Geneva, which grew up at the end of the 18th century on the banks of Seneca Lake, has an unexpected, eclectic collection of well-preserved mansions of historic and architectural significance, including examples of Greek Revival, Federal, Victorian Gothic, and Jeffersonian styles, most from the first 3 decades of the 19th century. South Main Street is lined with row houses, resembling those of Georgetown in Washington, D.C., and grand mansions overlooking Seneca Lake. Besides the "South Main Street" walking tour brochure, pick up another one called "Architectural Landmarks" (available at the Prouty-Chew House & Museum). Have a look at Pulteney Park, the original village green, and Washington, Genesee, Castle, and Jay streets to survey Geneva's architectural feast.
The Rose Hill Mansion, Route 96A, 1 mile south of routes 5 and 20 (tel. 315/789-3848; www.genevahistoricalsociety.com/Rose_Hill.htm), just east of Geneva and Seneca Lake, is an architectural landmark and excellent example of the Greek Revival style. Built in 1839, it reflects the grandeur of Geneva's early development. Once part of a sprawling lakefront farm, today it is a handsomely restored mansion with Empire furnishings; note the historically accurate and bold wallpaper. On the premises are a good information center, a short film about the house, and two antiques dealers in old carriage houses. The museum is open May through October, Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm, and Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors, $4 students ages 10 to 18, and $15 for families.
The Prouty-Chew House & Museum, 543 S. Main St. (tel. 315/789-5151; www.genevahistoricalsociety.com/PC_House.htm), is run by, and the headquarters of, the Geneva Historical Society. The building is an 1829 Federal-style home with significant late-19th-century modifications. Visitors are welcome to have a look around the house's two floors. You can also pick up a self-guided architectural walking tour map with details on about 50 buildings in Geneva. The Prouty-Chew House is open Tuesday to Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm and Saturday (and Sun in July-Aug) from 1:30 to 4:30pm. Admission is free, but donations are expected.
A $2-million renovation has returned The Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St. (tel. 866/355-LIVE or 315/781-5483; www.thesmith.org), to its original glory as a grand movie palace. Built in 1894 but given a whimsical Deco-baroque makeover in the 1930s, with fantastic murals and Moorish touches, the 1,400-seat theater was first an opera house and later a vaudeville theater. Today, it has carved out a niche showing independent and foreign art films and hosting rock and other concerts. Try to take in a movie or show; otherwise, if the box office is open and nothing is going on, ask for a peek inside.
Many of the two dozen wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail are within easy reach of Geneva.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.