2016 Top 20 Places to Take Kids in Greater Rochester
As voted by Rochester-area parents!
In summer 2016, thousands of local parents, grandparents, and caregivers weighed in on their favorite places to take kids in greater Rochester, NY. There are literally hundreds of wonderful places to take your kids in our area. For other fantastic places to take kids, just click on any of the links that interest you on the navigation bar.
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The Strong museum
Ranked by FamilyFun magazine as one of the top family travel destination in the country, the Strong museum certainly deserves the #1 spot in our poll. In addition to the many traveling exhibitions that make their temporary home at the Strong, the museum features Can You Tell Me How To Get to Sesame Street?"; a restored carousel, a Wegmans Super Kids Market; their wonderful Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden; and Reading Adventureland.
Rochester Museum & Science Center / Strasenburgh Planetarium
Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) includes the Science Museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center. Offering experiences at the Museum with more than 200 interactive exhibits, Planetarium with a 65-foot dome and Nature Center on 900 acres, the RMSC stimulates community interest in exploration. In addition, the more than 1.2 million RMSC collection items tell the story of Rochester’s past including its rich history of innovation and invention.
Seneca Park Zoo
Seneca Park Zoo strikes the perfect balance for many of us parents: It's small enough to "do in a day" -- you can spend enough time in each area that the kids can really learn about the animals – and it's inexpensive enough that you don't feel the pressure to do "do it all" in one visit. The Zoo is enjoyable both in summer and in winter. In the summer, there is special programming hourly, but winter is great there, too: There are a several indoor areas that are popular with kids, especially if they love snakes. Seneca Park Zoo is the only zoo in New York state that is home to African Elephants and Bornean Orangutans. Plus, with guest favorites like lions, penguins, wolves and the beloved polar bear, there’s something for everyone.
Stokoe Farms is a short hike to the southwest of Rochester, in Scottsville, and it is especially noteworthy that they made our Top 20 list when they are only open for fall family fun for seven weeks: From mid-September through the end of October. Stokoe Farms sure makes an impression on families, though: Hours of farm-fresh fun in the corn maze and a wide variety of outdoor active activities. Kids can play in the straw fort and slide down a huge slide, pet a large number of animals, and chomp on delicious cider donuts. Thousands of families then return the weekend after Thanksgiving for the start of the Christmas Tree season.
Ontario Play & Cafe
New to the region in the past year, Ontario Play & Cafe is one of two new businesses that made our Top 20 this year! Located on Scottsville Road, Ontario Play & Cafe is an indoor playground for children ages 10 and younger and their parents for fun, hands-on, open play. 'Exploring naturally' is their main focus. They offer a broad variety of completely non-electronic activities.
Seabreeze Amusement Park
Seabreeze is the amusement park and water park closest to home, located right on the shore Lake Ontario at the top of Route 590 to the East. Seabreeze has both thrilling adult rides such as the Jackrabbit (the fourth oldest operating coaster in the country), classic family rides such as the Carousel and Train, and some great rides for the under-8 set such as the Kiddie Swings. The waterpark section of Seabreeze has "liquid fun for everyone"--includes adult and kiddie slides, wave pool, lazy river, and more. It's not too big, and not too small, and it's a very good price (rates vary per ticket type; click here for current rates.
Clubhouse Fun Center
Open year-round for indoor fun, and seasonally for outdoor fun, Clubhouse Fun Center is located on Jay Scutti Blvd in Henrietta. It features arcade games, birthday parties, go karts, and a fabulous new mini golf course that opened in June of 2014. Bring your kids, or the whole family! You can join their e-club and get exclusive specials. Like them on Facebook for exclusive coupons.
TYKEs Theatre (Theatre Young Kids Enjoy)
Inspiring families with best-loved fairy tales, favorite bedtime stories and children’s books... all seen through the magic of live theatre, TYKEs's season typically runs from November through April or May. Professional actors present great shows to families and also to schoolchildren. Performances take place in the Hart Theater at the JCC, 1200 Edgewood Avenue in Brighton.
Genesee Country Village & Nature Center
Genesee Country Village and Nature Center is located about a half-hour to Rochester's southwest in Mumford. The Village features 59 restored houses, businesses, and places of worship from the 19th century. A stroll through the village (especially on one of their event days such as Laura Ingalls Wilder Days, War of 1812 Encampment, and Civil War Reenactment) brings parents and kids alike back to the 1800s. The GCV's Silver Base Ball Park is the only place where you're likely to hear "Fine hurl, sir!" meant as a polite compliment. The GCVM also features a nature center.
My Local Library
Of course, the libraries in the Rochester area are not really ONE place, but MANY places... but it's important to emphasize how valuable libraries are for family learning and fun. The libraries in our area are wonderful about posting their events to the KidsOutAndAbout calendar so you always can get ideas for free things to do with your kids that celebrate education and imagination. KidsOutAndAbout.com takes this opportunity to salute the wonderful children's librarians who serve our community with such dedication.
Darien Lake Amusement Park
Darien Lake Amusement Park is about an hour west of Rochester, south of Batavia. For a day or two (overnight accommodations are available in the hotel or campground) of excitement and variety nothing beats Darien Lake, home of more than 50 rides, including six world-class roller coasters; dozens of family-friendly rides and entertainment; the region’s largest water park complete with wave pool; and top- notch performing artists!
Altitude Trampoline Park
Altitude Trampoline Park is Rochester's newest active indoor play center. Located in Southtown Plaza on Jefferson Road in Henrietta. Ages 2-adult, special playtimes and areas for toddlers and preschoolers. Jump, play, and take a break.
Lollypop Farm is maintained by the Humane Society of Rochester and Monroe County and located in the Hamlet of Egypt off of Route 31. It provides a free opportunity to introduce kids of all ages to all kinds of farm animals and pets. The Humane Society at Lollypop Farm is committed to building lifelong bonds between people and animals through education, community outreach programs, and the prevention of cruelty. Inside, Lollypop Farm houses dogs, cats, and other small animals that are ready for adoption, as well as a Family Learning Center where families can learn about pet care together. Outside, take a walk through the Farm's pastures of horses, llamas, goats, deer, geese, ducks, and chickens. Stroll to the nearby playround and have a picnic lunch!
Rochester Red Wings Baseball
The Rochester Red Wings are a Triple-A baseball team based in Rochester, New York. The team plays in the International League and is the top minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The Red Wings play in Frontier Field, located in downtown Rochester.
Erie Canal hiking or biking
Active family fun is easily accessible any time in the Rochester area: Just head over to the Erie Canal path with your bike, your roller skates, your stroller, or just your feet. The Erie Canal has beautiful scenery, a terrifically maintained trail, interesting history, and intriguing wildlife, including (did you know?) minks!
Wild Wings / Mendon Ponds Park
Wild Wings is a not-for-profit educational organization for permanently injured "raptors" which are unable to survive on their own in the wild. Eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, and more are displayed for viewing, free of charge.
Cumming Nature Center
Cumming Nature Center (CNC) is a dynamic environmental education facility that celebrates the unique landscape and culture of the Finger Lakes region through hands-on learning opportunities and thoughtful exhibits.
Bounce-It-Out, an indoor play center meant mostly for kids age 10 and under, is, as its name implies, filled with giant inflatable bounce structures. Features birthday parties, a cafe, and lots of relaxation for parents while kids play and play and play. Located across from Pittsford Plaza on the north side of Monroe Avenue. Go ALL the way around to the back of the building to find it.
The Sandbox Indoor Playground & Consignment (closed as of May 2017)
The Sandbox was an indoor play center designed just for kids ages 1-7. They offer families a clean, safe and creative space for children to play and socialize. They host both private and semi-private birthday parties all weekend long.
Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester
A state-of-the-art fitness and recreation center, the JCC offers an array of programs for all ages including arts and cultural programs, sports and fitness programs, early childhood daycare and education, after school care, and summer camps.
Winners in Special CategoriesIn the second part of our survey, we asked readers to select their favorites in several categories. Here were their choices.
Favorite Kid-Friendly MuseumThe Strong National Museum of Play
Favorite Nature CenterLetchworth State Park
Favorite Performing ArtsTYKEs Theatre
Favorite Indoor Recreation CenterOntario Play & Cafe
Favorite Kid-Friendly FarmStokoe Farm
Favorite Outdoor Fun/ Amusement ParkSeabreeze
Favorite Professional Sports TeamRochester Red Wings
Favorite Miniature GolfClubhouse Fun Center
Favorite Arts EducationRochester Academy of Music & Arts
Favorite Sports EducationRochester-area YMCA branches
Favorite Family-Friendly FestivalImagine RIT