Sonnenberg Gardens

25 House & Garden Tours Around Rochester

Every year, there are dozens of opportunities around Rochester to walk through grand and historic homes and meticulously manicured garden spaces. Some are inspiring and insightful tours led by passionate guides; others are self-guided. And while some tours happen only once a year, many are open year-round for you to explore at your leisure.

Tours Held on Specific Dates

Landmark Society Home and Garden 2016 Rochester
Landmark Society Home and Garden Tours
house tour
house tour

House and Garden Tour

Rochester

The Landmark Society of Western New York organizes tours aimed at showcasing the ways in which modern culture, architecture, and technology have enriched Rochester’s past. Each home on the tour is accompanied by expert volunteers who are available to share the captivating stories of the homes and answer any questions you may have. Typically, these tours are scheduled for early June.

Past tours have included various neighborhoods such as Arnold Park, Prince Street, Strathallan Park, East Boulevard, Cobbs Hill, Mt. Hope, Highland, Park Ave, and West Irondequoit.

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Explore Rochester

A perfect day in Rochester would include a visit to one of its world-class museums, spending time in its exceptional parks, and seeing both High Falls and Lake Ontario.

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Home Garden Tours: Ellwanger Garden
Ellwanger Garden

Ellwanger Garden

Rochester

The Landmark Society of Western New York is responsible for maintaining a Victorian-style English garden that is home to an extensive collection of peonies and other plantings. This garden was originally owned by the renowned 19th-century horticulturist, George Ellwanger. While the estate now operates as a bed & breakfast, the garden is still open to the public during special events such as the Lilac Festival weekends in mid-May and Peony Weekend in early June.

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Ellwanger Garden

Maintained by the Landmark Society, the Ellwanger Estate Garden is periodically open to the public for special events.

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WXXI Inside Downtown
Tour of WXXI

Inside Downtown

Rochester

The Landmark Society of Western New York organizes the Inside Downtown Tour of Homes and Businesses for guests to explore urban environments where people are creating exciting living and working spaces. During the tour, you can visit repurposed spaces, renovated homes, lovingly preserved places, and newly built sites that are designed with sensitivity to the overall built environment.

These guided tours take place in late September or early October and feature visits to notable locations such as High Falls, The Saint Paul Quarter, Washington Square, East Avenue and East Main Street Penthouses & Rooftops, Cascade District, and Neighborhood of the Arts.

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Explore Rochester

A perfect day in Rochester would include a visit to one of its world-class museums, spending time in its exceptional parks, and seeing both High Falls and Lake Ontario.

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Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes

Rochester

This tour is held every year in early December. The tour guides are entertaining and will lead small groups through the neighborhood to the homes that have been specially selected for this tour. Due to its popularity, the tour can sell out within hours of its announcement. Make sure to sign up for the newsletter to receive advance notice.

Linwood Gardens
Linwood Gardens

Linwood Gardens

Linwood

Linwood Gardens presents numerous chances to relish the stunning estate. The Tree Peony Festival of Flowers takes place over multiple weekends from late May to early June, and they organize open garden days. You may also contemplate joining the Friends of Linwood Gardens to access additional tour opportunities such as an autumn walk and a summer house tour.

Garden Walk Buffalo

Buffalo

Buffalo’s Elmwood Village and Parkside neighborhoods host an extensive self-guided garden tour called Garden Walk Buffalo. The annual tour takes place on the last full weekend of July and features over 300 private and public gardens.

Ongoing or Periodic Home and Garden Tours

Susan B Anthony House exterior
Susan B Anthony House

National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

Rochester

The museum served as the residence for the renowned American civil rights activist for 40 years during her politically active life. It was also the location where she was famously arrested in 1872 for casting her vote. When she was the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, this house became the association’s headquarters.

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Susan B Anthony

Susan B Anthony’s passion for securing women’s right to vote started with her work as an agent of the anti-slavery movement.

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George Eastman Museum November garden
GEM

George Eastman Museum

Rochester

The George Eastman Museum, with its mansion and surrounding gardens, is a place full of intricate details and unique seasonal beauty. Although the grounds are free to explore, I recommend going inside to visit the museum, which is a stunning tribute to the life and legacy of George Eastman. It is the world’s oldest photography museum and boasts one of the oldest film archives.

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George Eastman Museum

The George Eastman Museum is a beautiful tribute to his life & legacy, and is the world’s oldest photography museum with one of the oldest film archives.

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VIP Pass: Stone Tolan House
Stone-Tolan House

Stone-Tolan House

Brighton

The Stone-Tolan House, located on East Avenue, is the oldest standing structure in Monroe County. As a historic house museum, it is maintained by The Landmark Society of Western New York. The house represents a household and frontier tavern from 1790 to 1820. Interpreters at the museum recreate the daily life and activities of the family and guests during that time period.

Genesee Country Village home
Genesee Country Village

Genesee Country Village & Museum

Mumford

GCV&M is a living history museum with 68 structures on 700 acres, making it the largest and most comprehensive museum of its kind in the state and the third largest in the country. The 19th-century village features a range of buildings that were moved to the museum’s grounds starting in 1966, such as frontier homesteads, Victorian mansions, churches, schools, shops, and taverns. Visitors can learn about the history of each building and take part in events such as Highland Days, Civil War Days, Novel Weekend, and Independence Day. The museum also hosts the Agricultural Fair and Spirits of the Past in October and Yuletide in the Country storytelling tours in December.

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Genesee Country Village & Museum

The Genesee Country Village is a living history museum with 68 structures on 700 acres, making it the largest museum of its kind in New York.

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Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Tea Garden
Sonnenberg Gardens

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park

Canandaigua

Sonnenberg offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Gilded Age, with its expansive grounds and impressive architecture. The paved main roads through the 50-acre property are easily walkable, with tram stops at the entrance, mansion, and formal gardens. A winding, uneven footpath navigates the Tea Garden and Rock Garden. A porch on the mansion’s second floor offers an optimal view of the gardens below. Explore the Lord and Burnham–designed glass conservatory and enjoy a tasting at the Finger Lakes Wine Center.

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Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Located in the City of Canandaigua, Sonnenberg Gardens is an exceptional example of the lavish wealth and philanthropy of the Gilded Age.

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Explore Canandaigua

Of the five Finger Lakes closest to Rochester, Canandaigua Lake and the city’s historic downtown have the most to offer visitors.

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Lorenzo State Historic Site

Cazenovia

Lorenzo State Historic Site is a Federal-style home built in 1807 that belonged to John Lincklaen, an agent of the Holland Land Company and founder of Cazenovia. The Lincklaen/Ledyard family members lived in the house continuously until they donated it, along with its contents, to New York State in 1968. Guided tours of the mansion are available, featuring original furniture over 160 years old.

The Ellen Shipman-designed formal garden and Dark Aisle Arboretum are open daily year-round from dawn until dusk. Visitors can stroll through the grounds or hike the connective trail through the 87-acre site.

Visit friendsoflorenzo.org for additional information.

cobblestone museum
Cobblestone Museum

Cobblestone Tour of Homes

Albion

The Cobblestone Museum is an outdoor museum that encourages the investigation and understanding of cobblestone construction techniques used between 1825 and 1860. It provides visitors with the chance to explore three Victorian-style cobblestone buildings as well as four wooden structures that showcase 19th-century agricultural tools and skilled trades.

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11 Self-Guided Tours

These self-guided tours around Rochester are like a regional scavenger hunt! Learn the stories behind some of the things you see along our roadways.

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MacKenzie-Childs entrance

MacKenzie-Childs

Aurora

The MacKenzie-Childs headquarters in Aurora allows public access to their grounds and offers free guided tours of the Second-Empire Farmhouse throughout the day.

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MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora

The grounds at MacKenzie-Childs headquarters in Aurora are open to the public. They offer free, guided Second-Empire Farmhouse tours throughout the day.

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Harriet Tubman House

Auburn

The Harriet Tubman Residence, Harriet Tubman Home for the Elderly, and the AME Zion Church are all National Historic Landmarks.

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Explore Auburn

Auburn offers a full day of immersive experiences. Follow this guide to make the most of your time exploring the city’s rich culture.

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Seward House
Seward House

Seward House Museum

Auburn

Explore the historic home of William Henry Seward and his family. Seward was a prominent politician of 19th-century America, serving as a New York State Senator, Governor of New York, a U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State in the Lincoln and Johnson administrations. To see the Museum, you must take a guided tour. In the historic house and the museum’s gardens, you can enjoy masterpieces of American art and special exhibitions.

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Explore Auburn

Auburn offers a full day of immersive experiences. Follow this guide to make the most of your time exploring the city’s rich culture.

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Rose Hill Mansion

Geneva

The house and the surrounding grounds were once a working farm, which is now open seasonally for guided tours. The elegant Greek Revival house was built in 1839 and was the central point of a busy and productive farm. The guided tour focuses on the Swan family who lived in the house between 1850 and 1890.

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Explore Geneva

Situated midway between Rochester and Syracuse on Route 5 and 20, Geneva feels like the center of the Finger Lakes region.

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton House
Elizabeth Cady Stanton House

Elizabeth Cady Stanton House

Seneca Falls

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the most influential figures of the women’s rights movement, credited her experiences in this Seneca Falls house with inspiring her advocacy for women’s rights.

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Explore Seneca Falls

Seneca Falls, on historic Route 5 and 20, is the birthplace of the Women’s Rights movement and is the inspiration for It’s a Wonderful Life.

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Home Garden Tours: Canandaigua Lake: Granger Homestead
Granger Homestead

Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum

Canandaigua

Explore the history of this grand mansion and carriage barn through stories of the four generations of Grangers who lived here from 1816 to 1930. Knowledgeable docents will share rich anecdotes and fascinating details about the family and the estate.

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Explore Canandaigua

Of the five Finger Lakes closest to Rochester, Canandaigua Lake and the city’s historic downtown have the most to offer visitors.

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Oliver House Museum

Penn Yan

The home has six period-furnished rooms featuring a mix of Oliver family belongings and Historical Society collections. Visitors can take guided tours or explore the rooms independently.

1890 House Museum

Cortland

Experience the grandeur of the Victorian and Gilded Ages at the 1890 House Museum in downtown Cortland, New York. The museum is housed in a stunning limestone mansion built by Chester F. Wickwire, a successful industrialist.

Clara Barton American Red Cross Chapter One Dansville
American Red Cross Chapter One

American Red Cross, Clara Barton House Chapter #1

Dansville

Clara Barton established the inaugural Chapter of the American Red Cross in Dansville, NY back in 1881. Her remarkable contribution is now commemorated through a splendid building situated on Elizabeth Street. This building serves as a meeting venue and also houses a museum that showcases the history of the Red Cross. Visitors who are interested in exploring the museum can book a tour in advance.

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Explore Dansville

Take a free audio walking tour of historic downtown Dansville. There are ten stops within three blocks surrounding Main Street.

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Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Amherst

Tour historical homes, a church, and schoolhouses. Interact with costumed interpreters from the 19th century.

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Explore Buffalo’s Delaware Park

Delaware Park combines Buffalo’s cultural and recreational offerings along a two-mile path that winds around lakes, gardens, and meadows.

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Mark Twain Study & Exhibit

Elmira

Between 1871 and 1889, Mark Twain spent his summers with his family at Quarry Farm in Elmira. During this time, he wrote some of his most famous works including Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and The Prince and the Pauper. Twain wrote these works in his Octagonal Study, which was built in 1874. Visitors can see the study at Elmira College’s campus and explore other Twain sites in the town including his gravesite at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Graycliff Estate

Derby

Experience a range of themed estate tours, including a one-hour exploration of the grounds and first-floor interior. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the lawn overlooking Lake Erie.

Note: Descriptions are from each website

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Gardens & Arboretums

These carefully designed gardens, often cultivated for decades or even centuries, display exceptional collections of flowers and trees.

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The Flower City: Exploring Rochester’s Extraordinary Flowers and Trees

Rochester became a global center for flower and tree nurseries in the mid-1800s, fostering our identity as The Flower City.

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Guided Walks and Tours Around Rochester, NY

Local experts who highlight the rich history, geology, ecology, and community of the greater Rochester region lead these guided walks.

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Museums Around Rochester

Rochester is home to world-renowned museums and thought-provoking galleries. You can spend weeks exploring our rich cultural heritage.

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11 Self-Guided Tours

These self-guided tours around Rochester are like a regional scavenger hunt! Learn the stories behind some of the things you see along our roadways.

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Which are your favorite house and garden tours around Rochester?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of daytrippingroc.com and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

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