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Taughannock Falls State Park

Free Things to Do Around Rochester

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.

Free Rochester Day Trips: Roadside Waterfalls near Rochester Hector Falls
Hector Falls

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.

Free Rochester Day Trips - Strong National Museum of Play
Strong National Museum of Play

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 PlayGeorge Eastman Museum, and the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

Free Rochester Day Trips: Rochester Hidden Sidewalk
Rochester’s Hidden Sidewalk

3. Hidden Places

We drive past some of Rochester’s most unique features every day, completely unaware that these 13 hidden places are just minutes away from where we work and live.

Cobblestone house Albion
Cobblestone home

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.

Highland Park lilacs
Highland Park

5. Monroe County Parks

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

Make it a goal to visit all of them for 20 unique and free Rochester day trips! Also checkout our free town parks and city parks.

Free Rochester Day Trips - Grimes Glen
Grimes Glen

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.

Free Rochester Day Trips - Canadice Lake kayaks
Canadice Lake

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.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Iroquois National Wildlife

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.

Green Lakes State Park Round Lake bench
Round Lake

9. National Natural Landmarks

These landmarks, recognized for their outstanding biological and geological resources, are all within a two-hour drive of Rochester, NY.

Rochester-Area Roadside Attractions - Big Metal Dragon in East Bethany NY
Big Metal Dragon in East Bethany 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!

Golden Hill State Park
Golden Hill State Park

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.

street art greenleaf atlantic
Atlantic Ave

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!

Memorial Art Gallery
Memorial Art Gallery

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.

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A Local Photographer’s Seven Favorite Photo Locations

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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!

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Rochester: The Image City

Rochester evolved from Flour City to Flower City to Image City when George Eastman invented a way for the masses to capture everyday moments on film.

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Where are your favorite free Rochester day trips?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

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COVID-19 NOTE: 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 and locally—seek solitude!