Overview - Ontario County Ontario County is in west-central upstate New York, with the city of Canandaigua its county seat. Canandaigua is about 30 miles southeast of Rochester and about 68 miles west of Syracuse. Ontario County has 15 towns and eight villages, as well as two cities – Canandaigua in the center and Geneva on the eastern edge. The county population is roughly 108,000. Ontario County is frequently called the “Western Gateway to the Finger Lakes,” and includes two of the smaller Finger Lakes, Canandaigua and Honeoye. Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, is on the eastern edge of Geneva.
Agriculture, including winemaking, and tourism are big industries here. Vacationers flock to the Finger Lakes during the summer season for boating, fishing and other water activities. Eastview Mall in Victor is one of the biggest shopping malls in the region and perhaps the most upscale. Canandaigua also has a vibrant downtown shopping district and larger, chain stores along Routes 5 & 20 (known in Canandaigua as Eastern Boulevard). Bristol Mountain Ski Resort in South Bristol attracts skiers from throughout the Greater Rochester area in the winter. The town of Hopewell has the Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center, which hosts national musical acts and is the summer home of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Canandaigua, the biggest municipality, has a lot of history, as the place where Susan B. Anthony’s trial was held in 1873 after she was arrested for voting. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Site is a popular attraction in Canandaigua as the elaborate home and gardens of a former banking magnate. Victor has Ganondagan State Historic Site, the site of a Native American community that was a vibrant center for the Seneca people. Manchester is where Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saints movement, lived in the 1800s, and several events in the movement’s early history occurred in Manchester and neighboring Palmyra (in Wayne County). Hill Cumorah in Manchester is where Smith is said to have discovered the Golden Plates, which contained writings later known as the Book of Mormon. The Hill Cumorah Pageant, held annually in the Manchester-Palmyra area, draws huge crowds from throughout the country.
Geneva is the home of Hobart and William Smith College. Finger Lakes Community College is in Hopewell. Geneva’s location on the western shore of Seneca Lake has earned the town the nickname of “Lake Trout Capital of the World.” The town has beautiful brownstones on Route 14, a scenic cruise that takes you to Watkins Glen, about 37 miles from Geneva.
The Bristol-Naples area is hilly and has a lot of wineries. Naples holds the annual, extremely popular Naples Grape Festival every fall. Naples also is known as an artist community with several galleries and has been named one of the top small towns in the country.
Ontario County has three hospitals – F.F. Thompson in Canandaigua, Geneva General in Geneva and Clifton Springs Hospital in the village of Clifton Springs.
Although Ontario County is largely agricultural, it has a nice mix of small towns and cities and the natural beauty of Canandaigua Lake, Honeoye Lake and the hilly Bristol-Naples area.