Activities for kids on a houseboat

Katie_bannerIt’s not hard to get a child excited about a vacation on a houseboat. If you’re bringing more than one, you’ll hear everything from who gets the top bunk and who gets the lower to questions about swimming and island exploring. And ghost stories.

Discover the ghost stories of the Thousand Islands

If they don’t ask about ghost stories, be sure to tell them some. Do people really see the ghost of George Boldt and his wife on Heart Island? Did your children know that every once in awhile, ballroom music is heard on Isle of the Pines, located between Clayton and Alexandria Bay? Do your children even know what ballroom music is? It is a great ingredient for a great bedtime ghost story. After all, what could be scarier than ballroom music? If you bring a portable DVD player, you could always let them watch The Shining.

If your children ask if there are bears on the islands, the answer is no.

Turn your kids into 1000 Islands bird watchers

On your way to our marina to pick up your boat, keep track of how many times they ask “Are we there yet?” You can usually tell how excited a child is by how many times they ask that question. Either they’re really excited or they have to go to the bathroom.

There are lots to keep kids occupied and giddy-level entertained while you’re traveling in this part of the St. Lawrence River. Have them count how many osprey nests they see. How about osprey circling overhead, hunting? Keep a watch. There are even bald eagles and you could be one of the lucky boaters to spot one. The Great Blue Herons are a symbol of the river and you can usually spot them perched on a point at sunrise or sunset. They are a skittish bird and fly away at the slightest disturbance. Watching them take to flight both you and the kids might remark at how prehistoric they seem when flying; almost like they just flew out from a dinosaur swamp. In a way, perhaps they did. The Thousand Islands is a treasure trove of archaeological artifacts and of all Canada’s national parks, the Thousand Islands National Park holds the most.

Parks Canada: a great resource on this fabulous natural resource

On some of the islands in the St. Lawrence National Park, guides lead interpretive hikes on the trails, telling visitors about the wildlife, birds and fauna that call these islands home. You may be surprised at the diversity of this small region. The hikes are great for children.

Mallorytown Landing is the only mainland section of the Thousand Islands National Park and it houses a wealth of information on the plants, animals, fish, birds and even bugs of the region. There you’ll also find a play area for kids. If you’re coming from the east to pick up your houseboat, you could stop here first and learn more about the area where before you head out onto the river. To get to Mallorytown Landing, take the St. Lawrence Parkway off Highway 401 and you’ll find it just east of Rockport. Chances are, the kids (and maybe their parents, as well) will be too excited to stop before picking up your boat and setting off. You can always visit the Mallorytown pavilion by boat. There is plenty of docking space there as well as a nearby beach for swimming.

Swimming: a child’s favorite summer activity

On the topic of swimming, there are several great beaches, the largest being on the west side of Thwartway. There you’ll find easy anchoring and the shallow water means warmer water. It’s great swimming.

Boardgames are always great to bring along, that is, if your kids even know what board games are.

At night, after the sun goes down and the kids are vying for their preferred bunk, you can take them out on the deck or on the dock and have them look up. Have they ever seen so many stars? If they’re really lucky, maybe they’ll just happen to catch a shooting star. If so, don’t forget to tell them to make a wish.


Kids love to fish and there are plenty of places to do that. So bring a rod and reel. Who knows, maybe your little one will snag the big one. We can issue a license if you require one.


There is more scenery to the 1000 islands than what you see above the water. It’s great to get a view under the water. So bring a snorkel to add more discoveries for your kids.