2011 Top 20 Places to Take Kids in Greater Rochester
As voted by Rochester-area parents!
In May 2011, 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, so the venue ranked #20 is not last, it's simply the 20th most popular place per our survey. For other fantastic places to take kids, just click on any of the links that interest you on the left-hand navigation bar. One thing that interested us: The top 3 are STILL the top 3! But other places have opened in the intervening years, and they have quickly become part of the reasons why we raise our families in Rochester.
2011 Survey Results
1. National Museum of Play at the Strong . Ranked by Child magazine as one of the top 10 children's museums in the country, the National Museum of Play certainly deserves the #1 spot in our poll. In addition to the many traveling exhibitions that make their temporary home at Strong Museum, 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.
2. 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 -- but it's inexpensive enough that you don't necessary feel the pressure to do "do it all" in one visit. So we can spend a couple of hours (a toddler's maximum) and then come back another day in the same season to focus on a different area. Another reason we speculate that the Zoo made the #2 spot is that it's enjoyable both in summer and in winter. The warmer seasons are unquestionably more popular with zoogoers, but we always go at least once in the winter: There are a several indoor areas that are popular with kids, especially if they love snakes.
3. Seabreeze. Seabreeze is the amusement 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, "Raging Rivers," has "liquid fun for everyone." 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.
4. Local Library. In our last poll, the Monroe County Library library system got enough "write-in votes" to make the top 20... so this time we made it was an official entry. Here it is at #4! Of course, it's not really ONE place, it is MANY places... but it's important to emphasize how valuable libraries are for family learning and fun. KidsOutAndAbout.com takes this opportunity to salute the wonderful children's librarians who serve our community with such dedication.
5. Rochester Museum & Science Center and Strasenburgh Planetarium. Thanks to the efforts of RMSC Education Director Calvin Uzelmeier, Planetarium Director Steve Fentress, and many others, the Rochester Museum & Science provides unparalleled science education and opportunities to learn about the world around us. Wonderful exhibits, hands-on activities, camps, classes, shows and festivals, and traveling exhibits. Gorgeous giant-screen films about nature and space, many of them produced at the Planetarium, keep kids and adults coming back to learn more.
6. Kango Play Center. Opening only a few years ago, Kango Play Center, on Jefferson Road in Henrietta, vaults into our Top 10. Active indoor play focused on kids 10 and under, including climbing structures and a jungle gym, bounce houses (including one for the very youngest kids only), gentle roller skating and trike riding rink, a pizza cafe and some amusement games such as skee ball. Kango Play Center is adjacent to Kango Academy, a preschool. They have birthday parties and summer camp as well.
7. 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. Co-founded by Gina Donohue and Freyda Schneider.
8. Stokoe Farms in Scottsville. Stokoe Farms is a short hike to the southeast 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 to watch Santa parachute for the start of the Christmas Tree season.
9. Bounce-It-Out. 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 "Blockbuster" building to find it.
10. Lollypop Farm. Returning to our Top 20 list is Lollypop Farm. Lollypop Farm is maintained by the Humane Society of Rochester and Monroe County and located in Fairport (actually the Hamlet of Egypt) off of Route 31. It provides a special (and 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!
11. Brown's Berry Patch. Once again, Brown's Berry Patch, located 40-50 minutes the west of downtown Rochester, makes the KOAA Top 20 list. It's a bit of a trip, but apparently the "delicious fun" of the place triumphs over travel time for lots of families. Late spring, summer, and fall, it has lots to offer kids and families for several hours of low-cost fun. Pick-your-own fruit: Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, apples, pumpkins, and more! Then for a small additional fee, play in the Barnyard Adventure. My kids' favorites? The huge slide that parents and kids go down together. And the pedal carts (grown-up and kid-sized) that you can pedal through the corn maze. And the jumping pillow. And the goats. And the bunnies. And...
12. Rochester Red Wings baseball. There's nothing like a baseball game for great, inexpensive, family fun. The Red Wings may be a minor league team, but Frontier Field — a
deluxe and nicely contained facility—is a major league hit with parents. The Rochester Red Wings are the Triple-A team for the Minnesota Twins. A Red Wings game is not only great baseball, but it's an event that involves many different organizations in the community, as sponsors of inter-inning contests and fun.
13. Jump Club. Another newcomer to the area—and to the KOAA Top 20—is the indoor PLAY center in Brighton, at Winton Place (at the east end of Brighton-Henrietta Townline Road). We put PLAY in capitals because it is extremely ACTIVE, BOUNCING play, with large inflatable jumping and climbing structures. Fantastic exercise, guaranteed to tire kids out. Jump Club also opens up at special times for play exclusively for kids with autism and other spectrum disorders, and their families. Birthday parties are their specialty, and the facility also features a cafe and a separate enclosed area for toddlers. High-speed internet and comfy chairs for parents to use while their kids are playing.
14. 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.
15. Rochester RazorSharks Basketball. The Rochester RazorSharks are Rochester's Premiere Baskeball League professional team. They play from January through March at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. The atmosphere is extremely family-friendly, and ticket prices are low. An afternoon or evening of exciting sports played by top athletes is in store for your family when you visit a RazorSharks game.
16. YMCA. Like the libraries, we did not ask folks to vote for specific Ys. But knowing that the Y is very special to many families in our area, we merged all of the Ys into one category. Lots of readers wrote in comments about their local Y, however, especially Bay View in Webster, Eastside in Penfield, and Southeast in Pittsford.
17. Darien Lake. Darien Lake Amusement Park is a bit of a hike (about an hour west of Rochester, south of Batavia), a bit more expensive than closer amusement parks, and targeted to a slightly older crowd than the average KOA reader's kids. But there's no question that for a day or two (overnight accommodations are available in a hotel and campground) of excitement, stimulation, and variety, nothing beats Darien Lake. It is a theme park and water park that also brings top-notch performing artists each summer. They're also open weekends in October for a frightful good time at Halloween!
18. Mendon Ponds Park. Mendon Ponds Park is the largest Monroe County Park with 2,500 acres of woodlands, ponds, wetlands and glacially created land forms. Its unique complex of glacial features helped to make it a National Natural Historic Landmark in 1969.
There is a 550 acre nature preserve with the wild bird education and rehabilitation center Wild Wings adjacent, with seven miles of self guided trails, full of wildlife, plants, and hand fed chickadees. Parents take their kids there both winter (great sledding, nicely groomed cross-country ski trails) and summer (we always bring a kite).
19. Long Acre Farms. Long Acre Farms is best known in this area for their Amazing Maize Maze in the fall, but they have all kinds of events and activities throughout the year, and many of us parents take a seasonal "Long Acre Farms" trip out to Macedon with the kids. Long Acre Farms is a working, family farm that focuses on outdoor entertainment and weekend festivals. There is a goat pen and petting area. There is a 5-acre Play Area--filled with a wooden pirate ship and playground equipment, a tire climb and Pumpkin Land in the fall--as well as a farm market store, an ice cream shop, and a bakery. You can also "mine" for gems.
20. Wickham Farms. A corn maze in the fall, a jumping pillow, mini-golf, batting cages, great ice cream, and a delicious farm market make Wickham Farms a popular family fun destination for an hour or two on a spring, summer, or fall afternoon. They host birthday parties and special educational annual events like CowapaMOOza, which celebrates National Dairy Month. Wickham Farms is the only local venue where an employee has the title "Director of Fun." We approve!
Winners in Special Categories
In the second part of our survey, we asked readers to select their favorites in seven categories. Here were their choices.
Favorite Kid-Friendly Museum
|National Museum of Play at the Strong
Favorite Nature Center
|Mendon Ponds Park / Wild Wings
Favorite Children's Theater
Favorite Indoor Recreation Center
|Kango Play Center
Favorite Farm (agri-entertainment)
Favorite Amusement Park
Favorite Professional Sports Team
|Rochester Red Wings
Here are some other wonderful places to visit in greater Rochester, which were nominated for our survey. Though they didn't quite make the KidsOutAndAbout.com Top 20 list this year, they may well be #1 in your heart!
Braddock Bay Raptor Research
Clubhouse Fun Center
Country Way Corn Maze
Cracker Box Palace/Alasa Farms Animal Haven
Cumming Nature Center
George Eastman House
Geva Theatre shows
Helmer Nature Center
Horizon Fun FX
Memorial Art Gallery
Montezuma Audubon Center
New York Museum of Transportation
Powder Mills Park Fish Hatchery
Rochester Americans Hockey
Rochester Broadway Theatre League shows
Rochester Children's Theatre
Rochester Knighthawks Lacrosse
Rochester Public Market
Rochester Rhinos Soccer
Roseland Water Park
Seneca Lake State Park Sprayground
Seward House in Auburn
Stages shows at the Auditorium Theater
Sterling Nature Center
Susan B. Anthony House
Tinker Nature Park/Hansen Nature Center
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Over 60 of the most BEAUTIFUL places to take kids in greater Rochester
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