The weather over holiday and winter break can be unpredictable! Here are several ideas for spending your days off outside or inside!
Enjoy Staying Warm Indoors
1. Visit some of our 32 Monroe County Libraries
Visit your favorite library or check out a new one. 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.
2. Hands-on activities
- Work with glass or metal at Studio 34 Creative Arts Learning Center, Arc+Flame, or Corning Museum of Glass.
- Cook a full menu at Tops Cooking School or buy the ingredients to make a meal together at home.
- Glaze your own pottery at Splatters or Color Me Mine.
- Spend an afternoon on winter break playing pinball and arcade games at The Strong National Museum of Play, The Playhouse // Swillburger, or Silverball Saloon.
3. Rochester Museum & Science Center
Interact with large Ice Age exhibit, simulator rides, Singing Tesla Coils, an extensive Native Peoples wing, and a recently-restored diorama of Rochester. If you’ve not visited the Planetarium is a while, it re-opened in January 2019 with state-of-the-art visual and audio technology and is out of this world!
Snowed In: Winter Break Science Days at RMSC, Dec. 26 through Jan. 30
Discover the wonders of winter with hands-on activities and demonstrations by RMSC staff and meet & greet with local scientists and organizations to explore the wonders of science and technology happening across our community. Visitors will be able to try their hand at programming our Snozo-bots, engineering snow forts, launching snowball catapults and more. Outside community presenters* sharing their science and time with us this year include:
- Astral Solar
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- Astronomy Section Rochester Academy of Science (ASRAS)
- Rochester Amateur Radio Association (RARA)
- University of Rochester’s Brain Awareness Campaign
- Wonders of Vacuum Science & Tech
In addition to our guest presenters, daily workshops will include:
- Snow Daze: Construct a catapult and send snowballs soaring, learn why snowflakes are a true symmetrical winter wonder, and create an ice-skating program for our Snozo-bots
- Snow City: Take the Snozo-bot snowplow challenge to see if you can program a robot to clear the most snow from the roads in the least amount of time, construct an igloo, show off your architectural skills by creating your own snow fort.
Visitors will also be able to explore, the RMSC’s new featured exhibit, SciFiTech, exploring the how science fiction has influenced modern technology. With interactive displays and exhibits around every corner, paired with references to classic sci-fi novels and films and the technology they predicted, this exhibit will be fun for the whole family.
4. The Strong National Museum of Play
The Strong has a wealth of interaction for toddlers, school-aged children and adults, including play-shopping at Wegmans! The butterfly garden is the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York. With a rain-forest environment it’s the perfect retreat during holiday or winter break!
5. 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.
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.
7. Explore one of the 91 other museums around Rochester
- Museum of the Earth
- Explore & More Children’s Museum
- Museum of Science & Technology
- Buffalo Museum of Science
- Corning Museum of Glass
- Medina Railroad Museum
- Rochester Auto Museum
- Niagara Power Vista
- National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House
- view more
8. Visit an old country store
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.
9. Try a new restaurant
Try one of these 243 highly recommended restaurants, diners, cafes, pubs, bakeries, and bars! Some of these food destinations are well-established, while others are quickly becoming favorites as Rochester’s culinary scene explodes.
10. Volunteer your time and talent
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.
Enjoy Winter Break Outdoors
11. Snow sports
Snow sports and other outdoor winter activities are a great way to shake the winter doldrums with exposure to fresh air, exercise, and sunshine.
12. Discover a hidden place
We drive past some of Rochester’s most unique features every day, completely unaware that these hidden places exist!
13. Seneca Park Zoo
The Seneca Park Zoo is open all year round. Visit in the winter for a completely different experience.
14. Tinker Nature Park
Tinker Nature Park offers a 1.2 mile flat perimeter trail for jogging, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or walking.
15. 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. There’s nothing quite like seeing the falls after a period of sustained freezing temperatures. Bundle up!
16. Roadside attractions
Here are 36 unusual Finger Lakes, Western New York and Rochester-area roadside attractions that make for an interesting day trip.
17. State parks
Venture into one of 49 New York State Parks within a 2-hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them each unique! They are free in the off-season, with fewer amenities available (no restrooms or food) so plan ahead.
18. Monroe County parks
Our 20 Monroe County parks are always free, so take advantage of 12,000 acres of natural, zoological, horticultural, historical and geological experiences!
19. Town parks
These five town parks have a unique offering of woods, wildlife, and water features to explore using pavement, hard-pack dirt, wood chips, gravel and boardwalk. Explore them all during your holiday or winter break.
20. Nature centers
Our 48 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.
21. Lake Ontario Beach Park + pier
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. The pier can be wild and in-accessible after wind and rain have iced over, but, wow, what a scene! Explore along the lake shore during winter break to observe natural ice sculptures and the wildlife that tough it out.
22. 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! Check out the boat houses on Canandaigua Lake, or the gardens on Conesus at Vitale Park for an interesting twist on a summertime destination. Watch folks ice fishing, or give it a try yourself!
23. 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. They take on new personalities in the wintertime.
24. Become a citizen scientist
Take a closer look at these Rochester citizen science opportunities and see how you can get involved!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.Margaret Mead
What are your favorite holiday & winter break activities?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!