Off-Post Leisure & Travel
Updated On: 6/5/2013 4:46:49 PM
If you’re looking for something to do, there’s no lack of activities or events! Outdoor recreation can be found on Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, the Black River, and the Indian Lakes. These bodies of water provide some of the best fishing, boating and sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, scuba diving and whitewater rafting in the world.
Winter brings “lake effect” snow with unparalleled snowmobiling, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, skating, and hunting, especially on the Tug Hill Plateau. Museums and historic points of interest include the War of 1812 Battlefield in Sackets Harbor, Boldt Castle and Millionaire’s Row in the 1000 Islands, the Antique Boat Museum, the Clayton Opera House, and the Jefferson County Historical Society. There is a lot to see and do here—discover New York!
The following information may help Soldiers and Families get their bearings and some ideas of things to do and places to go in the area. This list is not all-inclusive; it’s just meant to be a starting point.
Ebenezer Emmons, a Williams College professor, named the Adirondacks in his mistaken belief that it was the name of “a well-known tribe of American Indians” who once hunted there. Actually, the word is an Iroquois term meaning “bark eaters.”
The Adirondacks encompass 11,000 square miles, almost one-fourth of the state. There are 2,500 mountains in the range, 43 of them over 4,000 feet tall. The two tallest are Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak.
The region has about 2,800 lakes and ponds and about 1,200 miles of streams. The first forest preserve in the United States, the Adirondack Park, consists of almost six million acres.
Boat Launch Sites & Rentals
Several facilities are located along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Call the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council at 1-800-8-ISLAND for specific information.
There are 42 campgrounds in the area, both state and private. Most offer both tent and improved sites. For lists of parks and general information, call the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce or the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council, 1-800-8-ISLAND. For DEC campground information, call New York State Parks Reservations at 1-800-456-CAMP; online reservations: reserveamerica.com or visit the website: www.dec-campgrounds.com.
If you’d like to go international, Fort Drum is an ideal place to start from—Canada is right across the Thousand Islands International Bridge.
Some Cities To See:
Kingston — a short drive west. Visit the home of Queens University, Old Fort Henry, and shopping with an international flavor.
Montreal — Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain are more than names in history books here; stroll 16th century Vieux (Old) Montreal, watch the Expos and Canadians, visit world-renowned museums and the site of Summer Olympics 1976.
Ottawa — Canada’s capital is two hours away, with Winterlude and Tulip festivals, majestic Parliament buildings, and the Family-oriented National Museum of Science and Technology.
Quebec City — Fluency in French helps but is not necessary in this beautiful city of Old World stores and restaurants. Great forests and provincial parks lay outside the city limits.
Toronto — From the top of the Canadian National Tower—largest tower of its type in the world—look out at the city with its more than 5,500 restaurants. This modern metropolis is the home of sports teams the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors, and Argonauts. Stroll past exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum, or hit the links in an area with more golf courses per capita than anywhere in North America.
Summer hours: mid-June to end of August,
9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Park building, fields and playground.
Fall/Winter/Spring: Skating rink dependent upon weather conditions. The hill is open daily for sledding and tubing; however, the park building is not on a fixed schedule during these seasons.
The park is closed from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
It is a perfect place for Family picnics, trail walking, and pet walking, and children will enjoy Kid’s World Playground.
The ball fields host many of the local softball and baseball teams. Tennis courts are also available.
The park building is offered for picnics, parties, company or military events and much more.
For more information on Carthage attractions, call the Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce, (315) 493-4910.
Dry Hill Ski Area
Enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing at the edge of the city. Snowmaking machines get in high gear as soon as it’s cold enough. Includes warming hut, lifts, and snack bar.
There are also several ski areas between Watertown and Lake Placid. Stop by Parks & Recreation to check out discount lift tickets. Also watch for “Ski Free” Military Appreciation Days. For more information, call (315) 782-8584.
Major fishing tournaments occur every season in the eastern Lake Ontario and Thousand Islands region. Major sport fishing species include small mouth and large mouth bass, lake trout, salmon, walleye and muskellunge. For information about licenses, fees and seasons, call the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (315) 785-2263.
Charter fishing: There are dozens of fishing guides in the area who offer charters for every type of fishing. For a list of local charter captains, call the Thousand Islands International Council at 1-800-8-ISLAND.
There are fourteen public golf courses in the area, both 9 and 18 holes. Call the Greater Watertown North-Chamber of Commerce at (315) 788-4400 for more information.
Hiking, Biking and Skiing
The local area offers many trails of varying difficulty. Several trails are dual-purpose: used for hiking and biking in the warm months and for cross-country skiing in the winter. Dry Hill Ski Area offers downhill skiing on beginner and advance trails. (315) 782-8584
The historical society features evolving historical exhibits about Watertown and Jefferson County. For more information, call (315) 782-3491.
Two are located in Watertown, the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Sci-Tech Center, which offers interactive exhibits of a scientific nature. Several other museums in the area feature antique boats, maple syrup, the War of 1812 and the works of Fredrick Remington. Call (315) 788-4400 for further information.
New York State Zoo
at Thompson Park
Open: 10 a.m. daily, March-November; November-February weekends only (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.)
Closing: April-October at 5 p.m.; October-April at 4 p.m.
There is an admission fee. Group rates are available.
The zoo is located in historic Thompson Park, which was designed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmstead, the “father of landscape architecture,’’ who designed Central Park in New York City. The park also includes a large playground, tennis courts, swimming pool and 18-hole golf course.
Discover the only zoo in the world dedicated to New York’s wild animals and wild places. Get nose-to-nose with black bears, watch the playful antics of rare wolverines, or climb a real Adirondack Fire Tower. You will enjoy feeding baby animals in the Children’s Farm (summer only), peering into a live beehive and exploring the “please touch” table in the Discovery Center.
Explore an interest in wild things and wild places by becoming a volunteer and/or docent. We provide a fun, safe environment that is always changing. There are tasks for all talents. Examples include carpentry, handyman, office help, construction, special events, gardening, greeting visitors and more. For more information, call (315) 782-6180 or www.nyszoo.com
Three public pools are located in the City of Watertown: one in Thompson Park, one at the fairgrounds on Coffeen Street, and the third, William J. Flynn Pool, is on Division Street in the northeast section of the city. There is also a public pool in the Recreation Park in the village of Clayton.
Roswell P. Flower
229 Washington Street
The library has several public-access computers with print capability. There is also an extensive genealogy department.
Battlefield & Museum
Sackets Harbor, NY
Seaway Trail Discovery Center
(315) 646-1000; 1-800-SEAWAY-T
Ray Street & W. Main Street
Sackets Harbor, NY
The stone, 200-year-old former Union Hotel houses three floors of interactive exhibits about points of interest found along the Seaway Trail, which stretches 454 miles along Lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
State Parks & Recreation
There are 1,753 small islands dotting the St. Lawrence River between Oswego and Massena, hence the name Thousand Islands. This is the area where the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario join. The river separates the United States from Canada. Control of the St. Lawrence was important during the War of 1812. State parks within the region offer a wide variety of recreation, from long sandy beaches on Lake Ontario to the deep shale formations of Whetstone Gulf. A phone reservation system gives access to camping sites and cabins from Southwick Beach in southern Jefferson County, to Wellesley Island among the Thousand Islands, to Keewaydin on the St. Lawrence River.
Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking
The Black River Gorge is the best summer whitewater run in the Eastern United States. Black River has enormous drainage coupled with numerous upstream reservoirs, which guarantees dependable water levels every weekend throughout the summer. The Black River features rapids (and lines through rapids) that appeal to even the expert boater. While an intermediate boater can negotiate the gorge by choosing sagacious lines and perhaps an easy portage, advanced boaters will still discover a challenging run.