Most Unmissable Gardens in Flower City


Rochester New York is called Flower City for more reasons than one.

Not only does it host the best Lilac Festival in the country every year, but it is also well-known for its historic flour mills, dating back to the early 19th century. With the cultivation of the mineral-rich, fertile land around the city, Rochester’s image has become intertwined with the beautiful Lake Ontario and Genesee River, which flows right past our very own Riverside Hotel.

When visiting Rochester then, you’ll want to make the most of the beautiful natural landscape surrounding the city. Alongside the stunning nature trails scattered through the city’s outskirts, one of the most direct ways to appreciate the city’s greenery is through its abundance of gardens.

The list of must-see gardens is long and, while the likes of the Sunken Garden, Ellwanger Garden, and Sonnenberg Mansion and Garden State Historic Park are well-known and well-renowned, we’ve put together a list of possibly lesser known gardens that are well-worth a visit.

Below are some of our favorites, all of which are easily accessible from the best hotels in Rochester NY.

Rochester’s flowering history

Rochester’s reputation as a booming business for flowers and botany stems back to 1830 when William A. Reynold’s established a seed growing business alongside Ellwanger and Barry’s Nursery Co. Both companies began making the most out of the mild Rochester weather, at a time when the population of the city was growing rapidly.

This led to the establishment of a whole series of public and private gardens, and more companies began to capitalize on the seed and botany trend. This led to some of the biggest plant growing businesses in the world being based here.

Rochester Lilac Festival

You may have missed the 2019 edition, but the May time Lilac Festival is one of the best of its kind. Based in Highland Park, the festival sees the bloom of the sweet-smelling plant on over 1200 bushes. With 500 different varieties, alongside food and entertainment throughout the day, the Lilac Festival starts with a vibrant parade through the city and celebrates the coming of warmer weather, something we can all appreciate!

Because this is an annual event, you can also expect some Rochester hotel deals, including several from the Riverside Hotel.

Eastman Museum Seasonal Gardens

The famous George Eastman is one of the best-known celebrities of Rochester.

With his founding of the Eastman Kodak film and camera company came an influx of culture to the city, whilst his colonial revival styled mansion can now be explored as a museum dedicated to the art and nature connoisseur’s life.

Furthermore, the gardens surrounding his house have been revived to their former glory, adhering to the layout and design of the garden when it was in its prime.

Lamberton Conservatory

With its seasonal floral displays, the Lamberton Conservatory was named after the then president of the Parks Board in Rochester. Dating back to 1911, the beautiful glass construction acts as an idyllic tropical hideaway during the bitter Rochester winter.

Filled with tropical plants, quails and even turtles, the conservatory is one of the best spots to enjoy botany out of season.

Rochester Civic Garden Center

This not-for-profit educational Garden Center was created at the end of World War II with the intention of showcasing some of the best horticultural displays in the country.  With its extensive library, weekly workshops and educational sessions for both adults and children, the Center aims to promote our understanding of the natural world and the healthy growth of plant life.