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 lead 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.
The time-frames we have listed below are general. Check each website for their specific dates. If it’s early in the year, sites may still reflect last year’s dates listed, but that’s OK!
For now let this be your inspiration for good things to come. Check back each month for updates.
Tours Held on
1. Rochester Landmark Society House & Garden Tour
These tours offer a glimpse into how Rochester’s past is enhanced by modern culture, architecture and technology. Expert volunteers are available in each home to tell its story and answer any questions. Tours take place typically in early-June.
Past tours include the Western End of East Avenue (Arnold Park, Prince Street, and Strathallan Park), East Avenue and East Boulevard area, Highland Ave and Cobbs Hill Neighborhood, Mt. Hope and Highland Neighborhood, Park Ave Neighborhood, and West Irondequoit.
2. Buffalo’s Parkside Garden & Architecture Tour
Tour the local gardens nestled between the beautiful homes of the Parkside neighborhood, the suburb designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1870. A garden map with a directory is available for $5. The tour is self-guided.
Guided walking tours highlighting Parkside’s diverse architecture, history, and folklore will begin at Garden Central. (There is a fee for these tours.)
More than 50 gardens will be open to visitors—from formal to quirky, edible to elaborate. There will be free admission to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House conservatory and gardens only, along with garden-related talks and special activities throughout the day by Master Gardeners and the Darwin Martin House Horticulturalist Nellie Gardner.
3. Buffalo Tour of Open Gardens
On Fridays in July, you can visit gardens, for select hours, in Hamburg, Derby, Orchard Park, Eden, Lockport, Gasport, East Aurora, Holland, South Buffalo, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lakeshore, Pendleton, and in Buffalo’s Cottage District and Kleinhans neighborhoods..
Just pick up a Tours of Open Gardens and Garden Events Guide (for only a $5 donation!).
We made it easy to plan your day, with a map showing the gardens, and suggested routes to see them all. Be sure to check the open hours for each garden. You’ll have seven days to visit (or re-visit!) the gardens throughout the month. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more unique garden tour at this price!
4. Lockport in Bloom Twilight Tour
This tour includes more than 35 gardens of many types, from small city plots to large park-like spaces. Tour in mid-July is fee and self-guided.
5. Genesee Land Trust Backyard Habitat Tour
Explore unique gardens around Rochester each year in late-July. You will receive a beautiful guidebook with detailed directions to each garden, photos, and stories written by the gardeners themselves.
Past tour locations include gardens throughout Monroe County.
6. Garden Walk Buffalo
Don’t miss America’s largest garden tour! Since 1995, Garden Walk Buffalo has been a destination for garden lovers throughout Western New York and Southern Ontario–and abroad.
Held annually on the last weekend of July, Garden Walk has become one of Western New York’s most anticipated summer happenings. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to Buffalo’s West Side to tour more than 400 residential gardens as well as many community and public gardens.
A free step-on/step-off shuttle service is available throughout the Walk. This tour in late-July is free and self-guided. No tickets required. 400-plus creative urban gardens, and some of the friendliest gardeners you’ll ever meet!
7. Historic Maplewood Home Tour
A day of visual delights as Maplewood swings open the doors in early-September to several beautiful and architecturally unique homes in the historic Maplewood district.
8. Cobblestone Tour of Homes
Get up close and personal in mid-September with cobblestone architecture in this self-drive tour of area cobblestone homes, schools and businesses.
They also have a Holiday Tour of Homes in early-December.
9. Inside Downtown Tour of Homes and Businesses
The Inside Downtown Tour opens up urban environments where folks are creating exciting spaces to live and work.
We visit re-purposed spaces, renovated homes, lovingly preserved places, and newly built sites that are designed with sensitivity to the overall built environment.
Typically held in late-September or early-October, these tours have included High Falls, The Saint Paul Quarter, Washington Square, East Avenue and East Main Street Penthouses & Rooftops, Cascade District, and Neighborhood of the Arts.
10. Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes
This tour is held in early-December each year. Entertaining tour guides will lead small groups through the neighborhood to the homes that have been selected especially for this tour.
11. Lewiston Tour of Homes
Celebrate in style and see the latest holiday-inspired decor in early-December. Each home will feature Christmas tablescapes, offering more innovative entertaining ideas.
When you have finished the home tour, visit our many shops and restaurants. Celebrate Christmas in the Village of Lewiston the old fashioned way with complimentary carriage rides, shopping, carolers, a Santa promenade down Center Street, outdoor entertainment and refreshments served by Lewiston businesses.
Ongoing or Periodic
Home and Garden Tours
12. Ellwanger Garden
A Victorian style English garden with an extensive collection of peonies and other plantings. Originally the private garden of famed 19th-century horticulturist George Ellwanger.
The estate is an active bed & breakfast so public access to the garden is limited to special events, such as the Lilac Festival weekends in May and Peony Weekend in June.
13. Genesee Country Village & Museum
All summer long the Genesee Country Village and Museum hosts themed events on the weekends like Highland Days, Civil War Days, and a Fiddlers Fair.
In the spring, it’s all about Maple Syrup, in the fall, Trick-or-Treating in the village. In December, it’s Yuletide in the Country which is a fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit while learning about Christmases past–how, where and when today’s traditions began.
During the weekdays in the summer, it’s business as usual; a quiet time to enjoy the village.
The grounds at MacKenzie-Childs headquarters in Aurora are open to the public. They offer free, guided Second-Empire Farmhouse tours throughout the day.
15. Stone Tolan House
The house is the oldest standing structure in Monroe County and maintained by The Landmark Society as a historic house museum.
Interpreters recreate the private and public activities of a household and frontier tavern in Brighton, NY between 1790 and 1820. Open April-December; Friday and Saturday, 12-3pm.
16. National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House
This was the home of the legendary American civil rights leader during the 40 most politically active years of her life, and the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872.
This home was the headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association when she was its president.
17. George Eastman Museum
The mansion and surrounding gardens of the George Eastman Museum have so many details to discover; each season uniquely spectacular.
The grounds are free to explore, but do go inside! The museum is a beautiful tribute to the life & legacy of George Eastman, and is the world’s oldest photography museum with one of the oldest film archives.
18. Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park
Sonnenberg Gardens is an exceptional example of the lavish wealth and philanthropy of the Gilded Age.
Like the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, Sonnenberg was a summer home for Frederick, the founder of First National Bank (now City Bank) and his wife, Mary, who grew up in Canandaigua and whose father was Governor of New York State.
19. Linwood Gardens
Linwood Gardens offers several opportunities to enjoy their beautiful estate. The Tree Peony Festival of Flowers is held over several weekends from late-May through early-June, and they have open gardens days that are posted as the season gets closer; pre-registration is required.
Consider becoming a Friend of Linwood Gardens for additional tour opportunities such as an autumn walk and summer house tour.
20. Harriet Tubman House
The Harriet Tubman Residence, Harriet Tubman Home for the Elderly and the AME Zion Church are National Historic Landmarks.
21. Seward House Museum
The historic home of William Henry Seward and his family. Serving as a New York State Senator, Governor of New York, a U.S. Senator, and as Secretary of State in the Lincoln and Johnson administrations,
Seward was one of the foremost politicians of nineteenth century America. A guided tour is the only way to see the Museum. Enjoy masterpieces of American art and special exhibitions in both the historic house and the museum’s gardens.
22. Geneva Historical Society-Rose Hill Mansion
Once a working farm, the house and surrounding grounds are now open seasonally for guided tours. Built in 1839, the elegant Greek Revival house was the center of a busy and productive farm.
The tour focuses on the Swan family, who lived in the house from 1850-1890.
23. Elizabeth Cady Stanton House
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the women’s rights movement’s most important figures, asserted that her experiences in this Seneca Falls house induced her to become an advocate of women’s rights.
24. Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum
Listen to stories of the four generations of Grangers, who lived in this magnificent home from 1816-1930. Docents have wonderful stories and anecdotes to share about the family and the history of the mansion and carriage barn.
25. Oliver House Museum
The home features six period rooms furnished with an eclectic mix of the Oliver’s belongings and the collections of the Historical Society. Guided tours are available, or folks can explore the rooms on their own if they prefer.
26. 1890 House Museum
Experience the splendor of the late 19th century at the 1890 House Museum in downtown Cortland, New York. This grand limestone mansion, built by successful industrialist Chester F. Wickwire, is a symbol of the grandeur of the Victorian and Gilded ages.
27. American Red Cross, Clara Barton House Chapter #1
Clara Barton founded the first Chapter of the American Red Cross in Dansville, NY in 1881. Today, her legacy is honored through a beautiful home on Elizabeth Street which functions as a meeting space, and a museum of Red Cross history. Tours are available by appointment only.
28. Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village
Tour historical homes, a rural church and one-room schoolhouses from the Buffalo Niagara region. Interact with costumed interpreters who show you what life was like in the 19th century.
29. Mark Twain Study & Exhibit
Between 1871 and 1889 Mark Twain and his family spent their summers at Quarry Farm in Elmira. For many summers,
Twain spent his days writing in his octagonal study built in 1874. It was where he worked on Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper and other notable works.
Guests can visit the Mark Twain Study on the campus of Elmira College, as well as other Twain sites around town, including his gravesite at Woodlawn Cemetery.
30. Graycliff Estate
Tours during June, July, August, weekends in September and October and Thanksgiving weekend often sell out; purchase your tickets early to ensure you can visit Graycliff.
There is no admittance to the historic buildings or grounds except on a docent-led tour.
Note: Descriptions are from each website
Rochester became a global center for flower and tree nurseries in the mid-1800s, fostering our identity as The Flower City.
Where are your favorite garden tours around Rochester?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!