The Best Day Trips Around Rochester survey

Best Day Trips From Rochester

We’re so excited to reveal the results of our 2021 Best Day Trips Around Rochester survey—each recommended and voted on by you and others who love exploring the Greater Rochester region and beyond.

So, without further adieu, here are your favorites for 2021!

General Categories

  1. Potpourri
  2. Water
  3. Parks
  4. City/Town/Village
  5. Festivals
  6. Museums
  7. Farms
  8. Winter

Didn’t get the chance to participate in the 2021 survey? We’ve already kicked off the 2022 survey which will be open through late-summer, 2022 to encourage the most participation.

1. Best Hidden Gem

Corbetts Glen
Corbett’s Glen

Corbett’s Glen

Winner, with 24% of the vote

I am always surprised by how many people drive past Corbett’s Glen every day and don’t realize it’s there. Truly a hidden gem! The glen may have been a story of the past had it not been for this nature-loving community.

Runners Up:

Grimes Glen

Stony Brook State Park

Sunken Garden

21 Hidden Places Around Rochester

Explore some of our hidden gems this week! There’s no time like the present to start checking some off these extraordinary places your list.

Read more

2. Best Roadside Attraction

Hopkins Farm Pittsford Clover sunflowers Wells Barn
Hopkins Farm

Hopkins Farm Sunflower Field

Winner, with 34.9% of the vote

Each August, neighbors of Hopkins Farm on Clover Street in Pittsford are treated to a field of golden sunflowers on their daily commutes. People from outside the immediate area start asking, “Are they blooming yet?” and “Where did they plant the field this year?” and word starts to travel.

There are several fields used in annual crop rotations, so the sunflowers move along Clover anywhere between Calkins and Lehigh Station Roads, alternating places with the soy beans, wheat and corn.

Runners Up:

High Falls in Rochester

The Windmill Farm & Craft Market

42 Quirky Roadside Attractions

Spend a day checking out these unique and unusual roadside attractions, like shoe trees, a skeleton army, and a metal dragon, within 2 hours of Rochester.

Read more

3. Best Place for People-Watching

Rochester Public Market
Rochester Public Market

City of Rochester Public Market

Winner, with 28% of the vote

With 40,000 visitors on a busy day, and an estimated 2.4+ million visitors annually,1 the Public Market seems like the perfect place to people-watch.

Runners Up:

Park Ave

Rochester Lilac Festival

The Great New York State Fair

4. Best Place to Take an Out-of-Town Guest

Letchworth-State-Park-summer-middle-falls
Letchworth

Letchworth

Winner, with 19.6% of the vote

Letchworth State Park comprises 14,350 linear acres along the Genesee River. The park offers a diverse experience for all visitors.

Relax beside a massive waterfall, hike the gorge and woodland trails, fish in the park’s pond, ride in a hot air balloon, whitewater raft, dine at the Glen Iris Inn, learn about the local history of the Seneca people and Mary Jemison or the geology of Upstate New York.

Runners Up: Interestingly, all food & beverage experiences!

Finger Lakes Wineries

Wegmans

City of Rochester Public Market

5. Best Place to Enjoy Live Music

CMAC
Photo from Facebook

CMAC

Winner, with 58.7% of the vote

Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center (CMAC) in Canandaigua offers a state-of-the-art stage for national talent, musical theatre, dance, and ballet in addition to being the summer home of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Runner Up:

Ontario Beach Park

6. Best Performing Arts Centre

Jesus Christ Superstar Auditorium Theatre
RBTL Auditorium Theatre

RBTL and GEVA

Winners, both receiving 26.9% of the vote

Rochester Broadway Theatre League and Geva Theatre (short for Genesee Valley) are the perfect compliments! With RBTL, you get the 2,500-seat touring Broadway productions. With Geva, 550-seat intimate performances. Together, they offer a well-rounded year of entertainment.

Runners Up:

Eastman Theatre

CMAC

7. Best Scenic Drive

Canandaigua Lake Scenic Overlook
Canandaigua Lake

Between Canandaigua and Naples

Winner, with 36.6% of the vote

Enjoy any combination of NY-21, CR-16 West Lake Road, and CR-12 between Canandaigua and Naples.

Keep heading south a bit more on NY-21 to stop at Lynnie Lou’s for ice cream and the Olde Country Store and More in North Cohocton for a huge selection of candies and local flavors.

Wind your way through the Bristol Hills along CR-33 West Hollow Road, CR-34 between Bristol Mountain and Gannett Hill, and NY-64.

It’s one of our favorite drives, too, so we’ve put together a handy-dandy Google Map of places you can enjoy along the way. Also useful if you’re heading down for Naples Grape Festival.

Runners Up:

NY-89 between Seneca Falls and Ithaca

Lake Ontario Seaway Trail

8. Best Place to View Fall Foliage

Letchworth in Autumn
Letchworth

Letchworth

Winner, with 57.6% of the vote

This is the best time to enjoy the entirety of Park Road, from Portage to Mount Morris, winding 16-miles through diverse tree collections and vistas.

Each Genesee River valley overlook throughout Letchworth offers a stunning view of trees, trees, and more trees.

Runner Up:

Mount Hope Cemetery

Fall Foliage: 7 Breathtaking Views Near Rochester

These destinations offer colorful fall foliage and varied landscapes so you can appreciate them each in their own unique way.

Read more

9. Best Scenic Overlook

Letchworth
Letchworth

Letchworth

Winner, with 44.1% of the vote

As the winner for Best Fall Foliage, it was no surprise to see Letchworth taking best scenic overlook as well.

Beautiful all year long, the overlooks throughout the park offer visitors a glimpse into the Genesee River Valley far below and the fertile countryside beyond.

Runners Up:

Chimney Bluffs

Cobb’s Hill

10. Best Place to Watch the Sun Rise or Set

Hamlin Beach State Park sunset
Hamlin Beach State Park

Anywhere Along the Lake Ontario Shore

Winner, with a combined 71.3% of the vote

“Anywhere along the Lake Ontario Shore” was one of our top answers, but when combined with other suggestions—Chimney Bluffs, Hamlin Beach, Marge’s Lakeside, Charlotte Pier and Webster Pier—it was a landslide.

Great news if you’re driving along the Lake Ontario Seaway Trail as the sun skims the horizon. Stop anywhere and enjoy the view

Runners Up:

Cobb’s Hill

Letchworth

Canandaigua Lake

11. Best Place for Stargazing

Hemlock Lake staircase
Hemlock Lake

Hemlock Lake

Winner, with 33.6% of the vote

Hemlock Park offers a place to sit under one of the darkest skies in our part of the state.

Free from buildings along the lake shore—to protect the source of Rochester’s municipal water—and far enough south of the city, light pollution is a non-issue.

With the wide-open view of the Universe, it’s the perfect place to gaze into the Milky Way and view 2,000 thousand suns beyond our own solar system.

Runners Up:

Cobb’s Hill (I was actually surprised by this one, given the light pollution overlooking the city…)

Ontario County Park (Gannett Hill is also home to C. E. K. Mees Observatory)

The Darkest Sky Near Rochester

Locations northeast of Rochester close to Lake Ontario, or south of US-20 in the Finger Lakes will offer the darkest sky near Rochester.

Read more

12. Best Waterfall

State Parks Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls

Winner, with 21.6% of the vote

Even though Taughannock lacks the power and grandeur of Niagara Falls, at 215 feet it’s actually taller—the tallest free-falling waterfall in the northeastern United States.

The photo above shows the view from the observation area located outside the state park, making it free to stop and enjoy from afar.

Head into the park and walk the relatively flat 3/4 mile gorge trail to the base of the fall.

Runners Up:

Letchworth

Niagara Falls

32 Roadside Waterfalls Near Rochester

Impressive waterfalls are not all buried in dark ravines accessible only by difficult trails. And for some, you do not need to get out of your car.

Read more

13. Best Spot to Enjoy the Genesee River

High Falls Genesee River Rochester view
High Falls

Genesee Brew House

Winner, with 28.2% of the vote

With balcony and rooftop seating, Genesee Brew House provides the perfect spot to enjoy a meal and a cool beverage while looking out over Rochester’s unique skyline beyond High Falls.

Located within walking distance of Frontier Field—home to Rochester Red Wings baseball—it’s the perfect place for a pre-game brew with a view.

Runners Up:

Letchworth

Turning Point

13 Places in the City to Enjoy the Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the Genesee River begins her journey through the city, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario.

Read more

14. Best Place to Access the Genesee

Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Valley Park

Genesee Waterways Center

Winner, with 49.5% of the vote

Located in Genesee Valley Park, explore the river and the canal with a half- or full-day kayak rental.

Runners Up:

Charlotte Boat Launch

Black Creek Boat Launch

15. Best Water Trail

BayCreek Paddling Center
Photo from Facebook

BayCreek Paddling Center

Winner, with 29% of the vote

Rent canoes, solo kayaks, tandem kayaks and stand up paddleboards by the hour to explore from their docks on Irondequoit Creek and Bay.

Most paddlers head up-creek into the wetlands of the Secret Wilderness.

They also offer a shuttle service that takes you and your rental from I-Bay to Ellison Park where you can explore 4-5 miles of the creek floating back toward the bay.

Runners Up:

Erie Canal

Black Creek (also Black Creek Park and Churchville Park)

Canadice Lake and Canadice Lake Outfitters

Water Trails: 58 Places to Explore Rochester’s Waterways

Paddle your way to peace and quiet along Rochester’s water trails. Use these launches for canoes, kayaks, and small motorized watercraft.

Read more

16. Best Spot to Enjoy Lake Ontario

Hamlin Beach
Hamlin Beach

Hamlin Beach

Winner, with 24.4% of the vote

Hamlin Beach State Park has seven miles of beautiful biking and walking trails.

There are plenty of shaded picnic areas perfect for reading a book with your toes in the sand or to rest after a swim at one of the guarded beaches.

Runners Up:

Chimney Bluffs State Park

Ontario Beach Park

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.

Read more

17. Best Finger Lake

Canandaigua Lake
Kershaw Park

Canandaigua Lake

Winner, with 29.7% of the vote

Canandaigua Lake is home to the smallest island—Squaw Island—one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes (the other on Cayuga).

Take a walk on the Canandaigua City Pier and check out Boathouse Row. Interesting fact: Homeowners are prohibited from actually living in these boathouses—they are for daytime use only.

You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes, but take your time and enjoy the view.

Runners Up:

Keuka Lake

Seneca Lake

Spend a Day in the Finger Lakes Region

The Finger Lakes Region is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and right in our backyard! It is easy to get out there and explore.

Read more

18. Best Lake Other than a Great Lake or Finger Lake

Green Lakes State Park Green Lake bench
Green Lakes State Park

Green Lake

Winner, with 39% of the vote

Green Lake, along with Round Lake, is part of Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville.

Enjoy a swim at the guarded beach, a walk around both lakes, or find a nice spot to relax and take in the water’s unique color and clarity.

Runners Up:

Durand and Eastman Lakes

Chautauqua Lake

39 Other Great Lakes Near Rochester

Rochester is well-known for our 11 Finger Lakes and 2 beautiful Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie. But there are even more fantastic, fresh-water lakes out there to discover!

Read more

19. Best Swimming Beach

Hamlin Beach

Hamlin Beach

Winner, with 36.8% of the vote

Areas 3 and 4 offer a guarded swimming beach and concessions.

Runners Up:

Fair Haven Beach State Park

Sodus Point Beach

Kershaw Park Beach

39 Natural Swimming Holes

On a hot day, you can sit under a waterfall, swim in a lake, or jump in a creek at one of these refreshing natural swimming areas.

Read more

20. Best Hiking Trail

Letchworth-State-Park-hiking
Letchworth

Letchworth

Winner, with 27.2% of the vote

There are 28 marked trails on the Letchworth State Park trail map (north and south), including the Finger Lakes Trail that extends across southern New York State.

The most popular is Trail 1—the Gorge Trail—that guides hikers for seven miles along the meandering Genesee to water falls and scenic overlooks.

You’ll see quite a bit of this trail as you drive along Park Road between St. Helena and Upper Falls.

Runners Up:

Mendon Ponds Park

Chimney Bluffs State Park

73 Hiking Trails Around Rochester

A few rustic trails around Rochester that will inspire you to take a hike. A diverse collection of rail, waterside, and inland trails.

Read more

21. Best Gorge Trail

Watkins Glen Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

Watkins Glen

Winner, with 34.3% of the vote

Watkins Glen State Park is located in the heart of the small town of Watkins Glen, at the southern tip of Seneca Lake. The glen is two miles long—perfect for a day trip.

Though the park features a well-maintained walking path, it’s not an easy stroll, nor is it accessible. The gorge trail can be wet with spray, and the majority of the walk is up 800 rock stairs if you go the entire length. The elevation rise from the Main Entrance to the Upper Entrance is 520 feet.

That said, it’s also one of the most transcending, awe-inspiring, and wondrous displays of nature’s beauty on Earth.

Runners Up:

Letchworth

Grimes Glen

Gorge Trails Near Rochester

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

Read more

22. Best Biking Trail

erie canalway trail
Erie Canalway Trail

Erie Canalway Trail

Winner, with 55.8% of the vote

Enjoy active and historic sections of the Erie Canal, rural, suburban, and city communities along the Canalway Corridor. The 365-mile trail between Albany and Buffalo is mainly off-road.

Runners Up:

Genesee Riverway Trail

Lehigh Valley Rail Trail

23. Best City Park

Highland Park in June
Highland Park

Highland Park

Winner, with 42.1% of the vote

Frederick Law Olmsted designed this park in 1888—along with Genesee ValleySeneca, and Maplewood—to be experienced year-round.

Highland Hill is part of the greater Pinnacle Range that defines the southern border between the City of Rochester and Brighton.

Every pathway, every tree, every vista, and every relationship between the land, the water and you is intentional.

Runners Up:

Durand Eastman Park

Cobb’s Hill

23 City of Rochester Parks

Many of our City of Rochester parks have beginnings embedded in Rochester’s youth. Some were even designed by notable landscape architects.

Read more

24. Best Town or Village Park

Corbetts Glen North tepee
Corbett’s Glen

Corbett’s Glen

Winner, with 35.6% of the vote

Most folks are familiar with the Allens Creek area of the park. But Corbett’s Glen is actually divided into two distinct areas—Corbett’s Glen North and Corbett’s Glen South.

Start your exploration of Corbett’s Glen from the north, parking in the eight-car lot located off of Penfield Road, across from Forest Hill Road.

Corbett’s Glen North encompasses roughly 34 acres of land. The trails are relatively smooth, with portions that cut into the creek valley and down toward the glen and Allens Creek.

Follow the trails as they lead you through Corbett’s Glen South to find Tunnel and Postcard Falls. The pathways are easy to navigate and they crisscross and loop each other allowing you to choose your own adventure.

Runners Up:

Tinker Nature Park

Pittsford Canal Park (I’m not aware of this park, so I’m interpreting it to either mean the Port Of Pittsford Park in the village, or Lock 32 Canal State Park. Feel free to leave a comment below if you know.)

Channing H. Philbrick (Linear) Park

Our Favorite 5 Town Parks to Explore

These town parks have a unique offering of woods, wildlife, and water features to explore walking paths ranging from pavement to boardwalk.

Read more

25. Best Monroe County Park

Rochester's Geographic History: Mendon Ponds Park Devils Bathtub
Devil’s Bathtub

Mendon Ponds Park

Winner, with 43.4% of the vote

Mendon Ponds Park is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms.

In 1969, it was named to the National Registry of Natural Landmarks due to its geologic history and presence of significant kames, eskers, and kettles.

Visit each and every season to appreciate the bold-blue ponds in summer, the reflection of colored trees in the Devil’s bathtub in autumn, the bright-white hills in winter, and the rebirth of Sharon’s Sensory Garden in spring.

Runners Up:

Highland Park

Durand Eastman Park

21 Monroe County Parks

Monroe County parks are free, so take advantage of 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical and geological experiences!

Read more

26. Best New York State Park

Letchworth-State-Park-new-train-bridge
Letchworth’s Upper Falls

Letchworth

Winner, with 47.3% of the vote

There are several entrances into Letchworth from the north, south, and west.

Visitors use the Castile entrance as the most direct route to Lower, Middle and Upper Falls, Glen Iris Inn, Visitor Center, Council Grounds, Trout Pond, and the Nature Center.

To give you an idea how large this park is, it takes 30 minutes to drive 16-miles from the Mount Morris entrance to the Glen Iris Inn. And what a lovely drive it is!

If you see a sign for a scenic overlook, stop! You won’t regret it.

Runners Up:

Watkins Glen

Stony Brook

49 New York State Parks Within a 2-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 each unique!

Read more

27. Best Forest or Woodland

Mendon Ponds path
Mendon Ponds

Mendon Ponds Park

Winner, with 65.6% of the vote

Finding yourself surrounded by trees is healing and regenerative. According to the NYS DEC,

“…research is showing that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health.”

The ten marked trails through Mendon Ponds guide you through the woodlands over rolling hills, and vary in length and intensity. Download the trail map before you head out.

Runner Up:

Hemlock-Canadice State Forest

28. Best Spot for Bird-watching

Mendon Ponds Park birdsong trail
Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon Ponds Park

Winner, with 38.2% of the vote

Not only a great place for bird-watching, along the Mendon Ponds Birdsong Fairy Trail you can feed them, too!

Come with plenty of black oil sunflower seeds, especially during winter and early spring when food is scarce—the chickadees and nuthatches will land right in your hands.

Runners Up:

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area

29. Best Garden or Arboretum

Lamberton Conservatory seasonal display house

Lamberton Conservatory + Highland Park

Winner, with a combined 61.9% of the vote

Because Lamberton Conservatory is actually in Highland Park, we combined the votes to crown them both winners, though they would have taken first and second place separately anyway.

The vast and diverse collections of flowers, bushes, and trees throughout the park offer surprise-and-delight in every season.

Runners Up:

Sonnenberg Gardens

Webster Arboretum

40 Public Gardens Around Rochester

Enjoy a peaceful afternoon at one of these arboretums, labyrinths, estate gardens, or botanical gardens, all within a 2-hour drive of Rochester.

Read more

30. Best Nature Center

Mendon Ponds Wild Wings
Wild Wings at Mendon Ponds Park

Mendon Ponds Park + Cumming Nature Center

Winners, each receiving 38.4% of the vote

Wild Wings Inc. includes a bird of prey facility and the Mendon Ponds Park Nature Center. They care for over 30 permanently injured, non-releasable birds of prey, as well as non-releasable songbirds, a bobcat, and two red foxes. Next door at the Nature Center you’ll find non-releasable native small mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.

Cumming Nature Center in Naples is managed by the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Enjoy the Visitors Center and hike more than 15 miles of trails through diverse habitats. A must-see is the iconic 90-year old “cathedral” of red pines.

Runner Up:

Genesee Country Village Nature Center

31. Best Destination Village, Town or City

Ithaca Falls
Ithaca Falls

Ithaca

Winner, with 20.7% of the vote

Ithaca offers all of the amenities of a city—food, beverage, shops, entertainment, museums—while also showcasing some of the Finger Lakes region’s most exceptional waterfalls and natural spaces.

Ithaca—as with the runners up—can be explored in a day, but you’ll need to be intentional. There is so much to do, with so much that can tempt you away from a carefully-curated itinerary.

So plan well, or plan to spend a long weekend immersing yourself in everything Ithaca. A three-day getaway sounds like a good idea.

Runners Up:

Niagara-on-the-Lake (Canada)

Canandaigua

Skaneateles

3-Day Getaways from Rochester

Spend less time traveling and more time exploring with these fantastic getaways from Rochester. They’re all within a two hour drive from home.

Read more

32. Best Canaltown

perfect picnic spot kennelley park fairport
Fairport

Fairport

Winner, with 40.8% of the vote

What makes Fairport a great canaltown is that it’s a walkable village with Main Street amenities and services that are vital to the community and tourists alike.

Whether you live here, biked here, drove here, or docked here, enjoy a wide range of food, beverage, entertainment, and recreation opportunities.

Runners Up:

Pittsford

Spencerport

Exploring the Erie Canal

The Erie Canal spans 100-miles between Lockport and Clyde, with Rochester located right in the middle. Choose 15 miles to explore for a great day trip!

Read more

33. Best Festival in the City of Rochester

Summer Outdoor Concerts Lilac Fest cover
Lilac Fest

Rochester Lilac Festival

Winner, with 33.9% of the vote

Lilac Fest is the largest free festival of its kind in North America. Every May, it’s the blooming of 500 lilac varieties across 1,200 shrubs that are the cause for celebration.

But it’s the free nightly concerts, food, beverage, and family-friendly activities that make it fun.

Lilac Fest kicks off Rochester’s festival season after the long, cold winter. Even more cause for celebration!

Runners Up:

Rochester International Jazz Festival

Park Ave Summer Art Festival

Corn Hill Arts Festival

Rochester Festivals – Six in the City

“Festival season” in Rochester runs from May to September. Let’s focus on the six most popular summertime City of Rochester festivals!

Read more

34. Best Festival Outside the City of Rochester

the great new york state fair
Photo from Facebook

The Great New York State Fair

Winner, with 25.9% of the vote

New York’s is the oldest state fair in the United States, established in 1841, settling in its current Syracuse location in 1890.

Ours is also one of the largest, with roughly one million visitors annually, some days seeing over 100,000 people.

The fair runs annually, beginning on the 3rd or 4th Wednesday in August and ending on Labor Day.

Runners Up:

Imagine RIT

Fairport Music and Food Festival

Skaneateles Dickens Christmas

35. Best Harvest Festival

Jeromes Grapes purple
Jerome’s U-Pick Grapes

Naples Grape Festival

Winner, with 30.4% of the vote

It was no surprise to see that Naples Grape Fest took first place here. The scenic mid-September drive into the heart of grape country, the bucolic view from the festival site, every grape-themed novelty from pie and ice cream to home decor and, or course, wine.

Book-ending the Lilac Fest in May, Naples Grape Fest signals the end of festival season and the begin of autumn.

Runners Up:

Hilton Apple Festival

Wickham Farms Sunflower Spectacular

Stokoe Farms Pumpkin Harvest Festival

Locally Grown Produce: Your Guide to Rochester’s Harvest Seasons

Find out which locally grown produce (fruits, vegetables, plants) are at their peak each month, and enjoy Rochester-area harvest festivals.

Read more

36. Best Cultural Heritage Festival

Free Rochester Day Trip Ideas: Rochester International Jazz Festival
Jazz Fest

Rochester International Jazz Festival

Winner, with 33.8% of the vote

Not only an energetic community event, Jazz Fest is a celebration of African-American culture and the birth of a music style that melded the tribal songs with field-work songs of generations of enslaved African people.

Jazz musicians come from all over to perform for free on Rochester’s streets, with ticketed headliners performing in surrounding theaters.

The nine-day festival shows begin in the late-afternoon, kicking off each new day with talented local high school bands and music educators, and ending with heart-pounding, window-shaking, everyone-on-your-feet performances.

Runners Up:

Genesee Country Village Celtic Faire

Ganondagan Indigenous Music & Arts Festival

37. Best Living History Museum

Genesee Country Village confectionery
Genesee Country Village

Genesee Country Village & Museum

Winner, with 80.7% of the vote

No surprises here! GCVM is the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State, and the third-largest in the United States.

Runners Up:

Old Fort Niagara

Sam Patch Erie Canal Tours

100+ Other Museums Around Rochester

Explore some off-the-beaten-path, and odd-collection museums around Rochester, like those dedicated to trains, planes, and brains!

Read more

38. Best Museum or Gallery in the City of Rochester

Strong Museum space invaders
Strong Museum

Strong National Museum of Play

Winner, with 39.8% of the vote

The Strong National Museum of Play has a wealth of interaction for toddlers, school-aged children, and adults.

The Strong houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. And it all started with a little girl whose love of collecting mirrored her parents, who happily encouraged her—Margaret Woodbury Strong.

At her death, Strong was the largest owner of Kodak stock in the world! She willed $100,000,000 plus 300,000 collected items to the expansion of her “Museum of Fascination” in a new location at One Manhattan Square.

The butterfly garden has a separate admission fee, and is the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York. With a rain-forest environment it’s the perfect retreat from winter.

Runners Up:

Memorial Art Gallery

Rochester Museum and Science Center

George Eastman Museum

39. Best Museum or Gallery Outside the City of Rochester

corning museum of glass
Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of Glass

Winner, with 67.1% of the vote

CMOG is the perfect destination for a day trip. Roughly 90-minutes south of Rochester, the museum showcases over 50,000 objects representing more than 3,500 years of history.

Kids under 17 are admitted for free with their paying adult, and can learn about glass through hands-on exhibits in the Innovation Center, 20+ glassmaking demonstrations every day, and Make Your Own Glass sessions.

Runner Up:

Baseball Hall of Fame (at 3+ hours away, this is a stretch of a day trip, but can be done)

40. Best Historic Place or Home

Genesee Country Village pioneer homestead
Pioneer Village

Genesee Country Village & Museum

Winner, with 36.8% of the vote

The Genesee Country Village campus includes the historic village (mansions & homesteads, merchants & services, churches & schools, taverns & town halls), the John L. Wehle Gallery, green spaces, a ball field, and an expansive nature center with miles of walking trails.

Runners Up:

Mount Hope Cemetery

George Eastman Museum

41. Best Place to Create

Corning Museum of Glass create your own
Make Your Own Glass / Press Image

Corning Museum of Glass

Winner, with 64.2% of the vote

There aren’t may places where you can make your own glass, especially for beginners. But you can sign up for a “Make Your Own Glass” session at CMOG with absolutely no experience.

Try your hand at hot glassworking, fusing, or sandblasting with the help of experienced museum glassworkers.

Sandblasted projects can be taken home the same day, but you’ll need to have your glass-blow creations shipped to you after it goes through a slow-cooling process.

Runners Up:

The Hungerford (I’m not certain there are classes offered for individuals to create. Rather, it’s a creative space for artists. Please drop a note in the comments if you have more information!)

Writers and Books

Splatters

42. Best Guided Tours

Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery Tour

Mount Hope Cemetery

Winner, with 52.5% of the vote

The Friends of Mount Hope offer a wide-variety of themed walks, sharing the stories of the people who reside here as well as the history of the land and the cemetery itself.

Mount Hope Cemetery tour themes include Civil War Stories, Underground Railroad, Twilight, The North Section, Geography, Mourning Rituals, Fall Foliage, and Mischief, Murder and Mayhem.

Download the map and legend of the grounds of Mount Hope Cemetery.

Runners Up:

Sam Patch Erie Canal Tours

Canandaigua Lady

11 Self-Guided Tours

These self-guided tours around Rochester are like a regional scavenger hunt! Learn the stories behind some of the things you see along our roadways.

Read more

43. Best Farm

Wickham Farms
Wickham Farms

Wickham Farms

Winner, with 32.1% of the vote

Wickham Farms in Penfield hosts harvest-themed events throughout the year, depending on what’s in season. Pick your own lavender, sunflowers, apples, and pumpkins or just have fun with all the farm-themed activities.

Wickham Farms CSA produce is grown on site. Inside the Big Barn Store you’ll find local products including cheese, maple, honey, kettle corn, fudge, and freshly-made donuts.

Runners Up:

Stokoe Farms

Kirby’s Farm Market

Watkins Glen Farm Sanctuary

44. Best U-Pick Farm

Green Acre apricots
Photo from Facebook

Green Acre & West Wind Fruit Farms

Winner, with 21.7% of the vote

You may be familiar with Green Acre Farm and Nursery on Latta Road in Greece, and their Front Porch Ice Cream Shoppe. But you may not be aware that they have multiple locations offering u-pick fruit.

Green Acre offers blueberries and stone fruit like apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums.

West Wind on Manitou Road, where you’ll also find Blue Barn Cidery, also offers blueberries and stone fruit, plus currants, gooseberries, blackberries, apples, and raspberries.

Runners Up:

Hurd Orchards

The Apple Farm

G & S Orchards

9 Rochester U-Pick Seasons

There are U-Pick farms all around the Greater Rochester Area. Often times, picking your own product is as much a family adventure as it is entertainment!

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45. Best Christmas Lights Display

Lights on the Lake
Photo from Facebook

Lights on the Lake

Winner, with 35.3% of the vote

I was a little surprised that Lights on the Lake took the top spot. Located on the east side of Onondaga Lake, a 90-minute drive from Rochester, enjoyed at night in the month of December, it must be a phenomenal experience for Rochesterians to go out of the way for!

Admittingly, I haven’t been, but this ranking makes the urge to go now that much stronger.

Because I can’t speak from experience, here is the description from their website: “Lights on the Lake is a two mile long drive-thru show featuring towering holiday displays, larger-than life Land of Oz, a twinkling fantasy forest, colorful section arches, memorable animated scenes and a fairy tale magic grand finale. Visitors drive through the show while listening to the wonderful sounds of the season on Sunny102.”

See you in 2021, CNY!

Runners Up:

Endicar Drive, Irondequoit

Buckskin Drive, Victor

Rahway Drive, Gates

7 Spectacular Christmas Lights Around Rochester

2020 Christmas lights around Rochester: these neighborhoods go all out with extreme holiday lights and music to fill the season with joy.

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46. Best Place to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

Christmas Lights Beauclaire 2020 happy holidays
Beauclaire Lane, Perinton

Neighborhood Christmas Lights

Winner, with 36.9% of the vote

It shouldn’t surprise you that exploring all of the neighborhood lights in December is our favorite way to get into the holiday spirit.

These homeowners and communities go all out to celebrate the season, so let’s get out there and celebrate with them. May your nights be merry & bright!

Runners Up:

Roc Holiday Village

George Eastman Museum Sweet Creations Gingerbread Display

Get Into the Holiday Spirit – 2021 Edition

Rochester has plenty of ways to help you connect with your inner holiday spirit! Enjoy the stories, traditions, and experiences this season has to offer.

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47. Best Sledding Hill

Rochester-Area Day Trip: Mendon Ponds Park Monroe County Sledding snow sports
Sledding at Mendon

Mendon Ponds Park

Winner, with 23.9% of the vote

I grew up sledding at Durand Eastman, but experience, research, and testimony have convinced me that Mendon Ponds has the best sledding hills around Rochester. 

Runners Up:

Cobb’s Hill

Ellison Park

Powder Mills

Black Creek

15 of the Best Sledding Hills Around Rochester

The great thing about sledding is that there are no barriers to entry, and Monroe County Parks have the best sledding hills around Rochester!

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48. Best Place to Cross-Country Ski

Mendon Ponds Park Monroe County XC Skiing snow sports
Skiing at Mendon

Mendon Ponds Park

Winner, with 55% of the vote

Are you sick of seeing Mendon Ponds? Me neither!

Runners Up:

Bristol Mountain

Durand Eastman Park

The 16 Best Places for Downhill and Cross-Country Skiing Around Rochester

Both downhill and cross-country skiing around Rochester is as much recreation as it is a social experience, competition, and a tradition.

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49. Best Winter Waterfall

Niagara Falls USA winter skyline
Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara Falls

Winner, with 35.2% of the vote

I’m always surprised that Niagara Falls doesn’t take top spot in more categories. Maybe it’s the crowds that dissuade Rochesterians from frequenting more often. More likely it’s the commercialism.

I try to visit at least once a year, if not twice. We stick to the American side, roaming Goat, Luna, and Three Sisters islands.

For me, Niagara Falls is awe and wonder and power and beauty.

In winter, especially after sustained freezing temperatures, Niagara Falls seems otherworldly.

Runners Up:

Letchworth State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park

30 Winter Walks Around Rochester

These ideas for winter walks should motivate you to step outside for some fresh air and, with any luck, sunshine. Bundle up!

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50. Best Place to Enjoy Fresh Maple and Pancakes

Cartwrights Maple Tree Inn
Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn

Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn

Winner, with 44.7% of the vote

It would have surprised me if Cartwright’s wasn’t the number one choice. A trip to Angelica, NY in March is as nostalgic as it is delicious.

Runners Up:

Kettle Ridge Farm

Cumming Nature Center

Maple Syrup: 12 Sweet Sugar Shacks

During Maple Weekends March 20-21 and 27-28, 2021, producers open their sugar shacks to celebrate the process of turning sap into syrup.

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Don’t see your favorite day trip around Rochester?

Feel free to share it in the comments below! The list is meant to be an inspiration for all of us to keep exploring and we welcome all new ideas.

Is there another category we should add? Share the category and your nomination in the comments below for us to consider.

Didn’t get the chance to participate in the 2021 survey? We’ve already kicked off the 2022 survey which will be open through late-summer, 2022 to encourage the most participation.

132 Things to Do Around Rochester

We’ve pulled together a list of fun and unique things to do around Rochester, NY within two hours of home—perfect for quick getaways.

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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.