Rochester’s historic inns and hotels offer unique dining experiences.
Unlike bed & breakfasts, their dining rooms are open to the public.
Unlike restaurants, they offer lodging.
Unlike modern hotels that offer both dining and lodging, these will transport you into our history as a frontier town, connected to the rest of the country by only train, boat, or stagecoach.
more than a century old
1. American Hotel of Lima
1790 – Lima
History: There has been an American Hotel on this site since about 1790. The first two were made of wood. The present day building was built in 1840. After two fires in the 1850’s, it was rebuilt in 1861 by Mr. Mosley. The hotel has been owned and operated by the Reynolds family since 1920. It is still operated as a hotel, the second floor rooms are available for rent. The Reynolds family has always resided on the third floor of the hotel.
View Menu: “The historic American Hotel, located in a 150-year-old building and a member of the National Register of Historic Places, is noted for its homemade soups, featuring unique favorites like cheeseburger chowder, Thai peanut, vegetable beef, cauliflower cheddar, and New England clam chowder.”
2. Sherwood Inn
1807 – Skaneateles
History: 1807 stagecoach stop
View Menu: “Enjoy casual-elegant dining.”
3. Farmer’s Creekside Inn
1820s – LeRoy
History: Originally constructed in the 1820’s, the earliest settlers of Le Roy built the Creekside from black Marcellus shale dug from the Oatka Creek bed.
View Menu: “Our Tavern fare is a delicious hybrid of old English, early American, and gastropub. Whether your vibe is cozy, casual comfort food or easy-breezy oysters on the patio, this menu is sure to satisfy your cravings.” Outdoor seating next to Oatka Creek makes this one of our favorite historic inns.
4. Tillman’s Village Inn
1824 – Albion
History: This historic establishment dates back to 1824, and guests can view the marvelous artifacts of centuries past throughout the restaurant. The Fairhaven Inn, built in 1837, is now owned and operated by Tillman’s Historic Village Inn, the only stagecoach house still in operation on the historic Ridge Road. Adjacent to the Cobblestone Museum.
View Menu: “Tillman’s is definitely not a museum. It’s an award-winning restaurant that has earned top marks from food critics, as well as a USA Beef Council award for menu excellence. Other honors have been bestowed for the restaurant’s signature prime rib, steak and lobster. However, this eatery is equally beloved for its old-fashioned comfort food, including pork chops, chicken, house-roasted turkey, and hickory-smoked BBQ fresh from Tillman’s in-house smoke pit. From the sea, jumbo Gulf shrimp, sea scallops, haddock, halibut, and Alaskan King Crab legs are just some of the lobster alternatives. From the grill, aged USDA Premium Choice Beef is served as 12-oz. – 36-oz. cuts of Prime Rib, as well as Filet Mignon, NY Strip, Delmonico, and 24-oz. Porterhouse steaks. What’s more, guests may add some additional zing to their beef with a dozen different steak rubs, sauces, marinades and toppings. Look for American classics like Honey Pecan Chicken, Salisbury Steak and Rack of Lamb, along with fine wines by the glass and a Kiddy Korner menu just for the tykes.”
5. Glen Iris Inn
1828 – Letchworth State Park
History: While walking along the left bank of the river, Letchworth found a large two-story frame house located near the remains of the a burned-out lumber mill. Owned by Michael Smith, the house had been built by Alva Palmer in 1828. The view was spectacular, and as he gazed toward the South overlooking the falls, he knew he had found his country retreat. Letchworth acquired the house in February, 1859 and immediately began renovations. Seasonal.
View Menu: Traditional comfort foods.
The Inn is perfectly situated overlooking the Middle Falls in Letchworth State Park.
6. Aurora Inn
1833 – Aurora
History: Originally named Aurora House, the Aurora Inn was built in 1833 by Colonel E. B. Morgan, a native of Aurora and original investor in The New York Times.
View Menu: “Surrounded by rolling farmland where heritage farms cultivate wine grapes, grow organic vegetables, produce artisan cheeses and raise grass-fed beef, the Inns of Aurora live at the center of a thriving farm-to-table culture. Executive Chef Patrick Higgins’s award-winning American cuisine takes its cue from the local bounty’s refined seasonal shifts.”
7. Big Tree Inn
1833 – Geneseo
History: In 1833 the residence of Mr. Allen Ayrault and his wife, Mrs. Bethia Ayrault, was built on this land. In 1886 the building was renovated by Mr. Wadsworth and Mr. William C. Nash to become a hotel. A large sign bearing the words “Big Tree Inn” in red letters was erected in front of the imposing mansion, thus giving it the name it carries to this day.
View Menu: “The Big Tree Inn features local, seasonal menu options and food with a purpose. Here you will find honest, wholesome cuisine where each ingredient has a purpose and speaks for itself. The tavern features many local breweries and wineries, all with outstanding products. Together, our tavern and kitchen offer marvelous pairings to create a memorable dining experience topped off with attentive and professional service in a warm and comfortable setting.”
8. Avon Inn
1840 – Avon
History: Built circa 1840, this beautiful Greek revival structure was initially the residence of Jonathan H. Gerry, a successful grower of broom corn. After 1866, it was operated as a health center that was well known from Maine to Florida. Water from the sulfur springs was used to treat rheumatism, neuralgia, malaria and other conditions. Among many “firsts,” the Avon Inn had the first central heating system in the Genesee Valley; the first elevator in upstate New York; and was the site of the first bank and post office of Livingston County.
View Menu: The Tavern has both a traditional and modern selection.
9. Asa Ransom House
1853 – Clarence
History: The original structure, which dates back to 1853, houses the library, gift shop, and snug. Our dining rooms were added in 1975 with careful concern to keep the charm of the 19th century. The South wing, completed in 1993, overlook the rear gardens and pond. The ruins of the grist mill are at the rear of the property. In 1799, the Holland Land Company offered lots 10 miles apart in what is now Clarence to “any proper man who would build and operate a tavern upon it.” A young silversmith named Asa Ransom, had been plying his trade in the little fur trading post on the shores of Lake Erie. He was among the first to accept this opportunity and in the hollow of the ledge, near a pine grove, built a log home & tavern. In 1803, he built a grist mill, the first in Erie County.
View Menu: “Our fine dining restaurant serves our B&B guests a full breakfast each morning. We serve an afternoon tea by reservation to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Wednesdays, lunch is served April thru December. Our seasonal dinner menu with extensive wine list is available Sunday and Tuesday – Friday. Saturday nights we do a five course gourmet dinner. Reservations recommended.”
10. Hotel Henry
1872 – Buffalo
History: Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center makes innovative new use of one of Western New York’s most iconic architectural landmarks. Widely considered to be one of Buffalo’s most important and beautiful buildings, construction on the 145-year-old Richardson Olmsted Campus began in 1872 and opened in 1880 as the state-of-the-art Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. Henry Hobson Richardson, who is one of “The Recognized Trinity of American Architecture,” constructed this Richardson Romanesque-style campus of buildings more than 145 years ago alongside Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, developer of the Kirkbride Plan to improve medical care for mental health patients. America’s landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, as well as Buffalo’s beautiful park system, designed the grounds and gardens throughout the campus alongside Calvert Vaux.
View Menu: “100 Acres has developed the footprint of the property’s original 19th c greenhouses to create a kitchen garden, to continue the tradition and benefits of hyper-local, urban agriculture. 100 Acres serves a multitude of ingredient-focused culinary experiences in an expansive hall, using diverse service and seating styles – all with one common menu. 100 Acres is committed to selectively sourcing the best possible product, featuring local partnered farms whenever possible.”
11. Belhurst Castle
1880 – Geneva
View Menu: “Edgar’s Steakhouse offers dining selections ranging from scrumptious breakfast to romantic candlelit dinners. Edgar’s incomparable atmosphere is set to perfection in the 1880’s Belhurst Castle. Choose from chops, game, seafood, pasta and vegetarian dishes as well as decadent desserts. In Stonecutter’s restaurant, you will find cool spirits and warm fires anytime of the year! Offering superb drinks, scrumptious tavern fare and an unmatched atmosphere.”
12. Naples Hotel
1895 – Naples
History: In 1895, Jeff R. Brown built the finest brick hotel in Ontario County. The Naples Hotel and restaurant soon became an impressive landmark, the center for dinners, wedding and banquets. Many speeches by prominent politicians, including Robert Kennedy, were delivered from the spacious front porch. The famous radio host Paul Harvey has even made his present to the hotel. The foundation of the building is three feet thick and the walls are five bricks thick! Today, The Naples Hotel and restaurant strives to maintain a lively and entertaining combination of the present with days gone by. The federal period architecture of the building is virtually as it was built.
View Menu: Italian cuisine, serving lunch, dinner, coffee and drinks.
13. Hotel at the Lafayette
1904 – Buffalo
History: Built in 1904, the landmark French Renaissance-style hotel was designed by Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first American female architect.
View Menu: “Indulge in tasty bar and grill fare at the Lafayette Brewing Company, and unique house brews at this casual hangout. At Lafayette Brewing Company, we are dedicated to great beer, great food and lots of fun! With our recently re-vamped pub menu, we know everyone will find something to love. A must see is our newly installed “bar-cade” complete with pinball machines, billiards, darts, Foosball and shuffleboard. We brew our beers on site in a 15 barrel brew house located directly below the main bar in the basement. Starting from the grain silo in our back parking lot, our brewers are creating beer right here from water, barley, hops and yeast, sometimes spices and always passion.”
14. Roycroft Inn
1905 – East Aurora
History: The Roycroft Campus, the Roycroft way of life and its story began in 1897 with Elbert Hubbard a legendary man of vision who founded the American Arts and Crafts Movement in East Aurora NY. For more than 20 years, the Roycroft Campus was a center of entrepreneurship, creativity and learning. It was a hub of activity with over five hundred working artisans and craftsmen and drew visitors from faraway places. In 1905 the Roycroft Inn was opened to accommodate visitors and artisans looking to experience this emerging community and style.
View Menu: “The Inn’s restaurant allows guests to dine among arts and crafts history. The Executive Chef’s artisan inspired menu features many locally produced and seasonal ingredients. The Sunday brunch was voted “Top 100 Brunches” by Open Table and Zagat Survey has named the Roycroft Inn “best bang for your buck.” Four dining areas offer guests relaxing ambiance and atmosphere.”
15. Geneva on the Lake
1910 – Geneva
History: Nester Villa, built in 1910. In 1979 and 1981 two brothers, developer and builder, Norbert Schickel and artist designer, William Schickel founded Geneva On The Lake and completely renovated the property. Geneva on the Lake opened to guests on Thanksgiving Day 1981 as an elegant small resort, a place of hospitality.
View Menu: “The farm fresh gardens, orchards and vineyards in Geneva and the Finger Lakes are the envy of any chef. For many years our Geneva On The Lake chef team has been sourcing the best local fruits, vegetables, cheeses and, of course, wines. Our menu features everything from fresh local juices for breakfast and vegetables for dinner to artisan cheeses, preserves and micro-greens garnishing colorful tasty party hors d’oeuvres. Many fresh herbs and edible flowers grow in the resort’s summer garden.”
Spend the day around beautiful Seneca Lake!
16. Pleasant Beach Hotel
1910 – Fair Haven/Sodus
History: Since 1910 the historic Pleasant Beach Hotel – a Victorian landmark – has offered waterside dining with spectacular views. Seasonal.
View Menu: “Since 1910 the historic Pleasant Beach Hotel – a Victorian landmark – has offered waterside dining with spectacular views. Dine on our spacious deck or eat inside and join us for cocktails while overlooking beautiful Little Sodus Bay.”
A perfect stop along the Lake Ontario Seaway Trail!
17. Curtiss Hotel
1913 – Buffalo
History: The Curtiss Hotel is built inside of the renovated historic landmark Harlow C. Curtiss building, 1913. As of June 2017, the building has undergone an $18+ million renovation by developer Mark Croce into the “Curtiss Hotel.”
View Menu: “The Chez Ami at Curtiss Hotel is a 200+ seat casual upscale restaurant with year-round patio seating along West Huron Street featuring world class dining and Western New York’s only revolving bar.”
18. The Gould Hotel
1919 – Seneca Falls
History: 2009 returned to hotel after apartments.
View Menu: Traditional tavern menu selection.
less than a century old
19. Red Coach Inn
1923 – Niagara Falls
History: Modeled after the Bell Inn in Finedon, England, The Red Coach Inn has been welcoming guests to Niagara Falls since 1923. This Niagara Falls, NY hotel is the city’s most distinctive historic structure, with its English Tudor exterior and warm English country ambiance.
View Menu: “The restaurant offers an extensive menu for fine dining at affordable prices. The chefs at our restaurant in Niagara Falls create a new feature menu for lunch and dinner each day. Our popular AAA Three Diamond restaurant was rated “Four Stars-Excellent” by the Niagara Gazette, and it was the winner of the Western New York Chef Challenge and the Taste of Buffalo “People’s Choice,” “New York” and “Best Seafood” awards. A roaring wood fire in our natural stone fireplace warms the Grill Room in winter. In summer the patio, surrounded by our beautiful garden and koi pond is a favorite dining spot. The Rapids Room, an enclosed porch with leaded-glass windows, offers a panoramic view of the majestic Niagara Rapids. Our Cruvinet wine bar has rich mahogany paneling with granite and brass accents. It features an array of vintage wines by the glass, flavored coffees, cappuccino, and beers from around the world. It is the perfect gathering place for cocktails, an after-dinner drink, or for simply relaxing with a book by the fire.”
A perfect stop when visiting Niagara Falls, USA!
20. Inn on Broadway
1929 – Rochester’s East End
History: Designed by architect Leon Stern and completed in 1929, The University Club’s main clubhouse was a showpiece and an anchor for the quickly developing East Avenue area.
View Menu: “Tournedos Steakhouse is a New York City-style steakhouse serving the best steak and seafood in Rochester. It is the only restaurant in upstate New York to feature in-house dry aged beef – hand selected and aged to perfection by our Executive Chef. Tournedos’ seafood is flown in daily, fresh from Hawaii. The steakhouse has been honored by both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines for our award winning wine list of over 550 wines from around the globe.”
You’ll find this on the Landmark Society’s self-guided walking tour of the Historic East End. It’s also the prime location for Rochester’s International Jazz Festival in late-June.
Most menu and history descriptions for each of the historic inns are from each website.
Whether it’s your first date night in Rochester or 50th, spending time exploring with your partner is a great way to connect and learn about each other.
Rochester railfans are incredibly lucky that passionate preservationists before us saw the value in retaining structures we can still appreciate today.
Some of these food destinations are well-established, while others are quickly becoming favorites as Rochester’s culinary scene explodes.
Rather than an escape, I prefer to think of these as transcending places that encourage us to transcend space, time, and state of mind.
Have you dined at any of these historic inns?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!