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Association Island is a rather unique place for RV camping. It’s been used as a corporate retreat center for General Electric, a YMCA club, and an Olympic sailing center. The island is accessible by bridge from the mainland but is otherwise surrounding by water. 1000 Islands/Association Island KOA has a bevy of great amenities, including full hookups with 50 amp service, a swimming pool, basketball and shuffleboard courts, a toddler playroom, laundry facilities, and showers. The park is located off an isolated peninsula in Lake Ontario and is a little over an hour's drive north of Syracuse. The 65-acre campground features RV parking spaces with room for rigs up to 90 feet long.
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail, which runs for 518 miles from New York’s border with Pennsylvania to the town of Massena, is one of the best scenic drives in the country and nearly abuts the park; it’s a can’t-miss attraction when getting a campervan rental in the 1000 Islands region. While you almost certainly won’t drive the entire length, just doing a section of the lakefront drive is sure to put on a smile on any nature lover’s face.
To really experience the 1000 Islands region, you’ll need to make a trip up to Wellesley Island, about an hour's drive to the north. This is the heart of the St. Lawrence River Islands and a great jumping off point if you want to kayak out to any of them. Rentals are available on the island, but be careful about where you paddle; the middle of the river denotes the border between the U.S. and Canada. One of the more interesting sites to paddle to on the American side is Boldt Castle, just east of Wellesley Island. The massive stone castle is open for tours when it’s not rented out for events.
A little way down the coast from 1000 Islands/Association Island KOA is Robert Wehle State Park, one of the best places for a picnic when you book an RV in Jefferson County. In addition to their waterfront picnic tables, the park offers hiking and biking opportunities on its small nature trail network. There are even volleyball and tennis courts set up for visitors.
Even farther south is Southwick Beach State Park, one of the best strips of sand on Lake Ontario. Sunbathing is undoubtedly the most popular activity here, but swimming is also possible on most days. Just watch out for the big waves that get whipped up whenever the wind is blowing.
Great hiking can be found less than half an hour's drive from Association Island at Salmon River Falls. The 110-foot-tall waterfall is one of the most popular natural attractions in this part of the state thanks to its accessibility (it’s very close to the road). However, more intrepid hikers can venture down into the gorge to see the falls from below; it’s quite steep and can become slippery with spray from the falls.
The closest town to 1000 Islands/Association Island KOA is Henderson, New York. It’s not a very big town, so you’ll more than likely need to head into Adams or Watertown to pick up essentials or fuel up your RV rental. Those towns are also where you’ll find the majority of the attractions when you get a camper rental near 1000 Islands/Association Island KOA.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to make plans for a day trip to Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site. It’s right on the lake and has a great self-guided tour of the battlefield, troop accommodation buildings, and harbor. The exhibits tell the fascinating story of how American troops fought to take over Lake Ontario in the War of 1812.
Western New York and the Lake Ontario area, in general, are famous for their grape-growing climate. When you get a camper rental here, you’ll definitely want to check out a vineyard or two. Many of the grape species have been selected for their ability to grow in colder climates, which gives the wines a slightly different taste than what you’re probably used to. Join one of the vineyard tours to learn more about how they’re made, then have a delicious tasting to see which bottles you’d like to take back to the rental RV.
Speaking of tasty fermented treats, Western New York is also famous for apples and come fall harvest season, these apples are turned into cider. When you rent a camper near 1000 Islands/Association Island KOA, you’ll want to pop in for a fresh glass of it. Most of the mills also sell a variety of apple-based delicacies, so be sure to come hungry.