Mount Hope Cemetery Rochester NY Autumn Fall Foliage

Autumn in Rochester

Autumn in Rochester offers a variety of unique seasonal activities, such as scenic train rides, leaf-peeping in arboretums, fall bird migrations, and ghost walks. From pretty to paranormal, take advantage of them while you can!

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

Durand Eastman Park Log Cabin Road November
Autumn in Durand Eastman

1. Observe changing foliage during Autumn in Rochester

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:

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Mount Hope Cemetery

Mount Hope Cemetery’s winding roads are best explored on foot for a glimpse into the area’s rich history, ecology, and geology.

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Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon Ponds is Monroe County’s most expansive park, with woodlands, ponds, wetlands, and 21 miles of color-coded trails across 2,500 acres.

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Highland Park in Rochester

Highland Park has even been described as a museum of exotic trees, many of which are the tallest of their species in the state, though few are native.

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Webster Arboretum at Kent Park

Covering 32 acres, the arboretum boasts a pond, winding paths, various trees and shrubs, and formal gardens with over 200 daylily cultivars.

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Durand Eastman Park

Durand Eastman Park’s 977 acres include an arboretum, hiking trails around Durand and Eastman Lakes, and a swimming beach on Lake Ontario.

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Montezuma NWR
Montezuma

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 a safe harbor to eat and rest. Bring your binoculars!

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Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

At 10,828 acres, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is the state’s largest refuge. Alabama Swaps amasses 19,000-acres designated for wildlife.

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Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is a 7,000-acre preserve located on the north end of Cayuga Lake, under one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway.

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Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area

If you’re cruising on Edgemere along the ponds, or on the parkway near Manitou, you’re enjoying the Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area.

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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. There are lots of scenic overlooks to enjoy along the way.

My personal favorite! County Road 21, 12, 33, 34, or 36 to Naples. Stop at the “jump off” in Ontario County Park, Harriet Hollister, or Bristol Mountain along the way.

Lake Ontario Seaway Trail east to Huron or west to Olcott

Route 96 to Seneca Falls and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Route 15-15A loop around Hemlock Lake

Drive through Letchworth from Mt. Morris to the Glen Iris Inn.

Route 20 east to Skaneateles or Lafayette or Cazenovia

Route 98 to Salamanca and Little Rock City

Route 20A west to East Aurora

Route 19 to Rushford Lake

Seriously, I could keep going! If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments. And check out our Google Maps, pinned with overlooks and scenic vistas.

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Explore Routes 5 & 20

Routes 5 & 20 is a 67-mile stretch of scenic highway where NY-5 & US-20 converge, following an ancient foot trail of the region’s first people.

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Explore The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail

The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail runs along the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, from Fort Niagara in Youngstown to Fort Ontario in Oswego.

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Holley Falls trail
Holley Canal Falls

4. Take a hike

A walk anywhere in a park or forest, along a lake shore, or in 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!

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22 Fabulous Fall Hikes in Monroe County

Our favorite fall hikes offer a variety of elements and views. The presence of water, trees, and solitude helps rank these high on our list.

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Holley Canal Falls

Holley Canal Falls is located in the heart of the Village of Holley. The water that flows into the glen is overflow from the Erie Canal.

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Gorge Trails Near Rochester

Gorge trails call out from their deep, dark, and cool caverns. If you haven’t already, start checking these spectacular trails off your list.

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80+ Hiking Trails Around Rochester

Less traveled than in our parks, these hiking trails around Rochester offer a secluded and rustic area to immerse yourself in nature.

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22 Monroe County Parks

Monroe County parks are free and offer 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical, and geological experiences.

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50 New York State Parks Within a Two-Hour Drive of Rochester

Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a two-hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them unique.

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Arcade and Attica Railroad
Arcade and Attica Railroad

5. Ride the rails on a heritage train

If you want to relive the transportation of yesteryears, there are four heritage train museums around Rochester offering a unique and immersive experience. Each museum takes you back in time to witness the evolution of rail transportation through the ages, from the early steam engines to the modern electric trains. You will get to see and even ride on some of the well-preserved vintage trains that were once the backbone of the transportation industry. These museums are perfect for train enthusiasts, families, and anyone looking for a fun and educational experience.

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All Aboard! Ride the Rails at These 4 Heritage Train Museums

Listen to the rhythmic chugga-chuggas and whistling choo-choos while enjoying the scenic landscape passing by on a Rochester-area train ride.

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Autumn in Rochester: 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. Follow the Genesee River Alliance to find out when guided hikes along the river are offered or enjoy an independent walking tour.

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Roc the Riverway Weekend: October 6–8, 2023

Enjoy Roc the Riverway Weekend with activities highlighting the beauty, history, and significance of Rochester’s majestic Genesee River.

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Exploring The Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the river merges with the Erie Canal and continues north through Rochester before reaching Lake Ontario.

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Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

You can climb the 40-foot tower in the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse and enjoy the view of Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, and Ontario Beach Park.

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Maplewood Park & Rose Garden

Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls to just north of Route 104, ending at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee.

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Genesee Valley Park

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1888, find Genesee Valley Park where the Erie Canal, Red Creek, and Genesee River intersect.

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Turning Point Park

Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572-foot-long boardwalk over the Genesee River Turning Basin.

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Seneca Park and Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is only a small part of the 297-acre Seneca Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893.

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Explore Livingston County

Take a drive through the Livingston County countryside to explore charming village Main Streets, historic districts, nature trails and lakes.

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Autumn in 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!

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🍁 Fall Foliage: 7 Breathtaking Views Near Rochester

If you’re looking for picturesque autumn scenery, these locations offer stunning fall foliage and unique landscapes.

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Bristol Mountain in the Fall

In the fall, the Comet Express lift is open Noon-4pm for folks to enjoy a quiet and scenic ride to the summit of Bristol Mountain.

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Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area

Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area is a New York State Park located in the hills six miles south of Honeoye Lake.

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The Jump-Off Trail

The Jump-Off Trail on Gannett Hill is wheelchair-accessible and offers one of the most breathtaking scenic views in the Finger Lakes Region.

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

8. Take a ghost tour

Ghosts are active all year, but something about October piques our interest in the paranormal. From storytelling to investigating, these night trips help explore Rochester’s other side.

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Paranormal Activities: Our Favorite Haunts for 2023

There is something about October that piques our interest in paranormal activities. Explore the other side of Rochester!

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Powers Farm Market
Powers Farm Market

9. Or a haunted hayride

These may scare you more than the ghost tours!

Powers Farm Market (Pittsford) *least scary

Verhulst Haunted Hayride (Spencerport) *scariest

Powers Farm Market
Powers Farm Market

10. Fun on the farm

Grab some cider and donuts, get lost in a corn maze, and pick your favorite pumpkin on family farms around Rochester. There are also harvest festivals, like Genesee Country Village’s Agricultural Fair.

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🎃 Pumpkin Patches & Farms Around Rochester

Experience the perfect autumn day at our Rochester-area pumpkin farms with wagon rides, fresh apple cider and donuts, and corn mazes.

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🍎 Apple Everything! Rochester’s best ciders, fry cakes, fritters, pies, and more

Come mid-September, we begin to crave all things apple. Apple cider. Apple cider donuts. Apple fritters. Apple pie. And warm fry cakes.

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🍎 Apples: 16 Places to Pick Your Own

Many of our farms offer a family-fun experience, with hay rides, cider & donuts and activities for the kids, in addition to pick your own apples.

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What are your favorite ways to enjoy autumn in Rochester?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of daytrippingroc.com and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

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