No matter a native, a transplant, a seasonal resident or a year-rounder, there is an endless supply of fun to be found in the north country.
Here are some things to add to your bucket list.
1 Relive the past — literally. Participate in a historical re-enactment during War of 1812 Weekend in Sackets Harbor, which was the U.S. Naval headquarters on the Great Lakes during the war. The village was the site of two battles during the war. The bicentennial of the war began in 2012 and runs through 2015, reflecting its 32-month length from June 18, 1812, to Feb. 18, 1815. When: Aug. 1-3, Where: Sackets Harbor. Contact the Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance for participation details. www.sacketsharbor battlefield.org.
2 Dive a shipwreck. You can learn to SCUBA dive pretty much anywhere, but not every diver has the opportunity to explore shipwrecks without traveling somewhere far from home. Beginners start with The Islander, a popular St. Lawrence River dive off the shore of Alexandria Bay. Where: Multiple locations in the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario, including many on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. www.1000islands.com, www.seawaytrail.com/dive.
3 Raft some heavy water. The north country is home to miles of world-class rapids. From Class III, to the highest challenge, Class V, you can hitch a ride with a professional rafting guide and take the water adventure of your life down the Black, Moose, Oswegatchie or St. Regis rivers. When: Spring through early fall, by appointment. A few Northern New York pro rafting outlets include Adirondack River Outfitters, Hudson River Rafting, and White Water Challengers. www.aroadventures.com, www.hudsonriverrafting.com, www.whitewaterchallengers.com.
4 Hunt on public land. A New York State hunting license and written permission or a permit from the state is required. Seasons are species and weapon specific, but include rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader and archery for animals that range from white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, waterfowl and small game. Additional regulations may apply. Check with your nearest Department of Environmental Conservation regional office for details. www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor.
5 Become a 46er. It takes years and a lot of commitment to summit all 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks, but there’s no harm in trying. Some of the most accessible peaks are also fun day hikes, including Mts. Marcy, Cascade and Porter – two high peaks that share a trailhead – and Mt. Hurricane. When: Year-round. Where: Find a list of the Adirondack’s 46 High Peaks at www.adk46er.org, www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor.
6 Enjoy maple syrup from its source. Maple Weekend is an annual springtime event in late March that allows maple syrup producers to showcase their wares. Find a list of Maple Weekend participants at www.mapleweekend.com. For a taste of history on this natural sweet treat, visit the American Maple Museum in Croghan, open from May to September, www.americanmaplemuseum.org.
7 Discover the region’s waterfalls. Explore eight St. Lawrence County waterfalls on the Grasse River, most of which are easily accessible via day hikes. Many waterfalls on the Grasse are located along various tracts of state land in St. Lawrence County, just south of Canton.Visit www.nnywaterfalls.com for information about each of the Grasse River falls and other waterfalls throughout Northern New York. Detailed maps and information at www.northcountryguide.com.
8 Accept the Black River Challenge. The Black River Challenge is an annual 23-mile race for kayakers, canoeists and, for the first time this year, stand-up paddle boarders, on the Black River. This section of the Black River provides a course with fast current, minor hazards, and no carries. When: Annually in June. This year’s race is June 29, 2014. Where: Race begins in Glenfield at the DEC boat launch and ends at the state boat launch Castorland. There will be a pit stop at the halfway mark at the DEC boat launch at Beaches Landing. To register, contact the Lewis County Chamber Office at 376-2213, www.lewiscountychamber.org.
9 Visit historic McConnell’s Windmill. McConnell’s Windmill is the only windmill on the American side of the St. Lawrence River Valley, and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The park that surrounds the windmill is also a local favorite for watching fireworks during Morristown’s July Fourth celebration. www.northcountryguide.com.
10 Thousand Islands lighthouses. Lake Ontario between the Thousand Islands and Kingston, Ont., is home to several lighthouses that have helped to guide ships on the lake and river since the early 1800s. Tibbetts Point Lighthouse in Cape Vincent and Rock Island State Park in Clayton on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario are accessible to the public and available for year-round viewing. Tours, weddings
and other event opportunities are available during the summer months. www.nysparks.com, www.capevincent.org.
11 Jam out. Northern New York teems with music festivals and performances from May to October. A few of the most popular musical events include the annual moe.down at the Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin and Crane School of Music’s free performances and its nationally televised annual Crane Candlelight Concerts during the Christmas season. Other shows include weekly concerts on the Sackets Harbor Battlefield from June to late August, and the DPAO concert series, the annual signature fundraiser for Watertown’s Disabled Persons Action Organization. Dates vary. Concert listings and more information at www.dpao.org, www.potsdam.edu and www.moe.org.
12 Express yourself. Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties are home to several highly active arts organizations. Most organizations offer classes that range from beginner painting and sculpting to writing groups and social art classes. Dates and programs vary. Learn more at www.nny art.org, www.slcartscouncil.org,
13 Catch agriculture history in action. County fairs in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties are the longest-running in the country. At 197 years and counting, the Jefferson County Fair is the longest-running in the country. At 194 years Lewis and St. Lawrence are not far behind. Jefferson County Fair: July 8-13, Watertown; St. Lawrence County Fair: July 29-Aug. 3, Gouverneur; Lewis County Fair: July 15-19, Lowville. Admission prices range from free to $30 for an all-day ride pass. www.jeffcofair.org, www.gouverneurfair.net, www.lewiscountyfair.org.
14 Indulge in quintessential Northern New York food favorites. Thousand Islands shore dinners (complete with Thousand Islands dressing), bullheads, chicken barbecue, cheese curd and Croghan bologna. Several local organizations offer traditional shore dinners as part of fundraisers, including the 4th Annual Community Shore Dinner, to benefit the Thousand Islands Museum. When: July 18. Where: Coyote Moon Vineyards, 17371 County Route 3. Info: www.timuseum.org, www.coyotemoonvineyards.com. Other opportunities include River Hospital’s annual “A Day with a Fishing Guide,” held in May, and Samaritan Medical Center Foundation’s annual Thousand Islands Golf Classic in June.
Meanwhile, bullheads are typically in season in the springtime and can be found on the menus of many local restaurants. heck your local fire department, church or farmer’s market for chicken barbecue fundraisers throughout the year. The Jefferson County Bulk Milk Co-Op, or “The Cheese Store,” on Route 3 in the Town of Hounsfield, hosts a weekly chicken barbecue.
15 Feast on north country food fests. Communities around the tri-county region host food festivals to showcase their local fare, including the Adams Cheese Festival, Lowville’s Cream Cheese Festival (which boasts the Guinness World Record for largest cheesecake), and Clayton’s annual Food & Wine Festival. Cheddar Cheese Festival, Adams, July 12, www.cheddarcheesefestival.com; Cream Cheese Festival, Lowville, late September, www.creamcheesefestival.com; Food & Wine Festival, Clayton, June 14-15, www.1000islands-clayton.com.
16 Hike and explore the Tug Hill Plateau. Whetstone Gulf is composed of more than 2,400 undeveloped acres, situated around a three-mile long gorge cut into the eastern edge of the plateau, and is said to be one of the most spectacular scenic vistas east of the Rocky Mountains. A 500-acre reservoir is also stocked with tiger muskies and largemouth bass. Hiking boots and fishing pole are a must. Whetstone details at: www.nysparks.com, www.adirondackstughill.com.
17 Park hop. There are dozens of state-owned parks across Northern New York thanks to natural wonders like Lake Ontario, the Black River and the Tug Hill Plateau. State parks offer countless opportunities to explore the natural environment, escape the everyday grind, and experience exciting new adventures. Beaches, boat launches, hiking trails and campsites abound. Find details on all regions of Northern New York at www.nysparks.com.
18 Spend “A day with your soldiers” at Fort Drum. Walk in a soldier’s boots and learn how they train and live. Hosted by the Northern New York-Fort Drum Chapter of AUSA, program content varies. Information, itinerary and travel arrangements at www.oneausa.org.
19 Ride and rail. Paddle the Middle Branch of the Moose River from Tickner’s dock in Old Forge to its private whistle stop along the historic Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Yes, you and your boat travel back to town via this vintage train. Prices and schedules at www.ticknerscanoe.com.
20 Take a breathtaking fall foliage train tour. Embrace the wonders of nature and the change of season when you ride the Fall Foliage Train, departs from Saranac Lake and Lake Placid aboard the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Departure dates, times and locations at www.adirondackrr.com.
21 Ride aboard the Miss T.I. Experience the beauty and power of classic wooden boats at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. The Miss Thousand Islands II is available seven days a week, every hour, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., for a thrilling 45-minute run through the islands. www.abm.org.
22 The puck drops here. See an NCAA Division I men’s hockey game between St. Lawrence and Clarkson universities. Experience one of the greatest frozen rivalries in college men’s hockey. The season runs from October to March and games are played at either Appleton Arena in Canton or at Cheel Arena in Potsdam. Schedules and ticket prices at www.saintsathletics.com and www.clarksonathletics.com.
23 Act in a play. Join a community theater troupe and release your inner thespian. The Little Theatre of Watertown is the oldest continuous running community theater troupe in New York. To get involved, visit www.littletheatrewatertown.com.
Watertown Lyric Theater is a community-minded musical theater organization that produces shows like The Sound of Music, Oliver and Spamalot. Proceeds from ticket sales fund the Watertown Lyric Theater Scholarship Foundation to support music and performing arts in the north country. To get involved, visit www.watertownlyrictheater.org
24 Fly-fish the Salmon River. The Salmon River offers some of the finest sport fishing in the country. There are two catch-and-release fly-fishing only areas. Conventional fly-fishing equipment is required. The area above the County Route 52 bridge in Altmar is open from May 15 to Sept. 15. The upper section is adjacent to County Route 22 above the Salmon River Hatchery and is open April 1 to Nov. 30. Contact River Run Outfitters, a New York State guide service, for a fly-fishing experience that offers a no fish, no pay guarantee. Book an outing at www.riverruntroutfitters.com.
25 Unleash the Ironman within. Compete in the Henderson Harbor Triathlon Olympic/Sprint. This triathlon has become the primo athletic event for athletes from across the north country, the state and southeastern Ontario. The Olympic event consists of a 1.5k swim, 40k bike, and 10k run. The sprint event consists of a 0.75k swim, 20k bike, and 5k run. Proceeds benefit the Children’s Home of Jefferson County and Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions. When: Saturday, July 12, 6:30-7:45 a.m. race day registration; Olympic event starts at 8:30 a.m., Sprint at 9 a.m. Where: Henderson Harbor Boat Launch, County Route 178, www.hendersonharbortriathlon.com.
26 Test your strength in the Strongest Warrior Competition. Hosted by the Fort Drum Chapter of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division. Event includes a keg toss, sled drag, prowler push and a carry medley. When: June 7. Where: Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, 600 William T. Field Drive, Watertown. Cost: $40 in advance; $50 on event day. Information and to register: www.strongest warriorcompetition.com.
27 Pedal power. Ride in two nations and cross the St. Lawrence River by bike just north of Lake Ontario. You’ll enjoy two ferry crossings and a roughly six-mile bike ride across some beautiful countryside on Ontario’s Wolfe Island on this trek from Cape Vincent to Kingston, Ont. A map of the Wolfe Island bike route and ride suggestions are provided by the Wolfe Island Business and Tourism Association at www.wolfeisland.com/mtarchives. Bike the Olympic Trail. It runs east and west for 170 miles from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario while passing through the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park in Northern New York. Plan your trip at www.adirondackscenicbyways.org/byway/olympic-trail. For a complete list of bike routes throughout the north country, visit www.bikethebyways.org.
28 Take a ride by sleigh or horseback. Enjoy a guided horseback ride at Still Meadow Ranch’s Park’s Breezy Knoll, a beautiful Standard-bred farm outside of Lowville on Route 26. Ride miles of new trails that wind through gently rolling meadows and forests with amazing views of the Adirondacks and the Black River Valley. Basic rides include a mini lesson and a one-hour outing. Reservations, information at www.stillmeadowranch.com.
Cut your own tree and make a memory at G.L.D. Christmas Tree Farm in Copenhagen. Meet Clydesdale teams Don and Sam or May and Dee and let them take you on a sleigh ride through Tug Hill’s winter wonderland. Where: 1628 Hayes Road, www.facebook.com/gldchristmastreefarm.
29 Become a friend of River Hospital and brave a polar bear dip. This annual frigid plunge in the St. Lawrence River benefits River Hospital Foundation. When: Late February. Where: Bonnie Castle Resort and Marina, Alexandria Bay. Cost: Tax-deductible registration fee $100-plus. Prizes honor best “dip” technique and best costume. Get creative and go wild with costuming. Judges will take bribes. www.riverhospitalfoundation.org.
30 Run the 18.12 Challenge. Sackets Harbor was not only the site of two land and naval battles during the War of 1812, but it’s now the finish line for the annual 18.12 Challenge & Half Marathon. When: Sunday, Aug. 21, 7 a.m. Where: Stars at Immaculate Heart Central School, 1316 Ives St., Watertown. Details and registration at www.1812challenge.com.
31 Experience Woodsmen’s Field Days. Since its founding in 1948, Woodsmen’s Field Days has developed into one of the predominant lumberjack contests in the country. Enjoy a variety of festivities like a beard contest, tug-of-war and greased pole competitions, parade, lumber Jack & Jill championship and a Miss Forest Queen Pageant. When: Aug. 15-17, Where: Oneida County Fairgrounds, Route 294, Boonville. Cost: $10 adults, $8 seniors and $7 children. www.starinfo.com/woodsmen.
32 Sail Lake Ontario. For a sailing charter opportunity that lets you get out on the water and experience the joy of sailing, check out SAIL Ontario at www.sail-ontario.com. Tuesday evenings are “Learn to sail and row” nights at Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum. The museum offers a fleet of small sailboats and a livery stocked with St. Lawrence skiffs on which to learn. Free and open to the public. Visit www.abm.org or call 686-4104 to learn more.
33 Visit the boyhood home of Almanzo Wilder. The Almanzo & Laura Ingalls Wilder Association has developed the Wilder Homestead into an interactive educational center, museum and working farm as it was during the time of Almanzo Wilder’s childhood. When: Opens for the season at the end of May. Where: 177 Stacy Road, Malone. Cost: $8 adults, $7.50 seniors, $4.50 children. Admission includes a guided tour of the restored farmhouse, reconstructed barns and museum.
34 Go wild at the Wild Center and the Adirondack Museum. With Blue Mountain rising behind it and Blue Mountain Lake sparkling below, the Adirondack Museum’s vast campus features displays in 22 modern exhibition galleries and historic buildings, each telling a unique story of the Adirondacks and its people. When: May through October. Where: Routes 28N and 30, Blue Mountain Lake, www.adkmuseum.org. Cost: $18 adults, $16 seniors, $12 teens ages 13 to 17, $6 youth ages 6 to 12.
The award-winning Wild Center houses live exhibits and multimedia shows. Explore its 31-acre campus on marked trails. The museum offers documentary films, hands-on activities and hundreds of live animals from rare, native trout, to porcupines and hawks. When: Memorial Day through Labor Day. Where: 45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake, www.wildcenter.org. Cost: $17 adults, $15 seniors, $10 children.
35 Explore wildlife preserves. The Thousand Islands Land Trust protects more than 8,200 acres of land that stretches from Grenadier Island off the shore of Cape Vincent north to Morristown. This includes eight main preserve sites and more than 40 miles of trails that are open to the public, year-round. www.tilandtrust.org.
Located on the St. Lawrence River plain in northern Jefferson and southern St. Lawrence counties, The Indian River Lakes system includes 18 natural lakes. Seventy-five miles of the Indian River is readily accessible to canoes and fishing is good throughout its length. Five miles of trails are open to the public on the Grand Lake Reserve. Download a trail guide at www. indianriverlakes.org.
36 Race with the wind. A 46-mile gravel grinder endurance race and 10-mile fun race. This is not an easy course. It features rugged, varied terrain with ups and downs throughout the route. Cross bikes should be prepared with heavy off road tubes and tires. This is a race of character, Tug
Hill character. Where: Maple Ridge Wind Farm Visitor Center, Lowville. When: Saturday, Aug. 16. Information and to register: www.lewiscountychamber.org.
37 Paddle the Black Moose Kayak Event. Lyons Falls is a small village in Lewis County that boasts some of the best whitewater kayaking in the Northeast. The mighty Moose River offers miles of whitewater, ranging in difficulty from class II to class V. Come paddle, watch, camp, and take in family-fun festivities. When: Annually in mid-May. Where: Riverside Park, Lyons Falls. www.facebook.com/blackmoosekayakevent
38 Fiddler’s Hall of Fame. Enjoy free Sunday afternoon concerts each week in the Fiddlers’ Pavilion at the North American Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame and Museum, Osceola. When: May through September. Where: 1121 Comins Road, Osceola. Concert and museum details at www.nysotfa.com.
39 Experience the Mennonite Heritage Farm and Zwagzigstein Festival. Enjoy live animals, wagon rides, historic farm tours, a flea market, hayfork demonstrations, woodworking, bread- and sauerkraut-making. What: 24th Annual Zwanzigstein Fest. When: July 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Where: 8778 Erie Canal Road, Croghan, www.mennoniteheritagefarm.com. Theme: “Life in the ‘Howling Wilderness’ of the Early 1800s” Cost: $5 adults, free for children 18 and younger.
40 Harness the wind. A weekend of old-fashioned fun during the Maple Ridge Kite Festival. This free, two-day event at the Maple Ridge Center in Lowville is held each October and includes air show demonstrations, a candy drop, and interactive kite-flying and kite-making workshops. Where: 7421 East Road, Lowville. Information: 376-2640 or www.nyke.org.
41 Visit the Old West at the Frederic Remington Museum. The museum houses a comprehensive collection of original Remington paintings, sketches and sculptures, as well as a broad array of personal effects and correspondence that serve to bring the artist and his vision to life. Where: 303 Washington St., Ogdensburg, www.frederic remington.org. When: May 15 through Oct. 15. Cost: $9 adults, $8 seniors and students, free for children 15 and younger.
42 Experience Native American culture at the Akwesasne Cultural Center. Museum exhibits present Mohawk culture from the perspective of the Mohawk people of Akwesasne. The collection at the Akwesasne Museum includes more than 2,000 photographic objects and 700-plus ethnographic objects. Where: 321 State Route 37, Hogansburg, www.akwesasneculturalcenter.org. Call (518) 358-2240 to book a guided tour.
43 Get hands-on with north country agriculture. Agritourism is a leading industry in the north country. A plethora of wineries, distilleries, farm stands, farmer’s markets and farm-stay vacations offer many opportunities to taste and see the goodness local agriculture. Enjoy a farm-stay vacation at Country Cousin’s Farm and experience the down-home goodness of country living. Relax in a private cabin or help in the barn on this working farm. Where: 29415 Fults Road, Evans Mills, www.countrycousinsfarm.com. Visit www.agvisit.com for information on other agri-tourism opportunities.
44 Connect with Amish culture. An encounter with horse-drawn black buggies of the Amish as well as farm stands that sell maple syrup, produce, baked goods, handmade quilts, aprons, baskets, and furniture is likely on many rural north country roads. The first floor of Pickens General Store in downtown Heuvelton is stocked with Amish handcrafted goods. Here, you’ll find baskets of all types and sizes, quilts, wall hangings, aprons, pot holders, furniture, including chairs, tables, and beds as well as non-electrical items the Amish use in everyday life, such as hand-cranked grinders and mixers. When: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays. Online: www.pickensgeneral.org.
45 Live like a king or queen for the night at Singer Castle. Stay in the castle’s exquisite royal suite and make this 28-room castle and seven-acre island yours for the evening. Package includes a private tour, accommodations, and catered dinner and breakfast. A shuttle service is available from Schermerhorn Harbor to and from the island, or you are welcome to dock your own boat at Dark Island during your stay. Call (877) 327-5475 for information and availability. www.singercastle.com/start.
46 Explore the engineering marvel of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Seaway Visitors’ Center at the Eisenhower Lock provides tourists and ship watchers an observation deck to view commercial vessels and cruise ships from around the world as they transit the lock. Where: The road to the center is opposite St. Lawrence Centre Mall’s main entrance on Route 37, Massena. The visitors’ center entrance is 1.5 miles on the right. When: Open daily
spring through Labor Day, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. www.greatlakes-seaway.com
47 Compete in an ice fishing derby. Ice fishing can add many months to your enjoyment of fishing. Find tips and tricks for getting geared up at www.blacklakeny.com. The following towns are just a few that hold ice-fishing derbies each winter: Black Lake, www.blfga.org; Clayton, www.1000islands-clayton.com; Chaumont, www.chaumonthardware.net; Three Mile Bay, www.chaumontchamber.com; Henderson Harbor, www.billsaif foutdoors.com.
48 Run in a snowshoe race. Winona Forest’s more than 50 miles of scenic wooded and groomed trails are a favorite with snowshoe enthusiasts of all levels. With an average of 250 to 300 inches of annual lake effect snow, Winona’s premier, pristine trails and forests make it ideal for snowshoeing. The annual Stone Wall 5k snowshoe race takes place in mid-January. For trail recommendations, conditions and race information, email email@example.com or check the Winona Forest Recreation Association at www.winonaforest.com/snowshoeing.
49 Go Orange under the Dome and catch an ACC men’s basketball game at Syracuse University. The Carrier Dome is a 49,262-seat sports stadium on the SU campus. It is the only domed stadium in the Northeast and the largest structure of its kind on a college campus in the country. Reserved season tickets offer the best seats in the house. Box office: 443-2121, www.carrierdome.com.
50 Experience Independence Day, north country style. Enjoy the most spectacular fireworks display with the most incredible backdrop. Fireworks set off from Boldt Castle reflect off the St. Lawrence River and make for a memorable Independence Day. Fireworks begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. Where: Alexandria Bay, Friday, July 4, www.alexbay.org. Full list of fireworks shows throughout NNY at www.nnyliving.com.
51 Explore a world beneath your feet at Natural Stone Bridge and Caves. Some of the oldest rock in North America and the largest marble cave entrance in the east are right here in the Adirondacks. Take a self-guided exploration tour, an adventure or Saturday evening moonlight tour. Where: 535 Stone Bridge Road, Pottersville, www.stonebridgeandcaves.com.
Compiled by Grace E. Johnston and Katie Stokes, NNY Living