Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Massena, NY

  • Published 2023/03/10

Massena is the northernmost town of St. Lawrence County, New York state.

It was incorporated as a town in 1802, one of the first areas established in St. Lawrence County.

Since the establishment of the aluminum company Alcoa in 1902, Massena has become the county’s fastest-growing industrial, commercial, and manufacturing center.

Massena also offers several tourist destinations and recreational facilities.

The Grasse River and the Raquette River, both tributaries of the St. Lawrence River, run through Massena and provide a variety of water activities.

Here are the best things to do in Massena, NY:

Watch Ships at the Eisenhower Lock

It’s not every day that you see different types of shipping vessels up close.

You can do so at the Eisenhower Lock, one of Massena’s two locks, and one of the St. Lawrence Seaway’s seven locks along the St. Lawrence River.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Seaway Visitors’ Center offers ship watchers and tourists an observation deck where they can watch commercial ships pass.

The lock gives ships about a 40-feet lift heading upstream.

The lock was previously the “Robinson Bay Lock” but was renamed after President Dwight Eisenhower at the end of his term.

The St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened in 1959 in Montreal, inviting guests like President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II.

Camp at Robert Moses State Park

Robert Moses State Park is a state park located partially on the Massena mainland and partially on Barnhart Island on the St. Lawrence River.

This 2,322-acre park is one of two state parks in New York named for former New York Parks Commissioner Robert Moses.

He helped create many of the state parks in New York.

Visitors can access the park via a tunnel below the Eisenhower Lock.

The park is vast, hosting a diverse range of flora and fauna and various recreational activities.

You may camp at Robert Moses State Park’s campsites or cabins.

Enjoy the rest of your stay with nature and hiking trails, a swimming beach, excellent fishing opportunities, pavilions, picnic areas, cross-country skiing, and a nature center.

Explore Nature at the Nicandri Nature Center

Located within the Robert Moses State Park is the Nicandri Nature Center, also known as the Massena Nature Center.

The Nicandri Nature Center is a cutting-edge facility named after long-time community leader Eugene Nicandri.

He spearheaded the project to build the nature center.

They built the Nicandri Nature Center with environmentally friendly elements such as a rainwater reclamation system, geothermal heat pumps, and energy-efficient lighting.

The center’s mission is to involve people of all ages in discovery, education, and outdoor leisure to foster appreciation, awareness and care for the environment.

Learn more about nature and encounter wildlife firsthand.

Check out visual and interactive exhibits inside the building and follow the well-maintained walking trails outside.

Nicandri Nature Center’s facilities are open for all, with free admission.

Swim at Massena Town Beach

Head to Massena Town Beach for a perfect cool-down during summer.

Massena Town Beach is quite a popular hangout spot for locals and visitors alike.

Massena Town Beach spans 20 acres of beautiful scenery.

Explore the sandy beach, picnic and grill areas, covered pavilions, nature trail, play areas for sports, and fishing access.

Take a dip in the calm waters on the beach of the St. Lawrence River.

Enjoy a delicious picnic and refreshments from the park’s concession stand.

Rent one of the three big pavilions for your next large gathering.

Wait until sundown to see the beautiful sunset from the shore to round off the perfect day.

Play Golf at the River Course at Louisville Landing

In 1926, the River Course at Louisville Landing, known initially as the Massena Country Club, opened.

Albert Murray designed the course.

This 18-hole, 71-par, 6,670-yard layout is a challenging course with views of the St. Lawrence River.

Marvel at the magnificent shoreline panoramas before and after you swing.

Although located in Massena, the town of Louisville, New York owns and manages the golf course.

Individuals and groups can grab season passes.

It’s also open to the public for everyday play.

Golf lessons, club fitting and repair, are available at the pro shop.

The bar and restaurant serve a variety of pub-style meals, available to the public seven days a week.

It also has outdoor seating and a beautiful view of the river.

Learn about Power Generation at the Hawkins Point Visitors Center

The Hawkins Point Visitors Center is close to the impressive 3,000-foot Moses-Saunders Power Dam.

It was part of the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project.

The dam sits between the US and Canada border.

It’s also a crucial section of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which not only elevates the water level for shipping but also provides tremendous hydroelectric power for both nations.

Officially known as the Frank S. McCullough, Jr. Visitors Center, the facility provides an excellent synopsis of the dam’s history and operation.

You can also find an interactive map of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

It features many spectacular interactive exhibits demonstrating how power is generated and transported into houses.

The hands-on activities make the experience memorable and fun.

These programs are engaging and well-thought-out; both the kids and adults will find them exciting and enjoyable.

The visitors center isn’t huge, but it offers free admission.

Likewise, it’s a terrific place for anyone who appreciates hands-on science learning.

Borrow a Book at the Massena Public Library

The Massena Public Library has become a solid source of literature for decades.

The institution started in 1892, distributing 400 books to various homes.

In 1897, the government granted a reading room to the library in Downtown Massena.

Then, the library moved into the newly completed town hall in 1904, with over 1,000 books in the collection.

In 1962, the Massena Public Library, or the Henry H. Warren Legacy Library, found its permanent home on Glenn Street.

The new library was a memorial to Henry H. Warren’s family, whose company constructed the first hydroelectric facility in town.

The library has seen steady expansion since then, featuring modern facilities, well-stocked shelves, and cutting-edge technology.

The library allows borrowing items, including books and eBooks, and offers summer reading programs, outreach programs, and more.

Visit the Celine G. Philibert Cultural Centre

Located at the heart of Massena is the Celine G. Philibert Cultural Centre, a museum housing local history and artifacts from the early 1800s.

The Cultural Centre has a gallery for exhibits besides the museum.

The museum’s mission is to gather and conserve local historical records and artifacts of Massena and make them accessible for research.

If you enjoy learning about the history of places, Celine G. Philibert Cultural Centre is an excellent place to visit in Massena.

See a Movie at the 56 Auto Drive-In Theater

See a movie under the stars or in the comfort of your car.

Experience old-school single-screen drive-in theater at 56 Auto Drive-in Theater in Massena.

Since 1955, the 56 Auto Drive-in Theater has become New York State’s foremost drive-in theater.

Drop by the concession stand for some delectable burgers, popcorn, and slushies for that ultimate outdoor movie theater experience.

The 56 Auto Drive-in Theater is open from spring through fall.

Likewise, it only accepts cash.

Play at Timequest Mini Golf

Are you ready for golf with a little twist?

Timequest Mini Golf combines a fun mini-golf experience with a petting zoo, making it ideal for golfers and animal lovers.

Opened in 1988, Timequest Mini Golf features two 18-hole courses, a petting zoo with goats, chickens and ducks, a large air-conditioned party area, and wheelchair-accessible restrooms.

You can also buy animal food for 25 cents at outdoor vending machines, while you may grab snacks and refreshments at the counter.

The odd combination of a golf course and farm animals makes Timequest Mini Golf such a unique but fun experience.

Indulge in Donuts and Cider at Kaneb Orchards

Grab fresh apples and other products, from apple cider wine to apple cider donuts, at the Kaneb Orchards.

The orchards produce the best apples and hard cider in the state.

Take your pick among 36 varieties of fresh apples, hand-picked and sorted by farm experts.

The store’s colossal fruit stand also offers your favorite dishes or a healthy snack straight from the bag.

They craft their award-winning cider by hand on-site, sold at the Cider Mill.

Another standout is the freshly-baked cider donuts coated with cinnamon sugar that you may find irresistible.

Other delectable apple treats such as apple cider slushies, cookies, apple crumb muffins, and apple pies are also available.

Kaneb Orchards is a no-pick orchard and is only open during fall.

Learn to Skate at the Massena Arena

Learn to skate no matter what season at the Massena Arena.

Located on Harte Haven Plaza, the Massena Arena hosts the Massena Minor Hockey Association (MMHA) and the Massena Figure Skating Club (MFSC).

Each club offers community programs, such as private and group lessons for recreational and competitive skating for people of all ages and skill levels.

The Massena Arena is open to the public every day.

There are also four outdoor rinks open to the public for free during the winter when the air is cold and crisp.

Observe the Sunset at Whalen Park

Whalen Park is another riverside space in Massena that’s a popular place to observe the gorgeous sunset.

Here, you can see the sunset add a lustrous effect to the St. Lawrence River; it’s truly a scenic experience that makes your trip to Massena all the more memorable.

Beyond the views, Whalen Park is also a popular place to bring the family for a bit of exercise.

There are basketball and tennis courts in the area, along with walking trails that let you experience the shores of St. Lawrence River.

With so much to do, allot a whole morning or afternoon when visiting Whalen Park along Whalen Road.

Try the Pizzas and Wings at An Italian Affair

An Italian Affair is a go-to place for pizza and wings, located along East Orvis Street.

With various pizza flavors and variations, this is a great place to visit for large traveling groups, as you can easily stuff a crowd with their food.

Their wings are fried to perfection, and they also offer other crowd favorites such as calzones, pasta, and garlic bread.

If you’re in a rush but would like to opt out of fast food chains, An Italian Affair also has great service, making them a nice place to do takeout.

You can visit An Italian Affair along East Orvis Street.

Have a Picnic at Springs Park

Springs Park is a gorgeous town park located along the Raquette River, giving this area all sorts of fun activities to do.

There’s a viewing area in Springs Park where you can observe the river, but it’s also a popular spot to launch kayaks and canoes.

The presence of the river makes this a fantastic picnic spot as well, further accentuated during fall season when the park gets a lot of tree foliage.

If you’re bringing kids with you, the playgrounds here are some of the best in Massena.

As a bonus, there’s a ton of history behind Springs Park as well, dating back to the 1800s.

Springs Park is located along South Main Street, making it a convenient stopover during your visit.

Start Your Day at Via Main

If you’re looking for a cozy breakfast place, you can’t go wrong with Via Main.

Serving the customers for several decades now, this is a historic place where food meets heritage.

The place itself feels quite vintage, as it’s situated in a quaint house along Main Street, not too far from the Town of Massena Museum.

They serve hearty breakfast plates here and open much earlier than the rest of the diners and restaurants in Massena.

From their scrumptious omelets down to the smell of their coffee, there’s a certain allure to starting your day at a historic dining place like Via Main.

Go Shopping at St. Lawrence Center

St. Lawrence Center is your go-to shopping district if you want to do some serious shopping in Massena.

It has a couple of recognizable names you’d expect from a large shopping mall, most prominently JCPenney.

St. Lawrence Center also has an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, one of the most visited stores in Massena where you can score on a lot of great deals.

A couple of dining establishments are also found here, ranging from mainstays like Taco Bell to local ones like Anita Burrito Food Truck.

A great stopover during your visit, you can find St. Lawrence Center along Mall Road.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Paddle along the Raquette River

The calm waters of Raquette River

kabby /

The rivers in Massena provide many opportunities for water activities.

The Raquette River, a tributary of the larger St. Lawrence River, originates from Raquette Lake in New York.

The river is the third-longest in New York State, with a length of 146 miles.

It’s also 11 minutes from Massena.

The Lower River, which lies entirely within St. Lawrence County, provides an entertaining and diverse outdoor experience for both beginners and experts.

Rapids of Raquette River

Jondude11 at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lower River is gentle and comprehensive, with a network of multiple shallow channels along with islands and marshes.

It’s a pleasant and relaxing paddle with few rapids and portages.

This 15-mile segment of the Raquette River can be paddled all at once or in two short sessions.

You can access the Raquette via vehicle for most of its length, allowing an individual or group to enjoy their favorite stretch of the river at any time.

The Three Rivers Kayak & Canoe Rentals can serve your fun water activities and kayak and canoe rental needs.

Go Fishing at the Grasse River

The waters of Grasse River

WonderWhy, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you ready for a big catch?

One of the best fishing spots in North America is on the edge of New York state.

This spot is where the three rivers of St. Lawrence, Raquette, and Grasse, meet.

It also abounds with various freshwater species.

Anglers from around the world come to Massena to catch bass, carp, musky, northern pike, pan fish, walleye, and more.

The 73-mile Grasse River runs through Massena’s northern downtown section.

The Grasse has a variety of fish, from stocked brown and native brook trout to smallmouth bass and walleye.

It also hosts a healthy population of muskellunge (muskie).

St. Lawrence County rules require anglers to catch only muskies that measure at least 40 inches long.

However, anglers are urged to free all muskies taken from the Grasse and other rivers in the county.

Besides excellent fishing opportunities, the Grasse River is also great for boating and kayaking.

Bike the Richards Landing Dike Trail

Nothing is better than exploring a new town or city on foot or wheels!

Explore Massena through the 8.4-kilometer Richards Landing Dike Trail.

Find it in Louisville, New York, 11 minutes from Massena.

You may take an average hour and a half to complete the course.

The trail is ideal for strolling, running, and mountain biking, where you’re unlikely to run into many other people.

Get some fresh air and some alone time.

You can also bring your friends.

The Richards Landing Dike Trail is a multipurpose trail that starts at the Massena Intake Dam’s main entrance to the River Course At Louisville Landing (Massena Country Club).

Likewise, the trail passes open fields, woodlands, and views of the scenic St. Lawrence River.

The trail is mainly straight and flat, with some curves on the path as it follows the St. Lawrence River’s coastline.

Another route worth trying is the 3.2-mile Whalen Park Trail, surrounded by woods.

It offers stunning views of the river and several park seats where you can enjoy the scenery.

Final Thoughts

With the Canada border only a few miles away, it’s incredible how close you can get to another nation in Massena.

The town’s location, along three rivers, also adds to its economy.

You’ll also find several spots for outdoor leisure, ideal for families who wish to explore nature with their children.

Massena is always fun no matter the season.

Start planning your trip today!

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