Mount Hope Cemetery Rochester NY

10 Ways to Savor Autumn Around Rochester

From pretty to paranormal, autumn in Rochester, New York has no shortage of unique seasonal activities! Scenic train rides, leaf-peeping in our arboretums, fall bird migrations and ghost walks happen only in autumn so take advantage of them while you can!

30 Day Trips within 30 Minutes of Rochester: Durand Eastman Park
Durand Eastman Park in Irondequoit/Rochester

1. Observe changing foliage

Pick a place with tree-diversity—it may even be your own neighborhood. Observe the autumn changes once a week, maybe on your way home from work or on Sunday mornings. I have a few favorite places I like to frequent in the fall because of their dramatic displays.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on Cayuga Lake
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

2. Witness the autumn migration

Massive migrations of waterfowl, wading birds and raptors come back through New York on their way south toward open waters. These areas around Rochester are dedicated to giving them safe harbor to eat and to rest. Bring your binoculars!

Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister
Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister

3. Take a drive

You don’t have to be in the Catskills or Adirondacks to find an inspiring view. Pick any slow-road leading out of Rochester and just drive!

Oatka Creek Park Scottsville NY
Oatka Creek Park in Scottsville

4. Take a hike

A walk anywhere in a park or forest, along a lake shore or your own neighborhood is satiating enough! I love a combination of tree-diversity, water elements, moments of canopy and vista, and a bench to take it all in. Try these!

You really can’t go wrong picking any of these trails.

Arcade and Attica Railroad
Arcade & Attica Railroad

5. Ride the rails on a scenic train

These fall foliage trains around Rochester are a unique way to enjoy the season!

Adirondack Scenic Railroad is an ambitious day trip, but enjoyable nonetheless!

It is a 2-hour drive to Utica’s Union Station, or a 2.5-hour Amtrak ride if you’d rather sit back and enjoy the scenery. The round trip on Amtrak gives you time for dinner in Utica. Grab an Uber to Nail Creek Pub, Swift’s Restaurant & Pub, or walk down to The Tailor and The Cook or Oyster Blue Restaurant & Oyster Bar.

  • Rochester to Utica train (8:36am – 10:51am) There is an earlier one too if this cuts it too close for you.
  • The Fall Foliage “No-Layover” Trip Itinerary:
    Depart Utica – 11:30am
    Arrive in Thendara – 1:30pm
    Depart Thendara – 2:15pm
    Arrive Utica – 4:30pm
  • Utica to Rochester train (8:48pm – 11:09pm)

These would probably require an overnight unless you’re feeling ambitious! I’d also recommend them more in September when the mountain regions are nearing peak foliage change.

Red Creek through Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Valley Park

6. Follow the river

Spend time along the Genesee River on its course through the City of Rochester.

Bristol Mountain
Autumn lift rides at Bristol Mountain

7. Get above the canopy

There is nothing like leaf-peeping from above the tree line!

Rochester-Area Roadside Attractions - Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany, NY
Rolling Hills Asylum

8. Take a ghost tour

Ghosts are active all year long, but there is something about October that peeks our interest in the paranormal. From storytelling to investigating, these tours help to explore “the other side” of Rochester.

9. Or a haunted hayride

These may scare you more than the ghost tours!

Pick Your Own Pumpkins

10. Fun on the farm

Grab some cider & donuts, get lost in a corn maze, and pick your favorite pumpkin on family farms around Rochester.

Debi Bower

Born, raised and living life as a digital designer in Rochester, NY! I am also a day-tripper, writer & photographer, exploring the nooks and crannies that make our part of New York State so special.

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