The village of Clayton, with its long history of ship and boat building, was a fitting place for development of a major institution of the region, the Antique Boat Museum. Clayton became the site of the major annual event on the river, the Antique Boat Show. It is the oldest regular antique boat show in the world.
The story of the Antique Boat Museum is central to the renaissance of the Thousand Islands. The late Vincent J. Dee of Clayton was a prime mover in both developments. His great contribution to the region is memorialized by landmark Boldt Castle, the Seaway Trail, and the International Council (now the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council).
Clayton is a village of museums. The Thousand Islands Arts Center is devoted to regional crafts. The Thousand Islands Museum, noted for it's focus on muskie fishing and duck decoys, conveys regional history in its gallery and provides a research library. The Hawn Memorial Library likewise offers an archive of local historical materials, as the does the Antique Boat Museum.
Clayton is a center of cultural activity. The Clayton Opera House has returned to its original function as a performing arts facility. The Clayton Arena accommodates many major events, such as the Decoy and Wildlife Art Show, a highlight of some forty plus consecutive seasons.
Clayton was never so much the seasonal tourist destination as Alexandria Bay, but has been more characteristically a year-round village. Fishing in this part of the river attracted some prominent visitors at an early date; some families have had summer homes nearby for many generations. They support Clayton's institutions and cultural programs, as well as some commercial facilities of high quality. Fine shops and galleries enhance Clayton life.