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Lake Ontario & St. Lawrence River
We’ll travel the southern shores of Lake Ontario from the iconic Niagara Falls to the famous Adirondack Park. You’ll see the Lockport Locks as you paddle the Erie Canal, learn to fly fish, and browse small-town history museums. We’ll trek through the stunning Thousand Islands Region, and end our trip with a visit to the historic St. Lawrence University.
Set on the Niagara River in western New York, the city of Niagara Falls is connected by the famous attraction of the same name to Niagara Falls, Ontario – where you can pick up the Niagara Escarpment Tour.
This one’s obvious. An icon of New York state as well as the nation, the stunning Niagara Falls is comprised of three massive waterfalls: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls.
Explore Niagara Falls State Park with tours like the Maid of the Mist, check out the Visitor Center for gifts and lunch, or see the falls from on high from the Prospect Point Park observation deck.
Actually located in the Town of Grand Island, the Buckhorn Island State Park is found on the Niagara River in the northern region of Grand Island. This New York State Park offers hiking and biking, plus fishing, nature photography, and winter recreation like cross-country skiing.
Set 20 miles east of Niagara Falls, Lockport is located just northeast of Cheektowaga, Lackawanna, and Buffalo. Known as The Lock City and set along the Canalway Trail, this historic city is home to the Lockport Locks along the Erie Canal.
The Lockport Locks can be seen up close and personal with the Erie Canal Cruises tour. For the more adventurous ones, check out the man-made Lockport Cave and find a seat on an Underground Boat Ride.
Lockport features many educational opportunities as well. See the historic "Flight of Five" Locks at the Lockport Erie Canal Museum, or browse the exhibits of the Canal Discovery Center. You can also check out the Niagara County Historical Society, or attend special events like Taste of Lockport or the 100 American Craftsmen.
There is plenty to do along the Canalway Trail in Lockport. Grab a set of wheels and bike the Erie Canalway Trail, or head straight for the water and paddle the Canalway Trail by canoe or kayak.
From Lockport, head north on State Route 78 until you reach State Route 18, better known as the Lake Ontario State Parkway. Enjoy scenic views of Golden Hill State Park, Lakeside Beach State Park, and Hamlin Beach State Park. You’ll pass north of Batavia, and drive straight through Rochester after 60 miles from Lockport.
From Rochester, be sure to head east on State Route 104 – where you’ll stay for 75 miles until you reach Oswego. Set right on Lake Ontario on the Oswego River, this city is known as “The Port City of Central New York,” and home to the State University of New York at Oswego.
An incredibly historic city, Oswego features plenty of attractions devoted to you, the traveling history buffs.
Be sure to visit the Fort Ontario State Historic Site, and other New York historic sites like the H. Lee White Marine Museum, the Richardson-Bates House, and the Safe Haven Museum & Education Center.
Fishing is a major activity amongst Oswego locals. Major fishing spots in Oswego include Eastern Lake Ontario – the 14th largest freshwater lake on the globe – plus fly-fishing on the Salmon River or Oswego River.
Come winter, you can even try ice fishing on Sandy Pond, Oneida Lake, and the beautiful Lake Neahtahwanta.
Oswego County yields lengthy and scenic trails throughout the area. Trek through the Chateaugay State Forest, the Deer Creek Marsh, or the Fallbrook Recreation Center in your hiking boots, or bike the Great Bear Springs Recreation Area and Oswego County Recreation Trail.
From Oswego, head northeast on what will become State Route 3 – trailing the Mexico Bay and Henderson Bay of eastern Lake Ontario. Watertown is set roughly 60 miles along this scenic stretch of road – passing by Selkirk Shores State Park, Deer Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area, and Robert Wehle State Park.
Watertown is bustling with activity thanks to a lively community and plenty of history. Be sure to see the New York State Zoo, the historic Crystal Restaurant, and even the Watertown Farmers’ Market on Washington Street – open May to October from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Watertown is a gateway to the Thousand Islands Region – a 1,800-island cluster set on the St. Lawrence River spanning connecting northern New York to southern Ontario. Obvious attractions in this area include Powerhouse Tower, Alster Tower, and Heart Island – home to the iconic Boldt Castle.
Watertown also features Thompson Park – a massive city park offers playgrounds, pool, and picnic spots. Check out the 18-hole Watertown Golf Club, the Thompson Park Zoo & Conservancy, and plenty of nature trails.
Being an outdoor mecca, Watertown yields even more outdoor adventure. Summer visitors, get in touch with the Hudson River Rafting Company – while winter travelers can head over to the Dry Hill Ski Area.
Cross the Thousand Islands Bridge (as pictured above) to southern Ontario and the city of Gananoque – known as the Gateway to the Thousand Islands. Check out Downtown Gan, book a kayaking tour, rent some bikes, or explore more on Ontario with the Cornwall to Prince Edward County Tour.
Take the scenic route to Canton along the St. Lawrence River from Watertown. Head north along Interstate 81 passed Perch Lake, and head east on State Route 12. Continue through the Jacques Cartier State Park, and turn right in Ogdensburg onto State Route 68 – leading you to Canton.
Set in upstate New York at the northern tip of Adirondack Park, Canton is home to St. Lawrence University and SUNY Canton. Visit the 1,000-acre campus for the St. Lawrence University Old Campus Historic District – an eight-building district found on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Canton is a great golf town for those looking to swing by. Check out the Partridge Run Golf Course or the Oliver D. Appleton Golf Course – neighboring the BEST WESTERN University Inn.
Get on the Grasse River when in Canton, best visited at the Grasse River Heritage Trail on Coakley Island and Falls Island. Enjoy a kayaking trip on the Grasse, or enjoy a simple stroll along the water.