In the heart of New York’s scenic Finger Lakes region on the northern rim of Seneca Lake rests the historic, charming, and picturesque small city of Geneva. A visit to Geneva should include sampling award-winning wines, learning about the area’s amazing history, basking in the romance of an 18th-century castle, and enjoying the eclectic food scene.
The area around Geneva was once a significant Seneca village known as Kanadaseaga. European-Americans began settling in the area in the late 18th century, and the village of Geneva was first incorporated in 1806. Some say the city was named after Geneva, Switzerland because of the lakeside locale, others say it has Native American origins.
The city and town of Geneva have deep roots in farming and agriculture, which is reflected in the industries, institutions, and businesses that thrive here. The abundance of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and other locally-grown and produced foods has encouraged a home-grown culinary scene offering a variety of farm-to-table restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, specialty foods, and farmers' markets. Downtown Geneva’s Linden Street, which is closed to traffic on weekend nights in the warm weather, offers a variety of culinary options in a "uniquely urban" setting.
Seneca Lake, the deepest of the Finger Lakes at about 617 feet at its deepest point and the second-longest at about 38 miles, draws fishing and boating enthusiasts to Geneva. Geneva is also popular with golfers and a mecca for bicyclists due to the flat, rural roads, and little traffic.
Geneva was named an All-America City in 2015, and for several years in a row, it has been on the Playful City USA list.
Geneva Fast Facts
The village of Geneva was first incorporated in 1806, then again in 1812 and 1871. It eventually became the city of Geneva. The town of Geneva, which surrounds the city, was originally part of the town of Seneca, but formally became its own entity in 1872.
City of Geneva: 13,261 in the city of Geneva (2010 Census)
Town of Geneva: 3,291 (2010 Census)
City of Geneva: 5.8 square miles (including 1.6 square miles of water)
Town of Geneva: 19.1 square miles
With several miles of shoreline along Seneca Lake, the city and town of Geneva are in the southeastern corner of Ontario County about an hour away from the City of Rochester to the west and the City of Syracuse to the east. Routes 5 and 20 and Route 14 intersect in the city.
Geneva is mostly flat, surrounded by sweeping farmland. The elevation climbs gradually as you head away from Seneca Lake.
Agriculture: From family-run farms devoted to fruits, vegetables, dairy, and field crops, to research farms, the town of Geneva relies largely on agriculture.
Healthcare: Geneva General Hospital, run by Finger Lakes Health, is the largest employer.
Manufacturing: Zotos International manufactures professional hair care products; Guardian Glass makes float glass products; Vance Metal Fabricators makes large metal structures, including wine tanks for area wineries.
Food processing: Seneca Foods Corp. produces canned and bottled fruits and vegetables. The Technology Farm is an incubator for food and agriculture product development and innovation.
Higher education: Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station are based in Geneva. Finger Lakes Community College's Geneva Campus Center offers courses in becoming an EMT or Paramedic, criminal justice, human services, and other programs. FLCC's Viticulture and Wine Center is also in Geneva.
Geneva City Schools serve students in the city and town of Geneva.
St. Francis - St. Stephen's School offers Catholic education.
Key Landmarks and Attractions
Belhurst Castle: Historic landmark on Seneca Lake is a popular destination for weddings, honeymoons, and romantic getaways. The grounds include the tasting room for Belhurst Winery, Isabella Spa, and Edgar's Restaurant.
Geneva On The Lake: Built in 1914 to resemble an Italian villa, this AAA Four Diamond resort offers gourmet dining, manicured gardens, boat access, and classic gardens.
Kashong Conservation Area: 83 acres of nature trails, with a picnic area and parking. Perfect for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog walking (on leash).
Seneca Lake State Park: Swim, hike, bike, boat, and picnic at this lakeside park, which includes a sprayground, disc golf course, and two marinas.
Smith Opera House: Built in 1894, The Smith is an architectural treasure that offers the perfect venue for taking in a live performance of music, dance, theater, film, and other community events.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges: The Colleges, as they are known, are private liberal arts colleges with a scenic campus.
New York State Agricultural Experiment Station: Part of Cornell University, the Ag Station conducts applied research to help build New York agriculture.
Geneva Row Houses: Located along South Main Street, these historic row houses remind visitors of the architecture of Georgetown and Boston.
National Lake Trout Derby on Seneca Lake: Geneva is known as the “Lake Trout Capital of the World" because of its excellent fishing, and since 1964, the National Lake Trout Derby has been bringing anglers from across the United States and Canada on Memorial Day Weekend.
Cruisin’ Night Classic Car Show: On a Friday night in mid-July, the streets of downtown Geneva are closed to traffic while hundreds of proud vintage car owners show off their wheels. The event includes live music, food, and drink.
Rosé Soirée: Linden Street is closed to traffic and transformed into a wine garden dedicated to rosés. First Saturday night of June.
Musselman Triathlon: Half tri and other races let you swim, bike, and run your best. Triathlon Business International calls the Musselman the ‘Best Small Event.’ Takes place over a weekend in mid-July.
City of Geneva including Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District:www.visitgenevany.com
Town of Geneva: www.townofgeneva.com
Geneva Historical Society: www.genevahistoricalsociety.com
Seneca Lake Wine Trail: www.senecalakewine.com
Finger Lakes Times: www.fltimes.com