Genesee Valley Hunt cover jump

My 2021 Day Trips

Each year, my day trips seem to take on unintended themes. In 2019, I spent significant time at events with hundreds and thousands of other people. At the extreme, our 2020 day trips were spent seeking solitude. For 2021, I actively sought a compromise between the two—focused on enjoying new places and outdoor spaces with smaller groups.

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

My 9 favorite day trips in 2021

  1. A Variety of Guided Walks
  2. Olcott Beach
  3. Corning Museum of Glass
  4. Fort Stanwix
  5. Genesee Valley Hunt Races
  6. Canandaigua
  7. Little Free Libraries
  8. Packard Valley Farms Maple
  9. Durand Eastman in Autumn

Plus, take a look at the other places we went each month.

guided walk Genesee River Alliance gateway
Genesee River Alliance
guided walk Genesee Country VIllage
Genesee Country Village
guided walk geology brainery lower falls
Brainery
Mount Hope Cemetery guided geology tour
Mount Hope
guided walk genesee river alliance lighthouse
Genesee River Alliance
guided walk genesee river alliance turning point
Genesee River Alliance

1. Guided Walks

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 from Genesee Valley Park through the City of Rochester to Lake Ontario, so the idea is to explore roughly a mile of riverfront each month; each family-friendly walk is about 2.5 miles round trip.

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

VIEW GENESEE LAND TRUST CALENDAR

Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery also offers a regular schedule of guided walks, mainly held in the warmer months, but there are sometimes winter walks scheduled. Between May and October, there are weekly tours on Sundays at 2 pm, and Twilight Tours held Thursdays at 7 pm, May through September. Plus themed tours covering topics like the history of Mount Hope cemetery, stories of Rochester’s citizens buried here, even geology and arboretum tours. There were ~36 themed tours offered in 2021.

VIEW MOUNT HOPE CEMETERY CALENDAR

Rochester Brainery periodically offers guided Geology field trips into the Lower Falls Gorge via Seth Green Fishing Access and around Mendon Ponds. You may also come across Architecture in the Wild walking tours with the Landmark Society’s Young Urban Preservationists.

VIEW ROCHESTER BRAINERY “HISTORY” CLASSES

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.

VIEW GCVM EVENTS CALENDAR

olcott carousel park carousel
olcott carousel park
olcott village shoppes view
Olcott August Shoppes
Olcott pink building
Olcott concert
Olcott Krull Park picnic beach
olcott krull park cover
Krull Park

2. Olcott Beach

A friend and I planned a day in Olcott with several stops along the way. Wandering around the quaint Lakeview Village Shoppes and Olcott Beach Carousel Park is a must. But the best part was simply packing a picnic and spending a few hours just sitting and reading at Krull Park overlooking Lake Ontario.

The adorable seaside Hamlet of Olcott Beach makes for an excellent summertime day trip along the Lake Ontario Seaway Trail. It shares a similar trolley-park history with Rochester’s Charlotte and Sea Breeze neighborhoods.

Olcott Beach is one of our favorite hidden gems around Rochester.

corning museum of glass show
corning museum of glass crystal
corning market street shop
corning nickels pit bbq
corning palace theatre
corning rockwell museum
corning rockwell buffalo
corning rockwell rooftop

3. Corning Museum of Glass

In August, my husband, Korey, and I were ready for a road trip! And we picked a beautiful day to drive south to Corning. I had not been to Corning Museum of Glass since taking my girl scout troop a decade ago, and Korey had never been.

I really should write an article for CMOG but here is a quick summary of our trip.

We started the day at CMOG, seeing two glass shows in two different amphitheaters on site. We then visited the Rockwell Museum, taking the free shuttle. There is rooftop access at the Rockwell where you can look out over Corning’s Gaffer District.

After, we explored up and down Market Street and enjoyed an insanely wonderful brunch at Nickels’ Pit BBQ. There are dozens of excellent places to eat along Market Street but should I find myself in Corning again, I will eat there without question. I suppose I should spend a few days there to give the others a chance.

The shuttle had multiple stops along Market Street, so we took it back to CMOG and explored a bit more before heading home. Had we more time, we would have walked back across the Chemung river pedestrian bridge.

Fort Stanwix tunnel
Fort Stanwix visitor center
Fort Stanwix canon
Fort Stanwix barracks
Fort Stanwix fence
Verona Beach State Park Oneida Lake
Verona Beach State Park
Erie Canal Lock 23 Brewerton
Lock 23
Erie Canal Lock 24 Baldwinsville
Lock 24
BVille Diner
B’ville Diner

4. Fort Stanwix

Hubby and I enjoyed another road trip out to Fort Stanwix in Rome on July 3rd. Having never been, I was a little surprised that a fort with such significance has such a small footprint. That doesn’t however, diminish from the history that happened here.

On the way home we stopped at Verona Beach State Park and Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake (we must go back!), stopped at several Erie Canal locks, and enjoyed dinner at the B’ville Diner.

Genesee Valley Hunt cover jump
Genesee Valley Hunt flags
Genesee Valley Hunt musicians
Genesee Valley Hunt schedule of events
Genesee Valley Hunt spectators
Genesee Valley Hunt race
Genesee Valley Hunt hounds cover

5. Genesee Valley Hunt Races

Held annually on the 2nd Saturday of October, I’ve had this event on my list to do for years. It’s the kind of event I enjoy attending because it is completely unfamiliar to me. I knew some of the history of the event itself—the Hunt Races have been hosted here for over 120 years—but nothing of horses or races or hounds. Or next-level tailgating!

It was exciting to watch both the races and the spectators. This is genuinely a family event, with generations spending the day outside together. And dogs are not only welcome but revered! This is a dog-loving community.

I was one of the first spectators to arrive because I wanted to experience as much as I could. And while that does make for a long, drawn out morning, parking was not an issue. As the morning wore on, lines and lines of cars worked their way along Nations Road.

Between races, there were a dozen ways to keep occupied with a farmers market, shopping, food trucks, the Parade of Hounds, and Jack Russel Terrier dog races.

The major crowd-favorite events, like many competitions, are at the end of the day. Had I known how interesting the day would be, I would have brought a chair. Yes, I stood the entire day. In the mud. In my sandals. Looking around, everyone else was in boots. Rookie mistake.

canandaigua lake seager marine kayak rental
Canandaigua Lake
canandaigua lake sitting paddle boards
canandaigua lake clear kayak
canandaigua simply crepes mimosas
Canandaigua Simply Crepes

6. Canandaigua

We spent a beautiful, hot, blue-sky, late-July day in Canandaigua celebrating my birthday and my daughter’s 21st birthday. Simply Crepes was the perfect choice for brunch because they can modify many of their menu items to vegan and offer a flight of mimosas.

We spend the afternoon along the pier and on the lake, renting kayaks and stand-up paddle boards from Seager Marine.

Little Free Library books shelf
Little Free Library Corn Hill
Little Free Library Thurston
Little Free Library Prince

7. Little Free Libraries

My oldest daughter was able to visit for a few weeks this summer. While home, she gathered all of her books that had been left in storage at Grandma’s house and we drove around to fill up a dozen Little Free Libraries around Rochester.

That trip took us through several suburbs and city neighborhoods—a great way to explore different areas.

packard valley farm wagons
packard valley farm woods
packard valley farm tapped tree
packard valley farm maple

8. Packard Valley Farms for Maple Weekend

Maple sugaring season is one of my favorite harvest seasons, next to strawberries and blueberries. And I try to visit at least one maple farm during Maple Weekend in March. This year, I chose Packard Valley Farms in Macedon to celebrate.

What I loved most about the experience (besides the fresh maple syrup) is the horse-drawn wagon ride back to the sugar bush where you can walk through their maple and beech forest, following the tap lines to the collection bin.

It’s my favorite way to welcome spring.

Durand Eastman Park November 7 Katsura
Durand Eastman Park November 7 Katsura Glen
Durand Eastman Park November 7
Durand Eastman Park November 7
Durand Eastman Park November 7
Durand Eastman Park November 7
Durand Lake

9. Durand-Eastman in Autumn

My absolute favorite season to spend time in the forest is fall. It’s cold enough that the bugs have all but gone, and the leaf colors are extraordinary. The smell of decay sweetens the air, mingled with the scent of cotton candy.

Cotton candy?

Yes! In early November, when the Katsura tree’s leaves turn a glowing apricot- and lemon-color, you can’t help but notice. Some say it smells like burnt sugar or marshmallow. And Katsura Glen on Zoo Road is the perfect place to experience it, along the perfect trail to start a hike around the lakes.

These photos were taken on November 7, so a hike anytime between October 25 and November 10 should be ideal for taking part in all of autumn’s finest displays.

Other day trips throughout the year

Here are even more of our day trips from 2021, listed month-by-month.

penfield public library
Penfield
Pinnacle Crossman
Pinnacle and Crossman
genesee country village trails january
GCV Trail
list and wyndale
West Irondequoit

January

I stared the new year with continued research on Rochester’s Pinnacle Range with a drive along Cobbs Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Highland Hill, Mount Hope, and Oak Hill.

Whenever I need to borrow books from the library, I try to pick one I haven’t been to before. So I headed over to Penfield, which, luckily, had most of the books I was interested in.

I enjoyed several winter walks around the Genesee Country Village nature trails and village, plus a walk with my childhood bestie around our old neighborhood in Irondequoit and Helmer Nature Center.

George Eastman Museum Dutch Connection 3
Eastman Museum – Dutch Connection
Irondequoit Bay outlet Pier winter
I-Bay Outlet
webster park sledding
Webster Park
Webster Park Pier winter shadows cover
Webster Pier

February

February was a rather dull month for day trips. The George Eastman Museum Dutch Connection show is a can’t miss, however!

And I made my way over to Webster Park on a beautiful blue-sky day to check out the sledding hill and the piers on Lake Ontario. I love those strong winter tree shadows!

Babcock House cobblestone Somerset cover
Babcock House
Golden Hill State Park March lighthouse
Golden Hill
Holley Falls
Holley Falls
Highland Park March Witch Hazels
Witch Hazel
Highland Park March hellebore
Hellebore
Highland Park March snow drops
Snowdrop
lamberton conservatory spring show march 2021
Lamberton Conservatory

March

I headed east to Packard Valley Farms for Maple Weekend, featured above as one of our Top 9 favorites.

I spent another day heading west along the Lake Ontario shore, stopping at Golden Hill State Park, the beautiful Babcock House cobblestone, and Olcott Beach, then home again along the canal through Medina, Albion, and Holley. I love driving around the back roads looking for cobblestones and barn quilts.

March is when I start searching for early signs of spring. I enjoy wandering around Highland Park, including the Sunken Garden, looking for Snowdrop, Witch Hazel, and Hellebore, and the start of Glory-of-the-Snow and Siberian Squill which are most glorious in April. Plus, the Spring Show inside Lamberton Conservatory begins in late-March, featuring fragrant hyacinth, colorful tulips, and playful daffodils.

Temple Sinai
Temple Sinai
The Stutson House
Stutson House
Braddock Point Lighthouse
Braddock Point
Braddock Bay Marina Trail April
Marina Trail
Memorial Art Gallery Creation Story declaration of womens rights
MAG
Memorial Art Gallery ceiling
MAG
Cobbs Hill Jack-elope
Cobb’s Hill
Eastman Museum mid-April
GEM
Highland Park mid-April cover
Highland

April

Enjoyed an early morning hike through Corbett’s Glen from the Penfield lot, including a trail that leads up toward the railroad tracks and Temple Sinai. Temple Sinai is one of the many special creations of architect James H. Johnson.

Many of my day trips throughout the year are focused on visiting very specific places, especially ones I haven’t been to yet or ones I need to photograph. So I spent a day capturing photos of lighthouses, libraries, and historic homes and businesses around Charlotte, Hilton, and Spencerport, with a much needed walk along the Braddock Bay Marina Trail.

I spent hours and hours exploring spring flowers and flowering trees at Highland, Mount Hope Cemetery, Memorial Art Gallery, and George Eastman Museum.

When a friend and her husband came to town, we explored Cobbs Hill and the water towers in Washington Grove. The highlight was seeing the new Jackalope.

Cayuga Seneca Canal Lock 1
Cayuga Seneca Canal Lock 1
Colonial Belle Erie Canal Newark
Newark
Memorial Day Carousel
Charlotte
City of Rochester wisteria May 22
Parcel 5
City of Rochester golden chain tree May 22
Parcel 5
Golden Chain Tree Lyons May 22 close
Lyons
Highland Park May 12 tulips cover
Highland
Genesee Country Village May 1
GCV
Powder Mills Park May 9
Powder Mills
Clyde Drumlin cover
Clyde Drumlins

May

Highland Park in May is as much a habit as it is a spiritual calling at this point in my life. Lilacs, Magnolias, and other flowering trees are at the height of their bloom alongside tulips and pansies.

The Wisteria and Golden Chain Trees were in bloom around Parcel 5. The best place to see Wisteria in full bloom is the Eastman mansion, but my timing was off this year and I kept finding myself there when the garden was closed for wedding photos.

I was very much looking forward to the Colonial Belle transit cruise from Seneca Lake to Phelps. Sadly, I woke that morning with a terrible migraine coupled with anxiety that prevented me from getting out to Waterloo on time. Several hours later, though, I felt up to taking a drive independently and visiting all of the locks we would have locked through and seeing if I could catch up with the Belle (I did in Newark.) It ended up being an amazing day after all that, with time spent in several canal towns, getting to see the Seneca-Cayuga Locks, and finding another beautiful Golden Chain Tree in the center of Lyons. Plus, the back roads through Wayne County led me around spectacular drumlin farmlands. (Can I dub these Drumlands?)

I enjoyed several openings in May. Opening weekend at Genesee Country Village, opening weekend for the Ontario Beach Park carousel, and the grand opening of the new Chili Public Library and Community Center.

Our timing was a little off to see the daffodils in bloom on the Daffodil Trail at Powder Mills Park. It’s still a great walk along Irondequoit Creek.

Strawberry Picking mother daughter cover
Strawberry Picking
Ellwanger Garden May 5
Ellwanger
north ponds park
North Ponds
Wat Pa Lao Buddhadham garden
Wat Pa Lao
Brockport Main St June
Brockport
Saras Garden Center blue sky
Sara’s
Monroe Community Hospital 2021
MCH
Hurd Orchard Holley
Hurd
St John the Evangelist Church cover
St John the Evangelist

June

I continued my mission to photograph the truly special architecture of James H Johnson with a visit to St. John the Evangelist Church in Greece. I’m currently working on an article and have started a Google Map of Johnson’s legacy you can reference to plan your own exploration.

I am in love with fresh strawberries and patronized Gro-Moore Farms in Rush several times this year.

I spent a day enjoying Ellwanger Garden and photographing Monroe Community Hospital.

I was overjoyed to attend a few cultural events, like the Celtic Faire at Genesee Country Village, and the summer food festival at Wat Pa Lao Buddhadham in West Henrietta.

Spent a day exploring the Erie Canal heading west from Adams Basin to Brockport and Holley, with a few stops to Hurd’s Orchards, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, and Sara’s Garden Center, one of our favorite hidden gems around Rochester.

And, my husband and I enjoyed a quiet walk around North Ponds Park in Webster.

Letchworth after heavy rains cover
Letchworth
Genesee Country Village July 4 hops barley
GCV
Genesee Country Village July 4 pie eating contest
GCV
Mount Morris Poppies
Metal Poppies
Trolleys and Trains by Twilight July
R&GV RR
Stony Brook State Park
Stony Brook
Rohrbachs Public Market
Rohrbach
Wickham Farms lavender
Wickham
Seneca Park Zoo lion reflection
Seneca Park Zoo

July

We enjoyed four of our Top 9 day trips above in July: Fort Stanwix, birthdays on Canadaigua Lake, Little Free Libraries, and a guided walk around High Falls.

A friend and I spent the day at Stony Brook State Park, with lunch and ice cream in Dansville. On the way home, I stopped to see the metal poppy field in Mount Morris. Each poppy is unique and sways in the breeze.

Each July we spend time picking fresh blueberries and raspberries at G and S Orchards, plus lavender at Wickham Farms.

From a parade and pie eating contests to games and entertainment, Genesee Country Village is a fun place to spend a few hours on the 4th of July. Hopefully they’ll be able to bring back the Naturalization Ceremony in the coming years as it’s my favorite part of Independence Day at GVCM.

We spent lots of time outdoors, with walks around Channing H. Philbrick (Linear) Park, Seneca Park Zoo, Rochester Public Market, and Letchworth after incredibly heavy rains.

I visited Sara’s Garden Center in Brockport several times this year, and added them to our list of hidden gems.

To round out the month, my husband and I attended Trains and Trolleys at Twilight, an event co-sponsored by Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad and the New York Museum of Transportation.

High Falls July cover
High Falls, Rochester
Lyndonville shoe trees
Lyndonville
Brockport 58 Main BBQ and Brew
58 Main
Greenwood Books
Greenwood
The Dog Eared Book
Dog Eared
Sulfer Books
Sulfer
Lincoln Hills Farm seating
LHF seating
Lincoln Hill Farms glamping tent
LHF glamping
Lincoln Hill Farms bar
Lincoln Hill Farms

August

Our August day trips included Corning, a guided walk at Seneca Park, and Olcott Beach—three of our Top 9 favorites from above.

But no trip to Olcott would be complete without a stop at the Lyndonville shoe trees (a fun roadside attraction) and diner at 58 Main BBQ in Brockport.

And so many bookstores! I needed more photos of our local indie bookstores and my daughter “needed” more books. So we spent two days patronizing several shops in the city and canaltowns.

Other wanderings included Ontario Beach Park, Braddock Bay, Highland Park, High Falls, and Genesee Country Village.

Plus, we had the opportunity to tour Lincoln Hill Farms in Gorham. The property is absolutely fascinating with concert, festival, and wedding facilities, plus glamping for groups on 80-acres of historic farmland.

Moon Beach near Braddock Bay
Moon Beach
Braddock Bay
Braddock Bay
Hose 22
Hose 22
Ontario Beach Park September cover
Ontario Beach
Corbetts Glen September waterfall
Corbett’s Glen
Pinball at Strong Museum of Play
Pinball
Mount Hope Cemetery September tree
Mount Hope
St Januarius Church
St Januarius
Jump Off Trail September
Jump Off

September

I enjoyed several guided walks this month including Gateway Park, Genesee Country Village, and Mount Hope Cemetery.

We went apple and nectarine picking at Blue Barn, grape picking at Jerome’s, and pumpkin picking at Stokoe Farms.

I was able to take my dad to a Red Wings game and take my mom and dad to the Strong National Museum of Play for a few hours of Pinball.

I was invited for a sneak-peek of the Landmark Society’s Octavern event at the Stone-Tolan House.

My husband and I spent a day wandering around Naples and Bristol, including a stop at the Jump Off and another James H. Johnson designed building—St Januarius Church in Naples.

Enjoyed a day Ontario Beach Park, plus more wanderings around the Sunken Garden, Corbett’s Glen, Braddock Bay, Erie-Attica Rail Trail, and Mendon Ponds.

Keeping it Classy Cycle Club Fall Classic Bike Ride
GVP Fall Classic
JELL-O Barn LeRoy
JELL-O Barn
Akron Falls Murder Creek October
Akron Falls
Letchworth October overlook
Letchworth
Nations Road October
Nations Road
Devils Bathtub October
Devils Bathtub
Mount Hope Cemetery October Weary Pilgram
Mount Hope
Letchworth October Autism Nature Trail
Letchworth
Pirate Ship Chili Halloween
Pirate Ship

October

Day trips in October included a few Top 9 favorite guided walks at Turning Point Park, ARTISANworks, and Highland Park. Also in our Top 9 above was my trip to the Genesee Valley Hunt Races.

I was able to get back to Akron Falls (one of our favorite hidden gems), and tied in stops in Batavia at Oliver’s Candies, War Of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden, and the Holland Land Office Museum, plus stops in LeRoy along Oatka Creek. I made a special stop back to LeRoy on a cold, rainy day to check out the colorful Mail Pouch Tobacco/JELL-O Barn, the JELL-O Gallery, and the LeRoy House.

A few activities rounded out the month: A trip to Genesee Valley Park to witness the Keeping it Classy Cycle Club Fall Classic Bike Ride, a walk along the Brickyard Trail in Brighton and Autism Nature Trail in Letchworth, through Channing H Philbrick (Linear) Park and Mendon Ponds, and my indoor happy place, RMSC’s Strasenburgh Planetarium.

And no October is complete without a walk through Mount Hope Cemetery, a scenic leaf-peeping drive down Nations Road and through Letchworth, a walk through Highland to see the Dead Man’s Fingers turn blue, and a drive by the massive pirate ship constructed by a resident of Chili for the pure joy of celebrating Halloween.

George Eastman Museum November garden
GEM
Genesee Country Village prep for winter
GCVM
RMSC Planetarium Holiday Laser Show
RMSC
Ginko
George Eastman Museum gingerbread house
GEM
Cobbs Hill Pinnacle Hill October
Pinnacle
Cobbs Hill October
Cobbs Hill
Highland Park November colors
Highland

November

Early November is prime time for fall foliage. This included one of our favorite trips from above—a hike through Durand-Eastman Park—and scenic hikes and drives through Seneca, Letchworth, Cobb’s Hill, Mount Hope Cemetery, and Highland, plus a guided walk around Charlotte.

November traditionally includes events themed to preparing for winter at Genesee Country Village and getting into the holiday spirit with George Eastman Museum’s Gingerbread House displays, and the holiday laser show at the planetarium.

Highland December walk across tree cover
Highland
Christmas Lights Riverton Nuthatch
Nuthatch
Book Culture Pittsford
Pittsford
Lamberton Conservatory Holiday Show December
Lamberton
Mendon Ponds December reflection
Mendon
Royalton Ravine rubberband bridge
Royalton Ravine

December

No December would be complete without visiting as many homes decorated in Christmas lights as possible. The holiday theme continues with the Lamberton Conservatory Holiday Show, the lighting of the Liberty Pole and Genesee Brew House Keg Tree, and Yuletide in the Country at Genesee Country Village.

The last guided walk for the year took us through Genesee Valley Park.

I took a few walks around Christmas Day with my daughter through Mendon Ponds Park and Highland and spent a few hours wandering around the Village of Pittsford, checking out the new Neutral Ground Coffeehouse and Book Culture.

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I headed out to Royalton Ravine for a perfectly wonderful muddy and bouncy end to the year.

My 2020 Day Trips

My favorite day trips in 2020 weren’t so different from our 2019 trips except they were a little less often, with less stops and less people.

Read more

My 2019 Day Trips

I hope this list of my day trips around Rochester helps inspire your adventures! It’s amazing what you can see when you start exploring.

Read more

132 Things to Do Around Rochester

We’ve pulled together a list of fun and unique things to do around Rochester, NY, within two hours of home—perfect for quick getaways.

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What were your favorite day trips around Rochester in 2021? Planning anything good for 2022?

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 daytrippingroc.com and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

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