opened Skewed Brewing in the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, right next to the movie theater - which is a larger, more mainstreamed brewpub. So if you can't make it out to Sackets (15 minutes west from Watertown) at the very least you should check that out. But, really, you want to make it out to Sackets.

Beyond the brew pubs in Sackets: right behind the Hops Spot is the Boathouse which is directly on the lake so you can eat on the back porch right on the lake or inside with a great view if its a bit too cold (their super hot and spicy burger was my favorite there). Within a block or two there is also a fantastic breakfast/brunch/lunch place, the Tin Pan Gallery, that people drive from Watertown every weekend to stand in line for. And, Goodfellos, the wood-fired brick-oven pizza/Italian place that is really great too.

Sackets' claim to fame centers around the war of 1812 and they have a short, flat walking trail along the lake with placards describing the battle when the British were trying to invade by way of Lake Ontario. Its a good excuse to view the lake and a great way to walk off the food you just ate. If you take a right out of the front door of any of the restaurants I've mentioned the trail begins where the sidewalk ends in three or four blocks.

Also the ferry ride suggested above, from Alexandria Bay with the option of Boldt Castle, is a great way to see the Thousand Islands (its what the salad dressing is named after!). Also I agree with JimBJ9's assessment of A-Bay's restaurants, its a bit too touristy and I would definitely rather eat in Sackets.

Watertown is kind of dull, you definitely want to get to the lakefront towns just 15 mins. away.

Kingston and Gananoque are great too if you want to cross the border.

I loved my time in Sackets and would gladly talk more about it. If you need any more info, MeMail me.
posted by zyxwvut at 5:53 AM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've only been up there in July, so your experiences may vary somewhat based on the weather and what's open; the "resort season" up there is very short, really only about six weeks or so starting in mid-July, so a lot of stuff in Alexandria Bay and the other towns along the St. Lawrence may be closed or on limited hours.

Going to Alexandria Bay and taking Uncle Sam's boat tour is kind of a must (although the weather might be a little chilly that time of year). As others have suggested, make sure to get off at Boldt Castle.

Also, agreeing with everything that's been said, Sackets Harbor is a great little town with good food and beer (which is not a given in northern NYS). I had a delicious fried perch sandwich at one of the bar/restaurants along the main drag; don't remember which one, but perch and walleye are big up there, so make sure you eat some. (I much prefer perch to walleye, but that's just me.)

Drop by Clayton and visit the Antique Boat Museum; there are a few stores there selling local cheeses, which are worth trying. Also, drop in for a meal at the Thousand Islands Inn, in Clayton, which claims to have originated Thousand Island dressing (although there seems to be some dispute about that). It's very charming. Bella's in Clayton is a good place for breakfast, with a waterfront terrace.

The Sunny Bank Restaurant on 12E between Cape Vincent and Clayton is a good, not expensive place for pretty basic American fare, including local fish (again, walleye and perch, generally fried).

If you have time, visit the Methodist camp on Wellesley Island, which is cute and will probably be completely shut down.

And if you like sweet wines, don't miss the Thousand Islands Winery near the bridge entrance.

Have fun!
posted by Leatherstocking at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2014

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