Gananoque Ontario

Gananoque is a gateway to some of Ontario's most stunning scenery

Gananoque, Ontario is a small town in the eastern part of the province, and a gateway to one of North America's most beautiful and special natural destinations, the 1000 Islands.

The archipelago, consisting of 1,864 islands, entices visitors from all over the world with its emerald trees and sparkling blue waters. Gananoque is situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, and the area is home to castles, shipwrecks, historical sites, a vibrant food and arts scene, and so much more.

Whether you're an outdoor adventurer, lover of history and culture, or just looking for an escape with breathtaking scenery, Gananoque has something for you. Here are some of the best things to do and see in Gananoque.

Go for a cruise through the islands

One of the area's most popular things to do is explore the beautiful landscape by water. Hop on a tour and sail past countless islands, some uninhabited and others home to larger-than-life mansions to marvel at.

City Cruises Gananoque has an operation of triple-decker vessels, complete with onboard amenities such as coffee shops, bars, restrooms, and an open-air deck. Rockport Cruises is another main tour company offering sightseeing, dining, and castle cruise options.

Get a bird's eye view from above

It's difficult to tell just how vast the 1000 Islands are from land, which is why there are ample opportunities to get a bird's eye view from above.

Take flight on a helicopter tour and count as many islands as you can with 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours, or for the adrenaline-junkies, freefall above them when skydiving with Skydive Gananoque. On a clear day, you might even spot one of the 200 sunken shipwrecks, dating back to the War of 1812.

If flying isn't your thing, the 1000 Islands Tower will bring you 130 meters up to expansive views, availble from three different viewing platforms via a 40-second elevator ride.

Catch a live play or performance

The 1000 Islands Playhouse is renowned as one of the top live theatre experiences in Ontario, welcoming over 40,000 attendees annually to its historic venue with waterfront views.

Each summer, The Playhouse produces seven high-calibre professional productions, with The Sound of Music and A Moonlit Night on the docket for summer 2023.

Take a hike

Gananoque and the 1000 Islands are home to 19 parks with countless trails to go for a hike, including Ontario's Thousand Islands National Park which boasts rugged shorelines, granite cliffs, beaches, and incredible vistas.

You can also head to Landon's Bay and hike a grassy loop trail, which brings you to a panoramic view of the bay and St. Lawrence River from the top of the Lookout Trail. 

Explore downtown's shops and restaurants

Downtown Gananoque is home to a variety of unique shops, welcoming boutiques, inviting restaurants and more.

Head to Drawing Room Vintage & General Shoppe for one-of-a-kind vintage clothing and wares, or pop into Lighthouse Provisions Ltd which carries unique products from small Ontario and Canadian businesses.

There are also many great dining and beverage options to choose from. Laverne's Eatery on King Street serves up creative sandwiches and healthy fusion dishes, and tasty baked goods.

For dinner with a view, try Muskie Jake's Tap and Grill, and catch stunning waterfront views from their outdoor patio.

Check out a local festival

During the summers, Gananoque and the 1000 Islands host a variety of fairs, festivals, and events, drawing in visitors from near and far. You can check out the town's calendar for what's coming up.

In July, the Lansdowne Fair comes to town in an annual three-day agricultural fair, featuring a midway, music, horse shows, a petting zoo, and more fun-filled activities. For music lovers, check out the Emerald Country Music Festival in August.

Try your luck

If you're feeling lucky, head to The Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands for a selection of 480 slot machines, or one of 18 live and electronic table games such as Texas Hold’em, Blackjack, Let It Ride, Craps, Roulette and more.

The small casino also offers entertainment and dining, with a selection of casual fare and a fully licensed bar.

Visit an enchanting castle

If you thought you had to trek to Europe to visit a castle, think again - Gananoque and the 1000 Islands are home to several, including Boldt Castle on Heart Island and Singer Castle on Dark Island.

Accessible only by boat, Boldt Castle features 120 rooms complete with tunnels, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, and more. It's worth noting that Boldt Castle is across the U.S. border, so Canadians will require a passport to visit.

Singer Castle, built in 1905 by sewing machine magnate Frederick Bourne, looks like a modern medieval fortress - and you can even stay overnight in one of their suites!

Lead photo by

Town of Gananoque

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