My family moved to Geneva, New York, three days into the start of my junior year of high school. I was nervous about starting out, once again, as the new kid, but I was so excited to move to a new city and make a bunch of new friends. So, I put a smile on my face and walked into Geneva High with my head held high.
Now, in the unlikely possibility that you’ve actually heard of Geneva, NY, you’ve probably heard some not very nice things.
“Aren’t there gangs? Didn’t someone get killed there? Do you actually feel safe?”
I’ll tell you right now, please stop saying all that. It’s ridiculous.
After two years of living in Geneva, I left for university and didn’t think I’d ever have a chance to call Geneva home again. Strangely enough, after traveling the world and getting married, where would I end up once again? In Geneva, New York.
I thought I’d share with you why that’s actually been pretty great.
10 Reasons Why You Should Love Geneva:
1. Seneca Lake
Geneva is located at the very top of Seneca Lake, the largest of all the Finger Lakes. The colors and waves that can be seen on a windy day can honestly rival the ocean in beauty. On a warm day and sometimes even on a chilly one, you’ll see sailboats and wind surfers making their way across the waters. In the summer, couples and families walk along the shore trails enjoying the frisbee golf course, water park, and ice cream shop. Throughout the summer months, the occasional festival cheers up the night with music and entertainment. My favorite by far, though, is the winter months when the change in temperature causes the lake to steam up into the sky. It’s breathtaking.
2. Wine Galore
As a high school student, the Finger Lakes region of New York seemed a little boring. It was certainly pretty with its vineyards and lakes, but it just didn’t hold a great deal of entertainment in my opinion. The great news is that 16-year-old Grace had no idea what she was talking about. Geneva and the surrounding area is overflowing with beautiful wineries and estates that are comparable all on their own to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The area is particularly known for their delicious rieslings and I can’t recommend highly enough Three Brothers Wineries and Estates for fun, drinks, and even good shopping. It’s my absolute favorite. My husband and I have gone out wine tasting multiple weekends and are never less than impressed with what the area’s wineries have to offer for selection and venue.
3. Diverse Ideas and People
Geneva is a beautiful mess of cultures. When my husband and I left China, I was sad about the idea of leaving behind languages, different foods, and learning a way of life that is entirely different. I needn’t have been concerned, Geneva is teeming with languages and cultures. My little siblings are learning Chinese at the elementary school and already know more than I do despite a year in Beijing. I hear Spanish sometimes more than I hear English if I’m frequenting the right stores. The Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Finger Lakes Community College, and the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station all claim Geneva as home, and the community is all the more fortunate for it. They bring with them highly educated and wonderful people and organizations that pour into the community. It’s really incredible to see.
4. Beautiful Buildings
My husband and I lucked out when we moved to Geneva, because we found a beautiful apartment right in downtown Geneva. Downtown Geneva has always been my favorite part of the city because of the interesting architecture and old-city charm. We live above an old theater, and actually have a marquee we look out over. We’re around the corner from the famous Smith Opera House that is truly one of the most beautiful theaters I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen quite a few!). It’s star-speckled ceiling and dramatic colors made for a memorable high school graduation (although, I did lose my shoe while walking across the stage, so I am not soon to forget that night anyway). The Smith is only one of the many charming buildings however – the Hobart and William Smith College houses that line South Main Street, Geneva on the Lake, and Belhurst Castle just to name a few others.
5. Small Businesses
Not to brag or anything, but I had the coolest job in high school. I was a barista at a coffee and jazz house. Right here in Geneva, New York. We had live music at least once a week and I met some of the most lovely and interesting people every day. While that shop isn’t around any more, so many amazing new places are popping up all the time! Lake Drum Brewing (local ales), Stomping Grounds (beautiful items for sale), Opus Coffee, and many, many more. We even have our very own Bubble Tea Cafe. Linden Street alone is filled with interesting nooks and crannies that are overflowing with art in all its forms.
6. Delicious Restaurants
Food is something Geneva knows how to do well. For my husband’s birthday we tried out the Beef and Brew and we were blown away. It felt like we had been transported into a British Pub right in the middle of suburban America. Kindred Fare is the newest restaurant to the city and all I have heard are glowing reviews of the “spirited cookery”. I’m a big fan of the Char Burrito Bar, although it’s a huge problem that it’s only around the corner from my apartment. The Flounge and Ports Cafe certainly deserve a mention, but really the list goes on and on.
7. Local Events
The first Friday of every month is reserved for Geneva Night Out. Art exhibits are hosted by businesses downtown from 5:00-8:00 and there’s everything from theater performances to poetry. Around Christmastime, I even watched sleigh rides going around the block. In the summer, there’s the Annual Cruisin’ Night, where antique cars line the streets to show off. Definitely a sight to see! Live music is also a huge part of Geneva. You can hear performances at the local wineries, restaurants, and hotels almost every weekend. Honestly, there’s no reason to ever feel bored if you know where to look.
8. Warm Community
I have moved many places in my life and, in doing so, invested parts of my heart all over the world. Geneva, New York is one place I will never regret having given part of my heart. Its people are warm, welcoming, and unique. My husband and I work with the youth group at our church, Living Hope, and they are a bunch of great and goofy kids. I love attending Geneva school sports games because Geneva shows up loud and proud. The people I met back in high school still remember me and say “Hi” even if we haven’t spoken in years. Because that’s just what Geneva is: an old friend that will always welcome you back with a hug.
Geneva went through a terrible tragedy this past week when a man took the life of a young mother a block from my apartment. I refuse to let something that senseless, dark, and broken stain what is so beautiful. So when you hear about Geneva, I hope you remember all the reasons you should love it, because it’s worthy of all that and more.
Have you been to Geneva, New York? What is your favorite part? Leave a comment below.