One of the oldest cities in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Canandaigua has a long history as a major crossroads. Its name derives from a Seneca word meaning "The Chosen Spot", and its position at the northern end of Canandaigua Lake certainly justifies the moniker. With a well-preserved historic downtown, a magnificent 19th-century mansion with gardens, a modern and very trendy wine and culinary center, and (of course) the always-excellent boating on the lake, Canandaigua today has just as much to offer a visitor as it did in its heyday... if not more.

Sonnenberg Mansion and gardens


Before European settlement, the principal village of the Senecas was located on a hill just north of Canandaigua Lake. It was called, in various transliterations, "Ga-nun-da-gwa", "Ganondagan", or "Kanandarque".

By the time the Treaty of Canandaigua was signed in 1794, the area had begun to be settled by white men. Canandaigua became the county seat of Ontario County, which at the time encompassed the entirety of New York west of Seneca Lake. From then until the Erie Canal opened in 1823, Canandaigua was the largest and most important community in Western New York.

Once the Canal opened, Canandaigua was surpassed in prominence by Buffalo and Rochester. But it continued to grow and in 1913 incorporated as a city.

Get in

  Canandaigua Airport (FAA LID: D38) is just northwest of the city limits, off Brickyard Road. It's small, with no commercial flights, but there are some services available, including a Hertz car rental counter. If you need commercial airline service, fly into Rochester. The same goes for Amtrak train service.

As befits a town that was once the center of activity in Western New York, there are a number of highway routes that intersect in Canandaigua. Long distance travelers will likely use the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90), which runs east-west about six miles north of the city. From the east, take Exit 43 for State Route 21; from the west, use Exit 44 and take State Route 332. Route 21 also comes in from the south, west of the Lake, connecting to Naples. State Route 5 and U.S. Route 20 (or just "5 and 20" to locals) run concurrently along the western and southern edge of the city, providing a more scenic east-west connection than the Thruway.

Get around

Canandaigua is a remarkably simple city to get around. The street grid is angled off north-south a bit, with the main drag, Route 332, heading NNW from the lake shore toward Farmington. The city's historic downtown retail strip is along the very wide 332, with secondary roads branching off. There's plenty of parking right on Main Street. Routes 5 and 20 intersect 332 a short distance north of the lake, leading to a more modern commercial strip to the east; that's where the major big-box retailers and strip malls are. Running right along the lake shore (and where you end up if you take Main Street past 5 and 20) is, appropriately enough, Lake Shore Drive; it's a scenic boulevard that provides access to lakefront attractions. Almost everything you need, as a traveler, will be within a short distance of these three roads.

If you need to rent a car, Enterprise (on Route 332) and Hertz (at the Airport) have locations just outside the city.


The conservatory at Sonnenberg Gardens


Ontario County Courthouse, Canandaigua Historic District



Downtown Canandaigua has dozens of independent retail shops that continue to thrive even with the big-box strip malls just around the corner on 5 and 20. Just about everything from furniture to fashions, from bicycles to baked goods, can be found along Main Street or nearby side streets.


First Congregational Church, Canandaigua Historic District


Go next

Routes through Canandaigua

Buffalo Alden ← Jct N S  W  E  Geneva Auburn
Buffalo Le Roy  W  E  Geneva Auburn
Williamson Palmyra ← Jct W E  N  S  Naples Andover

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 25, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.