Seneca Park Zoo polar bear cover

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.

The zoo is open all year long, and is continuously upgrading facilities and adding exhibits. “A Step into Africa,” a 2006 addition, features African Lions and Elephants. “Animals of the Savanna” opened in 2018, featuring Giraffes.

Behind the Zoo, there is a trout pond surrounded by pavilions, a playground and hiking trails that take you up close with the Genesee River. The trails are part of the Genesee Riverway Trail.

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Seneca Park Zoo in summertime

Naturally, everything is more active in the non-winter months. The animals spend time outside, there’s more visitors walking about, the Tram is in operation, and there are more events, like Zoo Brew.

Seneca Park Zoo winter snow leopard
Seneca Park Zoo winter tiger 2
Seneca Park Zoo winter red panda
Seneca Park Zoo winter giraffe
Seneca Park Zoo winter sea lion
Seneca Park Zoo winter walking
Seneca Park Zoo winter rainbow
Seneca Park Zoo winter sign
Seneca Park Zoo winter pathway

A beautiful place to walk in wintertime

The Seneca Park Zoo is open all year. And while many animals prefer to stay comfy-cozy inside or in a den, some species, such as polar bears and Amur tigers, enjoy the long, cold Rochester winters.

Seneca Park drive
seneca park pond
seneca park parking
Seneca Park Genesee River access
Seneca Park Genesee River access
Seneca Park north trail
Seneca Park Genesee River access
Seneca Park north trail

Olmsted Trail North

1 mi. (one way)

This trail leads along the river nearly to Lake Ontario, with three optional descents to the riverside. The sign reads,

“Olmsted Landing: A park should be accessible to the poor as well as the rich. It should be the beauty of the fields, the meadow, the prairie, or green pastures, and the still waters. What we want to gain is tranquility and rest to the mind.”

Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn
Seneca Park pedestrian bridge autumn

Olmsted Trail South

0.7 mi. (one way)

Both the North and South trails begin at Trout Pond. This south trail ends at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River and connects Seneca to Maplewood, its sister Olmsted-designed park.

The bridge is accessed using stairs or ramps on both sides.

Helpful transportation

The Zoo has a seasonal tram to help transport visitors to the extreme ends of the park, for a small fee each way-$2 for adults and $1 for youth and seniors. It does not go through the zoo.

The tram runs weekends only starting in mid-April, daily Memorial Day through Labor Day, back to weekends only through ZooBoo.

The pathway is primarily downhill from the entrance to the Savanna. I’m betting most people walk through the park then take the tram back to the entrance. There is now a gift shop in the Savanna area where tickets can be purchased.

More information about Seneca Park

Cost: Free for Park, Admission Fee for Zoo (see website for admission fees)

Located in the City of Rochester (get directions)

More information on the park plus trail map

More information on the Zoo

Seneca Park Zoo tiger stained glass
This stained glass tiger
from the old zoo building, torn down in 2018.

22 Monroe County Parks

Monroe County parks are free and offer 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical, and geological experiences.

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26 Easy Winter Walks Around Rochester

Each destination offers a unique perspective of the Rochester area’s natural beauty, from snow-covered parks to picturesque waterfronts.

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Exploring The Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the river merges with the Erie Canal and continues north through Rochester before reaching Lake Ontario.

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Rochester’s Olmsted-Designed Parks

Rochester is fortunate to be one of a handful of American cities with a park system comprised of Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks.

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What do you enjoy most about Seneca Park?

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.

1 thought on “Seneca Park and Zoo”

  1. Hey my name is Maurice Green I am 33 years old and I’ve been going on these trails for as long as I can remember if course my parents brought us first but as we got a little bit older me my brothers and friends started to do these trails on are bikes and the one to the zoo starts Maplewood rose garden this is a trail I’ve road a hundred times and now showing my kids I am now paralyzed and so glade I did them so many times and now my kids can

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