Local Treasures of Canandaigua, NY

There are so many things to do in and around Canandaigua, NY, that one blog post can’t possibly do it justice. However, I have several favorites for which we have been repeat visitors, so those are what I’d like to focus on for today’s post. First of all, the scenery is fantastic. Canandaigua is a charming, historic village along Canandaigua Lake with a variety of shops and restaurants that make a brief visit to the village worthwhile.

If you choose to just hop in and check it out, I strongly recommend visiting the restaurant Rheinblick at 224 South Main Street for lunch or dinner, even if you’re not sure that German food is up your alley. (They also have a gluten free and vegetarian menu.) In college, I spent a semester in Germany, and the food here is just as good as any place along the actual Rhine River (spelled Rhein in German). The beer and wine are authentic – NOT American Heineken, but actually from Germany. My favorite appetizer is the Fried Pickles.

If you’re stopping by and have little children with you, make sure you do not miss the Unique Toy Shop at 120 South Main Street. With so few dedicated toy stores remaining, it’s a real treat when you find one, and the Unique Toy Shop will not disappoint.

For a full day’s visit, there are several options depending on your interests. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Roseland Water Park. This water park is smaller than Water Safari or Seabreeze, but it is good for all ages and lots of fun. There is food available for purchase, or you can eat a picnic lunch on the picnic tables outside the main gate. The park offers water slides of several different sizes, wave pool, splash park, lazy river and the Roseland Wake Park (including private lessons available for beginners). They open at 11 am all summer, and closing hours are posted on their website.
  2. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park. This 50-acre property is one of only two public gardens maintained by New York State Parks. Although it’s not specifically geared towards children, it is fun for all ages, and my kids adored this place when they were just 7 and 9. The gardens are large and varied with lots of statues and hidden nooks and crannies, and the entrance desk gave us a scavenger hunt to complete. The mansion is beautiful and interesting, and it is a popular spot for weddings. If you like wine, check out their Finger Lakes Wine Center Tasting Room, which is open from 12 – 3:30 pm daily. The park is open 9:30 am – 5:30 pm through Labor Day.
  3. Granger House and Homestead. Tours are available of this historic home mid-day. I have only been here for the authentic German Christkindl Market in November (which I strongly recommend – mark your calendar for November 8 – 10, 2019), and I’m hoping to make it back for a tour this summer. There is a combination pass available for a discount if you also visit Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion.
  4. Kershaw Park Beach and Bathhouse. If you want to enjoy the beautiful waters of Canandaigua Lake, head to Kershaw Park. Beach hours are 11:00 am to 7:00 pm through this weekend, but starting July 1st the beach is open 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
  5. Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail. For those who like wine, this is a great area to visit. Heron Hill is my favorite among the Canandaigua wineries, but there are several good options to visit. Tour companies are available to help with the driving.
  6. Finger Lakes Beer Trail – Canandaigua Loop. For beer drinkers, definitely a fun day with over 30 breweries to visit. Tour companies are available to help with the driving.
  7. Canandaigua Lake State Marine Park. If you have a boat, this would be a great starting point for exploring the lake.
  8. Cycling. If you like bicycling, here is a link to several trails in the area.

The options abound in Canandaigua, and I haven’t covered everything. There are many things nearby, as well, so you could easily spend several days exploring. The places described above will give you a few suggestions to get you started. Don’t be afraid to explore, though. That’s how we found Rheinblick – just driving down Main Street looking for a place to grab a bite. Either way, Canandaigua is a fun place for a day or a weekend. Enjoy!

Lake House Gifts, Auburn, NY

Owner:  David Mazzeo

Address:  3953 East Genesee Street Road (Rte. 20), Auburn, NY

Phone:  (315) 685-1984

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/LakeHouseGifts/about

If you’re heading to the Dickens Festival in Skaneateles either this weekend or next, it’s only a short two-mile drive west from Skaneateles on Route 20 to reach Lake House Gifts.  That quick drive will be well worth the time!  This store is a true gem, and anyone who lives nearby probably knows it well, but if you don’t drive on Route 20 between Auburn and Skaneateles on a regular basis, you may not have heard of it.

A picture of the storefront taken in spring by the owner; the cars out front blocked my picture

As stated on their Facebook page, Lake House Gifts works to promote the Finger Lakes region and all of the things that make it a great place to live and a fun region to visit.  Therefore, it only fits that they sell a number of products that can be customized for your favorite Finger Lake.  There are personalized wine glasses, cutting boards, signs, and multiple other items available.  Look for the shelf by the front windows with hand-thrown pottery by Harvey (made in Pennsylvania), which have the names of the Finger Lakes imprinted on the side.  In the picture below, I have shown a small assortment of  clocks and artwork that have an aerial view of the Finger Lakes etched into wood.

For those who love boating, a hefty section of the store is devoted to all things boat-related.  Clocks made from helms; key chains, letter openers, and business card holders decorated with scrimshaw; model boats; cast iron mermaid statues; and my personal favorite, the candelabra chandelier on the left in the picture below made from an anchor.

A small selection of items aimed at boating enthusiasts

Next up, the furniture is handmade and truly special.  In my Wildflowers Armory post, I mentioned I have a weak spot for pieces made from natural wood, and there is a wide selection of natural wood furniture at Lake House Gifts.  Several standouts include a beautiful kitchen island with drawers and a towel rack; a decorative shelf in the shape of a rowboat; an Adirondack Chair with a back made from old skis; and the cabinet below, made out of an old barrel.  If I had a place to put it and more money to burn, I would have gladly walked out with this cabinet (which was on sale, too, so it was especially hard to walk away).

An old barrel that opens up as a cabinet, with a big shelf in the middle

The store has two large rooms, and so far I have described items that are found up front.  The back room has a number of heavily discounted items, including unusual lamps and clocks, as well as several collections of items displayed by theme (cats, dogs, the Yankees, firefighters, travel, wild animals, farm animals, fishing, hunting, and much more).  Since I know a few firefighters, I’d like to feature the shelf with items for firefighters below.  

Great gifts for the real-life heroes in your life

In both rooms, artwork abounds.  The store carries art that is appealing to a variety of tastes, and not just one style.  In particular, I liked the Collector metal signs.  As a child of the 1980’s, I especially liked the one with Smokey the Bear that reads, “Only You.” There are a ton of old signs for sale, including U.S. Marine Corps, Route 66, I Love Lucy, Coca-Cola, James Dean, and much more.

Moving back to the front room, there is a cute section with puzzles and old-fashioned games for kids (such as Jacks, Hopscotch, and Jumbo Checkers).  Not too far from that section, there are funky wine caddies made out of metal, which would make a truly unique gift for any wine lover.  The store contains a variety of local food products, such as honey and maple syrup, as well as jewelry, clothing, cute signs, and many of the typical items you might look for in a gift shop. 

I want to be sure to mention my favorite item – the best coasters in the world, which I bought a while ago from Lake House Gifts.  Shown below, these woven mats come in several larger sizes as well, including hot mats, decorative mats, and rugs.  Made by Earthrugs, these mats are absorbent, lightweight, inexpensive, and come in a variety of designs for any time of year.  Maybe the items shown below aren’t your style, but there are many other patterns available.


Though a quick stop would be possible, I recommend planning to spend at least 30 minutes browsing the store in order to fully appreciate the selection of gifts available.  There are tons of items that would make nice teacher gifts or grab bag gifts, and probably something for just about everyone on your list.