Mushroom House

Roadside Attractions

If you’re familiar with Roadside America and Atlas Obscura, then you know both organizations showcase quirky and unusual roadside attractions throughout the United States, like the largest ball of twine in Kansas or the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Montana. Here are a few interesting things to see around the Rochester area while driving to your day-trip destinations.

Have fun finding these fun roadside attractions—shoe trees, a skeleton army, a metal dragon, a shark girl—within two hours of Rochester.

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

City of Rochester

Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza
Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza

Frederick Douglass Monument and Memorial Plaza

In 1899, the people of Rochester, New York, were the first in the United States to create a statue honoring an African American citizen. Initially placed in a prominent location in front of Rochester’s New York Central Train Station, the statue of Frederick Douglass was moved to the Highland Bowl in 1941. In 2019, it was moved again to a more visible spot on South Avenue. The memorial features a sculpture of the North Star, which represents a guide for people seeking freedom from enslavement and is the name of Douglass’ abolitionist newspaper. This original likeness inspired 13 fiberglass Frederick Douglass statues, which are currently undergoing restoration, and a bronze statue inside the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC). Once the figures are restored, they will be placed indoors at Rochester City Hall, the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, and the Aqueduct Building to protect them from the elements. Robinson Drive and South Avenue, douglasstour.com

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Highland Park in Rochester

Highland Park has even been described as a museum of exotic trees, many of which are the tallest of their species in the state, though few are native.

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A Range of Possibilities: Exploring Rochester’s Pinnacle Hills

The Pinnacle Range along Rochester’s southern border is a glacial moraine created by the retreating Wisconsin Glacier 12,000 years ago.

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Liberty Pole
Liberty Pole

Liberty Pole

The current pole, designed by architect James H. Johnson, is the third version of the original pole that the City of Rochester built in 1846. Liberty Pole Way

Memorial Art Gallery ceiling
Memorial Art Gallery
Memorial Art Gallery Creation Story scene
Memorial Art Gallery Argentum Double-Positive
Double-Positive

Memorial Art Gallery’s Centennial Sculpture Park

Many sculptures are on display on MAG’s 10-acre campus, but none are as prominent as Creation Myth. It features two significant figures at the corner of Goodman and University Avenues and 17 miniature bronze muses scattered throughout the park. Look high and low to find them all. Check out Argentum: Double-Positive in the evening, which includes two illuminated metal cylinders with text representing Rochester’s diverse history. 500 University Avenue, (585) 276-8900, mag.rochester.edu

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Memorial Art Gallery

The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester boasts a rich permanent collection and an impressive range of traveling exhibitions.

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Writers and Books
Writers and Books

Neighborhood of the Arts

Keep an eye out for roadside art installations like a giant pencil outside Writers & Books, an umbrella bus stop, and a rainbow-colored walkway in this neighborhood known for its abundance of public art. 740 University Avenue, notaba.org

Phillis Wheatley Community Library
Phillis Wheatley Community Library

Phillis Wheatley Community Library

The library, designed by James H. Johnson in 1971, was named in honor of the nation’s first published African American woman and first published African American poet. 33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way, (585) 428-8212, roccitylibrary.org

Susan B Anthony Frederick Douglass Lets Have Tea
Anthony Square

Tea in the Square

After touring the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, take a short walk down Madison Street to Anthony Square, where you’ll find the “Let’s Have Tea” statue featuring Susan and Frederick Douglass. 31 Madison Street, (585) 235-6124, susanb.org

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Susan B Anthony

Susan B Anthony’s passion for securing women’s right to vote started with her work as an agent of the anti-slavery movement.

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White Ladys Castle
The White Lady’s Castle

The White Lady’s Castle

Durand-Eastman Park
self-guided

Driving on Lake Shore Boulevard, you’ll find a little parking lot across from Lake Ontario, between Log Cabin Road and Zoo Road. Park and look up the hill to this view of the White Lady’s Castle.

Well, not a castle—it was a dining hall for beach-goers, torn down in the 1930’s. Atlas Obscura does a beautiful job of telling the story of the White Lady, her daughter, her vengeance, and her two white ghost dogs.

So take a walk and see if you can find any rumored apparitions of the White Lady searching for her daughter. Rumor also has it that this story inspired the 1988 movie The Lady in White. And don’t forget the White Lady tree!

Learn more about Durand Eastman at The Haunted History Trail of New York.

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Durand Eastman Park

Durand Eastman Park’s 977 acres include an arboretum, hiking trails around Durand and Eastman Lakes, and a swimming beach on Lake Ontario.

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Paranormal Activities: Our Favorite Haunts for 2023

There is something about October that piques our interest in paranormal activities. Explore the other side of Rochester!

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Monroe County

Powder Mills Park Rochester NY
Mushroom House

Mushroom House

View this private James H. Johnson-designed home from Park Road leading into Powder Mills Park. Use the fish hatchery parking lot and carefully walk along the roadside to admire its unique design. The best time to see the intricate details is in the winter and early spring, while trees are leafless. 142 Park Road, Perinton

Rochester's Fun Facts - Whispering Pines Mini Golf
Whispering Pines Mini Golf

Parkside Whispering Pines

Constructed in 1930, you can play a round at America’s oldest miniature golf course near Seabreeze Amusement Park. 4383 Culver Road, Irondequoit, (585) 323-1570, parksidediner.com

Serenity Dove Phoenix
Serenity Dove Phoenix

“Serenity” Dove/Phoenix

Find this magnificent metallic sculpture at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Five Mile Line Road. While it is private property, the owners welcome visitors to walk along a spiral pathway to view the public art project, Art as a Way to Peace, sculpted by James Seaman. It symbolizes peace born from the ashes of a global pandemic. You may already be familiar with Seaman’s work if you’ve seen the massive stainless-steel eagle along I-90 at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. 2826 Atlantic Avenue, Penfield, penfieldartscenter.com

Wat Pa Lao Buddhadham
Wat Pa Lao Buddhadham

Wat Pa Lao Buddhadham

As you gaze upon this incredible temple, you are momentarily transported to the beautiful landscapes of Laos. This architectural masterpiece, nestled among sprawling farmland on the outskirts of suburbia, is a true gem. 135 Martin Road, West Henrietta, watpalaorochester.com

Greater Rochester

Roadside attractions: Canandaigua Lake Boat Houses pier 2
Canandaigua City Pier

Canandaigua City Pier Boathouses

Take a walk or drive down the Canandaigua City Pier to see the 80 colorful boathouses. Interestingly, it is unlawful for owners to spend the night in their boathouse—they are for daytime use only. Canandaigua, Ontario County

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Explore Canandaigua

Of the five Finger Lakes closest to Rochester, Canandaigua Lake and the city’s historic downtown have the most to offer visitors.

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Five Arch Bridge
Five Arch Bridge

Five Arch Bridge

The 1857 abandoned railroad bridge on New York State Route 39 offers a scenic crossing over Conesus Creek, making it a lovely location for a picnic. 2100 Avon Geneseo Road, Avon, Livingston County

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Explore Livingston County

Take a drive through the Livingston County countryside to explore charming village Main Streets, historic districts, nature trails and lakes.

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Rochester-Area Roadside Attractions - Big Metal Dragon in East Bethany NY
Metal Dragon
Rochester-Area Roadside Attractions - Tiny Bus in East Bethany NY
Tiny Bus

Giant Metal Dragon and Tiny Bus

Find these two installations on either side of Transit Road near Keller Road. 10187 Transit Road, East Bethany, Genesee County

Seneca Lake Geneva I Love NY
Finger Lakes Visitor Center in Geneva on Seneca Lake

I Love New York Sign

Find a perfect photo op next to the massive sign on the shore of Seneca Lake at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center. 35 Lake Front Drive, Geneva, Ontario County, (315) 787-0007, taste.ny.gov

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Explore Geneva

Situated midway between Rochester and Syracuse on Route 5 and 20, Geneva feels like the center of the Finger Lakes region.

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barn JELL-O sign
JELL-O
Mail Pouch Tobacco Barn LeRoy
Mail Pouch

JELL-O/Mail Pouch Barn

Locate an advertisement for LeRoy’s world-famous invention on the south-facing side of the Asbury Road barn. On the north-facing side, there is a Mail Pouch Tobacco ad. Only two additional Mail Pouch ads still exist near Rochester, one on Akron Road in Lockport and the other on William Street at North Virginia Street in Waterloo. 9599 Asbury Road, LeRoy, Genesee County

Erie Canal Medina Culvert Road
Culvert Road

The Only Tunnel Under the Erie Canal

Also listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Culvert Road is the only road under the Erie Canal. Beep the car’s horn inside the tunnel—it’s tradition. 3699 Culvert Road, Medina, Orleans County

Lyndonville shoe trees
Lyndonville shoe trees

Shoe Trees

For decades, shoes have been hanging from the trees at the intersection of Lakeshore and Foss Roads. Legend has it that successfully catching a shoe in the branches will grant a wish or bring good luck. 12041 Lakeshore Road, Lyndonville, Orleans County

Statue of Liberty LeRoy NY
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

The Lady Liberty statue on Wolcott Street is eight feet tall, the exact measurement as the original statue’s index finger. In 1950, the Boy Scouts of America bought 200 copper replicas for cities nationwide, but only 100 remain today. 7 Wolcott Street, LeRoy, Genesee County

Livingston County Veterans Monument
Metal Poppies

Veterans Monument

At Hampton’s Corners Complex on New York State Route 63, just south of Geneseo, there is a field of 250 metal poppies that sway in the breeze. Each poppy was designed and welded by a veteran or a veteran’s family member in their honor. 5871 Groveland Station Road, Mount Morris, Livingston County

Surrounding Counties

Green-on-Top Traffic Light

At the intersection of Tompkins and Milton in Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill neighborhood, the traffic light has a green light at the top, symbolizing the Irish community’s pride and resilience. 106 Burnet Park Drive, Syracuse, Onondaga County

From the Onondaga Historical Society: THE IRISH & TIPPERARY HILL – The Irish have been a strong community on Tipperary Hill since the mid-1800s when the Great Potato Famine forced many out of Ireland. It was not unusual for immigrants from the same country, region, or town to settle near one another. Tipperary Hill was given its name due to the number of families who settled together there from the County Tipperary of Ireland. The area is best known for two things: the pubs and the “upside down” traffic light. In 1925, when the city first installed traffic lights, the Irish were appalled at the sight of the “British red” over the “Irish green.” In protest, they repeatedly threw stones at the lights and broke the original and all replacements. The alderman of Tipperary Hill, John “Huckle” Ryan, petitioned the city to hang the light upside down. The city agreed, but soon, the state stepped in, declaring it unsafe and insisting it be turned back over. The city obliged, but immediately, the light started malfunctioning for no apparent reason. The press jokingly pointed the finger at leprechauns fighting for the Irish. The residents of Tipp Hill again petitioned the city, calling the light an insult and demanding it either be flipped over or removed completely. Again, the city obliged, and the malfunctions stopped. To this day, the traffic light on Tipp Hill remains with the green light above the red.

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Explore Syracuse

A day trip to Syracuse should include a walk through its squares, exploring renowned museums, and indulging in delicious local food.

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Griffis Sculpture Park roadside wedding
Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

While the Mill Valley Road site needs to be explored on foot, enjoy the Rohr Hill Road site just by looking out the car window. You will find impressive sculptures on both sides of the road. The view is extraordinary, especially in the fall. 8810 Rohr Hill Road, East Otto, Cattaraugus County, (716) 667-2808, griffissculpturepark.org

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Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park features more than 250 sculptures that are whimsical, fantastical, and delightful, all integrated into the landscape.

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Explore Ellicottville

Ellicottville offers the perfect combination of outdoor adventures, boutique shopping, craft beverages, and delicious dining.

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Veterans and Heroes Park Buffalo America
Patriots and Heroes Park

Patriots and Heroes Park

This over-the-top park honoring our soldiers and first responders is an awe-inspiring place to pay tribute to those who serve our country. The eight intricate monuments, including the impressive large-scale replicas of iconic American landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, Washington Monument, and US Capitol Building, are truly captivating. 6675 Transit Road, Williamsville, Erie County

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Explore Buffalo’s Delaware Park

Delaware Park combines Buffalo’s cultural and recreational offerings along a two-mile path that winds around lakes, gardens, and meadows.

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Scary Lucy
Scary Lucy
Lovely Lucy
Lovely Lucy

Scary Lucy & Lovely Lucy

Two Lucy statues stand near each other in Lucille Ball Memorial Park near Jamestown. It is a popular must-see destination for visitors to Lucy’s hometown. The original Lucy statue, sculpted by Dave Poulin in 2009, depicts Lucy performing her famous tipsy TV pitch for Vitameatavegamin health tonic. Despite a new Lucy statue sculpted by Carolyn Palmer in August 2016, the village of Celoron kept both on display. 21 Boulevard Avenue, Celoron, Chautauqua County, (716) 487-4175, tourchautauqua.com

Second Coming House of Prophet Isaiah
Second Coming House of Prophet Isaiah

Second Coming House of Prophet Isaiah

The exterior of this home boasts thousands of vibrant designs and sculptures, making it a feast for the eyes. Sadly, the artist Prophet Isaiah Henry Robertson died on January 25, 2020. In response, the Kohler Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving art environments, purchased and donated the house to the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area. 1308 Ontario Avenue, Niagara Falls, Niagara County

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Explore Niagara Falls, USA

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

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Canalside Shark Girl
Canalside Shark Girl, images from Google Maps

Shark Girl

Shark Girl is a fiberglass sculpture of a girl with a shark’s head sitting on a boulder on the Immigrant Steps. This art installation was sponsored by the Albright-Knox Gallery in 2013 as part of their Public Art Initiative, which aims to bring art to public spaces around the city. 130 Main Street, Buffalo, Erie County

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Explore Buffalo’s Waterfront

From Canalside to Outer Harbor and RiverWorks to Silo City, there are a dozen excellent day trips from Rochester along Buffalo’s waterfront.

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Wilkeson Pointe Park Whirligigs up
Wilkeson Pointe

Wilkeson Pointe Park Whirligigs

At Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, the whimsical spinning metal structures are a fun attraction to enjoy while taking in the beautiful view of Lake Erie. 225 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo, Erie County, (716) 436-7100, buffalowaterfront.com

Google Map of Locations

View the map separately here.

Seasonal Roadside Attractions

Not all things worth seeing are permanent! Holidays and seasons bring out the creative side in all of us. Check out these displays when & while you can.

Endicar Irondequoit neighborhood holiday lights giraffe
Endicar Drive in Irondequoit

Christmas Lights

Because December is the darkest month, we welcome these spectacular Christmas lights around Rochester to brighten the night. These homeowners and communities go all out to celebrate the season, so let’s get out there and celebrate with them!

Roadside Attractions Skeleton Army Canandaigua Canandaigua Country Road 4
The Skeleton Army

The Skeleton Army

Head out to Hopewell near Canandaigua for this fantastic Halloween display! Over 200 skeletons (humans, horses, dinosaurs, and dogs!) are marching on the home, heavily defended by trees (think of the Ents from Lord of the Rings).

Haunted House on CR-4 on Facebook

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Street Art: Exploring Rochester’s Murals & Graffiti

Rochester has a vibrant street art culture, with dozens of murals, graffiti, and other forms of public art on display throughout the region.

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Easy Waterfalls

Not all waterfalls are hidden in dark ravines. Many of the region’s most stunning waterfalls can be viewed from the road or a short walk.

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20 Paved, Gravel, and Boardwalk Pathways for Easy Strolls

These paved pathways and boardwalks are ideal for folks using strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, or managing other mobility challenges.

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24 Hidden Places Around Rochester

From secret gardens to enchanting waterfalls, exploring hidden places around the Rochester area is the ultimate way to add some spice to your travel experiences.

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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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Off-the-Beaten-Path Books

New York Off the Beaten Path®
by Randi Minetor (Revised)

Bookshop | Amazon

Upstate New York Off the Beaten Path®: A Guide To Unique Places
by Susan Finch and Julie A Hill and Associates LLC

Library | Bookshop | Amazon

Upstate Uncovered: 100 Unique, Unusual, and Overlooked Destinations in Upstate New York
by Chuck D’Imperio

Library | Bookshop | Amazon

Weird New York: Your Guide to New York’s Local Legends and Best-Kept Secrets
by Chris Gethard

Library | Amazon

Unknown Museums of Upstate New York: A Guide to 50 Treasures
by Chuck D’Imperio

Library | Bookshop | Amazon

Secret Places: A Guide to 25 Little Known Scenic Treasures of New York’s Niagara-Allegheny Region, Including the Beautiful, the Bizarre, the Special, and the Sublime
by Bruce Kershner

Library

Secret Buffalo: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure
by Elizabeth Licata

Library

Where are your favorite roadside attractions?

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.

3 thoughts on “Roadside Attractions”

  1. Tree Creations (Tree Houses) in Geneseo, NY (listed on America’s Roadside Attractions) has a whimsical tree house village connected by rope bridges that includes an actual automobile and an airplane off the ground among the trees. It’s Free with an appointment and the contact info is on the website.

    1. Joe, that is a great recommendation! I actually didn’t think of Tree Creations as a roadside attraction, but I think you’re right! They are still on my list of places to visit. According to their Facebook page, they open when leaves are on the trees, “available for visits and play from Late June until September.”

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