Rochester, New York grew from the biggest supplier of flour in the country to a booming, thriving city known for innovation, 140 fantastic festivals, 60 golf courses, and over 12,000 acres of parks.
Top things to do in Rochester, NY with kids include the Seneca Park Zoo, The Strong - National Museum of Play, and Rochester Museum & Science Center. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, apple picking, wedding venues and unique day trips.
1.The Strong - National Museum of Play
© The Strong - National Museum of Play
Imagine 150,000 square feet of exhibit space completely dedicated to toys: board games, dolls, video games, books, a century-old carousel, New York’s only indoor butterfly garden, exhibits on Berenstain Bears, Sesame Street, Monopoly, the Wizard of Oz, and numerous others. The Strong, or as it was previously known The Strong Museum of Play, is arguably one of the most exciting children museums in the world.
Its mission is to research and record the history of play and its role in human development and learning. The museum also provides home to research facilities and libraries dedicated to play, but mostly, it is just a lot of fun for the whole family.
1 Manhattan Square Dr, Rochester, NY 14607, 585-263-2700
2.Rochester Museum & Science Center
© Rochester Museum & Science Center
Science can be all kinds of fun, and your visit to Rochester Museum & Science Center will make you believe that. Climb a wall, zap lasers, build robots, throw a catapult, and fly through space. Get your imagination going as you wander through more than 200 interactive exhibits, exciting shows, and original collections. Uncover the natural wonders of the region, the world, and even beyond.
There are 1.2 million items in various museum collections that will engage all your senses. Science on a Sphere will show you our planet in 3D floating in front of your eyes. Take a virtual trip on a simulator, talk to a frog expert, and watch bolts of lightning just a foot away from you, among other exciting activities. The museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium, and Cumming Nature Center will inspire all kids to thing about becoming scientists.
657 East Ave, Rochester, NY 14607, 585-271-4320
3. Finger Lakes Wine Country
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Rochester is the perfect base for exploring the Finger Lakes wine country which produces some of the tastiest wines in the U.S. The Finger Lakes are eleven long, narrow, finger-like lakes in central New York with breathtakingly beautiful nature and a particular climate. The great depth of some of the lakes creates a lake effect, protecting the grapes from the worst of the area winters. As a result, more than 100 wineries cropped up in the region, producing some spectacular Chardonnays, Rieslings, pinot noirs, and many others, attracting wine lovers from all over the world.
Three well organized wine trails help visitors to see and taste as much as possible, and they allow them to see up to 35 wineries. The trails often include wine and food pairing, barbecues, and festivals. Wine country also offers great restaurants, markets, breweries and distilleries, along with several excellent museums such as Corning Museum of Glass, and magnificent parks such as Watkins Glen State Park.
1 W Market St #203, Corning, NY 14830, 607-936-0706
4.George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York
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The George Eastman Museum is located in a magnificent Colonial Revival mansion that George Eastman, the pioneer of modern photography, completed in 1905 and bequeathed to the University of Rochester upon his death. The university donated the mansion and surrounding property to the museum dedicated to the memory of George Eastman and his work.
It is is the oldest museum of photography in the world and one of the oldest film archives. The museum's original collections included the historical collection of Eastman Kodak Company, the Medicus collection of Alexander Gardner’s Civil War photographs, and the huge Gabriel Cromer collection. Thanks to many donations since then, the number of film and photography collection has greatly increased. The museum also holds frequent well-received temporary exhibits and is home to the 500-seat Dryden Theatre.
900 East Ave, Rochester, NY 14607, 585-271-3361
5.Things to Do in Rochester: Highland Park
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Spread over 150 acres of valleys and hills, Highland Park is a world-class arboretum and landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It includes 1200 lilac shrubs that comprise the site of the famous annual festival, a collection of Japanese Maples, 35 kinds of magnolias, a collection of barberries, a rock garden dotted with dwarf evergreens, more than 700 varieties of azaleas and rhododendrons, Andromeda, mountain laurel, horse chestnuts, a profusion of spring bulbs and native wildflowers, and many exotic trees.
Every year, the park's pansy bed with 10,000 plants features a different pattern. The park has a number of facilities and attractions such as the Lamberton Conservatory, the Greater Rochester Vietnam Memorial, Warner Castle, and the John Dunbar Memorial Pavilion.
180 Reservoir Ave, Rochester, NY 14620, 585-753-7270
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6.Rochester City Ballet
© Serenade choreography by George Balanchine, Courtesy of The George Balanchine Trust, Photo: Will Brenner
Since its inception in 1987, the Rochester City Ballet has been performing award-winning contemporary ballets. One of the company aims is to enrich the quality of life in the Rochester City community by providing performances for a broad range of people. The Sensory-Friendly performance for children, which was originally performed in May 2015 and was the first of its kind, allows children on the Autism spectrum to enjoy artistic performances. In addition to this, the ballet offers workshops, donates to underserved youth, and engages in outreach programs.
The Rochester City Ballet puts on several performances throughout the year, and all ticket information as well as the schedule of events can be found on their main website. In affiliation with the Rochester City Ballet, the Draper Center for Dance Education provides the highest level of dance training for classical ballet, providing the community with plenty of dancing opportunities.
1326 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607
7.The RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium
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The RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium provides the community of Rochester with unique experiences through their various shows. The planetarium puts on star shows that use a star projector to accurately depict the sun, planets, and over 8,000 stars in the same way they would appear to the naked eye on a perfect viewing night.
The planetarium also has Saturday night laser shows that project choreographed beams of light onto the indoor sky in tune with music. Plus, the RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium has hands-on space mission simulations, world exploration through their giant-screen films, and free public telescope viewing. The planetarium is open to the public, welcomes grade-appropriate class visits, and puts on featured shows that are open to the public and are ticketed events.
657 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, 585-697-1945
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8.Theatre Young Kids Enjoy (TYKEs)
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Taking place in the lovely Hart Theater at the JCC in Brighton, TYKEs, or Theatre Young Kids Enjoy, is a non-profit organization that brings to life on stage meaningful stories that captivate children’s attention. The stories are presented by adult professional actors and are meant to inspire children’s appreciation of the arts and literature, to promote communication, and to give some important life lessons. The scripts are carefully chosen, the costumes are spectacular, and the great actors bring their audience to faraway lands and fantasy worlds. The theatre has a cozy, intimate theater space, state-of-the-art light and sound equipment, and a huge, comfortable lobby area. TYKEs performances are accessible to all children regardless of their ability to pay.
1200 Edgewood Avenue, Rochester, NY, 14618, 585-461-2000
9.Things to Do in Rochester: Seneca Park Zoo
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Come and see African elephants, white rhinos, and Bornean Orangutans at Seneca Park Zoo. Watch Polar Bears and sea lions under water and 90 other species of animals that make their home in this 15.5-acre zoo in Rochester, New York. It is located in Seneca Park, which is one of several parks designed for Rochester by Frederick Law Olmsted.
When the zoo opened in 1893, all it had was an aviary with a few birds and several species of deer. One of the latest exhibits, the Rocky Coasts, opened in 1997, and it is considered to be the future of zoos; it is a state-of-the-art habitat that offers the zoo’s animals more spacious and natural homes.
2222 St. Paul Street, Rochester, NY 14621, 585-336-7200
10.National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House
© National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House
The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House pays tribute to this legendary, charismatic American civil rights leader who fought for equal rights for women and for their right to vote. The museum is located in the house where Susan spent her most active years and where she was arrested in 1872. The house boasts a collection of research materials, artifacts, and memorabilia from Susan’s life that are related to her struggles and legacy.
Susan also died in this house after giving her famous speech in Baltimore entitled “Failure is Impossible.” In addition, the museum is a learning center, challenging and inspiring younger generations to make a difference in their community through a range of different programs, from Girl Scouts to Healthy Ageing and Grade School.
17 Madison St, Rochester, NY 14608, 585-235-6124
11.Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York
© Eastman Theatre
The Eastman Theatre is home to Kodak Hall, which is a prominent space for music performance as well as dance and silent film. Kodak Hall was first opened in 1922 and features the extravagant décor of the 1920s, making the hall feel tastefully elegant in all of its magnificence. The hall is primarily used for concerts of orchestras, wind and jazz ensembles as well as chorale.
Full-fledged operatic productions take place in the spring, and a new wing was built on as an expansion to the hall. This expansion acts as a small recital hall, which has a rehearsal room, teaching studios, and a recording studio.
26 Gibbs St., Rochester, NY 14604, 585-274-1000
© Artisan Works
Artisan Works is a not-for-profit art space that supports regional artists through their art program. Artisan Works prides itself on providing the community with a unique experience, in that anyone can walk in and experience art creation and find inspiration. Resident artists create stunning works throughout the day, presenting those who walk in with a truly unique perspective on how art is created and what goes into the process.
In addition to this, there are guided tours available for school groups, college groups, and adult groups. There are public tours on Saturday and Sunday as well as tour add-ons like workshops and lunch. Each guided tour is about 45 minutes, but there are also self-guided tour times available.
565 Blossom Road, Suite L, Rochester, NY 14610, 585-288-7170
13.Memorial Art Gallery
© Memorial Art Gallery
The Memorial Art Gallery of Rochester City was founded in 1913 and has a permanent collection of over 12,000 different objects on display from contemporary movements all the way up to twenty-first century artwork from around the globe. The Memorial Art Gallery sits on a 14-acre campus that hosts temporary exhibitions, lectures, tours, and even concerts for the Rochester community.
The aim of the Memorial Art Gallery is to enhance the community by offering a place where visitors can build relationships centering on art and the creativity that goes into the creation of artwork. By offering the community a center where the community can learn about and discover the human experience, the Memorial Art Gallery can achieve its goal of providing the community with knowledge of culture and authenticity so important to art.
500 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607, 585-276-8900
14.City of Rochester Public Market
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The Rochester City Public Market is a city-run market that has a large showing of vendors every single week. The market runs on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, with vendors that offer everything from fresh produce to specialty items to general merchandise. The market is incredibly popular, especially on Saturdays, so parking can be a bit challenging.
It is recommended that you either cycle, walk, or carpool to the market. In addition to vendors, independent businesses participate by putting up food stands, selling flowers, and offering coffee. What makes this an amazing public market is that they even cater to those who are on food stamp benefits, as they provide tokens to those who want to buy from the vendors.
280 N. Union St., Rochester, NY 14609, 585-428-6907
15.Frontier Field, Rochester, NY
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Frontier Field is a baseball stadium in downtown Rochester, New York. When it opened in 1996, it replaced Silver Stadium, which had been Rochester’s professional baseball home since 1929. It can seat 10,840 baseball fans, and while it was designed and built for baseball, Frontier Field provides playing ground for a variety of sport teams such as the soccer team the Rochester Raging Rhinos, the lacrosse team the Rochester Rattlers, and the Minor League Baseball team the Rochester Red Wings.
At the moment, the Rochester Red Wings are the only tenants of Frontier Field. Among recent upgrades are the 24-foot by 32-foot video scoreboard and the new grass turf. Frontier is also a popular concert arena, hosting the Beach Boys in 1996 and Def Leopard and Bryan Adams in 2005.
333 Plymouth Ave N, Rochester, NY 14608, 585-454-1001
16.Crush Beer and Wine Tours
© Crush Beer and Wine Tours
For anyone who loves beer and wine, going to a Crush Beer and Wine Tour is an amazing experience. Crush Beer and Wine Tours offers all-inclusive guided tours for those who want to enjoy and learn about the local wineries of the area. Plus, getting to taste signature and hand-crafted wine and beer is always a plus. Crush Beer and Wine Tours offers signature beer tours, signature wine tours, and combination tours.
They also have tours specifically designed for corporate businesses or social groups. For those who want to take it a step further, there are plenty of packages available for those who want to stay at an accommodation while visiting Crush, and they designate pick-up and drop-off locations.
P.O. Box 20136, Rochester, NY 14602, 855-862-7874
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17.Seabreeze Amusement Park, Rochester, New York
© Seabreeze Amusement Park
Opened in the summer of 1879, Seabreeze is one of the oldest amusement parks and family entertainment centers in upstate and central New York. With more than 70 attractions, there is something for all ages. There are four fun rides, which include Whirlwind, Jack Rabbit, Bobsleds, and Bear Trax, a whole range of thrill rides such as the Revolution 360, Screamin' Eagle and Log Flume, Cirque En Vol live show, and a water park that includes the Wave Pool, Hydro Racer, and Soak Zone and much more.
If you are not really fond of adrenaline-pumping activities, you can enjoy some great food and the pleasant breeze from Lake Ontario while your kids are having fun.
4600 Culver Rd, Rochester, NY 14622, 585-323-1900
18.Ontario Beach Park
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Ontario Beach Park, a 39-acre park that has natural sandy beaches, is located off of the Northwest quadrant of the city on the shores of Lake Ontario. The park is open all year round, and there are shelters that can be rented during the summer or winter. The park offers swimming, fishing, and boating, plus sunbathing during the summer time. Those who enjoy fishing and are at least sixteen and have a fishing license can fish here.
For those who prefer being more active, there are six volleyball courts, basketball courts, and softball fields. The park also has food concessions, picnic shelters, a bathhouse, and a performance pavilion.
4799 Lake Avenue, Rochester, NY 14612, 585-753-5887
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19.Durand Eastman Park
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Durand Eastman Park is either a relaxing summer getaway, or a challenging winter adventure. The park spans across 977 acres, 5,000 feet of which are spread out across the waterfront of Lake Ontario. The park is known for its steep wooded slopes, its large valleys, small lakes, and gorgeous foliage during the summer and autumn seasons.
The park is perfect for any nature lover as it has cross-country skiing, fishing, geo-caching, hiking, golf, canoeing, snowshoeing, and swimming. It also has shelters for rent that have various amenities for those who want to stay over in the park. If you enjoy walking or hiking, you can take advantage of three color marked trails that either take you through rolling hills or along the lake shore.
1500 Lake Shore Blvd, Rochester, NY 14617, 585-753-7275
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20.Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, New York
© Geva Theatre Center
Geva Theatre Center was founded in 1972 as a professional regional theater company staged in a completely renovated and adapted former 1868 Naval Armory-Convention Hall. The hall attracted many famous performers during its time, including opera star Enrico Caruso and ballerina Anna Pavlova.
A second stage was added later, and today Geva is dedicated to developing new American plays, re-imagining the favorite classics, and promoting originality and innovation in all theatre areas. Throughout its history, Geva has had 19 world premieres, one premier in North America, and two commercial transfers Off-Broadway. More than 65 productions of Geva’s musicals and plays have been shown all over the country and the world.
75 Woodbury Blvd, Rochester, NY 14607, 585-232-4382
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21.High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum
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The High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum is an interactive museum that presents local history to the public. The museum takes visitors through the pre-historic history of Rochester all the way to the twenty-first century. This allows visitors to learn about the settlement of the city, how water was used to transform the region, and how the actual town became a huge part of the industrial boom.
As the museum is interactive, there are multi-media displays and exhibits as well as photographs and artwork. Adults can enjoy the ancient artifacts while children go for the multi-media displays. Throughout the year, the museum also features special exhibits that promote new information not normally included within the museum’s walls.
74 Browns Race, Rochester, NY 14614, 585-325-2030
22.Charlotte - Genesee Lighthouse
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The Charlotte – Genesee Lighthouse is the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Ontario. It was constructed in 1822 and was only recently restored in 2014. The lighthouse has had both its tower restored as well as its lantern, plus a replica lens has been installed. The tower of the lighthouse is 40 feet high, with 12 feet for the height of the lantern room. All in all, there are 42 steps and an 11-step rung ladder that takes you to the top of the tower.
The lighthouse is located in the former village of Charlotte in Rochester NY, and it offers tours and a membership for those who are interested in its history. The lighthouse is open to the public, but there are tower tours for those who want to go up, and there is a lighthouse keeper’s house with a museum on the inside.
70 Lighthouse Street, Rochester, NY 14612, 585-621-6179
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23.Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
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The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been providing the Rochester NY community with educating, inspiring, and engaging music since its founding in 1922. The orchestra maintains artistic excellence through its high standards, and it has committed fully to the music education of the local community. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra puts on no less than 130 concerts per year, which are ticketed events, and it serves almost 150,000 people annually. In order to spread the art of music, the concerts are always rebroadcast on a local FM channel for those who were not able to attend.
They have been recognized nationally for their organizational excellence and artistic innovation. Concert and events as well as ticket information can be found online, and all conductors and musicians within the orchestra can be viewed online through their profiles.
108 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604, 585-454-7311
24.Mount Hope Cemetery
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Mount Hope Cemetery provides the residents of Rochester NY with more than a cemetery graveyard. The cemetery has guided walking tours as well as private guided walking tours for those who are interested in viewing the grounds while learning about the cemetery’s history. Self-guided tours are open to the public as the gates are open to visitors every single day of the year.
The cemetery even allows school visits and has specially designed tours for children. The reason the cemetery is so popular is because it has notable individuals buried throughout the grounds, including women’s rights advocates, an influential landscape architect, and a human rights leader.
1133 Mount Hope Ave, Rochester, NY 14620, 585-428-7999
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25.Cobbs Hill Park, Rochester, NY
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Cobbs Hill Park has over 109 acres of gorgeous scenic trails that allow for picturesque recreational activities. The park is located in the southeast area, and features walking trails that provide some of the best views of the city, so bringing along a camera is a must. The park, a popular destination for hikers, is home to a large collection of lilacs and has many large oaks throughout the area.
The park has tennis and basketball courts, a playground, and a reservoir, and it allows fishing and cross-country skiing. Local softball leagues use the park for their games during summer nights, and many gather to sunbathe throughout the park during hot sunny days. There are also two cabins that the public can rent for personal use.
Culver Rd and Norris Drive, Rochester, NY 14610, 585-428-6770
25 Best Things to Do in Rochester (New York)
- The Strong - National Museum of Play, Photo: The Strong - National Museum of Play
- Rochester Museum & Science Center, Photo: Rochester Museum & Science Center
- Finger Lakes Wine Country, Photo: Courtesy of chasingmoments - Fotolia.com
- George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York, Photo: Courtesy of Sam Spiro - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Rochester: Highland Park, Photo: Courtesy of emre - Fotolia.com
- Rochester City Ballet, Photo: Serenade choreography by George Balanchine, Courtesy of The George Balanchine Trust, Photo: Will Brenner
- The RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium, Photo: Courtesy of Martin Capek - Fotolia.com
- Theatre Young Kids Enjoy (TYKEs), Photo: Courtesy of kapichka - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Rochester: Seneca Park Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of Mark - Fotolia.com
- National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, Photo: National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House
- Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York, Photo: Eastman Theatre
- Artisan Works, Photo: Artisan Works
- Memorial Art Gallery, Photo: Memorial Art Gallery
- City of Rochester Public Market, Photo: Courtesy of nito - Fotolia.com
- Frontier Field, Rochester, NY, Photo: Courtesy of Frontier Field - Fotolia.com
- Crush Beer and Wine Tours, Photo: Crush Beer and Wine Tours
- Seabreeze Amusement Park, Rochester, New York, Photo: Seabreeze Amusement Park
- Ontario Beach Park, Photo: Courtesy of Victoria Lipov - Fotolia.com
- Durand Eastman Park, Photo: Courtesy of acorbeau - Fotolia.com
- Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, New York, Photo: Geva Theatre Center
- High Falls Interpretive Center and Museum, Photo: Courtesy of jdoms - Fotolia.com
- Charlotte - Genesee Lighthouse, Photo: Courtesy of lucky_photo - Fotolia.com
- Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Photo: Courtesy of Voloshyn Roman - Fotolia.com
- Mount Hope Cemetery, Photo: Courtesy of Samuel Barber - Fotolia.com
- Cobbs Hill Park, Rochester, NY, Photo: Courtesy of janong 054 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Andy - Fotolia.com