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Choose Your Adventure: Rochester, New York

Originally published on July 20, 2021. Updated and republished on February 12, 2024.

There are so many things to do in Rochester! Whether you are planning to visit for a week or a weekend, there is plenty of family fun to be had. Indoors or outdoors, children and adults alike will love exploring all there is to see and do in the 5th largest city in New York State.

My son and I recently took a trip to Rochester with friends of ours. With 2 moms and 3 boys ranging in age from 7 to 11, we picked the perfect getaway that was just far enough to feel like we were far away (just under 5 hours from Berks County, Pennsylvania to Rochester, New York), but yet close enough that we could enjoy the couple of days we had to visit.

things to do in Rochester

Seneca Park Zoo

A couple of hours is all you need to see animals from all over the world! Take your time walking the paths and visiting the buildings that house African Bullfrogs, North American River Otters, Amur Tigers, Snow Leopards, Polar Bears, and more. Even on a hot day, like the day we visited, the zoo is a great place to see and learn about a variety of animals, as well as the Seneca Park Zoo‘s conservation efforts.

We thought the placement of the buildings throughout the zoo was well thought out, as it allowed us to get out of the sun for a few minutes periodically during our visit. In fact, it seems that they designed many of the animal enclosures with that same thoughtfulness in mind, allowing the animals to come and go inside and outside in several different enclosures.

I hold a deep affection for the Seneca Park Zoo, primarily because of its unwavering commitment to maintaining exceptionally high standards of animal care. The zoo’s dedication is evident in every aspect of its operations, from meticulously designed habitats that mimic natural environments to comprehensive health and well-being programs for each resident animal. The attentive and knowledgeable staff goes above and beyond to ensure the physical and mental welfare of the animals, fostering an environment where they can thrive. This commitment not only enhances the visitor experience but also instills a sense of trust in knowing that the Seneca Park Zoo prioritizes the happiness and health of its cherished residents.

The Strong National Museum of Play

There were 5 of us visiting, ranging in age from 7 to 42, and let me just say, the adults had just as much fun as the kids! Pinball, board games, superheroes, make-believe creatures, and more are all here in this museum where you don’t have to just look. These exhibits are set up to encourage everyone to use their imagination for an epic museum experience centered around play.

Our group had fun acting out scenes with the pretend food truck and movie ticket window, creating our own pirate flags and then hoisting them up to fly on the ship’s mast, trying out a variety of pinball machines, and pretending to go grocery shopping at a pretty realistic looking Wegman’s supermarket. With two floors of hands-on fun, you’ll spend hours playing, and the adults may spend a good portion of that time reminiscing about the toys they played with as a child. There’s a good chance you may see some of those toys at The Strong National Museum of Play, too.

In June 2023, the museum unveiled an exciting chapter in its history with a 90,000-square-foot expansion. The expansion features the latest advancements in play-based learning and immersive experiences. From state-of-the-art gaming zones to thematic displays that celebrate the evolution of toys and games, the Strong Museum’s expansion is a testament to its commitment to providing visitors with dynamic and cutting-edge encounters.

Seabreeze Amusement Park

We had a great time at Seabreeze Amusement Park, the 4th oldest operating amusement park and the oldest family-owned park in the United States! We enjoyed the thrill of the Jack Rabbit and the calmness of the train. There was a perfect mix of rides that were new to us like the Time Machine and Whirlwind and classics like the Log Flume, Carousel, and Sea Dragon.

While we didn’t visit the waterpark, it was great to see they had a large wave pool, several water slides, and a lazy river. We had fun watching the large bucket of water tip over and spill over on those who were brave enough to stand underneath it in the Soak Zone.

We worked up an appetite riding the rides, so it was nice that there was a variety of food options available like pizza, salad, chicken fingers, and empanadas. Of course, there are plenty of treats to satisfy your sweet tooth, too, like ice cream, cotton candy, and funnel cake fries.

Time didn’t allow for us to play miniature golf at Parkside Whispering Pines Miniature Golf, which is just down the street from Seabreeze Amusement Park. It’s the oldest miniature golf course in the United States. Since we enjoyed our visit to Rochester so much, we know we will be back again, and we will be sure to play here then.

Rochester Museum & Science Center

We explored three floors of interactive displays at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, where we learned about earthquakes, erosion, music and sounds, electricity, and more. We used our imaginations and became weather reporters, drove tugboats down the Erie Canal, discovered how traffic lights work and used KEVA planks to build towers and buildings.

The museum offers a variety of shows and hands-on exhibits to encourage kids to explore their curiosity in science. It was so much fun, our kids didn’t even realize they were learning!

Here are a few more things to do in the Rochester area that we didn’t have time to do on this visit, but they are on our list for the next time we are here:

  • Genesee Country Village and Museum – This is the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State, and the third largest in the United States. The museum offers opportunities to see, smell, taste, touch, explore and experience what life was like in the 19th century through the knowledgable and costumed interpreters. Enjoy live demonstrations, test your balance on stilts and play some 19th century games in the Village Square.
  • Susan B. Anthony House & Museum – You can visit & tour the home of Susan B. Anthony while she was a national figure in the women’s rights movement. See the front parlor where she was arrested after attempting to vote in the 1872 Presidental Election.
  • Radio Social – Located in Rochester’s historical Stromberg-Carlson warehouse, Radio Social is a bowling alley, restaurant, bar, music venue and social club.

Abbott’s Frozen Custard

If you’re looking for an afternoon treat, you’ll be delighted with Abbott’s Frozen Custard! There’s a reason it’s been Rochester’s favorite custard for over 100 years – it’s delicious!

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

If you like BBQ, then look no further! Located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Station that was built in 1905, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que has a unique atmosphere and beautiful views of the Genesee River. And the food? Mouthwatering deliciousness!

Hampton Inn & Suites – Rochester/Henrietta

We were so pleased with our stay here! From the spacious rooms to the friendly staff, the large indoor pool, and the complimentary breakfast, Hampton Inn & Suites – Rochester/Henrietta exceeded our expectations in every way.

The location of this hotel makes it an ideal choice for travelers. Situated close & central to popular destinations (many of which we enjoyed and mentioned above), this hotel serves as a perfect home away from home while exploring all there is to see and do in Rochester.

*We were guests of Visit Rochester for this trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

February 12, 2024

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  1. Sue says:

    I went to college in Rochester, many years ago. There really is to much to see there. It’s a beautiful city

  2. Christy S. says:

    What a family-fun adventure filled with museums, zoos, amusement parks, and Dino BBQ. A trip to Rochester sounds fun and something my family would enjoy.

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