A Recreational Treasure
Every weekend, power-boaters and sailors weigh anchor and head out for relaxation and family fun. Some may cruise only a day, while others opt for one- to two-week trips, exploring the furthest reaches of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes.
Helping attract non-resident recreational boaters to the region are several protected and picturesque waterways leading into the Lakes. The St. Lawrence Seaway System and the famous Erie (New York State Barge) Canal provide routes from the East Coast and Hudson River, while the Illinois Waterway System links the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. On the Canadian side, the Rideau and Trent-Severn Canal systems lead down to the Lakes from the Ottawa River in the north.
On any given weekend, thousands of U.S. and Canadian charter fishing boats cast off with eager anglers. Great Lakes fishing has even emerged as a competitive sport; serious fishing tournaments are annual events in many Great Lakes port communities.
Tourists are also drawn to the Great Lakes by the spectacular nearby Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River, Niagara Falls, and the ample number of parks and recreational areas in the region. National, state and provincial parks and historic sites around the Lakes accommodate more than 250 million visitors annually on both sides of the border. Tourism in the Great Lakes is a burgeoning industry that pumps billions of dollars into the region and generates tens of thousands of jobs.
Currently enjoying a resurgence in the Great Lakes / Seaway System is overnight passenger cruising. A new generation of ocean cruise ships is now rediscovering the Great Lakes as an excellent cruise destination.