A Vacation Seekers Paradise
Gananoque is known as the gateway to the 1000 Islands. This small town has a mix of quaint shops, beauty, and an abundance of things to do outside. Just nestled in the St Lawrence River are the 1000 Islands which are shared by the US and Canada. This area leaves plenty of room for exploration and you can view it from a cruise, helicopter, kayak, cycling along the waterfront path, plus more! Get ready for breathtaking natural escapes, local shopping and lots of outdoor activities.
Here are just some of the things you can do on a weekend trip to the 1000 Islands Gananoque
Get Outdoors In The Thousand Islands
One of the best ways to see the 1000 Islands is by canoe or kayak! For this trip, we tried out paddling like French-Canadian Voyageurs in a big canoe. This event is run by Parks Canada at the Thousand Islands National Park in Malloytown. This is your chance to learn and experience some of Canada’s heritage. This day includes a paddle lesson and guided tours of UNESCO sites by qualified guides.
You can also take a tour with 1000 Islands Kayaking Tour where you can get breathtaking views of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. There are also half-day trips where you can tour Half Moon Bay – this is where church services began in 1887.
Visit This Charming New Cidery
Get ex-cider-ed (get it?) there’s a new cidery in South Eastern Ontario! BUSL is a family-run craft cidery that has officially opened. The 280-acre property has 2 acres of lavender, 2 acres of Haskap (an antioxidant berry), a 10 acre Apple orchard, and an adorable dollhouse bakery across the street – owned by the family as well.
Cider is one of the best alcoholic beverages because it’s basically like adult apple juice. However, BUSL’s flavours go beyond just your standard apple flavour. We tasted the Baca (Blueberry + Beet) which was dry and pleasantly refreshing despite the earthiness of the beets. We also tried the Haskap, which was packed with antioxidants with flavours of plum, guava, and pomegranate.
Spoil Yourself At The Ivy
Treat yourself to an evening at The Ivy. You can sit along their balcony patio which overlooks the docks with a view of the St Lawrence River. The service and menu selection was exceptional, which made this one of my favourite dining experiences in South Eastern Ontario. We shared an assortment of small plates from the menu which included: a charcuterie board, lobster salad, and braised short rib croquettes. For dessert, we shared the smores sundae and key lime cheesecake. It can be overwhelming when your can’t find a great spot to eat while on vacation but rest assured because The Ivy fits the bill!
Explore The Islands By Helicopter
If a helicopter tour has been on your bucket list this summer, then flying over the Thousand Islands is the perfect place to do it. The views were breathtaking and I can now say that I have experienced the 1000 Islands by boat, by helicopter, and by kayak! From high above, you can enjoy the beauty of 1864 islands and landmarks such as Boldt Castle, Singer Castle and the Thousand Islands International Bridge. Take a tour with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tour. Tours range from 10 minutes to an hour and include a personal narration of the area by the pilot. The sky’s the limit!
Grab Some Lunch At Panache
You’re going to need to fuel up during your travels around Gananoque. If you’re looking for a quick bite, I suggest visiting the Panache Bakery. There’s plenty to choose from and they make everything from scratch. The best part though is that their bagels are from Montreal!
Step Into Eclectic Shops
With quaint and eclectic spots downtown, there’s plenty of opportunities to shop, wander around and enjoy the sights. You may even come across some beautiful murals alongside heritage buildings.
One spot stood out the most during my time in Gananoque, Beggars Banquet Books. This is a little book shop that you can easily spend a good chunk of time in. For me, the owner’s hospitality made this an experience. I wanted to explore some new genres for myself but had no idea where to start. The owners were able to recommend books they personally adored and some that their customers raved about. Although I wasn’t lucky in finding a specific book that I wanted (IT, Stephen King) I left with at least 5 books in great condition and at an incredibly reasonable price. I could’ve honestly left with more but I figured I should pace myself instead.
Culture Takes Centre Stage
No visit to Gananoque is complete without seeing a show at the most active theatre in Eastern Ontario. The Thousand Island Playhouse has been named ‘the most charming theatre in Canada’ and for good reason! Almost all of their shows are produced through Canadian writers. There are two heritage theatres, Springer Theatre on the waterfront where you can see panoramic views of the St Lawrence River. There’s also the Firehall Theatre, which was built in 1913 as the Gananoque Police Station and Firehouse.
The show that I had the pleasure of viewing was ‘Made in Italy,’ which premiered in 2016 and developed by Western Canada Theatre. This was a one-man show where playwriter and actor, Farren Timoteo played all of the show’s characters. The play was inspired by Farran’s families experiences, from immigrating to Canada to growing up in the 1970’s. It was also a celebration of culture and family values. I found myself at times laughing along with all of the similarities I could point out with my family. The playhouse is a true-blue Canadian monument. This is one Gananoque attraction you can’t miss out on!
Taste Woodfire Pizza At This Adorable Cafe
Located near the waterfront is another Gananoque gem. The accurately named, Purple House Cafe is serving up wood-fired pizza made with local ingredients. Dine on their garden patio and eat some of the best pizza you’ll ever try! We had the feature pizza: steak, pears, and brie and the spicy sausage: hot banana peppers, mozzarella, and my favourite ‘seed to sausage’ jalapeno and blue cheese cured sausage. These pizzas are super delicious and they have tons of options to choose from including gluten-free crust!
Places To Stay
The Woodview Inn – Relax at this quaint bed and breakfast. It’s only steps away from pretty much everything in Gananoque
Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Recently renovated and your room comes with an excellent complimentary breakfast.
Glen House Resort – Spoil yourself and upgrade to the jacuzzi room. Bonus, it’s across the street from Smugglers Glen Golf.
Gananoque Inn & Spa – Spacious rooms, comfortable beds, and gorgeous views of the St. Lawrence River!
If you haven’t been to the 1000 Islands Gananoque, then you’re in for the most wonderful treat my friends!