Turning Point Park boardwalk autumn cover

13 Places in the City to Enjoy the Genesee River

The 157-mile Genesee River originates just south of the PA border, passing over Letchworth State Park’s waterfalls and the Mount Morris Dam.

She swiftly meanders through Geneseo, Avon, Rush, Chili, and Henrietta.

At Genesee Valley Park, the river mingles with the Erie Canal and begins her journey through the City of Rochester, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario.

Here are several places in the City of Rochester to witness the power and beauty of the Genesee River, starting at the southernmost point, making your way to the mouth at Lake Ontario.

Day Trips Along the Genesee River

  1. Genesee Valley Park
  2. Bausch + Lomb Riverside Park
  3. Corn Hill
  4. Genesee Gateway Park
  5. Promenade at Erie Harbor
  6. Blue Cross Arena Memorial Park
  7. Aqueduct Park
  8. Crossroads Park
  9. High Falls
  10. Maplewood Park
  11. Seneca Park
  12. Turning Point Park
  13. Ontario Beach Park

These destinations are also highlighted during ROC the Riverway weekend (previously known as River Romance weekend). And all are connected along the GRT (Genesee Riverway Trail.)

Water Trails Around Rochester NY Genesee River through Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Valley Park crossing
Genesee Valley Park
Genesee Valley Park

1. Genesee Valley Park

Genesee Valley Park is a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Monroe County park located at the intersection of the Erie Canal, Red Creek and Genesee River.

Both picturesque and functional, GVP has 4 concrete foot bridges that connect the park across the Erie Canal, Genesee River, and Red Creek near East River Road.

They feel like they’ve always been there, but they were not originally part of Olmsted’s design. That is because in 1888, when Olmsted designed Genesee Valley Park, the Erie Canal was running through Center City Rochester over an aqueduct which is now the Broad Street Bridge.

Ford Street Bridge
GRT Bridge University Rochester
U of R pedestrian bridge

2. Bausch + Lomb Riverside Park

Maintained by the University of Rochester, this linear park extends the length of Wilson Boulevard to the Ford Street Bridge.

There are several opportunities to cross the Genesee River using pedestrian bridges—previously crossings for the Lehigh Valley Railroad—and the Ford Street Bridge.

Genesee Gateway Park
Genesee Gateway Park skyline view
Gateway Park from Corn Hill Landing

3. Genesee Gateway Park

Gateway is another linear park along the east bank between Ford Street and the Frederick Douglass–Susan B. Anthony Memorial I-490 bridge.

Corn Hill Landing Sam Patch
Rochester skyline river
under Freddie Sue bridge

4. Corn Hill Landing

On the west back across from Gateway, Corn Hill Landing is home to a few restaurants and a boat launch. The historic Corn Hill neighborhood is jam packed with fascinating architecture; some of the oldest in the city.

Dinosaur BBQ
Promenade at Erie Harbor Dinosaur BBQ
Dinosaur Promenade at Erie Harbor
Dinosaur BBQ

5. Promenade at Erie Harbor

This is a newly-created public space just behind Dinosaur Barbecue on the west bank. It’s a great spot to enjoy the Genesee River dam and Johnson-Seymour Mill Race.

From the City of Rochester’s website:

“The City has a variety of permits and easements to access the site, including a permanent easement through the site to provide public access to the river front.”

Blue Cross Arena Memorial Park at night
Rochester Wall Art subway aqueduct
Rundel Library from Blue Cross Arena

6. Blue Cross Arena Memorial Park

This park is right behind Blue Cross Area, and offers a spectacular view of the Rundel Library building and a sneak-peek under Broad Street into the abandoned subway/canal aqueduct.

Aqueduct Park Rochester

7. Aqueduct Park

A pocket park on Main Street.

Major Charles Carroll Plaza
Genesee Crossroads Park
Crossroads Park

8. Genesee Crossroads Park

A small linear park connecting Main Street with Andrews Street, with a bridge to the east bank connecting Major Charles Carroll Plaza and Sister City Garden.

High Falls Genesee River Rochester rock wall
High Falls Genesee Rochester
High Falls Rochester NY Genesee west bank
High Falls Rochester NY Genesee River pedestrian bridge

9. High Falls

High Falls is both the name of the waterfall and the historic district where it can be found.

There are several places to view the falls: the east-side viewing platform, the roof of Genesee Brew House, and the Pont de Rennes Bridge are the most common.

On the west-side of the river, walk the cobblestone streets and learn about Rochester’s hydro-power history.

Maplewood Lower Falls
Maplewood Middle Falls
Maplewood Park Lower Falls
Maplewood Rose Garden orange

10. Maplewood Park

Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls north just past the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

When Olmsted designed the park, it was actually part of Seneca Park and was called Seneca Park West. A beautiful pedestrian bridge connects the two parks together.

Maplewood Park Kelseys Landing
Kelseys Landing in Maplewood Park

The Genesee River at Maplewood Park below Lower Falls was part of the Underground Railroad, allowing boats to sail to Canada.

Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
seneca park pond

11. Seneca Park & Zoo

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

Behind the zoo, there is a trout pond surrounded by pavilions, a playground and hiking trails that take you down to the river’s edge.

The trails are also part of the greater Genesee Riverway Trail, connecting to Maplewood Park via the pedestrian bridge.

Turning Point Park winter walk
Turning Point Park boardwalk autumn
Turning Point Park
Turning Point Park

12. Turning Point Park

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

You can begin your exploration of Turning Point Park either at the Boxart St. parking lot and walk downstream, or at the Petten St. lot, walking upstream. The benefit of starting at Petten is not having to trudge up the hill from the river’s edge to the Boxart lot.

Ontario Beach Park gazebo boardwalk
Fishing Charlotte pier
Charlotte Pier
Ontario Beach Park volleyball

13. Ontario Beach Park

Ontario Beach Park is located at the northernmost tip of the city of Rochester, and is bordered on the East by the mouth of the Genesee River.

In the City’s Charlotte neighborhood you’ll find a long walking pier extending out into the lake, the original Abbott’s Frozen Custard, the original 1905 Dentzel Carousel, restaurants with waterfront seating, a couple of wonderful “greasy spoons”, bars, the Port of Rochester and marina, a boardwalk, and plenty of lot and street parking. 

The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse is the oldest active surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario.

Genesee River History

Top 10 - Letchworth State Park
Upper Falls in Letchworth State Park

I encourage you to learn more about the river’s geologic and human history. Here are a few facts that may entice you!

The pre-glacial Genesee River emptied into Lake Ontario where Irondequoit Bay is today.

The Hodinöhsö:ni’ built strong communities along the river. Research the history of Avon, Geneseo, Mount Morris and Letchworth.

The Genesee and her waterfalls were the main reasons pioneers settled and developed the marshy, mosquito-infested area that we call home.

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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.

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Where are your favorite spots along the Genesee River?

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

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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.