Thank you to Visit Rochester for hosting us during our trip to Rochester, New York. All opinions are our own.
Sometimes the greatest adventures can be found only hours away from home. Having lived in New York State for over 20 years, I’ve rarely made the trip upstate. My family and I have made countless trips to New York City, visited Hudson Valley and even traveled to Westchester. Upstate New York wasn’t on our radar until we heard about the limitless family fun that could be found in Rochester, New York.
Recently, our family took a 3-day trip to Rochester in northwestern New York State. That’s about a 6 hour drive from Long Island, 5 hours from New York City. To say that this place is for families is an understatement. With about 75 family-friendly experiences in the area, Rochester is THE place for family fun.
Whether you’re looking to learn about the history of New York State, spend some time on the beach, take in a museum or get back to nature, you will be able to find it in Rochester. During our visit we were able to experience some of the amazing attractions Rochester has to offer.
Genesee Country Village and Museum~History
Step back in time to the early days of New York State when your visit the Genesee Country Village and Museum. It is the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State and the third largest in the country. History comes to life at this multi-sensory attraction. Visitors are able to interact with costumed interpreters and learn what life was like in 3 historical time periods. Hands-on demonstrations are also offered throughout the day.
During our visit we watched a blacksmith shape metal in his shop. Bella tried her hand at cooking by making cornmeal in a colonial kitchen. Jackson learned how furniture was made back in the day in the carpentry shop. We also had the opportunity to explore a baseball field to see how the game was played many years ago. Seeing history being brought to life in front of your eyes adds a whole new dimension. It’s as close to traveling back in time and seeing it for yourself as you can get.
Ontario Beach Park~Beach
Ontario Beach Park is a must-do for beach goers. Nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario, the park offers visitors 1,800 feet of guarded beachfront. From boating to strolling the pier to just relaxing on the sand, it’s the perfect place to spend a summer day. You could also take a ride on the historic 1905 Dentzel Carousel.
For us it was a thrill to dip our feet in one of the Great Lakes. Lake Ontario is a landmark that we’ve only ever seen on a map. Being able to experience it first hand and seeing just how large it actually is, is a moment my family will always remember.
The Strong National Museum of Play~Museums
The Strong is the ultimate play destination for all ages. Visitors can experience hands-on, interactive exhibits while seeing the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls and games. The museum is devoted to the history and exploration of play.
Visiting The Strong was the reason why we wanted to visit Rochester and was the highlight of our trip. Not only did we love seeing our kids playing and having fun, but it also reminded us of what it was like to be a kid ourselves. Watching our kids play side by side with kids of all ages and backgrounds served as reminder of just how much play connects us.
Seneca Park Zoo~Animals
The Seneca Park Zoo is a hidden gem! Though small, it makes up for its size with high quality exhibits. This quaint, local zoo is home to elephants, lions, tigers, penguins, bald eagles and many more. They are also committed to conservation efforts locally, regionally and internationally. The Seneca Park Zoo is definitely worth a visit when you visit the Rochester area.
Our favorite area of the Seneca Park Zoo is their new “A Step into Africa” exhibit. Here guests are inspired to to care about the Ngorongoro Crater, a unique conservation area in Tanzania. This area is home to African lions, olive baboons and African elephants. The zoo is set to open the giraffe section of this area any day now.
Letchworth State Park~Nature
Just a short drive from Rochester is Letchworth State Park, “the Grand Canyon of the East.” The Genesee River flows through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs. There are 66 miles of hiking trails as well as trails dedicated to horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Letchworth offers nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks, tours, a summer lecture series, whitewater rafting, kayaking, a pool for swimming and hot air ballooning. In 2015, Letchworth State Park won the Reader’s Choice award for best state park in the United States.
We were very impressed with our visit to Letchworth State Park. During our almost 3 hour hike we were treated to stunning views of the gorge, Lower Falls, Middle Falls and Upper Falls. Be sure to consult your guide map before heading out on the trails. The moderate trails can become very steep at times and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. We’d love to visit again to experience rafting down the river, camping or maybe even taking a hot air balloon ride.
What we experienced during our trip to Rochester, New York was only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more family adventures to be had. If you’re ready to start planning your own family getaway to Rochester, visit our friends at Visit Rochester.