guided walk genesee river alliance cover

Guided Walks and Tours Around Rochester, NY

These guided walks, runs, rides, and behind-the-scenes tours are not simply events where you learn independently through signage or audio narration.

Local experts who highlight the rich history, geology, ecology, and community of the greater Rochester region lead these guided walks.

And you’ll be with other people who share your interest, which lends itself to interesting questions and conversations.

Guided walks are both educational and social activities. They are especially helpful for folks who prefer not to explore alone.

Jump to a specific kind of guided walk or tour:

Check out each organization’s website for their most current schedule, follow them on social, and subscribe to their newsletters. Pre-registration is often required and space can be limited.

A helpful tip: Members of these organizations, where offered, are usually the first to know about tours. Membership often includes free walks (where a fee may otherwise be charged) as a member benefit. A membership is always worth looking in to.

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Flower City Feeling Good Guided Walks

Sponsored by the City of Rochester, join one or all of these fabulous Flower City Feeling Good guided walks Thursday evenings at 6pm. The information in the image above and listed below is current as of July 9, 2022.

Thursday, July 14, 2022 at 6pm: Flower City Feeling Good guided El Camino Trail Walk. Meet at Conkey Corner Park, at the corner of Conkey and Clifford Avenue.

Thursday, July 21, 2022 at 6pm: Flower City Feeling Good guided Downtown Heritage Trail Walk. Meet on the north side of the Rundel Memorial Building, at the corner of Broad Street and South Avenue.

Thursday, July 28, 2022 at 6pm: Flower City Feeling Good guided Seneca Park Walk. Wheelchair accessible. Meet at the Wegmans Lodge parking lot along the park road in Seneca Park.

Thursday, August 4, 2022 at 6pm: Flower City Feeling Good guided Highland Park Walk. Meet outside of the Lamberton Conservatory. Parking available along Reservoir Avenue.

Thursday, August 11, 2022 at 6pm: Flower City Feeling Good guided Lower Falls Gorge Walk. Meet at the Maplewood Rose Garden parking lot at the corner of Lake and Driving Park.

Thursday, August 18, 2022 at 6pm: Flower City Feeling Good guided Downtown Heritage Trail Walk. Meet on the north side of the Rundel Memorial Building, at the corner of Broad Street and South Avenue.

Thursday, August 25, 2022 at 6pm: Flower City Feeling Good guided Washington Grove Walk. Meet at the kiosk atop Cobb Hill Reservoir in the open field behind the pine grove (take the reservoir road off of Highland Ave.)

Follow the City of Rochester on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for the most current updates. We will do our best to update this information if we become aware of any changes. Please contact stephanie.benway@cityofrochester.gov with any questions about these walks.

Regular Outdoor Guided Walks

guided walk genesee river alliance lighthouse
Charlotte
guided walk genesee river alliance turning point
Turning Point
Genesee River Alliance Mile 3 PLEX
PLEX
guided walk Genesee River Alliance gateway
ROC the Riverway

Guided Walks with Genesee Land Trust

Each month, pending weather and the like, Genesee River Alliance (a project under Genesee Land Trust) offers a guided walk called Mile-a-Month.

The Genesee River flows 13-miles through the City of Rochester from Genesee Valley Park to Lake Ontario, so the idea is to explore roughly a mile of riverfront every month. Each family-friendly walk is 2-2.5 miles round trip.

These tours are lead by subject matter experts and neighborhood partners selected specifically for that mile of river. This storytelling around the river’s history, cultural significance, and environmental impact is so valuable.

Past walks have included Genesee Valley Park, ROC the Riverway, PLEX neighborhood, Turning Point, Seneca, Charlotte, and High Falls.

Plus, Genesee Land Trust offers guided tours of their protected lands in the greater Rochester region.

Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery, North Section
30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Mount Hope Cemetery
North Section
Mount Hope Cemetery tree tour
Tree Tour
Mount Hope Cemetery guided geology tour
Geology Tour

Guided Walks through Mount Hope Cemetery

Primarily offered during the warmer months, The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery maintain a regular schedule of guided walks. There are foundational tours on Sundays at 2 pm, and Twilight Tours on Thursdays at 7 pm, May through September.

Plus themed tours which focus on a particular topic and led by guides with special expertise. Topics include cemetery history, stories of Rochester’s citizens buried here, even geology and arboretum tours.

There are more than 100 tours through Mount Hope Cemetery offered every year.

Some Things Afoot

A Free Walking Tour of Rochester NY’s Park Avenue District and Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA)

Some Things Afoot is a free guided walking tour of Rochester, NY that encompasses approximately 2 ½ miles of two of Rochester’s most popular cultural areas. In addition to walking through the grounds of the George Eastman MuseumRochester Memorial Art GalleryStrasenburgh Planetarium, and the Rochester Museum and Science Center, you’ll discover the history of Rochester’s urban forest, its reputation as the World Image Center, and learn about some famous (and infamous) Rochesterians. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a variety of architectural styles, visit a church, and wander through beautiful urban neighborhoods featuring unusual shops and restaurants.

Rochester Birding Association

The Rochester Birding Association (RBA) is for all people interested in birdwatching in the Rochester area. Bringing together people at all levels of knowledge and experience, RBA provides opportunities for birders to expand their skills, and meet others who share their interest in birds.

With dates and habitats chosen to highlight the birds of the season, there are 50 + field trips scheduled during the year. Some are specifically designed for new birdwatchers. Locations range from parks in downtown Rochester (Cobbs Hill, Highland Park) to the suburbs (Braddock Bay, Mendon Ponds) and more distant places (Montezuma NWR, Hamlin Beach State Park, Niagara River).

First Day hike Letchworth
Letchworth

Guided Walks through Letchworth State Park

In every season, there is a robust hike schedule offered through Humphrey Nature Center.

From guided sunrise, waterfall, and night hikes, to snowshoe and cross-country ski hikes, to walks along many of Letchworth’s 20 trails, there are dozens of opportunities to explore the forest with nature experts throughout the year.

Penfield Recreation

Monthly guided hikes lead you through Penfield’s town and county parks, like Ellison, Abraham Lincoln, Channing H. Philbrick, 1,000 Acre Swamp, and Harris Whalen. All hikes are free, but pre-registration is required.

Fairchild Walking Tours through Mendon Ponds

Explore the history and beauty of Mendon Ponds Park on a guided walk with Jack Butler. Fairchild Walking Tours explores smaller sections that take one to one-and-a-half hours. 

Each tour will cover the history of the park and its development, its glacial formation, and geological features such as kettles, kames, and eskers, and include identification of flora and fauna within the park.

There is no fee for guided walks, but pre-registration is required.

Crescent Trail Hiking Association

Since 1980, the Crescent Trail Hiking Association has led free monthly guided hikes to share a love of nature, educate hikers about the history of Perinton, and encourage all to be good stewards of our natural surroundings.

They lead hikes on a variety of trails including the Seneca Trail near Eastview Mall, Horizon Hill to Woodcliff, Boughton Park in Victor, Harts Woods and OxBow. Even a Pub Hike in Fairport.

Please visit their Facebook page for more event details, including meet up location, preliminary mapping and hike descriptions. They try to offer a variety of hikes to meet various skill levels and age groups.

Fall Brook

Guided Walks with Trail Otter

In addition to their hiking and outdoor gear store in Leicester, Trail Otter offers guided hikes of varying length and difficulty in Letchworth, and an exclusive hike on private property in Geneseo at Fall Brook.

There’s also a Trail Otter Hiking Club that will help you tackle one of their Letchworth hiking challenges: Winter 50 and Hike ’em All.

Montezuma Audubon Center

Montezuma Audubon Center is a state-owned facility operated through a cooperative agreement between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the National Audubon Society. 

In addition to lectures at the center, they offer guided snowshoe, kayak, and birding excursions, and private birding tours for families and small groups.

Guided Walks to Mount Morris Dam

The Top of the Dam Guided Walk is ideal for active visitors with an interest in engineering and the Genesee River Valley. The walk lasts approximately 45 minutes and includes a steep ½ mile trek in to the Genesee River Gorge to the top of the Mount Morris Dam.

Mount Morris Dam and Recreation Area Visitor Center and Interpretive Programs are available spring through fall, roughly May through October.

Tickets are available seven days a week during the season. Reserve tickets in advance as space is limited for each start time.

Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen
Farm Sanctuary

Guided Walks through Farm Sanctuary

Enjoy an hour-long guided tour of the Watkins Glen Farm Sanctuary, meeting dozens of rescued residents along the way. Guided tours are offered May through October on specific days of the week.

Periodic Outdoor Guided Walks

I’ve included these organizations below under “periodic” because tours are not part of their core business. Yet when they offer a tour, they’re not to be missed!

Highland Park guided walking tours
Highland Park

Guided Walks with Highland Park Conservancy

Guided tours are offered periodically so keep your eye on their calendar of events. The themed tours are led by local subject matter experts.

guided hike rochester ecology partners highland park
Rochester Ecology Partners

Guided Walks with Rochester Ecology Partners

Group walks are offered periodically so keep your eye on their calendar of events.

Maplewood Park Lower Falls Gorge tour
Lower Falls

Guided Walks with Lower Falls Foundation

Guided walks are offered periodically so keep your eye on their calendar of events. Often you will find them leading tours during Maplewood Rose Festival and ROC the Riverway Weekend.

guided walk Genesee Country VIllage
Genesee Country Village

Guided Walks through Genesee Country Village

Genesee Country Village is typically experienced through individual exploration with costumed interpreters sharing stories along the way.

But they also host guided walks, like the annual Yuletide in the Country, and a tour of Monroe County homes offered last year. Keep an eye on their events calendar for guided walks.

guided walk geology brainery lower falls
Geology Tour

Guided Walks with Rochester Brainery’s Partners

Rochester Brainery periodically offers two different guided geology field trips, led by Tyler Lucero. One takes you into the Lower Falls Gorge from the Seth Green Fishing Access, and the other around the Devil’s Bathtub in Mendon Ponds Park.

You may also come across Architecture in the Wild walking tours with the Landmark Society’s Young Urban Preservationists.

The Lost Borough leads “hidden history” neighborhood tours, highlighting the history that hides in plain sight.

Filter Rochester Brainery classes using “history” or “science” or “outside” to find these types of events.

Guided Tour High Falls Genesee River
High Falls

ROC the Riverway Weekend in October

Taking place annually during the first or second weekend of October, the City of Rochester sponsors guided hikes, bikes, and paddles to celebrate life along the Genesee river’s urban corridor. This is a great time to explore the river and enjoy the fall colors.

I anticipate the events scheduled during ROC the Riverway Weekend will grow more diverse as we continue to revive the riverfront through downtown and progress toward the creation of Rochester High Falls State Park.

Guided Walks with Bergen Swamp Preservation Society

Tours are offered periodically throughout the year. You can also request a tour for three of the properties they protect.

Durand Eastman Park guided tour
Durand Eastman Arboretum

Guided Walks with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County

Guided tours of Durand Eastman Arboretum are sometimes offered in the spring. Keep an eye on their event calendar.

Wall\Therapy Wall Art Tours

Rumor has it there may be plans taking shape for future guided walking or driving tours of Rochester’s exceptional public art scene. I’ll update this content if and when those are announced.

Indoor Guided Tours

Memorial Art Gallery DeTour baroque fountain court cover
Memorial Art Gallery

DeTOURs℠ are offered on the third Thursday of each month and are an exclusive themed tour that is both engaging and entertaining. These tours focus on some of the amazing personal lives of artists, the inspiration and method to their creativity, and lesser-known facts about some of the works in our collection. Each tour includes activities, personal connections, and mind-blowing facts! DeTOUR℠ tickets include museum admission. Space is limited.

Take a docent-led tour and explore 5,000 years of world art in MAG’s collection and temporary exhibitions. Upon arrival, please let the Admission Desk know that you wish to join the tour. Public tours are approximately 60 minutes and are included in museum admission.

ARTISANworks guided tour Bourbon Street
ARTISANworks

ARTISANworks Docent-Led Tours

Free introductory public tours, included with admission, are offered Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. Or schedule a tour for your group of 10 or more – admission fees apply.

Susan B. Anthony Museum and House Docent-Led Tours

Your guided interpreted experience will be 45 minutes. For the safety of visitors, staff, and volunteers, part of the tour will be outdoors on the Anthony Museum campus. The highlight of the tour is a visit to the first floor of the Susan B. Anthony House, featuring the front parlor where she was arrested for voting.

AIA Rochester Guided Building Tours

American Institute of Architects (AIA) of Rochester offers a “Tours at Four” series, exploring local buildings on predetermined Thursdays at 4 pm. For example, they offered a tour of the Times Square Building on Feb 3, 2022, and have plans to explore additional buildings of interest throughout the year.

George Eastman Museum Docent-Led Tours

Docent-led tours are currently on hold. Self-guided Tours are available at eastman.oncell.com.

Sonnenberg Gardens Docent-Led Tours

Docent-led tours are currently on hold. Self-guided tours are available using the Smart Phone tour.

Regularly Scheduled Boat Tours

Sam Patch captain
Sam Patch

Sam Patch Packet Boat Erie Canal Tours

Public cruises depart on specific days of the week during open-canal season—mid-May through late-October.

Enjoy an unforgettable adventure by navigating one of America’s most famous historic routes with a 90-minute cruise aboard Corn Hill Navigation’s replica canal packet boat, the Sam Patch.

An authentic Erie Canal experience, learn about the history, science, culture, and environmental importance of the Canal.

Note: We’re looking forward to narrated Genesee River cruises aboard the new Corn Hill Navigation vessel that will be docked at Corn Hill Landing. The boat is of particular value to the Rochester City School District and other nearby schools, with an education curriculum that introduces students to the river’s history, ecology, and opportunities for environmental stewardship.

Colonial Belle
Colonial Belle

Colonial Belle Erie Canal Tours

Cruises depart from Packett’s Landing in Fairport, unless otherwise noted. They cruise west on the Erie Canal to Pittsford, and return to Fairport. Only the 3-hour cruises include the experience of locking through Lock 32.

Established in 1989, the Colonial Belle is the largest tour boat operating on the historic Erie Canal. There is a fully accessible, enclosed lower deck and an upper open-air deck. The enclosed first deck offers comfortable seating, a full-service bar, and two restrooms. The upper deck provides seating, scenic viewing, and the experience of “ducking down” for low bridges.

Additional Tour Boat Companies

Canandaigua Lady

Captain Bill’s – Seneca Lake

Sail True Love – Seneca Lake

Discover Cayuga Lake Boat Tours

Ithaca Boat Tours – Cayuga Lake

Mid-Lakes Navigation – Skaneateles Lake

Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises

Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride

Buffalo Harbor Cruises | Miss Buffalo II

A note about the Harbor Town Belle – At time of publication, the Belle seems out of commission. I wish to keep them on this list, however, because I am hopeful they’ll make a comeback.

Periodic Indoor Guided Tours

None at this time

Bicycle and Running Tours

I’ve called these out specifically because they encourage more than simply exercise. There’s an educational or sight-seeing component to each organization’s excursion.

Keeping it Classy Cycle Club Fall Classic Bike Ride
GVP Fall Classic

Keeping It Classy Cycle Club

Rochester’s best dressed cycling club – with a penchant for classic style and historic nostalgia. They organize several group rides throughout the year throughout the city and surrounding area.

George Eastman Bike Tours

See Rochester in a new way. A nod to George Eastman’s own love of cycling, the George Eastman Bike Tour will take you to ten different locations related to the life and work of this pioneer of popular photography and famous Rochesterian.

The museum organizes 3-4 bike tours each year.

Rochester History Runs

There are several runs organized throughout the year, including an upcoming Pittsford History Run. Past themes include History of the Hojack, Happy Hallowe’en, and The 100-Acre Tract.

Behind-the-Scenes Guided Walks

This list initially includes only a handful of businesses. I’d love to expand this to highlight any guided tour that educate the public on “how the sausage is made.”

Fox Run Vineyards

Learn the ins and outs of viticulture and winemaking with a guided, 45-minute walking vineyard tour exploring our vineyards and taking a peek inside our winemaking facility.

We offer tours 7 days a week, all year long (weather permitting). Tours go out every hour, on the hour. Reservations are not required.

Black Button Distilling

Let our knowledgeable Spirit Guides give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we make all our award-winning spirits. Tours are offered Fridays at 7pm, and Saturdays at 1pm, 3pm & 5pm.

Iron Smoke Distilling

It all starts with the finest locally sourced ingredients from family owned farms in the finger lakes region. Our unique proprietary four grain mash bill is hand selected from the finest corn wheat, barley and rye in our region. Tours are available Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3:30 – 5:30 pm.

Rochester Public Market

Tours can be scheduled on Thursdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. from April through October, weather permitting, and can be adjusted to meet the age and the interest of the group. The hour-long tour highlights the history of the Market, its importance in the community, and ideas for buying and eating healthy! There is a fee for each group or class (minimum 10 people, maximum 25 people).

Genesee Brew House

At the time of publication, the brewery is not offering tours. But keep an eye on their website. We’ll update this information once we are aware of tours starting up again.

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Do you have a favorite guided walk or educational tour we should add to this list?

Please share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments. Your insight and experience are invaluable!

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Author Debi Bower is the Founder and Chief Day Tripper for Day Trips Around Rochester, NY. Happy trails!

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