The Finger Lakes regions is known for its natural scenery and its vineyards. However, when you get tired of looking at waterfalls, or sampling wine, you might want to visit a different kind of destination – Sonnenberg Gardens.
Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion
Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion is a 52-acre historic state park consisting of a mansion and number of surrounding it gardens. It is located in Canadaigua, NY, at the north end of Canandaigua Lake.
The 40-room Queen Anne style mansion is located at the top of the sun-basked hill of the estate known as “Sonnenberg”, which in German means “sunny hill”.
It was built by the New York City bank financier Frederick Ferris Thompson and his wife, Mary Clark Thompson, the daughter of New York State governor Myron Holley Clark. They purchased the property in 1863 when it had only a single brick farmhouse on 14 acres. Later, the couple purchased additional acreage and, between 1885-1887, built the mansion.
Today, as stated on the official website, “visitors can view many of its stately rooms, including the impressive Great Hall, the Billiard and Trophy Rooms, the Library, Drawing Room, Dining Room, and upstairs, the Master Bedroom and several additional guest rooms.”
The mansion is surrounded by nine formal gardens: The Greenhouse Conservatory Complex (1915), The Japanese Garden (1906), The Sub-Rosa Garden (1907), The Rose Garden (1903), The Italian Garden (1903), The Blue & White Garden (1912), The Pansy Garden (1913), The Moonlight Garden (1914), The Old Fashioned Garden (1906) and Rock Garden (1920). There is also The Peacock House/Aviary (1902-1912) and Roman Bath (1914). For the description of each, see the official park website.
Most of the floral and landscape designs that you see, came from Mary Clark Thompson, who was inspired by the unique gardens seen on her many trips to Europe and Asia.
I visited Sonnenberg Gardens during the 2017 summer bicycle touring trip through the Finger Lakes region. We rode into Canandaigua during a hot summer day and took a break by visiting the gardens. While the mansion, by itself, was interesting with its history and many pieces of art and furniture, I truly enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere, and cool refreshing climate of the gardens. Another great aspect of visiting Sonnenberg Gardens is the fact, that you don’t have to fight the crowds. The attraction is visited by only about 35,000 people annually, which means, on average – 200 people a day.
If you are planning a trip to the region, and like to visit architectural landmarks of the past, you should include Sonnenberg gardens on your list of places to see. You will truly enjoy it.
One more thing that I would like to mention here. The park is missing some statues that were once located on the Sonnenberg estate. Please, check their website page showing the images of missing art, and if you know anything about it – contact the person listed on the page.
The address: 151 Charlotte Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424 (Latitude 42.89 ( 42°, 53′) – Longitude -77.27 (-77°, 16′)). Phone: (585) 394-4922 or (585) 396-7433.
The gardens are open 7 days a week, from May 1 through October 31.
Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Extended Summer Hours (Memorial Day – Labor Day): 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Admission Prices are:
|$14||Adults (Ages 18 – 59)|
|$12||Seniors (Ages 60 +)
AAA Members (w/valid member card)
|$7||Students (Ages 13 – 17 and College students w/valid college ID)
Military personnel w/ valid ID
|$2||Children (Ages 4 – 12)|
|Free||Children (Ages 3 and under)
Sonnenberg Members (regular park admission is always free for members)