/ On The Road
On The Road — By Andy Hayes on July 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm
Filed under: food, hiking, outdoors, small town, top-feature

The Best of Canandaigua

I’ve been in touch for a few years with a couple of very close friends based in New York’s Finger Lakes region, in upstate New York south of Rochester.  I’ve always envied them – they seemed to live in a peaceful idyll despite a harsh winter.  I’d visited Corning, in the southeast corner of the Finger Lakes, a place filled with rolling green hills and streams.  So when I had the opportunity to spend some Canandaigua, I was excited to find out more about why this area of the US is so popular for tourists as well as folk just looking for a nice place to live.

Down on Main Street

Canandaigua, the city, has a wonderful old fashioned Main Street just like you’d expect for a proper old American town.  It’s fairly long though, so you can easily find an entire afternoon gone missing after showing up here.  I’d suggest you park, and then let your feet take you because there are a lot of storefronts and it’s hard to say what you might find if you just have a little serendipity.  Some tips:

  • Food:  Canandaigua is a culinary hotspot – you needn’t look any further than the New York State Wine and Culinary Center (map) to understand that.  There you’ll find wine tasting, beer tastings, and a menu that showcases all of New York’s best.  However, main street also has a number of tasty restaurants with only local specialities.  My personal favourite is Simply Crepes (map) – I think the picture above says a thousand words.
  • Special Tastes: These are food, but not exactly restaurants so I’d like to call out two other awesome shops I loved separately.  One is Sweet Expressions (map), where I was formally introduced to the chocolate covered potato chip. (We’ve since become great friends.)   Next door is another very cool place, F. Oliver (map).  It is oil and vinegar tasting, but you have to try it to understand.  Think peach vinegars, lemon oils, chocolate vinegar… it is out of this world.  Tastings are free and encouraged.
  • For the Body:  You have to visit Wickedly-Sent (map), a soap company also on main street.  The owners have vividly infused their personality into the business, so you’ll see a lot of fun and funky soap on display.  Having said that, I’m not a big fan of bar soaps, but I’ve been trying some and very impressed with the scent and how clean I feel afterwards.  Score!

On and Around the Lake

Canandaigua Lake is one of the most expensive lakes in the US to live on.  But just because you can’t afford property doesn’t mean it isn’t worth headed around the lake for some sightseeing.  And I, of course, have recommendations:

  • The Overlook:  That’s what is pictured above – it’s a bit hazy so not the best photo, but this spot is actually protected from development, thankfully. Because the view is nothing short of stunning.  One of the best views of Canandaigua Lake.
  • Naples:  Naples is a lovely little hamlet just south of the end of the lake.  It is there you’ll find Dallywater’s (map), which has been awarded the status ‘best tea shop in New York state’.  If I can judge by their iced tea alone, I have to say I agree.  The shop is run by a lovely couple from England – the husband is an artist, so inside there is a wonderful art gallery as well.  For more art, head next door to Artizanns (map), where you’ll find heaps of displays of local artwork available in all genres.  Naples also has the best winery in this region, Imagine Moore (map).

Over the River and Through the Woods

Last but certainly not least, the area around Canandaigua Lake is prime real estate for hiking, walking, biking, or finding a nice place to sit and enjoy the fresh air.  We’d be here for days if I tried to mention every path or trail, but a few really jumped out at me as must-mentions:

  • Ontario Pathways: This is a disused railway line that has been turned into a wonderful walking trail.  Very flat and easy underfoot – with access to lovely waterfalls like the one pictured above (near Phelps).
  • Grimes Glen:  This is a get-wet-but-enjoy-it hike that you can access from near Naples.  I didn’t get to do this one but the views look stunning.
  • Ganondagan:  This is a historic Indian site in Victor which has lots of nice trails to explore.  Perhaps you can find out why the Indians felt this area was very sacred.

For those looking for some healing and rejuvenation along with their hikes, I highly recommend you check out the Lifepath Spa over at Bristol Harbor.  The spa program offers food, hikes, and treatments in combination to maximize the spa experience.

Reflecting back on my Canandaigua experience and my original question – what is drawing people into this area – I really only have one thing to say: what’s not to like?

Disclosure:  Parts of the author’s trip were sponsored by Visit Finger Lakes; however, the opinions presented here are his own.

Related places:
  1. A
    New York Wine & Culinary Center
    800 South Main Street, Canandaigua, NY
    View Details and Book
  2. B
    Simply Crepes Cafe of Canandaigua
    101 South Main Street, Canandaigua, NY
    View Details and Book
  3. C
    Sweet Expressions
    169 South Main Street, Canandaigua, NY
    View Details and Book
  4. D
    Bed and Breakfast at Oliver Phelps
    252 North Main Street, Canandaigua, NY
    View Details and Book
  5. E
    Wick-edly Sent Soap and Candle Company
    94 South Main Street, Canandaigua, NY
    View Details and Book
  6. F
    Naples, NY
    Naples, NY, undefined
    View Details and Book
  7. G
    118 North Main Street, Naples, NY
    View Details and Book
  8. H
    Imagine Moore Winery
    197 North Main Street, Naples, NY
    View Details and Book
Tags: food, hiking, outdoors, small town, top-feature


  • Christina says:

    Thanks for highlighting what I think is one of the most wonderful hidden gems in the US, Andy. There is a piece in USA Today on the Finger Lakes region this week. Simply Crepes is AMAZING – they have a location in Pittsford (where you visited Wegmans) as well; their savory crepes are delicious, as is their creme brulee oatmeal. I honeymooned in Naples/Bristol Harbor and while expensive to live, it’s extremely affordable for vacation.

    You can see my home town – Seneca Falls – on your map! Woo hoo!

    • Andy Hayes says:

      I was really upset at Simply Crepes. I wanted one of everything :(

      I didn’t make it to Seneca Falls. Or several other places. Must return for another visit!

  • I’ve eaten at SC many times and I always TRY to get something different. The creme brulee oatmeal make it hard. LOL

    If you do go back let me know – I’ll send you to the places you might otherwise miss … that you DO NOT want to miss!

  • You did great, though!

  • Stacy says:

    I do feel lucky to live in the beautiful Finger Lakes region! Sometimes I look around on my way to work and marvel at the views. Even after six years here, they still get me.

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