If you’re familiar with Roadside America and Atlas Obscura you’ll know both sites are dedicated to plotting out odd roadside attractions all over these United States (think America’s largest ball of twine.)
Spend a day checking out these unique & unusual roadside attractions—shoe trees, a skeleton army, a metal dragon, a shark girl—within 2.5 hours of Rochester.
Table of Contents
- City of Rochester
- Monroe County
- Genesee County
- Wayne County
- Ontario County
- Livingston County
- Orleans County
- Niagara County
- Erie County
- Onondaga County
- Cattaraugus County
- Chautauqua County
- Seasonal Attractions
Roadside Attractions in the City of Rochester
1. Whispering Pines Miniature Golf Course
Whispering Pines is America’s oldest miniature golf course. Play a round on your way home from Seabreeze.
2. Yellow Brick Road between Park Ave & East Ave
The Yellow Brick road connects Goodwin Park at the end of Sibley Place to Park Ave just south of Alexander.
3. Giant Pencil
Just outside Writers & Books on University Ave., this giant pencil is a great photo op.
Down the street, look for other roadside art installations, like the umbrella bus stop and rainbow-colored walkway.
4. Creation Story
There are “two heroic figures at the corner of Goodman and University as well as 17 diminutive bronze muses scattered throughout the Park.” Look high and low!
5. Argentum: Double-Positive
“The texts highlight the creativity and invention that have been the core industry of the City of Rochester for decades.”
6. Tea in the Square
While you are in the neighborhood visiting the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, head down Madison Street to Anthony Square to find her enjoying tea with Frederick Douglass.
7. The Liberty Pole
The current pole is the 3rd iteration, erected in 1965. The original pole first stood here in 1846. Designed by James H. Johnson, the architect of The Mushroom House and Phillis Wheatley Community Library.
8. Phillis Wheatley Community Library
Speaking of the Phillis Wheatley Community Library, it was build in 1971. The library is named for Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753 – 1784).
She was the first published African-American woman and first published African-American poet. You’ll also enjoy the beautiful street art around the building.
Monroe County Roadside Attractions
9. The Mushroom House
Private property but still great roadside-eye-candy! Located on the way to, but just outside, Powder Mills Park. Designed by James H. Johnson, the architect of The Liberty Pole and Phillis Wheatley Community Library.
10. Wat Pa Lao Buddhadham
Have you ever found yourself driving along an average country road, turned a corner or crested a hill or cleared a hedgerow to see something completely unexpected?
That’s how most folks stumble upon Wat Pa Lao Buddhadham on Martin Rd in West Henrietta, NY. Here’s the story of one person’s journey to discover more about it.
11. Vest Pocket Park Totem Pole
Vest Pocket Park, home of the famous Honeoye Falls Totem Pole, is a small park located on W. Main St. There are several picnic tables and benches and has a lovely view of Honeoye Creek and the falls.
Genesee County Roadside Attractions
12. Big Metal Dragon &
13. Tiny Bus
You can’t miss these when you drive up. The bus and the dragon are right across the street from each other; you will probably notice the bus first as it is closest to the road and bright yellow.
14. The Statue of Liberty on Wolcott Street
This Lady Liberty stands 8 1/2-feet tall—the same size as the original’s index finger.
In 1950, the Boy Scouts of America, in celebration of their 40th anniversary, purchased 200+ copper statue replicas for municipalities throughout the country; only 100 remain today. She was recently restored to her original glory and place overlooking Oatka Creek.
15. Rolling Hills Asylum
The location is so rural Google has yet to street-view map it! Rather surprising with its well-documented haunted history.
Wayne County Roadside Attractions
16. Very Large Book of Mormon
Located near the visitor center at the foot of Hill Cumorah.
Also, make sure to drive up the hill above the visitor center for a sweeping west-facing view.
17. Fox Sisters, birth place of Spiritualism
One of the greatest religious movements of the 19th century began in the bedroom of two young girls living in a farmhouse in Hydesville, New York.
You can continue on your spiritual-ism journey by visiting Lily Dale.
18. Clyde Blockhouse
Clyde Blockhouse, 1758, Wayne County, Town of Galen. Constructed about 1758 near the Clyde River, supposedly by “Indian Traders.” This trading station was reported to have been a smuggling station from Canada during the American Revolution.
A settlement grew up around the blockhouse originally known as Lauraville and then later the Village of Clyde.
Ontario County Roadside Attractions
19. Canandaigua City Pier Boat Houses
Take a walk or drive down the Canandaigua City Pier and check out Boathouse Row.
Interesting fact: Homeowners are prohibited from actually living in these boathouses—they are for daytime use only.
Ontario County Roadside Attractions
20. I Love NY
Find this giant photo op in Geneva on the shore of Seneca Lake, just outside the Finger Lakes Welcome Center.
Livingston County Roadside Attractions
21. Geneseo Tree House Creations
From Facebook, “Tree Creations is a growing tree house village (at a private residence), consisting of themed tree houses connected with rope bridges for all to enjoy!”
You can make an appointment to explore or visit during an open “tree” house. According to their Facebook page, they open when leaves are on the trees, “available for visits and play from Late June until September.”
Orleans County Roadside Attractions
22. The Shoe Trees
Footwear has found its way into these branches for several decades. Successfully catching your shoes in the branches will grant a wish, or good luck.
23. The Only Tunnel Under the Erie Canal
This road is the only road known to go under the Erie Canal, with a plaque noting that it was featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
24. Medina Church in the Middle of the Street
St . John’s Episcopal, erected in 1832, was the first church in the village of Medina. It is listed in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not because Church Street divides to go around the building.
25. The Big Apple
A symbol of the region’s exceptional apple industry.
Niagara County Roadside Attractions
26. Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima
Enjoy a self-guided tour of 15 acres of gardens surrounding the glass Dome Basilica. You can climb the steps to the top and stand next to a 13-foot statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
There are 100+ life-size statues encircling the heart-shaped Rosary Pool.
27. Upside-Down Railroad Bridge
Rumor has it that the railroad built it this way to block tall ships delivering goods on the canal.
And if you are familiar with the history of conflict between the emerging railroad and existing canal, the railroad had intentionally hindered canal transport making sure bridges were so low larger ships (carrying more cargo) could not pass.
28. Second Coming House of Prophet Isaiah
Prophet Isaiah Henry Robertson passed away in January 2020, leaving some uncertainty as to the future of this magnificent home so see it while you can.
29. Haunted House of Wax
For as poor as the reviews are, and as small the attraction, I’m surprised at its prime real-estate!
30. The Turtle-Shaped Building
The building has been vacant for 22 years, but is still a major roadside attraction. Check out this 2017 news article.
Erie County Roadside Attractions
31. Vidler on the Roof Statue
The most treasured 5 & 10 with candies you’ve not seen since childhood. Vidler’s is the perfect place for fun stocking-stuffers.
32. Wilkeson Pointe Park Whirligigs
Not only a really cool roadside attraction, it’s a beautiful location on Lake Erie.
33. Patriots and Heroes Park
An interesting place to sit and reflect. The monuments and detail are fascinating!
34. Ridgelawn Gardens Cemetery Stonehenge
You can’t see it from the main road, but drive in and veer left & you can’t miss it. But make sure you’re in Ridgelawn Cemetery and not Buffalo Cemetery right next door.
35. Canalside’s Shark Girl
Shark Girl is an extremely popular 2014 art installation by the Albright-Knox Gallery.
36. Forest Lawn Cemetery
There are so many roadside attractions in Forest Lawn Cemetery. A beautiful park-like cemetery with extraordinary final resting places.
Onondaga County Roadside Attractions
37. Victorian House On Top of a Factory
The fun part of this quirky roadside attraction is that no one ever lived in the house. I had thought maybe it was a zoning law hack, but no. It simply hides equipment on the roof.
In an article on syracuse.com, it was build as a gimmick to attract attention to the business. I’d say it worked.
38. Green-on-Top Traffic Light
The traffic light at the intersection of Tompkins & Milton Tipperary Hill in Syracuse has its green light at the top—a symbol of Irish pride and resilience.
Cattaraugus County Roadside Attractions
39. Griffis Sculpture Park
The main Mill Valley Road site is definitely something that need to been explored on foot over several hours. But the Rohr Hill Road site is something you can enjoy just looking out the car window!
Sculptures like these pictured above can be found on both sides of Rohr Hill Road and are freely accessible by car whenever the roads are safe for driving.
The view is extraordinary, especially in the fall, and lots of folks stop to take pictures here.
Though this is technically part of the Griffis Sculpture Park, there are no restrooms or amenities.
Chautauqua County Roadside Attractions
40. Scary Lucy & Lovely Lucy
Sculpted by Dave Poulin in 2009, Scary Lucy shows Lucille Ball during her famous tipsy TV pitch for Vitameatavegamin health tonic.
A new Lovely Lucy statue, sculpted by Carolyn Palmer, arrived in August 2016, but the town of Celoron decided to keep Scary Lucy as well.
It’s become a destination for visitors to Lucy’s hometown in Jamestown, NY.
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.
41. Christmas Lights
Because December is the darkest month, we welcome these 7 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!
42. The Skeleton Army
Head out to Hopewell near Canandaigua for this amazing Halloween display!
Over 200 skeletons (humans, horses, dinosaurs and dogs!) are marching on the home, which is heavily defended by trees (think of the Ents from Lord of the Rings).
The term street art means different things to different people. Here, we interpret street art to mean any outdoor, free, public wall art.
Where are your favorite roadside attractions?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!