OptOutside Rochester

OptOutside: 31 Ideas for Spending Time Outdoors

Here are a few ideas for you to OptOutside on Black Friday, or anytime of the year. Our state, county, town and city parks are a great place to start! The OptOutside movement began with the company REI to promote the importance of spending time outdoors, specifically on Black Friday. From REI,

This year, we are again closing our doors on Black Friday and paying our 12,000+ employees to spend time outdoors.

Cobbs Hill winter steps

1. 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.


Letchworth State Park ice volcano

2. Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park comprises 14,350 linear acres along the Genesee River. It’s such an interesting landscape in wintertime and a beautiful drive!


Niagara Falls Winter NY USA Luna Island

3. Niagara Falls, USA

Niagara Falls is beautiful year round, and I highly recommend going at different times throughout the year to witness the uniqueness of each season.


Taughannock Falls winter hiking
Taughannock Falls State Park near Ithaca, NY

4. Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in our park system. It’s also the only gorge trail officially open in the wintertime making it a great destination to OptOutside!


Brickyard Trail Sandra L Frankel Nature Park

5. Frankel Nature Park

Sandra L. Frankel Nature Park is a 72-acre linear park connecting the Brighton Town Hall and Library on Elmwood Ave with Buckland Park on Westfall Road. The 0.8-mile Brickyard Trail runs the length of the park.


Channing Philbrick creek

6. Channing H Philbrick Park (Linear Park)

As Irondequoit Creek passes through Channing H Philbrick Park in Penfield, it drops 90 feet over one mile giving us the cascades that make this park so special.


Tinker Park winter

7. Tinker Nature Park

Tinker Nature Park comprises 68-acres in Henrietta with a 1.2 mile flat perimeter trail for jogging, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or walking.


30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Rochester Hidden Sidewalk

8. 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 main entrances. OptOutside in winter for a different experience!


Turning Point Park walking winter
Turning Point Park

9. Turning Point Park

Turning Point Park’s most striking feature is a 3,572 ft-long bridge over the Genesee River Turning Basin, part of the greater Genesee Riverway Trail. Anywhere along the GRT is perfect to OptOuside!


Things to do around Rochester NY: Chimney Bluffs State Park

10. Chimney Bluffs State Park

Land and water clash at Chimney Bluffs, sculpting the most dramatic landscape on the Lake Ontario shore. You can experience massive earthen spires from above or along the lake shore on nature trails.


Corbetts Glen

11. Corbetts Glen Nature Park

Corbetts Glen Nature Park is a hidden green space in a suburban jungle, nestled in between an expressway and 2 highly trafficked roads near the Penfield/Brighton Town border.


Mount Hope Cemetery Autumn bike

12. Mount Hope Cemetery

Mount Hope Cemetery is a special place all year-round.


Monroe County Parks Seneca

13. Seneca Park

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


30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Lower Falls in Maplewood Park

14. Maplewood Park

Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls to just north of Route 104, ending at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee.


Durand Eastman Park Autumn Road

15. Durand Eastman Park

Sunlight filters through a canopy of maple, cherry, oak, tulip, sassafras, and beech trees, which are especially colorful in the fall. In winter, the textures of the various tree trunks, the evergreen hemlock and pine trees and the frozen lake make this a beautiful winter walk.


Webster Arboretum hedge entrance

16. Webster Arboretum at Kent Park

Follow the pathways that meander around Webster Arboretum’s 40 acres of open spaces, flower & herb gardens, water elements, a wide variety of trees, and an evergreen labyrinth.


Erie Canal Greece Canal Park

17. Greece Canal Park

Greece Canal Park encompasses 577 acres, with 4 easy walking trails varying in length under 1.5 miles over level or gently rolling terrain.


MacKay Wildlife Preserve Caledonia NY

18. MacKay Wildlife Preserve

There are interesting man-made and geologic wonders to discover at MacKay Wildlife Preserve in Caledonia, including a sea of round, moss-covered boulders.


Highland Park Reservoir in December

19. Highland Park

Highland Park was designed to be enjoyed year-round. Every pathway, every tree, every vista & every relationship between the land & water is intentional.


Holiday Spirit: Snowshoe snow sports

20. Snowshoeing

If you’re looking to spend more time outdoors, try snowshoeing! There are a few places around Rochester to rent snowshoes and learn how to use them.


Mendon Ponds Park Monroe County XC Skiing snow sports

21. Skiing

Skiing around Rochester is as much winter recreation as it is a social experience, competition, and a tradition. A few of these destinations also offer cross country ski rentals.


Cobbs Hill winter sledding

22. Sledding

The great thing about sledding as a snow sport is that there are no barriers to entry. Anyone can grab lid from a storage bin, pick the closest hill, and off they go! It’s free, it’s a quick thrill or an all day excursion, it’s fast, it’s slow, it’s safe, it’s adventurous. Sledding is whatever you want it to be.


Ice Skating Rinks: Martin Luther King Jr Park at Manhattan Square Outdoor Rink

23. Skating

There are several options when looking for ice skating rinks around Rochester. It first depends on whether you own your own skates or need to rent. It also depends on your preference for indoor or outdoor rinks.


Monroe County Parks - Oatka Creek Park

24. Oatka Creek Park

Oatka Creek Park in Wheatland is one of the more strollable in the Monroe County Park system, with little change in elevation along the 3.3 mile loop trail.


Meridian Centre Park

25. Meridian Centre Park

Meridian Centre Park is located off Winton Road. There are several points of access from the large parking area to the Erie Canal path.


OptOutside: Monroe County Ellison Park Rochester NY

26. Ellison Park

Irondequoit Creek meanders through Ellison Park on its way to Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario, offering visitors year-round fishing and non-motorized boating opportunities.


OptOutside: Helmer Nature Center bridge

27. Helmer Nature Center

The paths at Helmer Nature Center, made primarily of wood chip, boardwalk, and hard-pack gravel, are easy to navigate and clearly marked. There are sloped portions that take you down to the valley floor where the terrain around you is hilly and tree covered making it peacefully quiet.


OptOutside: Monroe County Parks Genesee Valley

28. Genesee Valley Park

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


OptOutside: Brighton Town Park

29. Brighton Town Park

Brighton Town Park is surprisingly serene, despite it being bordered on one side by office buildings and across the pond by a major expressway.


OptOutside: 30 Day Trips within 30 Minutes of Rochester: Erie Canal Fairport Thomas Creek Boardwalk

30. Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk

Most folks when visiting Fairport walk along the canal path not knowing that the Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk is running parallel to them. There is also a viewing platform where you can relax and take in the sights and sounds.


OptOutside: Powder Mills Park Rochester NY Pittsford

31. Powder Mills Park

Powder Mills Park favorites include the fish hatchery, and Daffodil Trail, and the Mushroom House, which is technically private property but still draws a crowd!


Where are your favorite places to OptOutside?

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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.