Follow this two-day itinerary to explore the peace gardens and area attractions in Batavia and Rochester, NY.
WAR OF 1812 HISTORY: BATAVIA
When Niagara County, including Buffalo, lay in ashes from British attack, Batavia (located halfway between Rochester and Buffalo, NY) became the rallying point in the War of 1812. Families fleeing the devastation were united and sheltered by local residents. The home of Joseph Ellicott became a hospital and officers’ quarters. The winter invasion by the British caused terrible hardship and great fear, but Batavia’s citizens proved their mettle, refusing to retreat, even amassing a small army. In July of 1814 the American Army succeeded in protecting Western New York, but the legacy of resourcefulness and hospitality in Genesee County remain.
Start your trip in Batavia, the site of the final US Army encampment following the burning of Buffalo in 1813. Your first stop is the Batavia Peace Garden, nestled in Paolo Busti Park along the Tonawanda Creek. Walk through the garden’s flowing pathways lined with colorful flowers, benches and a globe. You will also see the 20 flags waving overhead, each representing a nation honored by the International Peace Garden Foundation.
Adjacent to the garden is the Holland Land Office Museum. With free admission, you can see what equipment was once used to survey the land by Joseph Elliott and the Holland Land Company, and browse photographs to learn what old Batavia looked like. The Native American room shares the rich history of the Native American tribes of Western New York, and the Pioneer Kitchen displays household objects such as a butter churn and cast-iron pot.
Head across the street to Oliver’s Candies, the Swiss-style chalet candy shop, to find the right treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. They are known for their sponge candy, a Western New York favorite, coated in white, milk or dark chocolate – or “naked” if you so choose.
Just five minutes down the road is Batavia’s first commercial brewery in nearly 100 years. Eli Fish Brewing Company serves up plenty of New York State beverages, including the 20 beers on tap and some creative craft cocktails. They have an equally impressive food menu - from IPA Mussels and Blueberry Salad, to Pork Belly Burger and Brewhouse Jambalaya.
The food hall, an open dining space, inside Eli Fish is also home to:
But make sure you save room for America’s most famous dessert! Take a trip down the JELL-O brick road at the JELL-O Museum. Learn about the history of JELL-O, see original advertising art, and find out which flavor is the most popular.
Spend your evening at Farmer’s Creekside Tavern & Inn. Start with cocktails and live entertainment on the outdoor patio, complete with waterfront views and heated Creek Level bar. Order small plates to hearty entrees off their menu - a delicious hybrid of old English, early American and gastropub.
Drift off to sleep in one of Creekside’s beautifully appointed suites. A combination of exposed brick and pastoral artwork gives off a modern, yet timeless look.
Begin your morning with a complimentary breakfast at the inn, before heading to Genesee Country Village & Museum. The largest living history museum in New York State is home to 68 historic buildings ranging from the early 1700s to 1900. Costumed interpreters give you a glimpse of what life was like, and skilled tradesmen provide demonstrations of pottery, blacksmith, tinsmith, and more! Each summer, the museum hosts 1812 Weekend, when over 100 re-enactors portray soldiers, shopkeepers and merchants amidst the sounds of fifes, drums, cannons and muskets.
WAR OF 1812 HISTORY: ROCHESTER
Rochester is located just south of the Lake Ontario waterfront which flourishes today with fruit farms, wineries, vacation homes and estates. During the War of 1812, supplies were at a premium and enemy ships were anxious to replenish reserves. This made the Lake Ontario waterfront vulnerable to repeated attacks by British naval forces. The US Militia and local farmers, poorly trained with limited resources, banded together to protect their property and the shores of Lake Ontario.
Stop at the George Eastman Museum, the world’s oldest photography museum, located on the estate of George Eastman – the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film. From May through September, stroll through the museum’s elegant outdoor garden. While not a peace garden, this floral setting is the setting where George Eastman used to entertain his guests.
Rochester has a wide-ranging selection of places to eat – charming cafes, informal bistros and neighborhood pubs. You’ll be sure to find something that satisfies everyone, from ethnic flavors to family favorites!
Your last garden of the trip is at the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse, located on the south fence line of the property. Learn about the four encounters with the British at this location during the war, as well as the local settlers – later named the Valiant 33 – who bravely stood ready to fight the most powerful army in the world. While you’re here, climb up America’s oldest surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario for a beautiful panorama view of the great lake and surrounding area.
STOPS IN THIS ITINERARY