Sackets Harbor


Our 30th anniversary trip brought us eventually to the Thousand Islands region, approximately the point where Lake Ontario feeds into the St. Lawrence River and downriver (northeast) for another fifty miles or so. After a lot of driving (and our stop at Eagle Falls), we passed an unremarkable night in Watertown, then moved on to the first stop along our St. Lawrence odyssey, Sackets Harbor.

The town lies on the lake, near but not quite on the entrance to the river. It’s a small, upscale village with a fairly brisk tourist industry that is, unsurprisingly, not at full speed in early May. Much was closed, including the information center and museum. A few shops were open when we arrived, and a mysterious crowd stood in front of one building as we parked. For us, the key establishment was Chrissy’s Beanz, a shop that provided the necessary morning boost Econolodge’s tepid excuse for coffee could not. We needed the good stuff, and here it is. Slightly surly help, but wonderful burly coffee.


Sitting outside, sipping hot alarmclock and nibbling a delicious oatmeal-toffee cookie, we posited cause for the crowd across the street. No one seemed to be in a rush, everyone seemed to know each other, or at least chat neighborly in clusters around the door. Occasionally, a few people would exit the building, leftover cartons in hand. So, we surmised, it is a restaurant, or catering facility of some sort. Our curiousity got the best of us. I went over and asked what everyone was waiting for. Turns out this little building is a five-star restaurant, Tin Pan Galley, that serves an incredible Sunday brunch. Having already eaten, we didn’t join the queue, but from the looks of it, this is the place to eat in Sackett’s Harbor.


We came here expecting to take the first of several walking tours commemorating the War of 1812, but the tour – and every institution involved in it – was not yet up and running. We could find no information on it here; a result that would be replayed several times in the next couple days. Here at least, there was material evidence of the event, albeit behind locked doors and CLOSED signs. No doubt, Memorial Day will change that condition.

Without realizing it, we had arrived in town quite early, and it being Sunday, activity perked up as the morning headed toward noon. Several shops opened their doors, and we availed ourselves of the opportunity to browse their wares. We strolled through a soap seller’s stock, sampled some local chocolate, and poked inside a tea shop, chatting with the proprietors, all of whom were friendly and cheerful.

We ended our visit walking around the backstreets of the town before heading back to the car, checking one more time on the information center, and then heading out. Sackets Harbor is a lovely little town, aimed primarily at the sailing/boating crowd, but there is enough of interest to make the town a worthy stop for a history or travel buff.

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