Discover Gananoque: Your Ultimate Day Trip Guide to the 1000 Islands

Gananoque is a charming town on the banks of the St. Lawrence river in Canada. It’s a wonderful destination, hidden off the main tourist path however, we think this place is much more than a sleepy tourist resort, offering a gateway to the famous 1000 Islands area.

Read more below why you should make a day trip to this picturesque place whilst travelling in Canada.

Overview

Nestled along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Gananoque (/ˌɡænəˈnɒkweɪ/ GAN-ə-NOK-way) offers a charming escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. As we were heading into town and wondering about the correct way of pronouncing it, we came across the following: “The right way, the wrong way, and the Gananoque”

Known as the Gateway to the Thousand Islands, this quaint town is brimming with natural beauty, rich history, and a variety of activities to suit all tastes.

Travel to and Around Gananoque

Getting to Gananoque is a breeze, especially if you’re travelling from major cities like Toronto or Ottawa. The town is conveniently accessible by car via Highway 401 or by train, with VIA Rail offering regular services.

We took the train and found that from the station (which is pretty far out from the town centre), it’s best to get a taxi. There are 2 taxi services in the whole town and no car sharing services like Uber/Bolt.

We travelled with TI Taxi, contact details here, do call ahead of time to book your journey. The journey was 20 CAD one way and was a smooth ride into town.

Once you arrive, you’ll find that Gananoque is easily navigable on foot or by bicycle, making it simple to explore all its nooks and crannies.

Best Time to Visit Gananoque

Gananoque is a year-round destination, but to truly appreciate its splendour, visiting during the warmer months from late spring to early autumn is ideal.

During this period, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities, and the lush landscapes are in full bloom. The vibrant fall foliage in autumn also provides a stunning backdrop for your visit.

We went during May and unfortunately found ourselves under pouring rain which made our experience a bit more wet than what we anticipated.

Things to do in Gananoque

We think Gananoque is a good place if you want to do a day trip. There are plenty of things for you or your family to consider during the day. Longer stays can also be great if you are seeking to relax and simply enjoy the river and the nearby islands.

Below is a list of our top recommendations but do feel free to contact or visit the Gananoque Visitor Centre for more suggestions and inspirations.

1. Take the 1000 Islands Boat Cruise

No trip to Gananoque is complete without embarking on a 1000 Islands Boat Cruise. This scenic boat tour offers breathtaking views of the islands, historic castles, and quaint cottages dotted along the river.

It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty and learn about its fascinating history. You can choose from 1-hour cruise or 3-hour long cruise with Boldt Castle.

2. Learn about Gananoque’s History at 1000 Islands History Museum

For a deeper dive into the town’s past, the 1000 Islands History Museum is a must-visit. The museum’s engaging exhibits and informative displays provide a comprehensive overview of the area’s history, from its Indigenous roots to its role in the War of 1812.

It’s a wonderful way to enrich your visit with a bit of local knowledge.

3. Visit the Thousand Islands Boat Museum

Next to the 1000 Islands History Museum is the Thousand Islands Boat Museum. Situated along the picturesque St. Lawrence River, the museum provides visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the nautical past of the area.

During our visit, the museum was closed, so we only got to see it from the outside, so do check the opening times for your visit.

4. Wander around the Joel Stone Heritage Park

Joel Stone Heritage Park is a picturesque waterfront park named after the town’s founder. It features historical markers, a sandy beach, a splash pad, a playground, and a marina.

The park is a popular venue for community events, concerts, and festivals, offering beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River and serving as a vibrant hub for both locals and visitors. Despite the rainy weather, we enjoyed a nice stroll through the park admiring the wildlife.

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5. Explore the Marina and Our Heritage Monument

Strolling along Gananoque’s picturesque marina is a delightful way to spend part of your day. The Our Heritage Monument, located near the waterfront, offers a glimpse into the town’s maritime history and cultural heritage.

The peaceful ambience and scenic views make this a perfect spot for a leisurely walk or a relaxing break.

6. Watch a Performance at Canada’s Dockside Theatre

During the warmer months, you can enjoy a live performance at the Thousand Islands Playhouse – Canada’s Dockside Theatre.

We passed by during our boat trip and it’s pretty cool that you can go to theatre by boat. They also offer complimentary docking to audience members when attending a performance at the Playhouse

If you are interested in finding out what’s on this season, check out the theatre’s website here.

7. Take a 1000 Islands Helicopter Tour

For a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a helicopter ride over the Thousand Islands. This aerial adventure offers a unique perspective of the stunning archipelago, providing panoramic views that are simply unmatched.

We were booked to fly over the islands however, due to the bad weather the helicopter tour was cancelled. We are told that it’s a thrilling way to see the natural beauty of the region from a whole new angle.

Top Restaurants in Gananoque

Gananoque offers a good variety of eateries and restaurants on the high street. One could find anything from an English pub, Czech Restaurant and many more just to name a few.

As we wanted to delight ourselves, we chose to eat at Gananoque’s casual fine dining restaurant – Riva.

Casual Fine Dining at Riva in Gananoque

When it comes to dining, Gananoque boasts a variety of excellent options, but Riva Italian Restaurant stands out for its superb casual fine dining. Located in the heart of town, Riva offers a delectable menu that features fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

We tried the East coast oysters which were simply divine and buttery. We thought the addition of horseradish as a garnish was an excellent swap for the already tired tabasco sauce typically served in other places.

We also had a selection of olives and antipasti which were good, not great however.

As the restaurant features a stone oven we decided that a pizza is a must. I chose the American style pizza with peperoni and Hristina chose the Canadian (Canadese) pizza which came with bacon lardons, cheese and drizzled with maple syrup. Yes, it works and it works beautifully!

The savoury and sweet elements work perfectly on this crispy neapolitan style pizza base. A charm!

To finish, Hristina had the cheesecake and I had the pecan pie. The cheesecake was good and fresh but nothing to write home about, but the pecan pie was simply divine. Every. single. bite. was amazing. Nutty, sweet and decadent, as a pecan pie should be.

We think that the elegant yet relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy a memorable meal and for us it definitely felt like so.

Final Thoughts

Gananoque, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and welcoming community, is the perfect destination for a day trip. From scenic cruises and fascinating museums to delightful dining experiences, there’s something for everyone in this charming town.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:


  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

As an Amazon Associate and member of various other affiliate programmes, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


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