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Classic Clayton New York

Written by on August 3, 2017 in Boating

Toronto’s Empire Sandy tall ship off the shores of Clayton N.Y. and Calumet Island. Photo by Kim Lunman.

Nothing defines this coastal New York village better than the River that hugs its shores. The main street’s Riverside Drive overlooks a parade of wooden antique boats, ships and mega-yachts dotting the scenic St. Lawrence each summer.

Ship watching in Clayton N.Y. Photo by Kim Lunman

  Clayton is located on a picturesque peninsula in the 1000 Islands. Shops, restaurants, and art galleries promote the area’s nautical history. The Antique Boat Museum is no exception with its stunning display of wooden boats. The premier fresh water nautical museum in North America is celebrating its 50th anniversary this July. The museum features 300 preserved boats on a 4.5 acre campus offering speed boat rides, skiff rides, and educational programs and events for all ages. Be sure to check out the annual antique boat show and auction this  weekend of Aug.4 to 6. Riding the River aboard one of the museum’s antique wooden speed boats is a rush, not to mention a great way to see some of the area’s surrounding islands and historic cottages.

Riding the River aboard one of the Antique Boat Museum’s fleet. Photo by Kim Lunman.

Calumet Island, which is across from the village of Clayton, once belonged to American tobacco tycoon Charles Emery during the region’s Golden Age. His grand summer estate burned down on Calumet. He built the New Frontenac Hotel on nearby Round Island, a 300-room hotel once accessible by steam ship, which also burned down in 1911. Today, its post office remains standing on the island, lined by 19th-century Victorian cottages and boathouses that receives U.S. postal service. 

A mega-yacht called Blue Moon at Clayton’s dock at Frink Park. Photo by Kim Lunman.

The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel is an amazing new addition to Clayton and the region, offering spectacular views from its spacious and casually elegant rooms and restaurant patio overlooking the St. Lawrence. The AAA-rated Four Diamond, 105-room luxury boutique hotel features the Seaway Grille Restaurant and the 1000 Islands Bar. The hotel has a conference room, indoor pool, and jacuzzi. The waterfront balconies and patio offer a perfect place to relax and watch freighters glide by Clayton in the U.S. shipping channel.

Clatyon’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel offers Riverside luxury. Photo by Kim Lunman.

The hotel is located near the Clayton Opera House and has concierge service to arrange excursions including  boat tours of Singer and Boldt Castles and other 1000 Islands and local winery tours. There are also new transient docks near the hotel  available for boaters. 

1000 Islands Harbor Hotel’s 1000 Islands Bar and Riverside Patio. Photo by Kim Lunman.

The hotel opened in 2014 as the Buffalo-based Hart Hotels’ Harbor Hotels brand, which also includes the Four Diamond-rated Portland Harbor Hotel in Portland, Maine, and Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen, N.Y. It is located near Clayton’s Frink Park and pavilion, recently built to resemble the village’s old train station.

During the region’s Gilded Era in the late 1800s and early 1900s, visitors would arrive from New York City by train to summer here.

Check out boats like these at the Antique Boat Museum. Photos by Kim Lunman.

Today, multimillion dollar mega yachts moor at the dock at Frink Park. Yet Clayton’s still a place that remains a little lost to time, a place for St. Lawrence skiffs and antique wooden boats, a place where the past seems at home with its present, here at the River’s edge.