Discover Rochester, NY Hidden Gems: 15 Beautiful Places to Explore

Updated on April 17th, 2023

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Are you thinking about visiting or moving to Rochester, NY? This charming city is filled with picturesque landscapes, hidden places, and beautiful places that will make you want to live in Rochester. From stunning waterfalls to scenic parks and historic landmarks, there’s no shortage of breathtaking views in Rochester. Whether you’re a first-timer looking at Rochester’s housing market, wanting to move into a new Rochester home, or a long-time resident, you won’t get tired of the natural beauty of this upstate New York city. So get ready to discover Rochester’s beautiful places and add them to your must-see list.

Rochester, NY downtown at night with the city reflecting off of the Genesee river.

1. Explore the developing art scene by Rochester’s River Walk

“I have a mural on the exterior of the Rochester Convention Center, which is part of the developing River Walk,” suggests G. Peter Jemison. The title is the Iroquois Creation Story – Water is Life. It’s located above the Genesee River at Main Street. The mural provides evidence of the original occupants of Rochester and the region, the Seneca Nation.”

2. Visit Ganondagan State Historic Site

“Twenty minutes southeast of Rochester, in Victor, NY, is Ganondagan State Historic Site,” shares Jemison. “There, visitors will find the Seneca Art & Culture Center and a full-size Seneca Bark Longhouse. There are hiking trails and a mountain bike trail that connects with a bike park. Ganondagan is located at 7000 County Road 41 in Victor and is easily accessible by car from Rochester.”

3. Highland Park

Highland Park is one of Rochester’s most beautiful parks, with a stunning collection of gardens that showcase a wide variety of plant species. The park is home to over 1,200 lilac bushes, which bloom in May and draw visitors from around the world to the annual Lilac Festival. Other gardens in the park include a Japanese garden with a traditional tea house, a sunken garden with a fountain, and a rock garden with a small waterfall. The park also has a reservoir with a fountain that’s a popular spot for photographs.

“If you’re looking for an epic view of the city, a scenic place to explore year-round with endless amounts of colorful blooms, plants, and trees, or for a quick getaway from reality, Highland Park is the heart and soul of Rochester, NY,” suggests Tressa Marie Photography. “From the bluebells that cover the ground in the spring, pink dogwood trees, and the infamous lilac gardens, to the vibrant blooms and plants all summer, and magical tones of the autumn foliage made more spectacular by the hills and paths that create painting-like vignettes, to snow-covered trees and sledding adventures, this is truly the locals’ secret garden.”

tressa marie photography-highland park_0003

Courtesy of Tressa Marie Photography

4. Take in the scenery of Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

“I grew up in the only remaining old-growth forest in Monroe County, the Gosnell Big Woods Preserve in the Rochester suburb of Webster,” shares Philip Koch Paintings. “Its network of hiking trails is open to the public. The commanding height of its trees enchanted me as a child. Years later, I became a professional artist and frequently make paintings about this vivid memory. Here’s my oil on canvas painting, Canopy, 2023.”

Oil painting called canopy by Philip Koch

Courtesy of Philip Koch Paintings

5. George Eastman Museum & Gardens

“You can find the George Eastman Museum nestled on a lush property just outside the heart of downtown. As a photographer, I find special significance in the museum, but the immaculately manicured gardens surrounding the mansion serve as an inviting oasis with different plants and blooms to admire in each season,” suggests photographer Garrett Maynard. “If you’re looking for upscale outdoor greenspace, this is your spot to visit. You can’t go wrong using your evening to peruse the gardens, admire the unique architecture, and capture beautiful photographs along the way.”

6. High Falls Terrace & Pont de Rennes Bridge

“The Pont de Rennes footbridge crosses the Genesee River, offering a stunning view of the iconic High Falls and surrounding skyline,” shares Maynard. “If the light is right when you visit, you might even be greeted with a beautiful rainbow in the waterfall mist or the golden sun setting the mist ablaze. The northeastern end of the bridge drops you right next to the Genesee Brew House, making it a local favorite for an evening on the town. If you’re looking to extend your stroll a bit, take a walk over to the High Falls Terrace platform for what I consider an underrated Rochester view.”

7. Turning Point Park

Turning Point Park is a hidden gem located on the east bank of the Genesee River, where it converges with the Erie Canal. This park offers a stunning natural setting with views of the river and the city skyline. The park features over two miles of walking trails that wind through natural habitats like wetlands and meadows, offering visitors an opportunity to spot a variety of bird species, including herons, eagles, and ospreys. The park also has a small beach area that’s perfect for swimming or sunbathing, as well as a pavilion that’s available for picnics or events.

8. Seneca Park Zoo

Despite its small size, the Seneca Park Zoo offers a wide variety of animals, including some exotic species like snow leopards, red pandas, and white-handed gibbons. Visitors can get up close with many of the animals, including giraffes, zebras, and sea lions, and learn about their habitats and conservation efforts. The zoo also offers educational programs for all ages, including behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, and camps.

A young boy feeding leaves to a giraffe

9. Corbett’s Glen Nature Park

Corbett’s Glen Nature Park is a beautiful wooded park located in the town of Brighton, just outside of Rochester. The park is centered around a creek that runs through a narrow gorge, creating a picturesque waterfall that’s a popular spot for photography. The park also has several hiking trails that wind through the woods, offering  an opportunity to spot wildlife like birds, deer, and foxes. The park is especially beautiful in the fall, when the leaves change color.

10. Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse is a historic landmark located on the shores of Lake Ontario. Built in 1822, the lighthouse played an important role in guiding ships into the Genesee River. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of the lake and the city, and there’s a small museum that tells the story of the lighthouse and the surrounding area. The park surrounding the lighthouse also features a pier that’s a popular spot for fishing.

11.Durand Eastman Park

Durand Eastman Park is one of Rochester’s largest parks, with over 977 acres of natural beauty. The park features several beaches along the shores of Lake Ontario, as well as hiking trails that wind through the woods and along the lakefront. The park also has a golf course and a playground, making it a popular spot for families and friends. In the winter, the park offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Couple walking through a trail in Rochester and Monroe County

12. Tinker Nature Park

Tinker Nature Park is a 68-acre park located in the town of Henrietta, just south of Rochester. The park features a wide variety of habitats, including wetlands, meadows, and forests, and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, amphibians, and mammals. The park’s trails wind through the different habitats, offering visitors an opportunity to explore and learn about the natural world. The park also has a butterfly garden that’s especially beautiful in the summer months.

13. Chimney Bluffs State Park

Chimney Bluffs State Park is a unique natural wonder located on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. The park is known for its towering sandstone cliffs, which have been shaped by erosion over thousands of years. The cliffs rise up to 150 feet above the lake, creating a stunning landscape that’s unlike anything else in the area. The park features hiking trails that wind through the cliffs and offer breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also enjoy a beach area that’s perfect for swimming or sunbathing.

14. Genesee Valley Park

Genesee Valley Park is a 800-acre park located along the Genesee River, just south of downtown Rochester. The park offers a wide variety of recreational activities, including walking trails, sports fields, and a riverfront view of the city skyline. The park also has a golf course and a boathouse where visitors can rent kayaks and canoes to explore the river. The park’s walking trails wind through natural habitats like wetlands and forests, offering visitors an opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and turtles.

Couple standing in front of a fishing trail downstream

15. Powder Mills Park

Powder Mills Park is a 380-acre park located just outside of Rochester in the town of Pittsford. The park features several fishing ponds stocked with trout, making it a popular spot for fishing. The park’s hiking trails wind through the woods and along the creek, offering an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area. The park also has a historic mill site that dates back to the 19th century, which has been preserved and is open to walk in and explore. The park is especially beautiful in the fall, when the leaves change color.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Holly Hooper

Holly is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about home improvement and lifestyle. Her dream home would incorporate both an industrial and biophilic design.

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