Clayton (population 1,700 in 2020) and Alexandria Bay (pop. 900 in 2020) are small villages in northern New York which, along with Cape Vincent (pop. 2,800 in 2016) serve as US points of access to the Thousand Islands.
The original residents of this area were Algonquian and Onondaga native tribes, which were followed by Iroquois and by French explorers. US permanent settlement in the area began in the early to mid-1800s, years after the end of the War of 1812 which had been waged at points as local as Sackets Harbor and Gananoque. By 1873, the Clayton Division of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad (RW&O, later part of the New York Central) was carrying passengers and freight to Clayton's station and ferry terminal (now Frink Park) from New York City and Boston. At one point, five hotels on different islands were served by steamships based in Clayton. New York's millionaires used the 1000 Islands as their summer playground, building opulent structures such as Singer Castle and Boldt Castle (bankrolled by Singer sewing machine and Waldorf-Astoria hotel barons, respectively). Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in attendance for the 1938 opening of a magnificent international bridge across the St. Lawrence River, which landed at the midpoint of the (then under construction) 1000 Islands Parkway in Canada.
The last passenger train ran in 1951; the tracks to Clayton were removed after the last freight train in 1972. Frink Park now serves as a public venue for performances. Tour boats to Boldt Castle and the 1000 Islands depart seasonally from Alexandria Bay and Clayton. An international car ferry runs seasonally from Wolfe Island (Ontario) to Cape Vincent.
From Watertown and Syracuse, Interstate 81 northbound leads to the 1000 Islands bridge at Fishers Landing, between Clayton and Alexandria Bay. NY 12 follows the river east-west from Morristown to Clayton; NY 12E continues to Cape Vincent.
- French Creek Marina, 250 Wahl St, Clayton, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Marina and campground, launching ramp, pump-out and fuel, air refill for diving tanks.
- Islander Marina and Lodge, 500 Theresa St, Clayton, ☏ , fax: . Marina with seven-room lodge, short-term docking $2/foot per night, under common ownership with adjacent French Bay Marina (frenchbay.com).
- Martin's Marina, 28491 County Route 6, Mud Bay, Cape Vincent, ☏ . Campground, marina with boat launch ramps.
- 1 Thousand Islands Art Center, 314 John St, Clayton, ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-4PM, store open seasonally.
- 2 Thousand Islands Museum, 312 James St, Clayton, ☏ , fax: . Tu-F 10AM-4PM.
- 3 Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary Street, Clayton, ☏ , fax: .
- A total solar eclipse on Monday 8 April 2024 starts at 3:22PM local time and lasts 3 min. The chances of a clear sky are 35%. The track of totality is northeast from Mexico and Texas to Ohio then straddling the Canada–New England border.
- 1 Cedar Point State Park, 36661 Cedar Point State Park Dr, ☏ .
- Clayton Island Tours, 39621 Chateau Lane, Clayton, ☏ . Boldt Castle, Rock Island and river tours.
- Clayton Opera House, 405 Riverside Dr, Clayton, ☏ . May-mid Oct: daily 9A6.
- TI Fishing Charters, 5108 Audrey Drive, North Syracuse, ☏ . Charters depart from Alexandria Bay and Wellesley Island.
- Uncle Sam Boat Tours, 45 James St, Alexandria Bay, ☏ .
- 1000 Islands Clayton Spring Boat Show, Cerow Recreation Park Arena, 615 East Line Road, Clayton. First weekend in April. $4.
- Bill Johnston Pirate Days, Route 12, Alexandria Bay. Ten-day festival, usually second week of August. Entertainment and historic re-enactments, dress as a pirate, a revolutionary or a native. Commemorates the 1838 hijacking, looting and burning of the Sir Robert Peel, a British-Canadian side wheel passenger steamer built in Brockville in 1837. The wrecked ship remains at the bottom of the St. Lawrence (44° 18' 2.4012" N, -75° 59' 10.5612" W) under 125 feet of water.
- Great NY State Food & Wine Festival, Frink Park and Cerow Recreation Park Arena. Mid June, weekend (F-Su). “Made in New York” food & wine products from across the state, candy and cheeses, nuts, sauces, herbs & spices, maple syrup, apple cider, cookies and ice cream. Held simultaneously with Seaway Splash and Sailing Seaway Clayton.
- 1000 Islands Winery, 43298 Seaway Ave, Alexandria Bay, ☏ , fax: .
- Clayton Farmers Market, Frink Park, Riverside Dr, Clayton, ☏ . Summer only: Th 4-7PM. Farm produce, baked goods and homemade items.
- Coyote Moon Vineyards, 17371 East Line Rd, Clayton, ☏ . Vineyard open daily except Christmas. Wine & Craft Beer Lounge at 524 Riverside Road, Clayton (+1 315-686-4030) operates seasonally.
- Aubrey's Inn, 126 S James St, Cape Vincent, ☏ .
- Blue Heron Restaurant, 12050 NY Route 12E, Chaumont, ☏ . Bar and restaurant. $10-16.
- Captain Jack's, 361 Club St Cape Vincent, ☏ .
- Clipper Inn, 126 State Street, Clayton, ☏ . Seasonal restaurant (and motel) with seafood, Mediterranean, Asian and vegetarian dishes. $20-35.
- Valley Peetza, ☏ . Daily 3:30-9:30PM. Fresh dough pizza, chicken wings, salad. Clayton (955 State St, +1 315-686-1200) and Chaumont (11329 Circle Dr, +1 315-649-2420).
- O'Brien's Restaurant and Bar, 226 Webb St, Clayton, ☏ . 11AM-2AM.
- Roxy Hotel, 111 East Broadway, Cape Vincent, ☏ . Monaghan's Irish Pub, food and drink year round, outdoor patio, lake and river view. Sixteen-room hotel, five two-bedroom townhouse apartments.
- 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, 200 Riverside Drive, Clayton, ☏ . Indoor pool, jacuzzi, fitness centre, 105 rooms, Seaway Grille steak and seafood restaurant, 1000 Islands Bar, seasonal riverside patio.
- Bonnie Castle Resort and Marina, 31 Holland St, Alexandria Bay, ☏ , toll-free: .
- Capt. Thompson’s Resort, 45 James Street, Alexandria Bay, ☏ . 68-room waterfront motel. The same proprietors operate the Captain's Inn and suites seasonally.
- Edgewood Resort, Edgewood Park Road, Alexandria Bay, ☏ . 100-room waterfront hotel, dining and banquet facilities, marina.
- Fair Wind Motel and Cottages, 38201 State Rt 12E, Clayton, ☏ .
- K's Motel, 1043 State St, Clayton, ☏ , toll-free: . Motel and cottages, river view.
- Lanz's, 40033 NYS Route 12, Clayton, ☏ . Motel, cottages and campground, outdoor pool. Seasonal (May-mid Oct).
- Riveredge Resort, 17 Holland St, Alexandria Bay, ☏ , toll-free: . Conference centre, Holland Street Bistro, tiki bar, transient and seasonal dockage, wi-fi.
- West Winds Motel & Cottages, 38267 NYS Route 12E, Clayton, ☏ , toll-free: . Seasonal (May-Sept).
- Hawn Memorial Library, 220 John Street, Clayton, ☏ , fax: . M W F 9AM-5PM, Tu Th 9AM-7PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. Small local library with wi-fi and Internet computers.
|Routes through Clayton|
|Ends at ← Thousand Islands ←||N S||→ Watertown → Syracuse|
|Ends at ← Morristown ←||N S||→ Watertown → Binghamton|