Sarahs Garden Center

23 Hidden Places Around Rochester

Just off the beaten path, a world of incredible places is waiting to be discovered. From secret gardens and enchanting waterfalls to breathtaking vistas and fascinating geologic wonders, exploring hidden places around the Rochester area is the ultimate way to add some spice to your travel experiences. You’ll get to see and do things that most sightseers never even know about, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

After much contemplation, I knew there was only one clear choice for the 23rd hidden place for 2023: ARTISANworks added to the list on June 21, 2023.

As of October 2023, I already have a short list of contenders for the 24th gem.

City of Rochester

ARTISANworks long view

1. ARTISANworks

This unique and immersive experience challenges the senses and defies conventional boundaries. Discover a world of vibrant color and intricate design. From the original works of Picasso and Warhol to the artist studios that showcase the creative process in action, this is a space where art lives. Explore the 360-degree canvas and discover hidden gems that can surprise, inspire, and sometimes shock you. Whether you are a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking for something new and exciting, ARTISANworks promises an unforgettable experience. Admission fee. 565 Blossom Road, (585) 288-7170,


I’ve heard ARTISANworks described as a walk-through kaleidoscope, a bombardment on the senses, a 360° canvas, a space that defies all boundaries.

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Rochester Secret Hidden Sidewalk
Westernmost entrance

2. Hidden Sidewalk

To access the secret half-mile-long sidewalk, start at Ontario Beach Park in Charlotte and walk west along Beach Avenue. You will find the main entrances across from Clematis and Cloverdale Streets, with smaller entrances between roughly every fourth house. Note that the lawns, gardens, and docks along the sidewalk are privately owned and not open to the public. Only the sidewalk itself is available for public use. Beach Avenue

Rochester’s Hidden Sidewalk

To find Rochester’s hidden sidewalk, start at Ontario Beach Park & head west on Beach Ave. Across from Clematis St. & Cloverdale St. are the two entrances.

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Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park

3. Pure Waters Pedestrian Bridge

The 20-acre Seneca Park Zoo is a small portion of the 300-acre county park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893. The zoo operates a seasonal ZooTram shuttle, transporting visitors between the extreme ends of the park for a nominal one-way fee. Many people walk through the zoo and take the tram back up to the main entrance, appreciating Seneca Park’s scenic views. Beyond the zoo, you will find a trout pond surrounded by pavilions, a playground, and hiking trails. The north trail leads toward Lake Ontario over a tiny but steep waterfall, with several risky descents to the river’s edge using deteriorating wood steps. The south trail ends at the scenic Pure Waters Pedestrian Bridge, part of the Genesee River Trail, which spans the river to connect with Maplewood Park. 2222 Saint Paul Street

Seneca Park and Zoo

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

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Sunken Garden
Sunken Garden

4. Sunken Garden

In 1951, Monroe County Parks purchased the castle and grounds as an extension of Highland Park. The 1854 Gothic-style castle is now the headquarters for the Landmark Society of Western New York. In 1930, landscape architect Alling S. DeForest, who also designed the Eastman estate’s gardens, added the sunken garden to the property. Photographers often capture wedding and family photos in the park, but it can be a peaceful retreat if you visit when it’s not crowded. 5 Castle Park

Sunken Garden at Warner Castle

In Highland Park, walk behind Warner Castle or up the hill from Highland Bowl, and there you will find the magnificent Sunken Garden.

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Turning Point Park
Turning Point

5. Turning Point Boardwalk

The park’s most striking feature is a 3,572-foot-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin. The boardwalk takes visitors onto the river, close to blue herons, swans, turtles, deer, and other wildlife. Consider starting your walk from the north at Petten Street by the marina and O’Rorke Bridge for minimal elevation change. This section shows the abandoned 150-foot Spirit of Rochester, which offered lake cruises from 1985 to 2004. To begin at the south end, park in the Boxart Street lot. Most people walk north and down the steep, paved road toward the river, but you can also take the train-grade path by heading south for a half-mile from the parking lot and turning left at the Genesee Riverway Trails split near Brewster Harding Park. This route through Bullock’s Woods follows a seasonal creek with a small waterfall. 260 Boxart Street

Turning Point Park

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

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Cobbs Hill Water Tower Justin Suarez

6. Washington Grove

Nestled between Culver Road, Monroe Avenue, and Highland Avenue, lower Cobb’s Hill Park is primarily recreational, but the hill makes it unique. Encircling the reservoir is a paved 0.7-mile walking path offering a panoramic view of the Rochester skyline. A trail through Washington Grove leads visitors through a tranquil urban forest of old oak trees to a series of ever-changing graffiti-tagged water towers.

Cobbs Hill + Washington Grove

The view from Cobbs Hill, the quiet, the breeze, the friendly nature of people walking and taking it all in—there’s nothing quite like it in Rochester.

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Monroe County

Channing Philbrick Linear Park bridge
Channing H. Philbrick (Linear) Park

7. Channing H. Philbrick Park

Irondequoit Creek drops 90 feet over one mile through this town park, creating the cascades that make it unique. While the Irondequoit Creek Trail spans the park’s length and beyond, the most exciting section lies east of Linear Park Drive. Near the kiosk next to the upper parking lot, find the easy-to-walk dirt path that follows the creek toward an unusual series of wooden footbridges. Or, walk across the pedestrian bridge that connects Linear Park Drive with North Washington Street to find the Mills Trail—a quick path that leads to the cascades along the creek’s south bank. Follow the Fishing Trail downstream to see the sandy cliff resembling Chimney Bluffs, complete with bank swallow nests. 1 Linear Park Drive, Penfield

Channing H. Philbrick (Linear) Park

Irondequoit Creek drops 90 feet over one mile through Channing H Philbrick Park, creating the cascades that make it unique.

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Corbetts Glen
Corbett’s Glen

8. Corbett’s Glen

To visit Corbett’s Glen North, start from the parking lot on Penfield Road. From there, you can follow stone dust, wood chips, and pine needle trails that lead toward the south end. The pathways are easy to navigate, though some parts of the trail, like the Stone Steps, can be steep. As you continue your journey, you will eventually reach the well-known Tunnel Falls and Postcard Falls along Allen Creek. Please note that wading in the creek is only allowed for trout fishing. If you prefer to start at the park’s south end, you can park along the designated shoulder on Glen Road. The trails here lead through marsh meadow, shrubland, and wetland. Walking through the park, you may notice that the paths pass by people’s backyards, and they do! These homeowners are passionate about protecting the park and want to keep it healthy for everyone’s enjoyment. North entrance: 415 Penfield Road, South entrance: 11 Glen Road, Brighton

Corbett’s Glen

Corbett’s Glen is a glorious green space in a suburban jungle. As overused as this statement may be, Corbett’s Glen is truly a hidden gem.

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Helmer Nature Center sunlight

9. Helmer Nature Center

Explore 45 acres owned and operated by the West Irondequoit Central School District as an outdoor classroom. Find one-and-a-half miles of combined dirt, wood chip, boardwalk, and gravel trails, with many spots covered in tree roots through the valley floor. The terrain is hilly and tree-covered, making Helmer an excellent place for peaceful woodland exploration. 154 Pinegrove Avenue, Irondequoit

Helmer Nature Center

The terrain at Helmer Nature Center is hilly and tree-covered, making is an excellent place for peaceful woodland exploration.

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Saras Garden Center
Saras Garden Center
Saras Garden Center
Saras Garden Center
Sara’s Garden Center

10. Sara’s Garden Center

Every time someone posts a photo from Sara’s Garden Center on Instagram, the comments light up: “Where is this?!?” Sara’s seems like your typical, lovely landscaping shop. Wandering among the interesting plants, the shop appears reasonably normal. Then BAM! You round the bend, and a highly manicured, inspiring, inviting landscape is before you. Between the meandering pathways, stone structures, and diverse landscaping, it’s a great place to wander or sit for a while. It is hardly a secret to the Brockport community; the rest of us are just discovering this hidden gem. 389 East Avenue, Brockport

Thomas Creek
Thomas Creek boardwalk

11. Thomas Creek Wetland Walk

This nature trail is perfect for observing Thomas Creek’s flow toward Irondequoit Creek. The wetland offers two separate paths—one is gravel, and the other is a boardwalk—that lead to a seasonal viewing platform and connect with the Erie Canalway Trail. At the beginning of the path, interact with an analemmatic sundial, constructed with stones from Newark’s 1849 Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 58, by observing your shadow’s position. The plaque reads, “Stand on the current month, press your palms together and raise them high in the air. Note where your shadow crosses the hour markers: standard time above, daylight saving below.” 43 Liftbridge Lane E, Fairport

Thomas Creek Wetland Walk

Most folks when visiting Fairport walk along the canal path not knowing that the Thomas Creek Wetland Walk is running parallel to them.

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Webster Arboretum
Webster Arboretum

12. Webster Arboretum

Covering 32 acres, the arboretum is maintained by local garden clubs and boasts a pond, winding paths, various trees and shrubs, and formal gardens with over 200 daylily cultivars. Kent Park, 1700 Schlegel Road, Webster

Webster Arboretum at Kent Park

Covering 32 acres, the arboretum boasts a pond, winding paths, various trees and shrubs, and formal gardens with over 200 daylily cultivars.

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Greater Rochester

Walking Stick Grimes Glen
Grimes Glen, second fall

13. Grimes Glen

Following a short walk along the creekside trail, you must wade through the water for half a mile in order to find the first 60-foot waterfall. Continuing through the creek for another half mile will lead you to the second waterfall, a picturesque cascade of the same height. To make your way back to the parking lot, simply retrace your steps. 4703 Vine Street, Naples, Ontario County

Grimes Glen in Naples

Grimes Glen is public, free, and you are encouraged to wade up the creek to the first and second waterfalls, both 60-foot cascades.

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Holley Falls
Trail Above Holley Canal Falls

14. Holley Canal Falls

Holley Canal Park offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, including picnic areas along the canal, an impressive waterfall, and a peaceful nature hike. Overflow from the canal creates the beautiful Holley Canal Falls, which flows into the glen and merges with Sandy Creek. This picturesque location is perfect for capturing family photos, holding wedding ceremonies, fishing, and soaking up the natural beauty of the surroundings. 1 Holley Falls Park Road, Holley, Orleans County

Holley Canal Falls

Holley Canal Falls is located in the heart of the Village of Holley. The water that flows into the glen is overflow from the Erie Canal.

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Ontario County Park Gannett Hill Jump Off Trail ramp to platform
Jump Off viewing platform

15. The Jump Off

The accessible Gannett Hill Jump-Off affords one of the loveliest scenic views in the Finger Lakes region, with County Route 33/West Hollow Road, Bristol Mountain, and, occasionally, Rochester’s skyline viewable from the platform. Spectacular any time of year, the optimal time to visit is during the peak of fall foliage in late October. The Jump-Off Trail connects with the Finger Lakes Trail System’s Bristol Hills Branch Trail. 6475 Gannett Hill Park Drive, Bristol, Ontario County

The Jump Off Trail

The Jump Off Trail in Ontario County Park is ADA-accessible and affords one of the most beautiful scenic views in the Finger Lakes Region.

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Opening in May: Stony Brook State Park gorge trail
Stony Brook State Park Gorge Trail

16. Stony Brook

Most visitors hike in and out along the 0.75-mile Gorge Trail, enjoying the stream-fed pool, waterfalls, and stone bridges. The walkway beside Stony Brook is composed of shale and gravel, with some moderately challenging spots to navigate and dozens of steps to climb alongside each waterfall. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 10820 New York State Route 36, Dansville, Steuben County

Stony Brook State Park

The walkway through Stony Brook State Park is a combo of shale, gravel, and stairs alongside waterfalls, similar to the other gorge parks.

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Surrounding Counties

Akron Falls Park
Akron Falls Park
Akron Falls Murder Creek October
Akron Falls
Akron Falls

17. Akron Falls

Start your hike from the main parking lot near the dam for a leisurely walk beside Murder Creek through a dense forest ravine, leading straight to a magnificent 40-foot waterfall. Alternatively, you can park near the Rock Garden in the lot above the falls for a steeper approach. Halfway down the paved path, turn right to find a platform to observe the waterfall safely. If you turn left, you’ll continue into the ravine. At the bottom, you’ll see a clear path to the left, but if you turn right, the trail becomes filled with boulders. Adventurous hikers can continue to navigate around the rocks and make their way toward the waterfall’s base, but they’ll see a sign warning them not to go any further. 44 Parkview Drive, Akron, Erie County

Day Trips Around Rochester New York book cover

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York: The Book!

paperback • ebook • audiobook

Eternal Flame
Eternal Flame

18. Eternal Flame Trail

Walk along the trail from the parking lot to the creek bed and follow the water upstream. Cross back and forth through the creek using stones and fallen logs to find an optimal walking path. Remember that most people end up walking in the water at some point. The natural gas flame, sheltered in a tiny cave under a 35-foot waterfall, isn’t eternal, as its name suggests, so be sure to bring a lighter in case the flame is extinguished. The way may be more difficult after heavy rain, but the waterfall will be more impressive. This unique geologic feature is a stunning reward for your effort. Once you’ve enjoyed the waterfall, retrace your steps back to the parking lot. Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park, Erie County

Eternal Flame Hiking Trail

When you reach the Eternal Flame, sheltered in a tiny cave under a beautiful little waterfall, you’ll find it is a fascinating reward for all of your hard work.

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Fillmore Glen walking across bridge
Fillmore Glen lifeguard
Fillmore Glen 140 steps
Fillmore Glen cow shed falls
Fillmore Glen

19. Fillmore Glen

The shaded trail offers a refreshing escape on a hot day, especially when combined with a swim in the stream-fed pool. Just beyond the pool, before heading up to the gorge, take a quick detour to the base of Cow Shed Falls. Stone steps—140 in the beginning and several along the trail—and muddy paths make this a moderately challenging hike. The 1.3-mile gorge trail leads across several footbridges to four waterfalls along Dry Creek. The shale walls have fractures that allow water to trickle in, fostering the growth of lush vegetation like mosses, ferns, and trees. To return to the parking area, you can retrace your steps through the gorge or take the North Rim Trail. Next to the parking lot, close to the tree line, is a log cabin replica of the birthplace of President Millard Fillmore. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 1686 New York State Route 38, Moravia, Cayuga County

Green Lakes State Park Green Lake bench
Green Lakes State Park Round Lake Trail east side
Green Lakes State Park beach house
Green Lakes State Park Green Lake cover
Green Lakes State Park

20. Green Lakes

Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, 15 minutes east of Syracuse, is known for its turquoise-colored glacial lakes and old-growth forest. Privately owned boats are not allowed on the lakes because of their sensitive nature, but rentals are available, including clear-bottom tandem kayaks. The park offers walking trails, a swimming beach on Green Lake, and an all-terrain wheelchair to assist with beach and trail access. Admission fee. 7900 Green Lakes Road, Fayetteville, Onondaga County

Griffis Sculpture Park
Griffis, Rohr Hill

21. Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park is a whimsical, fantastical, delightful art park in rural Cattaraugus County, roughly nine miles north of Ellicottville. There are over 250 large-scale sculptures integrated into the natural landscape. You’ll discover them in the open meadows and tucked into the woodlands. While you’ll need to explore the Mill Valley Road site on foot, enjoy the Rohr Hill Road site just by looking out the car window, where you’ll find impressive sculptures on both sides. 6902 Mill Valley Road, East Otto, Cattaraugus County

Griffis Sculpture Park

There are over 250 whimsical, fantastical, and delightful sculptures at Griffis Sculpture Park, integrated into the bucolic landscape.

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Havana Glen
Havana Glen
Havana Glen cliff wall
Havana Glen
Havana Glen

22. Havana Glen

McClure Creek and Eagle Cliff Falls are part of a more extensive town park and campground. A 0.75-mile trail, using a set of stairs secured to the gorge’s shale wall, leads to the base of the falls. Crowded on hot days and weekends, consider visiting on a weekday or early morning for a more peaceful experience. The gorge trail is closed in winter. Admission fee. 135 Havana Glen Road, Montour Falls, Schuyler County

Olcott Lakeview Village Shoppes
Lakeville Village Shoppes door tall
Olcott Beach picnic tall
Olcott Light tall
Olcott Beach Carousel Park chair tall
Olcott Beach Krull Park
Krull Park
Olcott Beach Carousel Park
Olcott Beach Carousel Park

23. Olcott Beach

The adorable seaside Hamlet of Olcott Beach makes for an excellent summertime day trip along the Lake Ontario Seaway Trail. Open May through October (7 days a week, Memorial Day–Labor Day, otherwise weekends only), Lakeview Village Shoppes is a quaint, pastel-colored collection of tiny stores overlooking Lake Ontario.

Olcott Beach Carousel Park is generally open on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s the tiniest amusement park you’ll ever see, reminiscent of the 1940s and operated entirely by passionate volunteers. Enjoy a ride on the 1928 Hershell-Spillman carousel and five other vintage kiddie rides. There is no admission fee to enter the park, and rides are just $0.25 each.

Don’t miss the replica lighthouse, open daily for visitors, and Krull Park‘s Ye Olde Log Cabin, open on weekends. 5867 Ontario Street, Newfane, Niagara County

24. Destination 2024 TBD

I’ve started choosing a new hidden gem each year, so I’ll add the 24th destination in 2024. Hidden gem #24 may be among the places listed below, and I already have a few contenders in mind. Do you have a favorite spot I should add to the list below? Contact me to let me know!

More Hidden Gems to Explore

Linwood Gardens
Linwood Gardens

This is a list of the places you suggested as candidates for the 22nd hidden gem leading into 2022. My hope is to add a new one every year to the list above.

City of Rochester

Genesee Valley Park

Highland Park + Lamberton Conservatory

Maplewood Rose Garden

Mount Hope Cemetery

Seth Green Fishing Access Trail + Norton’s Falls

Monroe County

Abraham Lincoln Park

Black Creek Park Fairy Trail

Braddock Bay Hawkwatch

Crescent Trail

Daffodil Meadow, Powder Mills Park

Lollypop Farm Trails

Northampton Park

Oatka Creek Park

Rush Oak Openings Unique Area

Shadow Pines

Sherwood Fields Park

Thousand Acre Swamp Preserve

Tinker Nature Park

Tryon Park

Wild Wings Nature Center

Greater Rochester

Abbey of the Genesee

The Autism Nature Trail (ANT) behind Humphrey Nature Center in Letchworth

Camp Beechwood

Bergen Swamp

Canadice North East Boat Launch

Carpenter Falls

Cayuga-Seneca Canal Lock Number 1

Chimney Bluffs

Conklin Gully

Cumming Nature Center

Fall Brook Gorge

Finger Lakes National Forest

Five Arch Bridge

Ganondagan State Historic Site

Garrett Memorial Chapel

Harriet Hollister Spencer Recreation Area

Hidden Valley Animal Adventure

High Tor Wildlife Management Area

Hinchcliff Family Preserve

Huckleberry Swamp

Indian Fort Nature Preserve

Keshequa Creek Falls

Keuka Lake Outlet Trail

Linwood Gardens

Ludovico Sculpture Trail

MacKay Wildlife Preserve

Nations Road, Geneseo

Oak Island

Onanda Park

Ontario Pathways Trail, Bridge over US-20

Ontario Pathways Trail, Double Drop Falls

Ontario Pathways Trail, “Winnie the Pooh” Walk

Papermill Park

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park

Tannery Creek

Warsaw Falls

Watkins Glen State Park

Wesley Hill Nature Preserve

Willard Memorial Chapel

Wiscoy Falls

Surrounding Counties

Agers Falls

Andrew R. Fuller Park

Beaver Lake Nature Center

Farm Sanctuary

Golden Hill State Park

Gully Preserve

Ithaca Falls Natural Area

Kinzua Bridge State Park, PA

Lily Dale Assembly

Little Rock City, near Salamanca

Moss Lake Preserve

Otisco Causeway

Panama Rocks Scenic Park

Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve

Rock City Park, Olean

Royalton Ravine Park

Rushford Lake

Sterling Nature Center

Swallow Hollow Trail, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Taughannock Falls State Park

Thunder Rocks, Allegany State Park

Tifft Nature Preserve

Wilkeson Pointe

Google Map of Locations

view map separately here

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Fillmore Glen cover walking over bridge
Article feature image: Fillmore Glen

Where are your favorite hidden places around Rochester?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of and author of the book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.


28 thoughts on “23 Hidden Places Around Rochester”

  1. Lois J Vreeland

    Cayuga-Seneca Canal Lock #1 connects Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Frontenac Island is 9 miles south on Cayuga Lake in the village of Union Springs. Native American relics removed from the island are now located in Rochester Museum and Science . Small NYS picnic area at the lock is frequented by regulars. Near Montezuma Wildlife Refuge who was instrumental in saving the bald eagle from extinction. Between Seneca Falls and Auburn.

    1. Excellent suggestions, Lois! I visited Lock 1 a few years ago and absolutely loved the spot. Loved the view! Loved watching the canal boats cut across the top of Cayuga Lake to enter the lock! I followed a boat from Seneca Lake through Seneca Falls to see it lock through all four. I’d like to learn more about Frontenac Island, thank you for highlighting it!

  2. We visited Holley Canal Falls yesterday. It’s a nice quiet place to have a picnic or to just enjoy the short trail to the top of the waterfall. Further up you can view the Eerie Canal as well. Just be careful we found a snake by the trail. We found a few people fishing in the area.

  3. Pingback: Water Tower Village South Glens Falls - Rochester Magazine

  4. Not a well known fact but the classic film actress, Louise Brooks, is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Lake Avenue in Rochester NY

    Also, Swallow Hollow Nature Trail in Alabama, NY (near Medina) is a very nice place.

  5. There is a nice trail between Boxart St and the Maplewood rose Garden. A neat sculpture and a few waterfalls. Seth Green Island too.

  6. I see my favorite hidden spot is still hidden! It isn’t really, but I’m surprised how many times I am one of only two or three walking the beautiful nature trails through woods and wetlands at Tinker Nature Center and Park. The trails are short, the longest just over one mile, mostly flat, and easy to enjoy. Located in Henrietta, many longtime residents have never been there! In front of the trails is Tinker Homestead and the Nature Center. All worth a visit!

  7. I would suggest adding the Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk in Fairport. They recently added a butterfly garden and an analemmatic sundial near the Erie Canal Path. The sundial is the interactive kind where your body makes the shadow. Kids and adults love it, the scenery is beautiful, and the atmosphere is peaceful. The sundial was designed and built by local artist, Vanessa Sheldon, and she used stones from nearby lock 58. It’s definitely a hidden gem.

    1. I agree! So many people don’t realize Thomas Creek Wetlands Trail is right there next to the canal. I didn’t know about the new installations…I’ll have to check that out. Thank you, Stacy, for the recommendation!

    1. Thank you, Sharon! I’m of the thought that Mt. Hope Cemetery itself is not a hidden place, BUT within Mt. Hope Cemetery are many hidden places. Would you agree? That would make a good article…hidden places within Mt. Hope Cemetery. I think one of my favorite spots is where Nathaniel Rochester is buried.

      1. Maybe it is too far from Rochester, but Little Rock City is amazing. It is south of Ellicottville.

    1. How funny that you and JM both suggested Holley Falls. And you are both so right! I lived in Holley for 2 years when my daughter was first born and had no idea it was even there, although we were outside the village. It’s perfectly hidden!

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