12 Fun Things to Do in the Finger Lakes in Winter

Are you looking for things to do in the Finger Lakes in winter? This list will help you find winter activities in the Finger Lakes that are great for families.

It may be cold in the Finger Lakes region but that shouldn’t stop you from getting outside and keeping active. This year it may be more important than ever to enjoy the great outdoors.

I’ll be the first to admit that the cold weather is not my favorite, but with some cold weather gear and some planning, you will find there are a lot of family fun things to do in the Finger Lakes in winter.

New York state offers so many options for winter fun. Whether you are traveling to New York State or planning a winter day trip, we think this list will inspire your winter family adventure.

finger lakes in winter lake.

12 Fun Things to do in the Finger Lakes in Winter

Ice Skating

There are many places to ice skate in the Finger Lakes. Some offer indoor and outdoor options. At Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at Manhattan Square you can ice skate outside. They also offer skate rentals.

If you want to skate inside Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex offers indoor skating options. They also offer skate rentals. Currently you can purchase tickets online for a reserved spot.

Ellison Park also has an ice rink but you must provide your own skates. This is a really great outdoor option if you have skates.


Sledding is a free and easy activity in the Finger Lakes during the winter. Some of our favorites are Ellison Park, Harris Whalen Park, and Mendon Ponds.

If you are looking for a snow tubing park in the finger lakes check out Greystone Tubing and Greek Peak.

finger lakes in winter sledding.
Sledding is a free family favorite for winter activities in the Finger Lakes.

Lamberton Conservatory/Highland Park

Lamberton Conservatory is located at Highland Park in the city of Rochester. It is an indoor botanical gardens. Highland Park is a great place to plan an all day visit.

Spend time at the gardens and then walk around the area to see the Fredrick Douglas Memorial, the Highland Reservoir, and walk the trails.

Winter Hike

If you asked me a year ago if I would be interested in hiking in the winter I would have said no! The last 12 months have changed my mind.

There are so many places to hike in Rochester and exploring them in the winter is a great way to see things you may not normally notice.

It is a little tough to get the kids excited about going out in the winter to hike but we have learned a few tips along the way.

Don’t surprise them! Let them know your plans ahead of time and allow them to be part of the planning process. You also want to have the right gear. Warm coats, hats, snow pants, make all the difference!

birdsong fairy trail finger lakes in winter.

Snow Shoeing

Snow shoeing is on my bucket list this winter in the Finger Lakes. We have never done it and would love to check it out. Cummings Nature Center offers rentals and a 3 mile loop trail. It is part of the Rochester Museum & Science Center membership too!

Visit the Beach

This may seem like a summer activity but I really love visiting the beach in the winter. It is a different visit and you need to dress warm, because the wind is usually colder near the water.

Recently we took a drive to Seneca Lake to walk around the Finger Lakes visitors center area and explore the playgrounds at Seneca Lake State Park.

We really love visiting Webster Park. If you time it right you might find the pier covered with ice like we did on a visit. It is truly remarkable and one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

finger lakes in winter webster lake.
The ice at Webster Park Pier.

Seneca Park Zoo

Seneca Park Zoo is open year round and a great place to explore in the Finger Lakes during the winter. Often you will find low crowds and the animals behave differently in the winter months.

There are a few exhibits closed seasonally but its a great place to get out and explore on a sunny winter day.

New York State Parks

New York has some of the best state parks and we love visiting the most popular ones during the winter ones. The best park to visit is Letchworth State Park.

There is no entrance fee during the winter months and the crowds are so low you basically have the place to yourself.

I suggest packing a picnic and parking near the middle falls for a short walk and winter picnic together.

finger lakes in winter letchworth.

Learn to Ski

Skiing may not be for everyone, but now is a great time to learn how to ski as a family if it’s something you have been interested in learning.

Bristol Mountain has ski lessons for beginners and is within a days drive. They also offer first time ski packages for kids 7+ up.

Visit Wild Wings /Mendon Pond Parks

This January we took advantage of the sunshine and visited Mendon Pond Parks. Mendon Pond Parks is home to Birdsong Fairy Trail, Wild Wings Nature Center, a sledding hill, and numerous trails.

If you park at the Wild Wings Nature Center you can visit the center and walk the fairy trail. It is great for families with small children or anyone that doesn’t want a strenuous hike.

I also enjoy the Devil’s Bathtub Trail but this requires stairs and might be tough for small kids.

Take a Day Trip

When you think of day trips from Rochester or road trips you may think summer but there are a lot of great places to discover in the Finger Lakes region in the winter too.

I suggest packing the car with a picnic or snacks, cold-weather gear like hats, gloves and snow pants, a change of clothes, and a destination. Then go!!

Don’t let the weather stop you from having a family adventure. Some of our favorite day trips can be done in the Finger lakes this winter. We love our Rochester to Ithaca Day Trip or our day trip to Corning, NY.

Wherever your winter in the Finger Lakes adventures take you, I can promise they won’t disappoint. There is so much to do and explore for a great winter season in the Finger Lakes.

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