Good old Alexandria Bay, the cutest and nearest US town for a day trip from Ottawa! We took advantage of the Civic Holiday to take Mark there for the day… his second time in the United States, already!
We’ve been to Alexandria Bay dozens of times by now but I still remember how amazing it looked to me the first time I visited, in 2005. Everything was so… American! It was a novelty to me and armed with my brand new permanent residence status, I marveled over being able to cross the US-Canada border so easily. French like to criticize the USA but they still consider the country one of the coolest places on earth.
Alexandria Bay is both a traditional small town and a somewhat tacky tourist place—think of it as a very small Niagara Falls, the town, not the amazing sights. There isn’t much to see in town per se: most of the shops are along James Street, which goes from one dock to another. Locals seem to favour the cute park behind the River Hospital while tourists hang out on the main street, shopping for souvenir tee-shirts or grabbing a bite at one of the very average restaurants (locals seem to live on a steady diet of pizza and ice cream. The first time I was in Alexandria Bay, I was expecting great seafood considering it’s right on the St Lawrence River, but all I could find was battered fish covered in Thousand Island dressing. Meh.)
At the height of the recession, James Street felt like a ghost town. A lot of business were closed or bankrupted and there were few tourists around. But the economy seems to be better, as we noticed the last time we were there. New restaurants and shops had opened and we spotted license plates from all over the US.
Still, Alexandria Bay is a nice day trip from Ottawa. Nothing beats an afternoon by the River!
You can see the complete set of pictures taken in the USA on Flickr.