Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say that COVID-19 has clipped the world’s wings. Thanks to the pandemic, our trips to Paris and New York were both cancelled (* single tear streams down face*).
I am grateful to the pandemic though. Why? Well, it has forced me to enjoy and appreciate my surroundings. So, when long haul travel is out of the question, why not explore nearby gems?
A favourite roadtrip this summer was to 1000 Islands. It’s gorgeous, quaint and there are literally over a thousand beautiful islands. Don’t believe me? Book a helicopter tour and see for yourself!
Before we get started, if you are planning to visit, take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Wear a mask while indoors, practice social distancing and use hand sanitizer.
Many businesses are still adapting to provincial regulations put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus. Research your destinations in advance and be patient as everyone is getting used to the “new normal”.
How To Get There
If you are taking a day trip, there is lots to do such as hiking or kayaking with 1000 Islands Kayaking. Bring your bike and cycle the 1000 Islands Parkway which connects Gananoque to Brockville. There are a few scenic villages along the way that are very worthy of a stop such as Rockport, Ivy Lea, and Mallorytown.
Where To Eat
Ryan and I are foodies, and were pretty pumped to check out The Purple House Café. They are known for their wood-fired pizzas and wonderful, local Ontario wines. Tip: try out the pulled pork pizza – WHOA. YUM.
We also had great cocktails and craft beer at the Gan Brewing Co. This popular spot has a bustling patio, where we lucky enough to catch the last set of a live band playing that afternoon.
A must-visit is Banana Splitz (72 Stone St.) for some of the best ice cream ever that you have to enjoy while walking around and taking in the scenery.
Be sure to check out the intimate patio at the Maple Leaf Restaurant. We sipped wine while the sunset, and thoroughly enjoyed our dinner of spaetzl and schnitzel. This traditional Czech restaurant offered some of the best service we have ever had!
Our fave spots though were lunch at the historic Gananoque Inn which offers up a pretty, covered patio overlooking the St. Lawrence River.
An unexpected great time was the Stonewater Bed & Breakfast’s pub. The Grilled Chicken Club and Peach & Mango Salad were stellar. Ryan was also a huge fan of their beer selection.
Treat yourself to a nightcap at The Old English Pub on King Street as well! The street front patio offers up some stellar people-watching and you will greatly enjoy the twists they put on classic cocktails, not to mention boss portraits of Sir Winston Churchill inside the pub.
Feeling fancy? Riva is a must if you are a foodie. Located in a historic building in Gananoque (and formerly called The Golden Apple), Riva has a cozy, decadent bar and beautiful dining room complete with a huge fireplace. It also features two lovely garden patios. It’s so beautiful, Ryan and I plan on returning in the fall.
Fun Things To Do
Helicopter Tour Over 1000 Islands
A standout moment of our getaway was the tour with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours! I won’t lie. I was NERVOUS. Our wonderful pilot, Martine put me at ease though with her smooth flying and concise lesson on the history of Gananoque and 1000 Islands.
The views were beyond amazing, and you would have to see it for yourself to believe that the waters of the St. Lawrence are crystal clear and Caribbean blue. Ryan and I loved every second of that tour.
Guided Kayak Tour
Another highlight of our trip, and Ryan’s favourite was the guided kayak tour offered by 1000 Islands Kayaking.
Our tour guide Mark was AWESOME. Knowledgeable and friendly, he took us on a 7km paddle of the St. Lawrence. Trust me – 7km might sound daunting, but it flew by! We saw wildlife up close, paddled past yachts and sailboats, saw a shipwreck and outdoor cathedral at Half Moon Bay (closed due to COVID) and took in the palatial homes and cottages dotting the islands. It was peaceful and gorgeous paddling under the summer sun.
A leisurely boat cruise on the calm waters of the St. Lawrence is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. There are quite a few boat lines to choose from such as Rockport Cruises or Gananoque Boat Line. Both are some of the oldest boat lines in town and offer beautiful cruises around the islands, including a great pass-by of the sprawling and historic, Boldt Castle (visit the website – Boldt Castle’s history is so romantic…and sad).
A mermaid at heart, swimming is favourite activity of mine. Halsteads Bay is a local favourite with its clear waters and large rocks that you can sun yourself on. It’s popular, so be prepared (bring a mask)! Also, bring some aqua socks/water shoes to protect your feet from the rock as you wade in.
We also checked out the beach at lively Joel Stone Park, but it’s pretty small. While fun and great for a dip, it can get crowded quickly.
A big thank you to 1000 Islands Tourism who partnered with me to create this review. It was a natural fit as Gananoque holds a special place in my heart as I used to visit each summer as a teen.
The combination of small town quaintness, friendly locals, beautiful waterfront and great food make it a natural option for a fun and relaxing getaway.