Known all over the world for its beautiful islands located in the St. Lawrence River (and for its salad dressing), this area offers many interesting historic attractions as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside. Located strategically at the point where Lake Ontario drains into the St. Lawrence River, Kingston was the first capital of Canada and contains many beautiful limestone buildings, including Kingston's landmark City Hall. A visit to this area would not be complete without a cruise of the spectacular Thousand Islands. Cruise boats operate from Kingston, Gananoque and Rockport, with varying schedules and options. Main sites to be included on a cruise are the impressive spans of the International Bridge, Boldt Castle and Zavikon Island, featuring the world's shortest international bridge.
Of course, there is more to this area than the Thousand Islands. Follow one of the well-marked highway routes through historically significant areas. The Loyalist Parkway takes you west of Kingston to Prince Edward County, a large island with spectacular sand dune beaches and quaint villages. The Clarion's Hotel Quinte in Belleville offers excellent accommodations from which to "spoke & hub". Continuing west, you will meet the Apple Route and arrive at The Big Apple, one of the area's major motorcoach stops for coffee breaks or lunches. East of Kingston at Gananoque, you can take the Thousand Islands Parkway, paralleling Highway 401 and offering some of the most scenic shoreline views of the Thousand Islands. A stop at the Thousand Islands Skydeck will give your groups a fantastic view of this area, even if there isn't enough time for a cruise.
Brockville, located at the eastern end of the Thousand Islands, is famous for its imposing architecture, stately mansions and fanciful fountains. Groups can tour Fulford Place, the magnificent residence built for the developer of "Pink Pills for Pale People".
Continue on to Morrisburg and spend at least half a day at Upper Canada Village, Ontario's only historic attraction to receive the top 3-star rating from Michelin's International Tour Guide. Cornwall is a thriving community providing first class accommodations and offers groups an excellent opportunity to "hub & spoke" as it is less than one hour from both Ottawa and Montreal and is only minutes from New York State via the Seaway International Bridge.
Day 1: When travelling from the west (Toronto), a coffee stop at the Big Apple in Colborne is exactly halfway between Toronto and Kingston. See apple pies being made in the kitchen and sample a variety of apple products hot from the oven. Continuing eastward to Napanee, visit the Lennox & Addington County Museum and view the fascinating local history collection. If arriving from the south (U.S.), a stop at the Thousand Islands Skydeck for an overall view from the observation deck is a great way to begin the tour. Arrive in Kingston for overnight at one of the waterfront hotels. Dine at a local restaurant this evening and then enjoy a stroll along the lovely downtown harbour area.
Day 2: Kingston has more museums per capita than any other place in Ontario, and today, you will sample some of them. First stop is Bellevue House, an Italianate villa which was once the home of Canada's first Prime Minister. Continue on to the Correctional Services of Canada Museum and view a unique collection of prison artifacts, contraband weapons and escape devices. After a beautiful buffet lunch at a local restaurant, spend the afternoon at Fort Henry and experience military life in the 1830s through guided tours, soldiers' parades and drills. Return to the hotel for dinner and evening at leisure.
Day 3: Enjoy a morning visit to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, offering an intriguing look at life on these famous waterways over the past two centuries. Leave Kingston, and follow Highway 401 and the beautiful Thousand Islands Parkway east to the quaint village of Rockport, where Rockport Boatline offers a one-hour cruise that explores the heart of the Thousand Islands. After the cruise, make a stop at the Thousand Islands Skydeck, just a five-minute drive half-way across the International Bridge (still in Canada) for souvenir shopping and a scenic elevator ride to the observation deck 400 feet above the St. Lawrence River. Check-in at a Gananoque hotel and enjoy dinner at the Golden Apple Inn & Restaurant or the Lobster Trap Seafood Restaurant. This evening, attend a performance at the Thousand Islands Playhouse.
Day 4: Today, we visit the quaint village of Athens and hear a local guide describe the historic murals displayed on the walls of various buildings. Continue on to the historic town of Brockville, offering a legacy of well-preserved buildings and elegant mansions. Tour Fulford Place, a magnificent 20,000 square foot manor high above the St. Lawrence River. After lunch, enjoy a cruise of the eastern portion of the Thousand Islands or continue east to Cornwall. Sample country village charm as you stroll through inviting antique, craft and gift shops in nearby Lancaster. After check-in and dinner in Cornwall, enjoy evening entertainment in Lamoureux Park or attend a performance at Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg.
Day 5: This morning, step back in time over 100 years to experience life in an Ontario settlement at Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg. Plan to spend at least half a day in this historic re-creation of an 1880s town with costumed interpreters and authentic food. From here, it is only one hour to Ottawa, Canada's capital city, or continue east to Montreal, the largest city in our neighbouring province, Quebec.
- Festival of the Islands: Gananoque - 10 days of fun-filled activities, culminating in a fireworks spectacular over the St. Lawrence River (third week of August)
- Worldfest Festimonde: Cornwall - A 5-day international festival celebrating different cultures and featuring performing arts groups from various countries. (second weekend in July)
- Glengarry Highland Games: Maxville - Sample Scottish cuisine and culture at North America's largest highland games. (first weekend in August)
- Ontario East: Phone (613) 659-4300, Fax (613) 659-4306, Toll Free 1-800-567-3278, Website: www.ontarioeast.com
- Kingston Area Economic Development Commission: Phone (613) 544-2725, Fax (613) 546-2882, Website www.kingstonarea.on.ca
- 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce: Phone (613) 382-3250, Fax (613) 382-1585, Toll Free 1-800-561-1595. Website www.1000islands.on.ca/
- Cornwall & Seaway Valley Tourism: Phone (613) 938-4748, Fax (613) 938-4571, Toll Free 1-800-937-4748. Website www.visit.cornwall.on.ca
- Clarion's Hotel Quinte: 211 Pinnacle Street, Bellville, Ontario K8N 3A7, Phone (613) 962-4531, Fax (613) 966-5894, Toll Free 1-800-383-4963 (U.S./Canada), Website: www.belleville-clarion.com/
- Quality Inn & Suites, Gananoque 1000 Islands: 650 King Street East, Gananoque, Ontario K7G 1H3, Phone (613) 382-1453, Fax (613) 382-4387, Toll Free 1-800-228-5151 (U.S./Canada), Website: www.qualityinn1000islands.com/
- Comfort Inn, Gananoque 1000 Islands: 785 King Street East, Gananoque, Ontario K7G 1H4, Phone (613) 382-4728, Fax (613) 382-4387, Toll Free 1-800-228-5151 (U.S./Canada)Website: www.qualityinn1000islands.com
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