How to enjoy Fall in the 1000 Islands

We all love summer but after this hot and hazy edition, who else is ready for some crisp air, cool mornings and “seasonal” beverages? Don’t forget our stunning fall foliage. Here’s some tips for visiting the 1000 Islands in the fall:

1. Get Out on the Water, it’s Still Warm Out There!


The St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario are warm from months of sunshine, meaning our shoreline communities and waterway take longer to cool down than your town! Fall is the perfect time for a relaxing narrated cruise among the islands where you’ll see fairy tale castles, lighthouses and historic mansions while hearing true tales of pirates, bootleggers and the Gilded Age rich who once made this place their private playground.

Bonus tip: If you have your own boat, many of our parks are “off season” in the fall, meaning you have access to even more launches and docking facilities. Launch your boat, park close and enjoy a cruise without worrying about long lines at the ramp or struggling to get into that dock slip nobody else wanted.

Must do: Make a stop at Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay. The castle is open through October 21 and the surrounding trees are stunningly beautiful in September and October. The castle accommodates tour boats and private vessels.

2. Add More Experiences


Hiking your thing? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to go kayaking but don’t like the summer boating traffic. Imagine renting a bike and cycling through our parks or country roads. Fall is the perfect time for a relaxing outing in the 1000 Islands. Get out and soak up the foliage among the great outdoors!

Looking to quench your thirst after all that activity? The 1000 Islands craft beverage scene has exploded, with more than a dozen wineries plus breweries and distilleries who really shine in the fall.

Bonus tip: Don’t overlook Watertown, New York. Watertown added a brewery this summer and has another one online to start this fall.

Must do: Head to the Burrville Cider Mill just outside Watertown. Grab the best cider donut you’ve ever had, an apple slushie and take a selfie at the former mill’s waterfall. It’s a rite of passage for fall in Northern New York.

3. Choose One Thrilling Adventure


There’s not shortage of adrenaline-pumping fun in fall. Our biggest fish – the monster musky – gets active in fall. Imagine reeling in a 50-plus-inch fish! Rather stay on land…or above it? Check out Skywood, the treetop adventure park, Spencer Valley Ziplines or the hauntings of Fort Fright in October!

Bonus tip: Our attractions often limit their hours in fall so we recommend checking ahead to make sure your preferred spot is open when you visit, plus you may be able to book your thrill time and arrive without worry!

Must do (sorta): We’re not saying you shouldn’t try for a muskie on your own but these are wily fish that require special equipment. If you’re going to pursue them, hook up with one of our experienced guides.

4. Pick the Right Time!

Autumn days in the 1000 Islands can be as peaceful or as exhilarating as you wish. Most fall days are significantly quieter than the hustle and bustle of summer in the islands.  Last year’s Punkin Chunkin Festival in Clayton, NY, drew thousands! Keep an eye on our Fall Events Calendar to see what’s happening and pick the best time to fit your perfect 1000 Islands fall vacation.

Bonus tip: Consider the car show weekends. They’re sneaky fun. They pack the towns, all of the restaurants, shops and pubs are open and it’s a great way to get that fall vibe without leaving the downtowns.

Must do: Check out one of our Oktoberfest weekends. Our wineries and vineyards host them on different weekends in late September and early October so you can almost always find an Oktoberfest celebration featuring area beverages.

Must do with kids: Autumn Festival at Wellesley Island State Park, Saturday, October 6. This is everything you could ever want in a family-friendly fall festival: scarecrow-making, cider, seasonal artisans, nature walks, animal displays and more.

5. Where to Stay?


There are options aplenty in the fall! Fall lodging rates tend to be lower than July and August pricing, meaning savvy visitors can strike a deal on everything upscale full-service to modestly priced hotel rooms. Cottage colonies and home rentals tend to be popular with families and groups looking to have their own place too.

Bonus tip: If you’re a camping person, lean toward the private-side campgrounds as we get into October. They tend to stay open later than the public campgrounds.

Must do: Shop around for a package deal! Our lodging businesses get creative in the fall and it’s common to find overnight packages that include admission to harvest festivals or tasting rooms.