Geneva on the Lake cover

40 Public Gardens Around Rochester

Gardens are historically places of rest and reflection; of focus and attention to detail. Botanist Luther Burbank said,

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”

Enjoy a peaceful afternoon at one of these arboretums, labyrinths, or botanical gardens, all within a two hour drive of Rochester.

Indoor Gardens

Lamberton Conservatory spring show

1. Lamberton Conservatory


A tropical forest display as well as collections of exotic plants, desert plants, economic plants (such as banana and coffee trees), and house plants. 

Don’t miss the Spring Show each April, and the Holiday Show in December.

2. Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens


The historic Buffalo Botanical Gardens is a living museum that inspires curiosity and connects people to the natural world. It is a premier cultural destination that engages visitors through a distinct and unique plant collection. Don’t miss Lumagination each February.

Strong Museum of Play Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden Rochester skyline
Strong National Museum of Play Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden

3. Strong Museum’s Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden


It’s just like a miniature Lamberton Conservatory with butterflies! If it’s been a while since you’ve visited, tickets are no longer timed and you can stay as long as you’d like.

Estate Gardens Around Rochester

Eastman Museum

4. George Eastman Museum & House


Listed by the National Geographic Society as one of the best public gardens in the U.S. and Canada. The 12.5 acre estate’s gardens are free and open to the public; fee to enter the home and museum.

Don’t miss the annual Dutch Collection held in February featuring the most incredible display of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, amaryllis, and freesias, in various vibrant shades—the same colors Eastman featured 100 years ago.

Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Tea Garden
Sonnenberg Gardens

5. Sonnenberg Gardens


Listed by the National Geographic Society as on of the best public gardens in the U.S. and Canada. Sonnenberg Gardens is a New York State Historic Park where a late nineteenth century Victorian Estate with a Queen Anne-style mansion and nine formal gardens of the world is being preserved.

This 50-acre estate is one of just two public gardens in the NYS Parks system. Sonnenberg is known for its distinctive period architecture, statuary, formal gardens, fountains and unique garden structures.

6. Linwood Gardens


Private tree peony garden, open to the public on weekends during the annual Tree Peony Festival of Flowers late-May to early June.

Genesee Country Village
Genesee Country Village and Museum

7. Genesee Country Village & Museum


The village maintains 12 gardens, including an Heirloom Garden.

Ellwanger Garden
Ellwanger Garden

8. Ellwanger Garden


Owned by the Landmark Society, this half-acre garden once belonged to noted nurseryman and horticulturist George Ellwanger of Mt. Hope Nurseries.

The Estate is now a bed & breakfast, though the gardens are open to the public during the Lilac Festival in May and Peony Weekend in June, and Tuesday evenings June-September.

Sunken Garden
Stone-Tolan House

9. Stone-Tolan House


The museum demonstrates life at a frontier home and rural tavern. Outside features include a privy, smokehouse, orchard and garden.

Public Gardens Around Rochester: MacKenzie Childs
MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora on Cayuga Lake

10. MacKenzie-Childs


Sixty-five acre farm overlooking Cayuga Lake. The grounds—open to the public—are home to sprawling gardens, and a farmhouse furnished with MacKenzie-Childs designs that is open for tours.

Geneva on the Lake
Geneva on the Lake

11. Geneva on the Lake


This elegant 1910 resort’s manicured grounds feature hedged gardens and marble statues, and are accessible only to hotel or dinner guests.

Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden

12. Warner Castle Sunken Garden


In 1951 and the castle and grounds became part of Highland Park.

Arboretums & Outdoor Botanical Gardens Around Rochester

Highland Park May Magnolias
Magnolias at Highland Park

13. Highland Botanical Park


Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and home to Rochester’s Lilac Festival in May, the arboretum includes 1200 lilacs, a Japanese Maple collection, 35 varieties of magnolias, a barberry collection, a rock garden with dwarf evergreens, 700 varieties of rhododendron, azaleas, mountain laurel and andromeda, horse chestnuts, spring bulbs and wildflowers and a large number of trees.

Webster Arboretum garden
Webster Arboretum at Kent Park

14. Webster Arboretum


This 32.5-acre arboretum features a pond, meandering trails, rose gardens, and perennial theme gardens, with more than 50 varieties of trees and shrubs.

Public Gardens Around Rochester: Cornell Botanic Gardens
Cornell Botanic Gardens in Ithaca

15. Cornell Botanic Gardens


Listed by the National Geographic Society as one of the best public gardens in the U.S. and Canada, Cornell Botanic Gardens includes the 14 collections in the gardens, the F.R. Newman Arboretum, and the more than 4,000 acres of natural areas (fens, bogs, gorges, glens, meadows, and woodlands) belonging to Cornell University. Formerly known as Cornell Plantations.

Maplewood Rose Garden orange
Maplewood Rose Garden in June

16. Maplewood Rose Garden


Over 300 varieties of roses on a 1-acre site. Peak bloom is the second week in June celebrated during the Rose Festival.

Durand Eastman Park blossoming trees
Durand Eastman in May

17. Durand Eastman Arboretum


Slavin’s Arboretum in Durand Eastman Park offers a wide variety of mature trees. Of special note is Pine Valley, a world class pinetum of many rare and unusual conifers, and Rhododendron Valley, planted with members of the Ericaceae family.

Rochester Museum Science Center Garden
Rochester Museum and Science Center Garden

18. Rochester Museum & Science Center


The museum maintains 12 acres near the center of the city with stately trees, native wildflowers, a formal herb garden, and colorful annuals. This garden has Braille signs for the visually impaired.

Mendon Ponds Park Garden
Mendon Ponds Park

19. Sharon’s Sensory Garden


A sensory (touch, tear, smell) garden at Mendon Ponds Park Nature Center with raised beds, smooth, wide paths, and Braille and raised-lettering plant labels.

University of Rochester statues

20. University of Rochester Arboretum


This campus-wide arboretum was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Before you go, read up on the area, and print out the River Campus Tree Tour Map.

Mount Hope Cemetery Ellwanger
Mount Hope Cemetery

21. Mount Hope Cemetery


In 2009, more than 20% of the trees in Mount Hope were characterized as historic, with 250 year old oak trees, and rare specimen trees gifted to the Cemetery in 1848 by famed 19th-century horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry. Mount Hope is a rare example of rural Victorian cemetery design, a uniquely preserved urban park, a year round recreational resource and arboretum, a historic outdoor museum.

Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima pool
Our Lady of Fatima

22. Our Lady of Fatima Shrine


A Catholic shrine with a glass Dome Church with a 13 foot granite statue of Mary and intensively landscaped grounds graced by over 100 statues and a heart-shaped Rosary Pond

Japanese Gardens Buffalo entrance
Japanese Gardens Buffalo color
Japanese Gardens Buffalo water
Japanese Gardens Buffalo islands

23. Delaware Park Japanese Garden


Delaware Park, a Frederick Law Olmsted designed public park, showcases a 6-acre Japanese Garden plus several other themed gardens. Situated on Mirror Lake, the park features over 1,000 plantings, nearly 20 globe-type lights, and three small islands connected to the mainland by bridges. Don’t miss the Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival held each May.

24. Mills Rose Garden


Located in Thornden Park and set high on a hill overlooking Syracuse University, the garden is comprised of 3,850 plants and more than 360 varieties of roses.

25. Robin Hill Nature Preserve


A collection of 250 rare and interesting trees, including the oldest metasequoias in the Western hemisphere.

26. Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum

SUNY Geneseo

More than 70 species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers on 20 acres on the South Campus. Check out the majestic oaks and black walnut trees, many of them over 200 years old.

27. The Maud Gordon Holmes Arboretum

SUNY Buffalo State

Many varying species of trees, over 100 shrub beds, and numerous landscape beds featuring vibrant annuals and perennials. The campus displays greenery year-round while marking the seasons with fragrant blossoms, shade-giving trees, and luminous autumn colors.

28. Nannen Arboretum


Eight-acres with over 260 species of trees and a number of gardens including an herb garden, an American Indian Garden, a Japanese meditation garden, and a Biblical Garden, to name a few.

29. James Pass Arboretum


A quiet place to stroll and watch the birds, with specimens that are now nearly 100 years old. One of the must-see trees is a member of the legume family–a massive yellow-wood whose white flowers hang in cascading panicles.

Public Gardens Around Rochester - Ithaca Childrens Garden
Ithaca Children’s Garden

30. Ithaca Children’s Garden


The 3-acre site across from the inlet to Cayuga Lake features a wetland habitat garden with a huge Turtle Earth sculpture and a wheelchair/stroller-friendly winding stone pathway.

31. Morgan Garden

Ithaca, Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University

Designed by landscape architect Marc Peter Keane, this is a small but artistic garden in stones and moss. Access to the garden is either through the museum (admission is free) or from the stairway on the University Avenue side of the building.

Labyrinths & Zen Gardens Around Rochester

Tinker Nature Park
Labyrinth at Tinker Park

32. Tinker Nature Park


This labyrinth hopes to capture the multiple facets of David’s life; the geometry of engineering, the beauty of nature, and the inspiring nature of his leadership.

33. Daemen College


The 52 foot labyrinth that is located on the front lawn near Curtis Hall, is comprised of 1600 paving stones.

34. St. Augustine’s Church


Labyrinth is located to the left as come into large portion of the lot. Approximately 65 feet round with 50 foot path to reach entrance.

35. Unity Peace Park


The entrance is a good place to stop, reflect and set an intention for your spiritual walk.

36. First Unitarian Church


A beautiful outdoor labyrinth located down the hill from the parking lot at the edge of the garden.

37. Quiet Meadows


Quiet Meadows offers several meadow paths and a labyrinth cut into the grass on five picturesque acres overlooking Canandaigua Lake.

38. Springs Labyrinth

Clifton Springs

The Springs Labyrinth sits beside the sulfur spring-fed brook. The public is free to walk or dance or play on the path at any time.

39. Amazing Acres


The labyrinth is made up of a bed of small pebbles and larger individually chosen pathway stones. There is also a 7,000 square foot hedge maze, planted in arborvitae.

40. First Baptist Church


Free and open, located at the far end of the parking lot.

Bonus: Flower Farms

Some, like The Sunflower Field, are purely eye-candy, while others are commercial enterprise where you can pick your own, turning your day trip it into a floral experience!

Hopkins Farm

The Sunflower Field


Each and every August, neighbors of the Hopkins Farm on Clover Street are treated to a field of golden sunflowers on their daily commutes.

There are several fields used in annual crop rotations, so it moves along Clover anywhere between Calkins and Lehigh Station Roads, trading places with the soy beans, wheat and corn.

Lockwood Lavender Farm


Lockwood Lavender Farm is a 120 acre flower and fiber farm tucked in the hillside overlooking Skaneateles Lake. From the 2nd week of June through the 2nd week of July they harvest 2000 plants of 20 varieties.

Take Your Pick Flowers


Pick your own flowers in their self-service cutting gardens. Scissors, water and floral tissue are provided as well as buckets to hold your flowers while you pick.

Flower Fields


Seasonal cut flower arrangements available, and they are open for field trips.

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Where are your favorites public gardens around Rochester?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


2 thoughts on “40 Public Gardens Around Rochester”

  1. Victoria Connors

    Styers peonies at 3212 sutton road. GENEVA Is having a peony tour of their 80 acres field’s. OVER 100 VARIETies. You can email me to get more info. Dates are May 25th_June 10th

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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.