When people think about New York, they often picture the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
What if I told you that outside of the city of New York, is a whole other world? A world of strange sand dunes, amazing state parks, and beautiful beaches.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when we made a last-minute decision to go to Rochester, New York. Thankfully, I ended up being pleasantly surprised on our wonderful trip.
Now I do want to provide a little disclaimer. The title can be a bit misleading, because a good bit of these things are NOT exactly in Rochester. However, these destinations are no more than an hour away from Rochester. We stayed in Irondequoit, which is in Rochester. I just found it difficult to sum up what area of New York state we actually visited! Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy this read and find some great places to visit and make a trip of it!
Here is what you MUST check out while you visit!:
Chimney Bluffs State Park
My favorite spot had to be Chimney Bluffs State Park. The park is great for hiking, and it runs along Lake Ontario. Be sure to explore it inside and out–including their mystical sand sculptures. If I didn’t know any better, I would say this picture was from some tropical island, but it’s just New York!
Lots of great photo opportunities in this park, and many great spots to have a picnic by the lake! If you are feeling extra adventurous, be sure to climb down to the rock-filled shoreline and explore! You get a great view of the sand sculptures from below. Be sure to keep your eye out for a beautiful rock to take home, as there are TONS of unique ones filling the shoreline!
I make it a point to take a rock and/or seashell along with some sand from every destination near water that we visit and write in Sharpie where it is from. It’s great to look back at all of the places that you visit and see just how unique each destination is!
Ontario Beach is basically a beach combined with a state park, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I was amazed at how clear and soft the water felt. I wasn’t used to the clearness of fresh water lakes! Aside from the beach, you can check out concerts in the park that they have weekly, as well as playgrounds and even their very own merry-go-round!
This is definitely a great “beach dupe” for those who can’t quite make it to the ocean for your trip.
The only downside I found while visiting this beach is that there is a lot more debris then you would normally expect, as I don’t think they comb the beach. Nonetheless, it didn’t bother me all that much and was a great place to visit overall!
SeaBreeze Amusement Park
While you are at Lake Ontario, be sure to stop by their lake-front amusement park–SeaBreeze! It is a very cute and homey park. It most definitely reminds me of the other family amusement park I posted about–Knoebel’s.
It has a good-sized waterpark and a fun mixture of rides, great food and entertainment. You can ride all day then stop at the lake afterwards to relax!
Rochester Museum + Science Center
Okay, so this one is actually IN downtown Rochester! Lots of fun things to see in here! Explore floors of exhibits as well as play around with some hands-on science stuff. I felt like a kid in a candy store in here, getting my hands on everything that I set my eyes on!
Also, be sure to check out their planetarium–it was pretty freakin’ cool. They offer a variety of shows including a laser show to Beatles music. A 10/10 in my book.
Letchworth State Park
This park is about one hour from Rochester. It was voted one of the best state parks in America, and has some fantastic views.
They have a great scenic overlook:
They also have lower, mid, and upper falls that you can check out! They are absolutely stunning to look at and so peaceful!
It was pouring down rain as soon as we went to look at the falls, but I still managed to get a decent shot! I wasn’t going to miss out on seeing this beauty.
Letchworth also has many great hiking trails that you can explore! I would plan on spending a full day at the park, as there is so much to see and do!
There you have it folks. Some of my top recommendations if you are in or planning to visit the Rochester area. Rochester has some great and unique things to offer that you wouldn’t typically find anywhere else! So be sure to add this to your bucket list for your next trip!