Our Tour of 1000 Islands and Boldt Castle | Woman in Real Life:The Art of the Everyday

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Our Tour of 1000 Islands and Boldt Castle


I recently posted about our stay at the 1000 Islands/Ivy Lea KOA. A large part of the reason that we selected that particular KOA was its proximity to the boat tours of the 1000 Islands. We had never toured the area before and we really wanted to go. The islands are located in southeastern Ontario as well as northern New York State. (The property above is partly in Canada and partly in the US.) Waters that were once patrolled by pirates and bootleggers are now travelled by vacationing families, tourists and cottagers.

The Thousand Islands are a cluster of 1,864 islands in the Saint Lawrence River where it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario. The islands stretch downstream from Kingston, Ontario for about 80 km and range in size from 100 km2 to smaller islands occupied by a single residence or only birds and trees.

We elected to take Rockport Cruises' Boldt Castle Tour, which is 3.5 hours long and includes a 2-hour stop at the amazing Boldt Castle, millionaire hotel magnate George Boldt's unfinished tribute to his beloved wife, Louise. Now managed by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority (TIBA), Boldt castle was once abandoned for 70 years. Construction began on the castle and its impressive outbuildings in 1900. It was to be the Boldt family's summer dream home.

But Louise Boldt died suddenly just months before the expected completion date and George Boldt immediately called a halt to construction on Heart Island. Today Boldt Castle, located near Alexandria Bay, NY, is being lovingly restored and decorated to complete the vision of George Boldt and his family. (If you are Canadian, you will need a passport to visit Boldt Castle.)
Many of the interior rooms, such as the kitchen and some of the bedrooms, have been restored and decorated with furnishings from the appropriate era.

There are amazing views from the top rooms of Boldt Castle and one can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to live here.

The Children's Playhouse is this whimsical structure that was once home to a bowling alley (see the bottom left pic, above).

And this amazing stone building was to be the Powerhouse, which would generate power for the whole island.

The beginnings of an indoor pool can be found within the tunnels that lead from the main house to the waterfront.

Hearts abound in the details of the house, and George had the shape of the island tweaked through building placement to reinforce the heart shape of Heart Island.

George and Louise's real-life story is the kind of beautiful, tragic tale that would make a perfect Hollywood movie. I couldn't help but think of Great Gatsby-style parties taking place in the castle, with plenty of servants keeping things afloat. If you are ever in the area of Boldt Castle, be sure to drop by. We all (including the kids) really enjoyed touring the buildings and property.

Following the castle tour we were back on the boat for a tour of the surrounding islands. Basically our time was spent ogling the summer homes of the wealthy.

I love this sunny yellow home.

While the big summer homes are impressive, I think I could be content escaping to this cute little Thousand Islands cabin. You?

This was one of the best tourist attractions we have enjoyed in recent years. In fact, I would do it all again!

Have you been to the 1000 Islands and/or Boldt Castle?

*We were provided with free entry to the boat tour and Boldt Castle. Nevertheless all opinions are authentic and my own.


  1. Wow that is stunning!!! The hearts! I'd be happy with any of those houses.

    1. Right? I just want a little escape on the water! :)

  2. Oh, thank you for the memories! I haven't been there in a while but grew up going summers to Clayton and Alexandria Bay. We used to travel by boat over to Boldt castle and roam through it during the time it was abandoned. I just love the whole area and long to go back again. I was at Boldt castle when they first started renovating so I must go again!

    1. What a great place to spend your summers! I was wondering what it would have been like to explore the castle while it was abandoned. Hard to believe something so grand was vacant for 70 years. You definitely should go again! :)

  3. i have always wanted to go on the tour but haven't yet, seeing all your pics makes me want to do it even more!!

    1. You should try to do it some time. It's a lot of fun!!! :) Jo