Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sonnenberg Gardens

(more photos)

With nine gardens, greenhouses, a historic mansion, a wine center, wine/gift shop, and a cafe, it's easy to spend a few hours at Sonnenberg Gardens -- and that's just what we did on Saturday. After wandering through a few greenhouses, we took a guided tour of the mansion, which was built by Frederick Ferris Thompson and Mary Clark Thompson in 1887.

One of the most impressive things about the house was the view of Canandaigua Lake from a second-story window -- especially when you consider, as our guide pointed out, how much more of the lake would have been visible when the surrounding trees were much younger and smaller.

After our tour, we took another look around the mansion and then walked through the gardens. The park has nine, and I think we may have missed one or two. (The admissions booth had run out of maps by the time we arrived.) My favorite spot was the Japanese Garden -- it was simple and peaceful. (Its statue of Buddha also presented the most memorable part of my park visit when it inspired a 10-year-old boy to exclaim to his father, "That's a false god!")

We finished our visit with a tasting at the Wine Center, which features New York wines. We shared a flight of five samples for $3, then bought a bottle upstairs in the shop to take home.

TIP: Even though you aren't likely to walk all of the park's 52 acres, I would suggest comfortable shoes!

NEARBY: Granger Homestead and the New York Wine and Culinary Center (although I admit I haven't been to either one yet!)

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