Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Monroe County, NY

  • Published 2023/05/21

Monroe County is a sanctuary of world-class art, history, and culture.

Though not one of the largest counties in New York, I can confidently say it doesn’t lack in the recreation department.

In Upstate New York, this county is home to world-renowned events and festivals, including the Lilac Festival in May.

Its cities and communities, namely, Rochester, Greece, Webster, and more, always had something new to offer to me when I came by.

From traditional and modern retellings of local cuisine to entertaining theaters and museums, this 1821-established county has come a long way since its mill community.

I feel honored to have witnessed all these beforehand along my travels around this county and want to share my experiences with you.

So, without further delay, here are the 15 best things to do in Monroe County, New York, that you should try out for yourself:

Explore the Art Exhibits at Memorial Art Gallery

Street view of the Memorial Art Gallery

DanielPenfield, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rochester’s roster of art attractions is beyond impressive.

But if I had to pick only one from this list, the Memorial Art Gallery comes to mind.

This university museum holds a diverse set of artworks ranging from about 5,000 years in the past to the present.

View of the Memorial Art Gallery

DanielPenfield, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I loved passing through the Renaissance Art section and entering into the Baroque and Asian art selections.

There’s also a sculpture garden outside that I enjoyed exploring to my heart’s content.

The gallery also hosts art tours, festivals, and other events you might want to be part of, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Memorial Art Gallery makes itself known on University Avenue.

Courtroom at the Memorial Art Gallery

DanielPenfield, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a Picnic at Black Creek Park

The undeveloped Black Creek Park in North Chili offers a serene getaway for many.

At an impressive 1,505 acres, this park features five hiking trails, all of which I found ideal for some hiking or biking.

Though in the winter, it’s a famous spot among many visitors for cross-country skiing.

This close to nature, I found myself amazed by the amount of vegetation and wildlife present all around the area.

Fishing is also one of the allowed activities within the property with its open access to a creek and a pond.

Black Creek Park sits along Union Street, open for everyone wishing a tranquil time out in Upstate New York.

Admire the Plants and Ferns at Lamberton Conservatory

Glass house at the Lamberton Conservatory

Debora Truax /

Within the city of Rochester, the Lamberton Conservatory brought a special meaning to my usual flower excursions.

Built in 1911, this conservatory got its name after the ex-president of the Parks Alexander B. Lamberton.

And though the building has gone through several stages of disarray over the years, you can easily see the historical inspiration within its walls.

Vegetation at Lamberton Conservatory

Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

I had a grand time walking around exotic exhibits and tropical plants and flowers.

Most of these plants are not able to withstand the city’s harsh climate, but they thrive under the conservatory’s care.

The place’s exhibits change from time to time, so there’s always something new to see the second or third time around.

The Lamberton Conservatory is on Reservoir Avenue.

Colorful flowers at Lamberton Conservatory

hamzah arfah /

Play Bowling at Spencerport Bowl

Find yourself enjoying knocking down many pins as I did when you come by Spencerport Bowl.

Unassuming and intimate—this facility has given me a taste of nostalgia for the 80s and 90s.

This Spencerport indoor attraction also hosts leagues that I had a great time spectating.

After a tough time striving for a strike, I had gone for a snack at the bowling alley’s snack bar.

I suggest trying out their alcoholic drinks, too.

They’re tasty, fulfilling, and offer the perfect end to your bowling experience.

I can’t wait to come back to this facility when I have the time on my next trip.

Spencerport Bowl is on Nichols Street.

Get Your Exercise while Exploring Nature at Meridian Centre Park

In the town of Brighton, Meridian Centre Park is one of the most eye-catching attractions.

This outdoor oasis comes with 24 acres of natural space and impressive amenities.

It’s a family-friendly spot, too.

One of my favorite spots of this park is its well-maintained grass field, where many come to play a few ball games or run around the space.

I also felt refreshed after a meditative walk across the park’s paved nature trails.

Meridian Centre Park also has a playground, so if you’re coming with kids, they won’t get bored!

Follow Winton Road South off of Meridian Centre Boulevard to reach this park.

Go Birdwatching at Braddock Bay Park

Braddock Bay Park during rainy centre

Matt Knorr /

Are you a fan of waterfront scenery?

Braddock Bay Park in Greece might just be the place you’re looking for—I know it was mine.

Sitting on about 375 acres, this park offers protection for the town’s bay that goes by the same name.

It features a boardwalk that leads to the bay and several hiking trails.

Hiking trail at the Braddock Bay Park

Matt Knorr /

But what I enjoyed most about this park was climbing its observation decks and taking in the sights and sounds of nature from a mile away.

I had also spotted a few birds while on my spot atop the deck.

This place is truly a beautiful gem, and you shouldn’t miss out on it!

Braddock Bay Park welcomes you to more nature vistas on East Manitou Road.

Traverse through Unique Habitats at Thousand Acre Swamp

Nature and adventure come together in an outstanding preserve in the town of Penfield.

Thousand Acre Swamp is a 500-acre preserve with about a 3-mile trail anyone can traverse.

Most importantly, the site is complete with a variety of habitats, including marshes and forests.

I had gotten to examine several local plant species, which was a surprisingly fun time for me.

It has informative signages I enjoyed reading along my hike, including a boardwalk that welcomed me straight into the mature trees-filled forest.

Just always bring bug repellent with you because critters can come and have a feast around your arms and legs.

Thousand Acre Swamp always goes above and beyond your expectations on Veterans Park Way.

Marvel at the Beauty of Nature at The Webster Arboretum

Pedestrian bridge at the The Webster Arboretum

Debora Truax /

Spring may not be all year, but at The Webster Arboretum, best believe it feels like it.

This Webster landmark is only a feature of Kent Park, but trust me, it’s a beautiful sight all on its own.

I enjoyed walking around the park and finding its shaded spots and exotic flowers.

The peaceful environment helped me wind down and relax.

Statues at the Webster Arboretum

Jaclyn Vernace /

The arboretum also contained informative signs, so I got to learn something new while on my break within this sanctuary.

I also like the features of its event center, the Curry Building, which accommodates up to 90 people inside.

The Webster Arboretum sits along Schlegel Road.

View of the Webster Arboretum

Debora Truax /

View the Architecture at Tinker Homestead & Farm Museum

Tinker Homestead & Farm Museum has been a staple of Monroe County farming heritage since 1830.

This stop surprised me with its breathtaking architectural design for its cobblestone farm.

Though owned by a rural family, the farm is a prime example of the luxurious Victorian lifestyle.

I particularly liked its surrounding amenities.

The property had nature trails that led to fairy houses into the woodlands, which has been a pleasant surprise to me.

The staff were knowledgeable and managed to answer all my questions during my trip.

Tinker Homestead & Farm Museum is open for tours by appointment.

You can get to his historical landmark on Calkins Road in the town of Pittsford, a suburb of Rochester.

Spend the Day Out at Durand Eastman Beach

Frozen Durand Eastman Beach

Andre Carrotflower, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Durand Eastman Beach is a seasonal attraction in the city of Rochester that overlooks Lake Ontario.

Part of a park that goes by the same name, this beach has a sandy bottom.

Because of the semi-private location of the beach, I got to go for long, peaceful walks.

But sometimes, the place can get crowded, so be sure to come by during weekdays.

Long trees line up the beach and its surrounding park, giving off a comfortable aura in an outdoor setting.

I got to go for a swim, too, and so should you!

Durand Eastman Beach is on Lakeshore Boulevard, a part of Rochester’s long list of parks.

Launch a Boat at Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park

Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park is one of Irondequoit’s hidden gems.

Primarily a boat launching site, this marine park is also a common spot for fishing.

At 44 acres, I had a fun time at this site.

The serenity of the atmosphere helped greatly.

Also, the place is home to many fowl, so I had good company while enjoying the view of the beach area.

What made it more remarkable is its walking distance to some eateries in the area and even an ice cream shop.

Come by this spot sometime!

Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park sits along Culver Road.

Sign up for a Tour around the Grounds of Genesee Country Village & Museum

View of the Genesee Country Village & Museum

User: Stilfehler at wikivoyage shared, CC BY-SA 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You don’t need a time machine to enjoy the heritage that Genesee Country Village & Museum offers to present-day Mumford.

This living museum is the largest in the New York state community.

Its museum has a comprehensive layout that I liked most.

With over 20,000 artifacts, I had the time of my life browsing through every painting, object, and drawing displayed at the museum.

Interior view of Genesee Country Village & Museum

User: Stilfehler at wikivoyage shared, CC BY-SA 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its nature center has everything I needed to know about the native flora and fauna surrounding the property.

To make the most out of your visit, come by during Civil War Living History Weekend.

This event hosts a variety of interactive programs, including live demonstrations.

Genesee Country Village & Museum opens its gates to everyone on Flint Hill Road.

Exterior view of the hamilton house at the Genesee Country Village & Museum

User: Stilfehler at wikivoyage shared, CC BY-SA 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Join a Well-Rounded Wine Tasting at Casa Larga Vineyards

When it comes to local wine and beverages, I will never stop recommending Casa Larga Vineyards.

Open year-round, this winery has almost every wine brand and flavor you’re dreaming of.

I was also delighted to know it had an Italian heritage to boost.

I got to join a tour of the facility and enjoyed an informative tasting, and let me tell you, they were worth it.

It helps that during the tastings, you can choose from a wide range of charcuterie and other snacks to go along with your wine.

My visit to this facility is more memorable with the Patio Party, where I got to listen to soft music and enjoy the scenery of Upstate New York in the process.

This vineyard is also opening its doors for large events, including weddings and receptions.

A pro tip: try out the Ice Wines of this vineyard.

Trust me, you won’t get to taste wine like it anywhere else in the state of New York!

Casa Larga Vineyards is on Turk Hill Road in the village of Fairport.

Interact with Many Wildlife at Seneca Park Zoo

Entrance to the Seneca Park Zoo

Mzq9821, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rochester‘s Seneca Park Zoo is the ultimate destination for Upstate New York’s wildlife discovery adventure.

This 20-acre zoo is home to about over 90 species of animals.

Its Savanna Safari Tour took me to the depths of Africa, where I got to meet rhinos and zebras.

Lion cub at the Seneca Park Zoo

Zooper12, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The zoo also offered animal feeding shows, so I got to interact more closely with giraffes and other animals.

There are other buildings dedicated to the habitats and animals within the zoo, so check them out!

Seneca Park Zoo sits along St. Paul Street.

Learn About Local History at the Greece Historical Society and Museum

If you’re looking for a slice of local history, I suggest the Greece Historical Society and Museum.

This museum features a wide selection of historical artifacts and documents that you might need for a deep dive into the culture and heritage of the town of Greece.

The quaintness of the place only adds to the intrigue of everything inside.

I also enjoyed some of the slide shows presented within the museum, so definitely check them out when you’re there.

Another must-visit is the museum’s gift shop and bookstore, which I thoroughly enjoyed during my stay.

If you’ve got the time, come by during one of the museum’s annual events or public programs too.

You won’t regret it.

The Greece Historical Society and Museum is along Long Pond Road.

Final Thoughts

Have you gone through each attraction above of the best things to do in Monroe County, New York?

What do you think?

I can’t wait for you to see the beauty and mystery of Monroe County for yourself.

Safe travels ahead!

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