New York

A Family Guide to Rochester and the Finger Lakes

Last updated 8th March 2019

The “front door” to the Finger Lakes, Rochester is one of the best-kept secrets in New York State — and across the country. The pristine lakes and landscapes, four beautiful seasons, abundant museums, reinvigorated neighborhoods and historical importance are just a few reasons to visit.

For the most robust experience, be sure to split your time between downtown Rochester and the surrounding area. You’ll get urban experiences, as well as a healthy dose of nature. Stay at the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa for a centralized location.


No family trip to Rochester is complete without a stop at The Strong. The Strong is a highly interactive museum devoted to the history and exploration of play — it is the nation’s museum of play! The Strong houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play and is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame and more. Kids — and adults — will relish the opportunity to step into a museum devoted to imaginative play.

Follow a morning of play at The Strong with the Rochester Museum of Science. The exhibitions are a great learning experience with many interactive spaces, but the planetarium’s narrated shows are a unique chance for kids to learn more about our solar system and universe.

Rochester and the Finger Lakes region produced extraordinary women who helped shape the area and nation for centuries. The National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester is a National Historic Landmark that was home to the legendary suffragist during her 40 most politically active years. Tour her house to learn more about her impactful life and activism.

For anyone who has ever snapped a photo with a smartphone, a visit to the George Eastman Museum will be a fascinating look at the evolution of photography. George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, revolutionized the way people take photos with his invention of the dry-plate coating machine. This led to more innovations within photography and film, making photography widely accessible. The museum, which is at Eastman’s mansion, includes galleries, a film theater and tours of his estate and gardens.

Finger Lakes

Less than an hour from downtown Rochester is Bristol Mountain, where families can enjoy the outdoors year-round. In the winter (and all the way until May 1), the skiing and snowboarding is top-notch. In fact, six members of the U.S. ski team train at the resort! For those who aren’t quite at Olympic levels, the ski and snow-boarding schools are customized for skill level. In the summer, families will love the Kids Adventure Park, with more than 125 thrilling treetop obstacles and nine challenge courses. For an aerial adventure, try the guided zip line canopy tour.

Also in the region is the Genesee Country Village & Museum, the largest living history museum in New York. It brings 19th century history to life through costumed interpreters, historic buildings and shopkeepers, farm animals, and more. Each year, the Genesee Country Village & Museum hosts dozens of festivals that the whole family will love, ranging from a maple sugar festival to trick-or-treating int he village.

For a glimpse into another time and culture, visit Ganondagan State Historic Site. The Seneca people lived on the site in the 17th century, and visitors can learn about the town’s history, hear the language of the Seneca people, join for storytelling and dancing events and explore the galleries filled with artifacts, artwork and a model of the town as it was.

By Bridgette Langdon

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