17 Unique Family Day Trips from Rochester, NY

Are you looking for day trips from Rochester, NY? We’re sharing some of the best Rochester day trips to plan an awesome day out.

No matter the season we love to plan day trips. With so many awesome things to do in New York state, planning an epic day trip around Rochester, NY is easy!

Family day trips are the perfect way to reconnect as a family. They can be done on a budget and with little planning.

Our Favorite Day Trips Around Rochester, NY

  • Corning Museum of Glass
  • Niagara Falls
  • Watkins Glen State Park

Those three are my go-to favorite day trips to take from Rochester, New York. Read on for more ideas to plan a family fun day trip!

day trips around rochester watkins glen state park
Hiking at Watkins Glen State Park

Most of the Rochester, NY day trips we have done as a family, but there are a few attractions that I have included that are on our bucket list.

All of the day trips from Rochester, NY are under a 2 hour drive (or a few minutes over) and are great destinations for families.

These destinations are located in the finger lakes region and western new york. They include state parks, theme parks, short road trips, and visits to downtown Rochester.

Best Day Trips from Rochester, NY

Buffalo, NY

Buffalo, NY is a perfect day trip near Rochester, NY because it is a short drive, around a 90-minute drive, and you can spend the entire day exploring everything the city has to offer.

Situated along Lake Erie, Buffalo is an amazing place for families. With awesome museums, zoos, and outdoor parks, you could plan many day trips to Buffalo and not see it all.

When the kids were small we used to plan mystery days. These were days we would plan a full itinerary of surprise stops.

We don’t do them as much anymore, because the kids like to help us plan, but they were really fun day trips. You can read about our Niagara Falls and Buffalo Day Trip about 5 years ago that was a good one!

Driving Time: 1 Hour and 20 minutes

Best Places to Visit: (Attractions and food)

  • Buffalo Zoo
  • Canalside: Naval Park and Explore and More Museum
  • Ted’s Hot Dogs
  • Paula’s Doughnuts
  • Buffalo Harbor State Park
  • Anchor Bar

Learn More: Fun Things to Do in Buffalo, NY for Families

buffalo is perfect for a day trip from rochester ny
Visiting the Explore and More Museum at Canal Side in Buffalo.

Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls, Canada is a short day trip from Rochester, NY with so much to do. You really could spend an entire weekend exploring the Canadian side of the falls.

Of course you have spectacular views of the falls, but you also have Clifton Hill which is a touristy area comparable to a “kids Vegas”. There is mini-golf, 3D movies, arcades, wax museums, and more attractions in this area.

If you are looking for less busy you can view the falls and then move on to explore the Butterfly Conservatory, Journey Behind the Falls, and the Hornblower boat tours.

We have spent a lot of time visiting Niagara Falls, Canada but mostly Clifton Hill. I am working on planning a day trip there as soon as we can safely travel again.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 34 Minutes

Best Places to Visit:

  • Clifton Hill area attractions
  • Butterfly Conservatory
  • Journey Behind the Falls
  • Hornblower Boat Tours
  • Rainforest Cafe
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Smoke’s Poutinerie

Learn More: What to Do on a Rochester to Niagara Falls Day Trip

Buffalo and Niagara Falls Family Activities 2
Dinosaur Adventure Golf on Clifton Hill.

Niagara Falls, America

The American side of Niagara Falls is very different from the Canadian side. It is not as built up and busy as Clifton Hill, but Niagara Falls, New York has a lot to offer if you take a closer look!

The Maid of the Mist is one of our favorite attractions in Niagara Falls. This boat ride takes you close to the bottom of the falls. Be prepared to get wet!

Related Post: Niagara Falls USA in Winter | Activities for Winter in Niagara Falls NY

We also discovered a hidden gem in the Niagara Falls Power Vista. This free attraction offers hands-on learning and really cool interactive exhibits to explore how Niagara Falls powers the state of New York.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 26 Minutes

Best Places to Visit:

  • Niagara Power Vista
  • Niagara Falls State Park
  • Cave of the Winds
  • Maid of the Mist
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Old Fort Niagara

Learn More: Niagara Falls USA

Looking at Niagara Falls in the winter.

Sodus Point Area

Sodus Point is a great place to start your day trip. You can start with a visit to the Sodus Point Light House followed by some beach time at Sodus Point Beach Park. We have visited the outside of the light house and we plan to make a visit to climb to the top soon.

There is a cute village in Sodus Bay that where you can find ice cream shops and restaurants to include in your day. We really enjoy the area and like to visit during the summer months.

Drive Time: 46 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

Learn More: Village of Sodus Point

View of Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs is worth a visit!

Rochester Scavenger Hunt

I don’t think you have to go far to plan an awesome day trip with your family. Some of our favorite things to do is pretend we are on vacation and plan a full day out at local spots that we love.

Earlier this year I put together a 9 destination Rochester Scavenger Hunt that you could do from your car. The great thing about this is you could spend as little or as much time at these locations as possible.

You could also include visits to the Genesee River, Seneca Park Zoo, The Strong Museum of Play, Ontario Beach Park, and the George Eastman Museum in your day.

Include one of these great spots to the scavenger hunt for a family day out!

Drive Time: 2-4 Hours for the Day

Learn More: 9 Spot Rochester Scavenger Hunt for Families

Art work is one of the great spots on the Rochester Scavenger Hunt.

Genesee Country Museum

Genesee Country Museum is the largest living history museum in New York State. Although it is a short drive from Rochester it is a great spot for a half day trip with your family. Honestly once you arrive you will spend the entire day exploring and learning about colonial times.

Drive Time: 30 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

  • Watch a Baseball Game
  • Visit the Old School House
  • See the demonstrations of making butter, printing press, and blacksmith.

Learn More: Genesee Country Village & Museum

Olcott, NY

Olcott is one of the cutest places we have ever discovered. It has a little village along the lake and a small carnival area with an ice cream shop. There is also a park with a playground and splash park nearby.

We visited Olcott often when the kids were small because the rides were perfect for their age. Now they are a little too big but we still really enjoy the area.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

Learn More: Olcott-Newfane, New York

olcott beach carousel park is a perfect day trip from rochester
The rides at the Olcott Beach Carousel Park are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

Canandaigua, New York

Canandaigua is a short drive from Rochester, New York. It is a really cute village with shops along the Main Street. It also has Sonnenburg Gardens which is a great place to visit with gardens and Victorian style mansions to explore.

There is also Roseland Water Park, Kershaw Beach, and Onanada Park. Planning a visit to Canadadigua is easy because of the short drive and is perfect for a half day trip.

Drive Time: 34 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

  • Sonnenburg Gardens
  • Kershaw Beach
  • Onanada Park
  • Roseland Water Park

Learn More: Fun Things to Do in Canandaigua, NY for a Day Trip

Seneca Falls, New York

Seneca Falls is such an important historical place to visit because it is home to the Women’s Rights Hall of Fame and the Women’s Rights Museum.

Drive Time: 52 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

Learn More: Visit Seneca Falls

Corning, New York

Corning, NY is closer than a lot of people think, and have two family museums that we love. The Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum are two places to add to your day trip from Rochester.

You can even have lunch at the Corning Museum of Glass because they have fantastic healthy options for families. Also kids under 17 are free! The Rockwell is another museum we really enjoyed during our visit.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 39 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

  • Corning Museum of Glass
  • The Rockwell Museum
  • Visit the Shops along the Main Street
  • Eat at Slammin Jammin BBQ

Learn More: Our Weekend Getaway to Corning, New York

corning ny things to do CMOG.

Syracuse, New York

Syracuse is a great city east of Rochester that has museums, shopping, family fun attractions, and outdoor areas to explore as a family.

We had a blast at WonderWorks inside Destiny U.S.A. as well as visiting Green Lake State Park.

One unique place we found was visiting the town where author L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz, was born. The All Things OZ museum is full of memorabilia and you can walk along the yellow brick road sidewalk. This is in Chittenago which is outside of Syracuse but a good addition to your day trip.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 23 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

  • WonderWorks
  • All Things Oz Museum
  • Visit Syracuse University
  • Green Lake State Park
  • Destiny U.S.A
  • Brooklyn Pickle
  • Pastabilities
  • Dinosaur BBQ
  • DiLauro’s Bakery
  • Harrison Bakery

Learn More: Fun Things to Do in Syracuse with Kids

All Things Oz Museum visit
Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Hamlin Beach

Hamlin Beach is great for a day trip to the beach from Rochester. It’s gorgeous shore line allows visitors to spend the day at the beach, explore the hiking and biking trails, and have a picnic lunch.

Drive Time: 31 Minutes

Learn More: Hamlin Beach State Park

Hamlin Beach State Park

Ithaca, New York

We planned our most recent day trip to Ithaca and it was a great day trip from Rochester. The area is so beautiful and we loved visiting Taughannock Falls State Park. We also enjoyed the unique Ithaca Children’s Garden for a fun place to explore with children of all ages.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 40 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

Learn More: Rochester to Ithaca Day Trip with Kids

ithaca new york

Letchworth State Park (and Surrounding Area)

Letchworth State Park is called the “Grand Canyon of the East” because of its stunning gorges and waterfalls. There are many different hiking trails and places to explore at Letchworth as well as a pool and picnic areas.

You can also visit the Mount Morris Dam and explore the village of Geneseo during your visit.

Drive Time: 45 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

Learn More: Livingston County Tourism

Traveling with Kids

Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen has the best gorge trail. It goes along waterfalls and amazes me every time we visit. It’s a great little village with shops and restaurants. We had a great time on our weekend there. Read our tips for visiting Watkins Glen with kids.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 28 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

Learn More: Family Weekend Getaway to Watkins Glen

East Aurora, New York

East Aurora is a cute little village outside of Buffalo, NY. On the Main Street you will find Vidler’s 5 and 10. This classic shop has two floors of things to discover, including penny candy and old fashion popcorn machines.

Drive Time: 1 Hour and 22 Minutes

Best Things to Do:

Six Flags Darien Lake

Six Flags Darien Lake is a theme park located between Rochester and Buffalo. If you are looking for an amusement park it has great roller coasters and kid friendly attractions.

Learn more about visiting Six Flags Darien Lake.

Tips for Planning Your Rochester Day Trip

  1. Start with one destination/attraction you want to visit and work out from there.
  2. We like to include a lot of local places within 1-2 hours of where we live. While planning these days we have discovered so many really cool things around our state. A lot of times the best places are little doughnut shops or ice cream stops.
  3. We also pack snacks and one meal to keep the cost down. We try to do a loop so we are not spending the entire day in the car and have lots of stops.
  4. On a few trips we have added mystery guests. Our families are spread out throughout the state so we always try to add a cousin visit at a local park or museum as an added surprise.

The goal of our family day trips is to experience new places and create amazing family time memories without having to plan a big family vacation.

There are different ways to plan your day but with these great ideas you can start planning your day trip from Rochester, NY today!

Read Next: 12 Best Things to Do in New York State with Kids

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