Blake Walsh

30 Best Things to Do in Geneva, NY

  • Published 2023/03/10

Whenever one thinks of New York, an image of a busy street filled with cabs and people walking in a hurry usually comes to mind.

The city is also associated with shopping corners and busy cafes.

But the state of New York has a lot more to offer than the famous scenes of New York City.

To experience its true essence, one must go beyond New York City, and the Ontario and Seneca counties of the state have a lot to offer in this regard.

Located within these two counties, the charming city of Geneva is home to beautiful state parks, awe-inspiring museums, and what seems like an endless amount of wineries.

Does that sound like your cup of tea?

A lot more exciting attractions await you in this city situated north of the stunning Seneca Lake.

These are the best things to do in Geneva, New York:

Enjoy a Day Out at Seneca Lake State Park

Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva

mmkdphotography /

This 141-acre park is one of the signature tourist destinations in Geneva, New York.

If you are traveling with family and kids, then plan a whole day around Seneca Lake State Park for some fun and relaxation.

The peak season in Geneva runs from June to October.

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor activities, and there is no shortage of these in a city like Geneva.

Children are bound to love the park’s Sprayground, which offers the best way to beat the summer heat.

You can also bask in the sun or enjoy a soothing sunset at the Finger Lakes beaches.

Are you interested in water sports?

Try out the kayak or boat rentals that are available from April to November.

Get a Taste of History at Rose Hill Mansion

Front view of Rose Hill Mansion

Stilfehler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Much of this small town’s original charm is locked inside the walls of this magnificent historical museum.

One of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture, Rose Hill Mansion overlooks Seneca Lake.

Dining room at Rose Hill Mansion

Stilfehler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are traveling sometime between May and October, you’ll be lucky to get an inside scoop of the place.

Built by the Swan family during the 1850s, this place will take you back in time.

Guided tours are also available if you’re keen on digging into its history.

Bedroom at Rose Hill Mansion

Stilfehler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sip on Exquisite Wines at Ravines Wine Cellars

A charming agricultural city, Geneva attracts tourists from far and wide to its wine cellars.

Some of America’s finest wines and wineries can be found within the confines of this city.

If you’re not the type of tourist who is interested in hiking trails or safari tours, then wine touring might be an excellent choice for you.

That said, there’s no better place to start your wine tour than at Ravines Wine Cellars.

You might be interested to know that the winery proudly utilizes the traditional European style of winemaking.

If you decide to come here, don’t forget to try some of their dry white wine.

Ravines Wine Cellars arranges elaborate tasting tours and food pairing events all year round.

So, check out their events list before you head to this place.

Check Out Three Brothers Wineries and Estates

The best thing about wineries is that they guarantee soothing walks, pleasant sceneries, and cozy areas to sample their locally made creations.

Put together, all these elements have the power to relax your mind and get you in the perfect holiday mood.

Visit Three Brothers Wineries and Estate, purchase a tasting passport, and enjoy some of their finest red, white, and sparkling wines.

Get Your Favorite Red Wine at Ventosa Vineyards

The sumptuous beauty of Ventosa Vineyards will surely blow your mind.

The place is also renowned for hosting weddings.

Couples looking for an opulent and romantic destination to get married can opt for this vineyard’s grand banquet.

Other than that, the estate offers a Mediterranean restaurant, a cafe, and varieties of vinifera wines.

Get your own pick of the Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noirs.

Visit Geneva’s Best Wineries on a Winewagen Tour

Hop in a retro-style Volkswagen for a fun, informative, and laid-back wine tour.

Geneva’s Winewagen Tours are even more fun if you are traveling with friends or a big group.

This tour gives you the comfort of old-school fun as you hop from one place to another and follow the city’s popular wine trails.

Bask in Belhurst Castle’s Old-World Romance

Exterior of the majestic Belhurst Castle


You must have come across fairy tales with castles like Belhurst Castle.

Travelers are always in immediate awe of the place because of its magnificent 19th-century architecture.

The place offers a selection of gourmet cuisine, craft beers, and regional wines.

The 280-year-old estate has an intriguing story around the time of its inception.

If you’re interested in hearing the tragic love story of Isabella and her beloved, book your weekend getaway at this place as soon as possible.

Explore Geneva’s Most Popular Streets

Street view of Geneva

Alizada Studios /

South Main Street is one of Geneva’s national historic districts.

The street overlooks Seneca Lake, and there are allotted biking tracks for those interested.

Others might find it interesting to walk through the beautiful Castle Street, where the rows of buildings are from the 1850s to 1890s.

Rows of pastel colored historical houses in Geneva

Albert Pego /

The place is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

In downtown Geneva, you can find tons of attractions to enjoy, from entertainment shows to popular restaurants and so on.

Enjoy a Cultural Evening at the Smith Opera House

Front view of Smith Opera House


If you’re making a list of things to do in Geneva, don’t skip this one.

Originally named the Geneva Theater, the Smith Opera House is the cultural hub of Ontario County.

Constructed in 1894, the building was subject to neglect and ruin for a long time before it was renovated in 1931.

The place regularly holds various events ranging from plays, live performances, screenings, and so on.

It’ll cost you around $10 to $12 for a splendid evening.

Shop for Locally Crafted Goods and Souvenirs

Downtown Geneva offers a lot of destinations where tourists can fill their bags.

Browse through some of the finest hand-crafted textiles in the downtown market.

If you’re interested in antique collections, the Geneva Antique Co-Op might attract your attention.

Bookworms can head to Stomping Grounds.

If you’re looking for jewelry or custom-made clothes, Earthly Possessions Boutique is your place.

Satisfy Your Ice Cream Cravings at Geneva Gelato and Mr. Twistee’s

If you get tired from all the shopping and walking, take a break at the classic Geneva Gelato, located nearby Castle Street.

Finger Lakes is famous for its many ice-cream parlors, and the best part is that most of them are modeled after authentic Italian gelaterias.

Apart from Geneva Gelato, you can also head to Mr. Twistee’s for a hard scoop of their outrageous oatmeal cookie-flavored ice cream.

Make a Reservation at Halsey’s Restaurant

Your day at the South Main Street will not be complete without a lunch at Halsey’s Restaurant.

If you’re in search of casual elegance in the middle of Finger Lakes, Halsey’s kitchen has the best offerings.

The place has a range of selections, from their popular wood-fired pizza to vegan options.

Have a Satisfying Meal at F.L.X. Table

To get a premium dining experience in Geneva, book a table at the F.L.X. Table.

Plus, if you’re a foodie, don’t miss the chance to experience the season’s best in this unique kitchen.

The highlight of this place is that there is no separate kitchen and dining room.

The place has completely reimagined the shared dining experience.

You can enjoy a socially connected dinner party every day at the F.L.X. Table.

It is almost like having your dinner at your kitchen counter.

Guests can interact with the chefs and even get custom-made menus.

Another interesting feature is that the menu keeps evolving with the season.

Make sure to place your reservations a month in advance, as this place is quite in demand.

Experience Dining in a Tavern at Beef & Brew

If you’ve ever wondered how it would be to sit at a tavern and experience 19th-century life, consider this your go-to place.

Beef & Brew is beyond a themed restaurant.

It can actually take you back in time.

One of the popular go-to restaurants in downtown Geneva, Beef & Brew has a stone fireplace in the main dining hall.

Make sure to try their popular Polish Kielbasa or Beef and Brew stew.

Grab a Drink at the Annual Finger Lakes Brew Fest

The annual Finger Lakes Brew Fest happens around the month of October.

If you plan on visiting the beautiful city of Geneva along the shores of Seneca Lake, schedule your trip around this exciting event.

You’ll be able to enjoy an afternoon of food, fun, music, and of course, some of the best craft beers from the Finger Lakes breweries.

You can book tickets for this festival online through their official website.

Discover the City’s Offbeat Attractions

Train at Finger Lakes Railway

terry cantrell, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are some local offbeat sites that are worth your visit while you’re in town.

First, there’s the Geneva Farmers Market, which is a must to check out as the city is known for its rich farming history.

The agricultural heritage of the place holds a lot of value.

If you’re interested, visit the market on Saturdays to get a local taste of the town.

Second, drop by Red Jacket Orchards for some mouth-watering fruits and jams.

Visit this attractive fruit farm where you can have a unique Genevan experience.

Want to stand at the meeting point of the most influential figures in the Women’s Rights Movement?

Visit the “When Anthony Met Stanton” statue near Seneca Falls, New York.

Finally, you must add the Finger Lakes Railway to your itinerary.

What makes the Finger Lakes Railway experience special is their occasion-themed train rides, like the “Santa Train Express” and the “Pumpkin Express.”

Check out their schedule to experience these lovely adventures.

Book a Stay at One of the City’s Premier Resorts

Fountain at Lake boutique resort

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Geneva is a charming town with luxurious resorts and getaway corners.

If you’re looking for a weekend of rest and rejuvenation, book yourself a room at one of the city’s premier resorts.

For a relaxing stay, check out the historic Geneva on the Lake boutique resort or the lovely Riverside Retreat.

Grab a Bite at Ports Cafe

Ports Cafe, an establishment that was born and bred in the Finger Lakes, has an interesting and unique story.

In the summer of 1989, through various twists of fate, two guys ended up becoming the owners of West Lake Market.

After several years and a lot of remodeling, half the marketplace was turned into an indoor dining area, which was later transformed into Ports Cafe.

When you’re there, make sure to check out their signature menu; it’s filled with delicious dishes, and there’s definitely something for everyone there.

Have Dinner at Kindred Fare

The philosophy of Kindred Fare is that to share is to love, and they let that guide them in every aspect of their establishment.

When you’re there, you’ll get the chance to enjoy eating and drinking to the fullest while making treasured memories along the way.

Head there for dinner, try out some of their salads or sandwiches, and prepare to be delighted.

Of course, you shouldn’t leave without giving their mains a shot; sample the pasta du jour and experience what magic feels like in the real world.

Try Out the Dishes at Parker’s Grille

Located at 100 Seneca Street, Parker’s Grille serves some of the best dishes in Geneva.

Try out some of their finger foods, such as the Bavarian Pretzel Sticks, Chicken Fingers, and Buffalo Fries; you will not regret tasting heaven on earth if you give them a shot.

The restaurant also offers different kinds of soups to help cleanse your palette and enhance your dining experience.

If you’re looking for something easier to eat if you’re on the go, try out their wide array of sandwiches.

They also have specialty options that you definitely won’t want to miss.

Wine and Dine at Cosentino’s Ristorante

The restaurant was started in 1978 as a pizzeria, and it was later sold and rebranded in 1996 as Cosentino’s Ristorante.

They serve a host of Italian classics that you won’t forget eating.

Some dishes are served with fresh chicken or veal, so you’re definitely in for an interesting ride.

The restaurant also has a very extensive wine list; make sure to sample a few bottles to further enjoy and enhance your dining experience.

View the Historical Exhibitions at the Geneva History Museum

There’s no place quite like the Geneva History Museum for history explorers and enthusiasts.

Located on South Main Street, this family-friendly museum sits within the historic Prouty-Chew House.

The building has been around since the early 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1960 that the museum became city property.

Today, the museum hosts exhibits and collections telling the story of the city and its inhabitants.

The museum’s Discovery Room is suitable for little ones because of the room’s interactive activities.

The Geneva History Museum also hosts a wide range of events throughout the year.

Be sure not to miss them!

Enjoy Live Music while Sipping on Wine at Billsboro Winery

Feel like you’ve traveled to Europe with a visit to Billsboro Winery.

This winery serves the community within a 19th-century barn in the Finger Lakes region.

The entire property consists of stunning ravines, woodlands, and the barn itself.

This 60-acre property overlooks Seneca Lake’s northern section.

The winery offers a dry wine collection that takes inspiration from European varietals.

When you’re there, sign up for a tasting tour and learn more about the boutique winery’s vinifera winemaking process.

Why not try pairing your wine of choice with a chocolate artisan treat, too?

Billsboro Winery opens its doors for you on West Lake Road.

Explore Nature-Based Artworks at Vines of New York Art Gallery

Vines of New York Art Gallery is your premier destination for all things natural art.

This gallery, run by a group of women, features a varied set of artworks in different mediums.

What makes the gallery’s works different from those in other galleries are its sustainable materials.

From wall art and woven works to tree sculptures, these works get inspiration and take resources from nature.

Vines of New York Art Gallery is admission-free.

So, drop by this gallery on South Main Street.

Pick Up a New Hobby at Lake City Hobby and Toys

One of the more attractive shops within downtown Geneva is Lake City Hobby and Toys.

It opened in 1976.

And in the years after, it has only become known for having the largest collection of toy merchandise and hobby products.

From decor collectibles and sports equipment to model and miniature sets, this store has it all!

Come by, and who knows?

You might just find your next hobby on the shelves of this shop.

Lake City Hobby and Toys sits at the corner of Exchange and Castle Streets.

Admire the Statue Centerpiece at Pulteney Park

One of Geneva’s striking parks is Pulteney Park.

Set on Main Street, this park brings pride to the city with the Our Lady of Peace statue at the center of the site.

It faces Seneca Lake from its position at the center of a stone fountain.

In one of the city’s legends, it says that the statue needs a clear view of the lake; otherwise, she’ll burn down the buildings that stand in her way of sight.

True or not, it doesn’t change the fact that this statue served more than just a tribute to the veterans who served in the war.

From Pulteney Park, you might also get glimpses of the famous Rainbow Row houses.

If you need a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air, this park just might be the place for you.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Quick Detour to Muranda Cheese Company

What can be a better option than wine and cheese when you’re on holiday?

That is what you get at Muranda Cheese Company in Waterloo, just 10 minutes away from Geneva.

This fine cheese company attracts a lot of tourists, so remember to get your cheese tasting reservation way ahead of time.

The area has a rich history in farming and animal rearing, and you can learn more about it with a cube of cheese and a glass of wine in your hand.

Visit Deer Haven Park, Home of the Majestic Seneca White Deer

If you are traveling during the springtime, you cannot miss Deer Haven Park.

Situated at the Seneca Army Depot of New York, the park offers military history and white deer tours every Saturday.

You can also choose to book an Auto Tour or Private Bus Tour to cover the extensive forest cover.

The highlight of this place is the world’s largest herd of white deer.

Uncover the Beauty of Watkins Glen State Park

Waterfall at Watkins Glen State Park

Amerikaan314 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Not even an hour from downtown Geneva lies a picturesque destination ready to take your breath away.

Take a 40-minute drive up to Watkins Glen State Park to enjoy a mesmerizing day in nature.

Signboard at the entrance of Watkins Glen State Park

Jay Yuan /

The park has a total of 19 waterfalls and popular hiking trails.

So, pack your bag and get set.

The most thrilling trail is the Gorge Trail, spanning a little over two miles.

Picturesque view of a waterfall at Watkins Glen State Park

Songquan Deng /

You can also set up a picnic or go fishing in the location.

The park is open to visitors from May to November.

Final Thoughts

The Finger Lakes is a group of 11 north-south lakes in the New York region, and Geneva lies at the heart of it all.

It’s a great urban destination with a rural charm and is a far cry from the hustle and bustle that people tend to picture when thinking of New York.

So, give it a shot and see what this place has to offer.

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