Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Ontario County, NY

  • Published 2023/02/18

Located in the central part of New York state, the picturesque Ontario County lies less than 30 miles southeast of Rochester.

The county covers an area of 663 square miles and forms a part of the Finger Lakes Region.

Likewise, the county contains two cities, 16 towns, and eight villages.

Its largest city is Geneva, while its county seat is the city of Canandaigua.

Long before the arrival of English settlers in the 17th century, the Seneca people had already occupied the area for generations.

When the county was founded in 1789, it originally encompassed virtually the whole western part of New York, which is composed of 15 counties today.

However, over the next half-century, the other 14 counties were carved out one by one from the main parcel; the last one was Schuyler County, which separated in 1854.

Agriculture remains one of the major contributors to Ontario County’s economy, with 40 percent of its land being utilized for food production like dairy farms, orchards, and vineyards.

Moreover, owing to its natural beauty and pristine environment, tourism in the county has also grown steadily over the decades.

With many outdoor recreation parks, historic sites, and wineries, the county offers many things you can enjoy.

Here are the best things to do in Ontario County, New York:

See the Boathouses at Canandaigua City Pier

Daytime view of Canandaigua City Pier

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

The Canandaigua City Pier is one of the most famous attractions in the city and the entire Ontario County.

The pier, which is around 1,000 feet long, is located on the northern coast of Lake Canandaigua.

Built in 1848, the pier’s most distinct features are the 80 wooden boathouses along its western side.

Many of these historic boathouses also appear like they’re floating, owing to being built so close to the water line.

Boathouses at Canandaigua City Pier

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Together with these iconic structures, the pier’s main draw is its stunning lake views with lush greens on the horizon.

Of course, you can also take your rod for some good old fishing along the pier.

Additionally, you can enjoy plenty of other things around the pier since many other shops and restaurants are within walking distance.

Canandaigua City Pier’s signature boathouse, combined with idyllic views of the lake, make it a must-visit in Ontario County.

The view from Canandaigua City Pier

Rosemarie Mosteller /

Go Fishing and Hiking at Onanda Park

Featuring lakeside and hillside sections, Onanda Park offers the best of both worlds for every outdoor adventurer.

The park, named after the Indian word for pine tree, is located south of Cheshire on the western shores of Lake Canandaigua.

The lakeside portion of the park covers seven acres and features a clean stony beach for swimming.

Along with a boat launch, the park also contains a fishing pier where you can cast your reel into the lake’s clear waters.

On the other hand, the hillside part of the park occupies an area of 73 acres.

It features hiking trails stretching two miles across various landscapes of the park.

Traversing through wooded terrains and small streams, the trail culminates with breathtaking lake views.

During winter, the park’s slope sections also become ideal spots for sledding and snowshoeing.

Both sections of the park feature multiple cabins and lodges, which can be rented out for a relaxing overnight stay.

Several picnic shelters make for a perfect venue for family gatherings.

A beautiful and relaxing environment and fabulous amenities make Onanda Park a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and everyone.

Go Skiing and Snowboarding at Bristol Mountain Ski Resort

Aerial view of Bristol Mountain Ski Resort

meg colombo from Finger Lakes, NY, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bristol Mountain Ski Resort is a premier ski resort located in the south-central part of Ontario County.

With its 1,200-foot vertical rise, the resort features 39 slopes and trails.

The slopes come in various inclines to suit different skill levels, ranging from novice to seasoned.

Moreover, nearly all of the resort’s trails are illuminated so that you can enjoy nighttime skiing.

On the other hand, you don’t have to bring your gear since the resort also offers skis and snowboard rentals.

However, they also have a sports shop where you buy gear and apparel of your liking.

The resort also provides lessons for first-timers and beginners, where they can accommodate children as young as four years old.

They also have season-long coaching for those who want to take their skills to the next level.

Other valuable amenities in the resort include a bar and lounge, vending machines, and ATM, among others.

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, Bristol Mountain Ski Resort offers tons of features for an unforgettable skiing and snowboarding experience.

See the Waterfalls at Grimes Glen Park

Front view of the Waterfalls at Grimes Glen Park

Matt Knorr /

Grimes Glen Park occupies a relatively modest 32-acre area in Naples near the southern tip of Ontario County.

Nevertheless, it stands out among the crowd of recreation parks in the county thanks to its two beautiful waterfalls.

They are notable for their curtain-like flow over the massive wall of rocks towering at 60 feet, which forms into a pool of cold clear waters at the bottom.

The park also features a half-mile outdoor trail traversing deep into wooded terrains and over crystalline streams, eventually leading to the second waterfalls.

Side view of the Waterfalls at Grimes Glen Park

The American Explorer /

On the other hand, the park also holds a special place in New York’s prehistory as the site of the oldest fossilized tree found in the state.

Discovered by Dana Luther in 1882, the old tree dates back from the Devonian Period or around 400 million years ago.

It is currently on display at the State Museum in Albany.

It may only have basic amenities, yet Grimes Glen Park’s captivating sights are more than enough to enjoy a day in the great outdoors.

A small footbridge at Grimes Glen Park

Andre Carrotflower, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pick Grapes at Jerome’s U-Pick Fruit Farm

As New York’s State’s leading wine producer, it’s no surprise that numerous vineyards dot Ontario County’s vast expanse.

Jerome’s U-Pick Fruit Farm, established in 1958, stands out from the crowd as one of the region’s first “pick-your-own” farms.

Located south of Naples, the farm’s picking season starts in September and ends in October each year.

You can also choose which fruits to pick among the 20 varieties of grapes grown on the farm.

Adding to a more memorable grape-picking experience are the scenic views of Naples Valley and low-lying hills in the background.

Offering fun activities that everyone can enjoy, Jerome’s U-Pick Fruit Farm is a must-visit in Ontario County.

Take a Swim at Seneca Lake State Park

Lakeside trail at Seneca Lake State Park

mmkdphotography /

Seneca Lake State Park is located in Geneva on the eastern edge of Ontario County.

Sitting on the northern shores of Seneca Lake, the park features a clean beach for swimming in the lake’s calm and pristine waters.

You can also enjoy fishing and boating along the lake, courtesy of its built-in launch.

Thanks to its pristine environment, numerous birds also reside over the lake, making it the perfect spot for bird-watching.

Moreover, waterfowl hunting is also allowed during the season, provided you have the necessary permits and licenses.

On the other hand, there’s a splash park where you can cool off during a hot day and several playgrounds and open fields.

It also has pavilions and picnic shelters, perfect for gatherings with family and friends.

With plenty of fun activities to enjoy in a picturesque setting, it’s unsurprising why Seneca Lake State Park is one of Ontario County’s best places for recreation.

Stay at 1795 Acorn Inn Bed & Breakfast

The 1795 Acorn Inn Bed & Breakfast, located in Bristol, is one of Ontario County’s hidden gems.

As its name states, the B&B features a house dating back to the 18th century and consists of five cozy rooms and suites.

One of the most sought-after features of the B&B is its outdoor hot tub, where you can enjoy a relaxing dip right in the middle of a lush garden.

Their rooms also have adjacent outdoor spaces where you can chill and enjoy a bottle of wine from the finest wineries in the county.

In the morning, you can feast on a sumptuous breakfast of waffles, hash browns, and sausages.

Thanks to its warm accommodation and neat amenities, the B&B has earned rave reviews since opening its doors to backpackers and travelers.

As such, it also boasts the distinction as the only B&B in New York State to receive AAA Four Diamond Award for 25 straight years.

Experience exceptional Ontario County hospitality only at 1795 Acorn Inn Bed & Breakfast.

Visit Hill Cumorah

Visitor center of Hill Cumorah

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

One of the most critical sites in the Church of Latter-Day Saints is Hill Cumorah, located in Manchester in the north-central part of Ontario County.

It was this site where the church founder Joseph Smith was said to have met with the angel Moroni every year from 1823 to 1827.

According to the church, Smith was finally allowed to retrieve the gold plates that would serve as the basis for translating the Book of Mormon in 1827.

Today, the site has been developed with beautiful landscaping and is open to visitors, including non-church members.

Weaving through the gorgeous environment is a network of well-paved trails leading to the Angel Moroni Monument, built on top of a hill.

Moreover, a visitor’s center contains exhibits about the church’s history.

The center also houses numerous statues, artwork, and artifacts, including a replica of the gold plates.

With its fascinating history and solemn atmosphere, Hill Cumorah is a worthy destination in Ontario County.

Shop for Antiques at Bear & Vine

Bear & Vine is an antique and boutique shop located in Phelps in the northeast part of Ontario County.

The shop offers a treasure trove of exciting items beyond the usual fare of home décor and kitchenware.

They are famous for their excellent selection of stoneware like jars and jugs, many of which were crafted in the 19th century.

Their collection also includes butter molds and stamps, which come in intricate designs and patterns.

The shop also features pressed steel toys and wooden rocking horses over 100 years old.

However, one of the most fascinating items in their inventory is the exotic ones like antique swords from Asia.

They also have sports memorabilia like football helmets and collectibles like trading cards.

For unique and rare finds to add to your collection, head to Bear & Vine.

Explore Native American Culture at Ganondagan State Historic Site

Longhouse at Ganondagan State Historic Site

Zack Frank /

Formerly a 17th-century Seneca village, Ganondagan State Historic Site is located south of Victor, Ontario County.

Spanning 569 acres, it is also the only historic site in New York State dedicated to Native American culture.

One of the most notable landmarks in the historic site is the life-size replica of the Seneca Bark Longhouse.

With a dimension ranging between 40 to 200 feet in length and a width of 40 feet, longhouses were designed to accommodate multiple families back then.

The site’s replica contains reproductions of household and everyday items and traded goods from the English and other Natives.

Interior of Ganondagan State Historic Site's longhouse

Zack Frank /

The historic site also houses the Seneca Art and Culture Center, which contains more than 17,000 square feet of floor space.

With its interactive exhibits, the center highlights the significance of the Haudenosaunee to Native American art, culture, and society.

On the other hand, you can hike along the interpretive trail outside the center, which explains the deep connection between the people and nature.

With deep historical and cultural significance in the region, Ganondagan State Historic Site is a must-visit for history buffs and everyone.

Boardwalk at Ganondagan State Historic Site

Zack Frank /

Grab Fresh Farm Products at Outback Farm Market

Outback Farm Market, situated in Canandaigua, is Ontario County’s go-to place for fresh and quality farm products.

The farm market is open year-round and boasts home-grown produce off their shelves.

You can find vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrots, to name a few.

Their fruits include apples, which come in nine varieties, and grapes and plums.

Along with beef and pork, they also have eggs and dairy sourced from local farmers.

On the other hand, green thumbs will also have a field day checking their wide selection of ornamental plants and flowers.

Outback Farm Market is your one-stop shop for your healthy diet regimen with fresh produce, meats, and other farm products.

Camp Out at Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill

Observation deck of Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

With an elevation of more than 2,200 feet, Ontario County Park at Gannet Hill sits on one of the highest points in Ontario County.

The park, located southwest of South Bristol, covers an area of 410 acres of primarily wooded landscapes.

It features multiple campsites with optional electricity access, making it the perfect place to experience camping in the wilderness.

However, you can rent their cabins and lodges for a cozy and convenient overnight stay.

Moreover, the park has picnic areas equipped with tables and grills, perfect for cookouts during family gatherings.

The view from Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

On the other hand, the park has a network of trails that weave across various terrains, which are ideal for hiking and mountain biking.

Thanks to its high elevation, the park offers some of the best views of the gentle slopes draped in various hues of forest foliage.

The park also features sports facilities like a basketball court, baseball diamond, playground, and wide open fields.

You can also go fishing at the huge pond located inside the park.

Whether you’re planning to go camping for a few nights or just a quick day tour, Ontario County Park at Gannet Hill is one of the top places you can enjoy.

Take a Trip with Crush Beer & Wine Tours

Vehicle of Crush Beer & Wine Tours


Blessed with a mild climate and fertile soils, Ontario County has sprawling vineyards, making it the top wine-producing region in New York State.

On the other hand, numerous breweries dot all over the county, each offering its unique concoction of handcrafted beers waiting to be enjoyed in their cozy taprooms.

Based in Victor, Crush Beer & Wine Tours takes you on a memorable tour across the Finger Lakes Region to check the best wineries and breweries on this side of the country.

Maximize the experience by taking their combo tour and enjoying the best of both worlds.

Along with customized tours, they can also accommodate trips for groups of as little as two people for a more intimate excursion.

With so many fantastic spots to visit, make the most of your trip by embarking on a memorable journey with Crush Beer & Wine Tours.

Drink and Dine at Brew & Brats

Naples’ Brew & Brats, with its low-key country image and small-town charm, is one of the top-rated eateries in Ontario County.

As its name suggests, the restaurant specializes in German cuisine.

Still, for those unfamiliar with the slang, the last part of their name refers to ‘bratwurst,’ a German sausage primarily made of pork.

Together with their sausages and frankfurters, they are also famous for their authentic German potato salad and sauerkraut.

You can pair these sumptuous delights with their vast array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, from refreshing grape juice to ice-cold craft beers and exquisite wines.

On top of their fantastic food offerings, many are also drawn into their warm and friendly environment courtesy of fun activities like Trivia Nights and performances from local artists.

With great food and an equally-great atmosphere, Brew & Brats is a gourmet experience in Ontario County that you must try.

Try Wakeboarding at Roseland Wake Park

Located in Muar Lake in Canandaigua, Roseland Wake Park is the first and only cable wake park in the northeastern part of the country.

Its five-tower overhead cable system can pull up to nine people at once around the lake and across its various ramps and rails.

Along with providing lessons for beginners, the park has a modern two-tower training system that assists riders with proper wakeboard mounting.

Moreover, children as young as five are allowed to go on a wakeboard.

You don’t have to bring gear since this wake park has a full rental shop and a pro shop that sells sports equipment.

Likewise, you can enjoy other water sports at the park, including water skiing, kneeboarding, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Whether you’re an experienced wakeboarder or a complete newbie, go to Roseland Wake Park for a thrilling wakeboarding experience.

Final Thoughts

Ontario County’s rural charm resonates all over its beautiful sights of low-lying hills lined with vineyards and the pristine shores of the Finger Lakes.

An outdoor adventurer’s paradise is also filled with exciting attractions of challenging hiking trails and thrilling snow-capped slopes.

Of course, the county’s laundry list of must-visit destinations includes many cozy B&Bs, fantastic restaurants, wineries, and breweries.

Enjoy the best things to do in Ontario County, New York.

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