Are you planning a visit to Rochester, New York? The city of Rochester and the surrounding Finger Lakes region is a great place to visit. Today we are sharing the best museums near Rochester NY to include in your visit.
Some of our favorite museums are located in and around Rochester, NY. Rochester museums explore how the city of Rochester impacted the history of the United States.
Guests can learn more about the history of of toys at the National Toy Hall of Fame (Strong Museum of Play) or learn about how Rochester was part of the Underground Railroad at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.
There is something for everyone to love from art museums to outdoor living museums located in historic buildings, you will find something to explore anytime of the year.
Whether you are planning a morning of family fun or looking to plan a family day trip in Rochester, these museums are great choices. A few are not centrally located in Rochester but are in the Rochester area and Finger Lakes region.
We think they are all worth a visit!
Most of these museums on the list we have personally visited but I added a few that I would like to visit in the future and hope to take the family to soon.
Best Museums Near Rochester, NY
The Strong National Museum of Play (Best Kids Museum Around Rochester!)
Located: One Manhattan Square (Downtown Rochester)
- Opening a 90,000 square foot expansion in June 2023 that will include a new outdoor space as well as a new Digital Space exhibit.
- Home to upstate New York only indoor butterfly garden that is open year round.
- Indoor ropes and climbing course.
The Strong Museum of Play is one of the best children’s museums ever! We love the nostalgia of the Berenstain Bears and Sesame Street exhibits as well as the new interactive play exhibits.
The Strong Museum mixes interactive exhibits with history of toys and play. It is a perfect place that uniquely blends learning and play for all ages.
One of the things we really love about the Strong Museum of Play is that your kids can grow up going and always find something that interests them.
When the kids were small they love shopping at the kids size Wegmans. Now that they are older they like checking out the arcade areas, the traveling exhibits, and the Fairytale area. The Fairytale area has a fun mystery scavenger hunt we like!
There is so much to see at the Strong Museum of Play. Read this post, The Best Things to See at Strong Museum of Play, to help plan your day and make sure you don’t miss anything!
Genesee Country Village Museum & Museum
Location: Mumford, New York
- Largest living history museum in New York State.
- Hosts special events year round including a holiday event and Maple Sugar festival.
- Be sure to check out the gift shop at the exit for unique hand-made gifts.
Genesee Country Village & Museum is the largest living history museum in New York State. We always love visiting because the staff are so knowledgeable and interactive, we learn something new each time!
It is a great place to take the learning outside the classroom and experience what life was like in the early settlements.
The historic village takes you from the late 1700’s to the early 1900’s. Each area reenacts what life was like and you will see something new every visit. One time we watch a class all about moustaches and how they played a part in society.
Its always a fun surprise to see what events and interactive activities they have going on.
Rochester Museum & Science Center
Location: 657 East Avenue
- 3 different places under the Rochester Museum: Rochester Museum and Science Center and Strasenburgh Planetarium (East Ave.) and Cummings Nature Center (Naples, NY)
- Make plans to see the Electricity Theater for a entertaining and educational show.
- The traveling exhibit Take It Down! Organizing Against Racism has found its permanent home at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. In 2016, a panel featuring racial “pickaninny” artwork was removed from the Dentzel Carousel at Lake Ontario State Park. This exhibit helps bring together the community to learn from the past to build a better future.
A lot of new exhibits have been added in recent years and we need to plan a visit soon.
One of our favorite was the Electricity Theater show. They show how electricity is conducted and you can get on stage to participate as well. It’s a really cool show and we try to see it during our visit.
The Planetarium is on the same campus as the museum. They offer star and laser shows at an additional cost.
The Cumming Nature center is located in Naples, NY and is a great way to get outside with your family. All three are included in your membership.
George Eastman Museum
Location: East Ave
- Check out the statue of Philip Seymour Hoffman located at the museum.
- Be sure to check out the history of cameras. This is such an interesting thing for kids to see that are used to digital.
- In warmer months spend time exploring the gardens.
The Eastman Museum is best for the 8+ crowd. You will see the history of photography and how far technology has come in capturing the moments of our lives.
They do have a hands-on children’s area that the kids really liked. We enjoy walking around the exhibits, exploring the house where George Eastman once lived, and learning more about photography.
If you visit during the warmer months you can also explore the outside gardens. Before you visit check the upcoming traveling exhibits. Most recently we saw a Looney Tunes one that was great for kids!
Memorial Art Gallery
Location: 500 University Avenue
- Check out the Centennial Garden Sculpture Park. There will be an expansion to this area coming soon.
- Visit during the Clothesline Festival in September to see local artists.
- Memorial Art Gallery has a little of everything spanning over 5,000 years of art history.
An art gallery may not seem like the first choice with kids but I think you can use it to encourage your kids creativity. The Memorial Art Gallery is a great museum in Rochester, NY that offers a few outdoor exhibits as well as indoor.
We like to stop by the sculptures outside the art museum before we head inside. They are actually 11 spots along the sculpture park map. You can see them all here.
We include a stop at the sculpture park on our Rochester Scavenger Hunt article. This is fun to do anytime of the year!
Once we arrive we explore each room together discussing what we like and don’t like. Usually there is a scavenger hunt activity offered by the museum, but if not I will encourage the kids to find a piece they are inspired by and we create our own art work at home.
New York Museum of Transportation
Location: 6393 East River Road
- Has the original monorails from Midtown Plaza.
- Trolley rides included with admission.
- Features a collection of trolleys, steam locomotive, fire trucks, and more.
The New York Museum of Transportation is for anyone interested in how transportation has evolved over the years. Seasonally they offer a 2 mile trolley ride that is included with your admission.
National Susan B. Anthony Museum
Location: 17 Madison Street
- This was the original home of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association.
- This is also where Susan B. Anthony passed away at the age of 86.
- There is so much inspiration at this historic building. This was also the house where she was arrested for voting.
A visit to the National Susan B. Anthony Museum would pair well with a driving tour to see the Frederick Douglas statues located in various places throughout Rochester. As well as a stop at his and her grave at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas are a rich part of Rochester history.
Museums Around Rochester
If you are willing to travel a little further and take a road trip these museums around Rochester are a good pick:
- Corning Museum of Glass
- Rockwell Museum
- National Comedy Center
- Museum of the Earth
- Sonnenberg Gardens
As a family we have made awesome memories and learned a lot at these Rochester museums. We are lucky to live close to them and hope you include them in your visit to Rochester.
Read Next: Fun Things to Do in Rochester, New York
Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.