We’ve pulled together a list of fun things to do around Rochester for college students, adults, and families within two hours of home—perfect for quick getaways. There is so much cool stuff to do you’ll easily find somewhere new to explore every weekend of the year.
1. 14 Hidden Places Around Rochester
We drive past some of Rochester’s most unique features every day, completely unaware that these hidden places exist!
2. Transcending Places: 37 Alternate Reality Destinations Around Rochester
Rather than an escape, I prefer to think of these as transcending places that encourage us to transcend space, time, and state of mind.
3. 80 Hiking Trails
Here are a few less populated, rustic, or unusual trails around Rochester that will inspire you to take a hike.
4. 49 New York State Parks Within a 2-hour Drive of Rochester
Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a 2-hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them each unique!
5. 4 Old Country Stores
When you walk into one of these old country stores, you feel like you are stepping back in time with aisles of old fashioned toys, knickknacks and candies.
6. Quirky Rochester-Area Roadside Attractions
Here are a few unusual Finger Lakes, Western New York and Rochester-area roadside attractions that make for an interesting day trip.
7. Top 39 Ice Cream Shops Around Rochester
We love these ice cream shops for their outstanding atmosphere, taste, variety, and innovation. Try a specialty flavor like Concord Grape from Lynnie Lou’s, Lavender Goat Cheese from Eat Me, or Cookie, Fig and Honey from Hedonist.
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.
9. 28 Winter Walks Around Rochester
These ideas for winter walks should motivate you to step outside for some fresh air and, with any luck, sunshine. So bundle up and get out there!
10. 6 Spectacular Holiday Lights Around Rochester
These homeowners and communities go all out with their holiday lights to celebrate the season, so let’s get out there and celebrate with them!
11. Warner Castle Sunken Garden
When you stroll around the back of Warner Castle and down the lawn, you’ll discover the Sunken Garden. It’s a peaceful retreat, and beautiful anytime of the year.
12. Corbett’s Glen Nature Park
Corbett’s Glen 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.
13. 33 Roadside Waterfalls
Our roadside waterfalls near Rochester are spectacular, and for some, you do not need to get out of your car. Impressive waterfalls are not all buried in dark ravines accessible only by difficult trails.
14. Date Night
Whether it’s your first date or 50th, spending time trying new activities with your partner is a great way to connect, learn more about each other, and avoid the routine rut.
We’ve broken these ideas into themes to help you find a topic you already love or want to try.
15. 39 Natural Swimming Areas
On a hot day, you can sit under a waterfall, swim in a lake, or jump in a creek at one of these refreshing natural swimming areas.
16. Grimes Glen
There are few experiences like Grimes Glen around Rochester. The glen is public, free, and you are encouraged to walk in the water. Most people look forward to wading the creek to the first and second falls–both 60′ cascades.
17. Free Day Trips
Don’t let tight budgets stop you from exploring! These 10 ideas for free Rochester day trips will give you over 350 destinations to explore!
18. Channing H. Philbrick 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.
19. Water Trails: 58 Places to Explore Rochester’s Waterways
Depending on your definition, water trails are either formally marked routes along a navigable waterway, or simply any waterway suitable for canoes, kayaks, and small motorized watercraft.
20. 40 Public Gardens Around Rochester
Enjoy a peaceful afternoon at one of these arboretums, labyrinths, estate gardens, or botanical gardens, all within a two hour drive of Rochester.
21. 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.
22. 8 Gorge Trails Near Rochester
Gorge trails call out to us from their deep, dark, and cool caverns. They lead us along their timeline, exposing history as their waterfalls walk backwards.
23. 200+ Annual Events Around Rochester
Centered on food, drink, music, and culture these festivals & events around Rochester bring our community together throughout the year.
24. Street Art: Exploring Rochester’s Murals & Graffiti
The term street art means different things to different people. It covers everything from traditional sanctioned or non-sanctioned graffiti to community-sponsored wall murals. Here, we interpret street art to mean any outdoor, free, public wall art.
25. Get Into the Holiday Spirit
Rochester has plenty of ways to help you connect with your inner holiday spirit! Enjoy the stories, traditions, and experiences this season has to offer.
26. 13 Places to Spend Maple Syrup Weekend
In March, local producers open their sugar bush and sugar shacks to the community to celebrate the innovative process of turning sap into syrup during Maple Syrup Weekend.
27. 365 Highly Recommended Restaurants
Some of these food destinations are well-established, while others are quickly becoming favorites as Rochester’s culinary scene explodes.
28. 25 Rochester-Area Volunteer Experiences
I can’t think of a better day trip than one that helps others. Make time to volunteer your time and talent with one of these amazing Rochester-area organizations.
I’ve heard ARTISANworks described as a walk-through kaleidoscope, a bombardment on the senses, a 360° canvas, a space that defies all boundaries, a place that can’t be described but must be seen, surprising, inspiring, and in some instances shocking.
30. 9 Places to Rent Snowshoes
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.
31. Taughannock Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in our park system. You can walk in the creek and play in the tiny cascades along the gorge.
32. 20 Monroe County Parks
Monroe County parks are free, so take advantage of 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical and geological experiences!
33. Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve
At Penn Dixie, you keep every fossil you find, though it takes a keen eye and persistence to find the fossils, many of which are smaller than pebbles.
34. 9 Rochester U-Pick Seasons
There are U-Pick farms all around the Greater Rochester Area. Often times, picking your own product is as much a family adventure as it is entertainment!
35. 100+ Other Museums Around Rochester
It’s time to explore some lesser-know, off-the-beaten-path, and odd-collection museums around Rochester, NY.
36. 21 Historic Inns & Hotels Around Rochester
These historic inns around Rochester offer unique dining experiences. Unlike bed & breakfasts, their dining rooms are open to the public. Unlike restaurants, they offer lodging. And their food is as extraordinary as their stories.
37. Cheap & Free Concerts
Free outdoor concerts around Rochester start ramping up in June, when the city and surrounding towns kick off their summer music series and festivals.
38. 23 Craft Breweries in Monroe County
It can be overwhelming to consider all of the craft beverage artisans that call Western NY home. So, let’s focus on the ones we have in our backyard.
39. Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park comprises 14,350 linear acres along the Genesee River. It takes 30 minutes to drive from the Mount Morris entrance to the Glen Iris.
40. Lamberton Conservatory
Tropical plants need tropical temperatures, so visiting Lamberton Conservatory in winter is a welcome escape from the cold! Don’t miss the Spring Show that runs late-March through May and the Holiday Show in December.
41. 15 Miles on the Erie Canal
Of the Best 100 Miles on the canal, 85 of them are between Lockport and Palmyra. Here are a few ideas to start exploring your own 15 miles on the Erie Canal!
42. 5 Exceptional Waterfalls Near Rochester
Think of this as a starter-set of five exceptional waterfalls near Rochester that you should absolutely visit if you haven’t already!
43. 33 House & Garden Tours Around Rochester
Every year there are dozens of opportunities around Rochester to walk through grand and historic homes, and meticulously manicured garden spaces.
44. Eternal Flame Hiking Trail
When you reach the Eternal Flame, sheltered in a tiny cave under a beautiful little waterfall, you’ll find it is a fascinating reward for all of your hard work.
45. Explore Monroe County’s 19 Towns & Villages
Each has something unique to offer! It’s impossible to list them all, so here is just a taste of what makes each one special.
46. Little Rock City in Rock City State Forest
Little Rock City in Salamanca’s Rock City State Forest is free to explore! You could spend 20 minutes or two hours wandering through the boulders, some as large as houses.
47. Explore Evidence of Rochester’s Geologic History
These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history, filled with drumlins, fossils, house-sized boulders and a meromictic lake, will leave you awe-struck!
48. 20 Outdoor and Indoor Ice Skating Rinks
There are several options when looking for ice skating rinks around Rochester, NY. It first depends on whether you own your own skates or need to rent.
49. Fall Foliage: 6 Breathtaking Views Near Rochester
These destinations offer colorful fall foliage and varied landscapes so you can appreciate them each in their own unique way.
50. Paranormal Activities: Our Favorite Haunts
There is something about October that peeks our interest in paranormal activities. These day trips encourage you to explore the other side of Rochester.
51. Lily Dale Assembly
Lily Dale is a lake-side hamlet of Victorian homes and cottages. It is both quirky and peaceful; a spiritual community unlike nowhere else on Earth.
52. 48 Nature Centers, Preserves, Refuges, and Observatories
Our nature centers, wildlife preserves, management areas, etc., all serve to protect and sustain life, while making nature accessible to people to enjoy and learn from.
53. 25 Incredible Creeks
These creeks around Rochester impact us in such subtle ways they sometimes disappear into the background of our lives. Our creeks provide us with opportunities for recreation and relaxation.
54. Chimney Bluffs State Park
The bluffs, rising 175 feet above Lake Ontario, are fragile drumlins, like all of the truncated drumlins along this section of shoreline.
55. New York State & County Fairs
Our state and county fairs offer their own unique blend of agriculture, amusement and entertainment: parades, demolition derbies, contests, food, tractor shows and pulls, midway rides, vendors, livestock exhibits, and live music.
56. 81 Performing Arts Venues Around Rochester
Rochester has an excellent performing arts scene! Find plays and musicals by high school and college students, local professionals, and touring companies.
57. 9 Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario
These New York lighthouses are all within a two-hour drive of Rochester. And where there is a lighthouse there is a sweeping view!
58. 11 National Natural Landmarks
Recognized for their outstanding biological and geological resources, these National Natural Landmarks are all within a two-hour drive of Rochester.
59. Arcade & Attica Railroad
A 90-minute steam train ride from the historic station & museum to Curriers Depot through the countryside and farmlands that have remained virtually unchanged since the line was originally laid in the 1880’s.
60. 6 Authentic Dining-Car Diners
Diners were modular–manufactured in one place and moved by rail to the final location. They were designed to look like a train’s fine dining car.
61. Watkins Glen State Park
Glen Creek descends 400 feet along its 2-mile course through Watkins Glen State Park. Follow the 806-step Gorge Trail and wind your way over and under 19 breathtaking waterfalls.
62. Explore 39 Other Great Lakes Near Rochester
Rochester is well-known for our 11 Finger Lakes and 2 beautiful Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie. But there are even more fantastic, fresh-water lakes out there to discover!
63. Let Rochester’s Fun Facts Inspire Your Next Day Trip
I’ve been gathering Rochester’s fun facts for several years and am so excited to gather them all together here! Just some of what makes Rochester special!
64. Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area
Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area is a New York State Park located in the hills six miles south of Honeoye Lake.
65. “Hit the Trail” Passport
Pick up your “Hit the Trail Passport” booklet at Wegmans, or print your own! You’ll have everything you need to start your hiking adventure.
66. Spend a Day in the Finger Lakes Region
The Finger Lakes Region is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and right in our backyard! It is easy to get out there and explore.
67. 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.
68. 6 Amusement Parks Near Rochester
Oh, how we miss our amusement parks in the winter! When May comes around, you find the parks with dry-rides opening on the weekends, with the water parks opening closer to Father’s Day in mid-June.
69. Find the Darkest Sky Near Rochester
Locations northeast of Rochester close to Lake Ontario, or south of US-20 in the Finger Lakes will offer the darkest sky near Rochester.
70. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park
Sonnenberg Gardens is an exceptional example of the lavish wealth and philanthropy of the Gilded Age.
71. 15 Places for Downhill and Cross-Country 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.
72. Cobbs Hill and 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.
73. Sam Patch Erie Canal Tours
Sam Patch Erie Canal Tours are a great way to experience the canal, the locks, & learn about its history along your narrated cruise.
74. Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
You can climb the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse’s 40 foot high tower and enjoy the view of Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, and Ontario Beach Park.
75. Mendon Ponds Park
Mendon Ponds Park is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created landforms.
76. Rochester Railfans: Trains, Depots, Rail-Trails, Models, & Clubs
Our innovative use of the railroad, trolley, subway, and the Erie Canal helped develop the Rochester area as a center of manufacturing & commerce. Rochester railfans are incredibly lucky that passionate preservationists before us saw the value in retaining structures we can still appreciate today.
77. Ganondagan State Historic Park
Everything you will see and do at Ganondagan is centered around these core values: peace, cooperation, and respect for each other and the natural world.
78. Routes 5 & 20 Road Trip
Routes 5 and 20 is a beautiful 67-mile stretch of highway where NY-5 and US-20 converge. The path it takes is a foot trail of New York’s first people from the Hudson River to Lake Erie, between the Adirondacks and the Catskills, and over a rolling drumlin field.
79. 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.
80. The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail
The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail is the portion that runs along the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, from Fort Niagara in Youngstown to Fort Ontario in Oswego.
81. Historic Erie Canal Lock 62
Old Erie Canal Lock 62 is tucked just far enough off the beaten path that many do not realize it’s there, just over the hill behind Pittsford Plaza.
82. 12 Historic Movie Theaters
There is something about a 100-year-old small movie theater that enhances your experience and transcends you through space and time.
83. 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.
84. Museum of the Earth
Museum of the Earth focuses primarily on life in New York State beginning in the Cambrian Period, covering roughly 635 million years of geologic record.
85. 22 Sledding Hills Around Rochester
Monroe County Parks have the best sledding hills around Rochester! The great thing about sledding is that there are no barriers to entry.
86. 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.
87. 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.
88. High Falls
High Falls—called Genesee Falls back in our frontier days—is both the name of the waterfall and the district in the city where it can be found. There’s plenty of parking on both sides of the river.
89. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square
Concerts, events, and festivals at Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square are organized more frequently now, and the cascades behind the stage will make for a beautiful backdrop.
90. 18 Rochester-Area Chocolatiers
Any one of our fine Rochester-area chocolatiers makes for a great day trip detour or destination! Many of the chocolates are crafted by 3rd- and 4th-generation descendants using traditional family recipes with modern twists.
91. Braddock Bay
The Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area complex includes the bay and the surrounding wetlands.
92. Buttermilk Falls State Park
In Buttermilk Falls State Park, like most of the Finger Lakes gorge parks, stairs are the primary walkway along Buttermilk Creek. It’s a challenging hike and worth it!
93. Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Swallow Hollow Nature loop trail is an accessible trail of ramps, gravel pathways and boardwalks making it easier to enjoy this unique ecosystem.
94. 7 Wineries with Scenic Keuka Lake Views
There are sophisticated publications out there dedicated to the intricacies of wineries, vineyards, cellars, and tasting rooms in the Finger Lakes Region. Our priority is simply to show you which ones have the most spectacular scenic Keuka Lake views!
95. The Jump Off Trail
The Jump Off Trail is ADA-accessible and affords one of the most beautiful scenic views in the Finger Lakes Region.
96. Seneca Park & Zoo
The Seneca Park Zoo is a but a small part of the greater 297-acre Seneca Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893.
97. Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake is the westernmost Finger Lake and the closest to Rochester. You can drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes.
98. Webster Arboretum at Kent Park
Follow the pathways that meander around Webster Arboretum’s 40 acres of open spaces, flower & herb gardens, water elements, and a wide variety of trees.
99. Ellison Park
Established in 1926, it is our first official Monroe County 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. Many folks with their own kayaks and canoes launch them here and paddle to the bay through Lucien Moren & Tryon parks.
100. Ontario Beach Park
Lake Ontario Beach Park is located at the northernmost tip of the city of Rochester, and is bordered on the East by the mouth of the Genesee River.
101. Durand Eastman Park
Durand Eastman Park’s landscape design was inspired by the work that Olmsted had done 20 years earlier in Highland, Seneca, and Genesee Valley Parks.
102. Rochester Public Market
The Rochester Public Market is the place to grab the freshest local and wholesale fruit, veggies, seafood, beef, cheese, bread, flowers and spices. The market is surrounded by excellent restaurants, cafes, a donuts shop, and a distillery.
103. 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.
104. Stony Brook State Park
Stony Brook State Park is absolutely stunning year round, but my favorite time to visit is on a mild November day, once the crowds and heat of summer have slipped away.
105. 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.
106. Mount Hope Cemetery
Fun fact: There are more people dead in Mount Hope Cemetery (~350,000) than living in the City of Rochester (~208,000!)
107. Skaneateles Lake
The Village of Skaneateles has the most postcard-perfect strollable Main Street in the Finger Lakes region! You’ll find dozens of boutiques along Genesee St (US-20) and Jordan St specializing in art, home decor, toys, clothing, and food.
108. Rochester Museum & Science Center
Experience the vastness of the Universe, the confinement of hiding along the Underground Railroad, an ice age and an age of electricity all in a single day.
The new technology inside the Planetarium allows you to explore the solar system and the entire visible universe from any perspective. The quality of the images and near-real-time data is extraordinary!
On Saturday nights during the warmer months, when the sky over Rochester is clear, you can climb the winding 60-steps to the Planetarium Observation Tower & look through the telescopes at planets, nebula, and other stellar objects for FREE!
109. Vintage Drive-Ins
Yes, there are still drive-in theaters near Rochester! Avon’s Vintage Drive-In is the closest, but there are five others within a 90 minute drive.
110. Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is a 7,000-acre (28 km2) preserve located on the north end of Cayuga Lake, under one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway.
111. Strong Museum
The Strong National Museum of Play has a wealth of interaction for toddlers, school-aged children and adults, including play-shopping at Wegmans!
112. 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!
113. 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.
114. Genesee Country Village & Museum
All summer long the Genesee Country Village and Museum hosts themed events on the weekends like Highland Days, Civil War Days, and a Fiddlers Fair. In the winter, the village and nature center are open for Sundays strolls.
115. 32 Monroe County Libraries
Signing up for a free library card gives you access to all 32 Monroe County libraries! The Monroe Country Library System comprises town & village locations, Rochester Public Library branch locations, and the Central Library.
116. 5 Places in the City to Enjoy the Genesee River
At Genesee Valley Park, the Genesee River begins her journey through the city, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario.
117. Maplewood Park
Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from the Lower Falls to the Rose Garden and Kelsey’s Landing, ending just north of Route 104 at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee near King’s & Hanford’s Landing.
118. Hamlin Beach State Park
Hamlin Beach State Park has 7 miles of beautiful biking and walking trails, including a mile-long self-guided tour of a CCC/POW camp.
119. George Eastman Museum
The George Eastman Museum is a beautiful tribute to his life & legacy, and is the world’s oldest photography museum with one of the oldest film archives.
120. Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum
R&GV Railroad Museum is the only operating railroad museum and home to the largest collection of historic trains in New York State, with fun train rides every third weekend from April through December.
121. Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen
Farm Sanctuary sits on 175 acres in Watkins Glen, just west of Sugar Hill State Forest, and is home to more than 500 rescued farm animals.
122. New York Museum of Transportation
The New York Museum of Transportation houses fourteen full size trolley cars, a caboose, steam locomotive, antique highway and horse-drawn vehicles, and the various associated smaller items that illuminate our transportation history.
Your half-hour excursion on the only trolley ride in New York State is aboard one of the museum’s 87-year-old trolley cars.
123. 17 Discover Niagara Shuttle Stops
The round-trip on the Discover Niagara Shuttle takes around 2 hours if you’d like to simply enjoy the ride. Otherwise, you can hop on and off at any stop.
124. Cascadilla Gorge
Cascadilla Creek produces 8 waterfalls as it descends 400 feet through Cascadilla Gorge. The trail consists of stone steps, pathways, and bridges.
125. Ellwanger Garden
While the Ellwanger Estate is private, the garden is maintained by the Landmark Society and is periodically open to the public for special events.
126. Black Creek Park
At 1,505-acres, Black Creek Park is one of the largest of Monroe County’s 20 parks, second only to Mendon.
127. Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery has an extensive permanent collection, an incredible variety of traveling exhibitions, & a well-rounded calendar of events.
128. Canadaigua Lake
Canandaigua Lake is home to the smallest island, one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes. You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes.
129. Susan B Anthony House & Museum
Susan B Anthony’s passion for securing women’s right to vote started with her work as an agent of the anti-slavery movement.
130. Panama Rocks
Watch your footing, know your limits, and use common sense when it comes to climbing on the boulders at Panama Rocks Scenic Park.
131. 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.
132. Old Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara was active for 300 years as a strategic stronghold during the French and Indian Wars, War of 1812, American Revolutionary War, and American Civil War.
How many of these things to do around Rochester have you checked off your list? How many have you added?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!