Don’t let tight budgets stop you from adventuring! Enjoy these unique, fun and free things to do around Rochester. They’ll cost only gas and time—pack a zero-waste lunch and save even more! Our top 12 day trip ideas will give you over 500 actual destinations.
1. Roadside Waterfalls
These 34 roadside waterfalls are spectacular, and for some, you do not need to get out of your car. Impressive waterfalls are not all buried in ravines accessible only by difficult trails.
2. Museum Grounds
There are places that charge an admission to explore inside the building, but it is free to explore the grounds, like the Memorial Art Gallery, The Strong National Museum of Play, George Eastman Museum, and the Rochester Museum & Science Center.
3. Hidden Places
We drive past some of Rochester’s most unique features every day, completely unaware that these hidden places are just minutes away from where we work and live.
4. Self-Guided Tours
These self-guided tours around Rochester are like a regional scavenger hunt! From Wells barns and barn quilts to great oaks, cobblestones and fairies, these maps and itineraries help you explore our expansive backyard. Discover the meaning and history behind some of the things you see along our roadways.
5. Monroe County Parks
Monroe County parks are free, so take advantage of 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical and geological experiences!
6. Hiking Trails
Here are some less populated, rustic, or unusual trails around Rochester that will inspire you to take a hike. Explore this diverse collection of rail-trails, waterside trails, and inland trails.
7. Water Trails
Here are 58 places to explore Rochester’s waterways. Water trails can be formally marked routes along a navigable waterway, or simply any waterway suitable for canoes, kayaks, and small motorized watercraft.
8. Nature Preserves
Our 48 nature centers, wildlife preserves, management areas, etc., all serve to protect and sustain life, while making nature accessible to people to enjoy and learn from.
9. National Natural Landmarks
These landmarks, recognized for their outstanding biological and geological resources, are all within a two-hour drive of Rochester, NY.
10. Quirky Rochester-Area Roadside Attractions
Pin these unusual Finger Lakes, Western New York and Rochester-area roadside attractions on your map while exploring other free Rochester day trips!
11. New York State Parks
These 49 NYS Parks are all within a 2-hour drive of Rochester, and are free off season; roughly November-April.
You can also visit many of them for free when you borrow an Empire Pass from a Monroe County Library.
12. Street Art
You could make a full week of free Rochester day trips just exploring hundreds of exceptional wall art designs by Wall\Therapy artists, Erie Canal Murals and more!
Those are just our top 12 free things to do in Rochester
There are more! Filter our day trips by our “free” tag to explore other ideas.
And one more idea: Eastman School of Music offers free concerts on site and via live stream when school is in session!
It is no secret Rochester offers a wealth of scenic landscapes and uban settings as wedding photo locations. Learn why these are our favorites!
Where are your favorite free Rochester day trips?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!