Exploring seasonal family-fun activities in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

A recent series of days off of school days left us wondering what to do?  Ultimately, we embraced the break, and used the time to enjoy seasonal family-fun activities we had yet to experience in Rochester.  We love exploring our region and it was fun to discover even more fun things to do right here at home.  Welcome to Rochester, NY sign in the fall.

Our first stop, Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum’s annual Fall Foliage Express – the only time during the year you can ride the rails of the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad inside the museum’s 1941 stainless steel passenger coaches.  When we arrived in Avon to board the train, there were hundreds of people awaiting the opportunity to ride.  Train aficionados of all ages, from little kids to seniors, had smiles plastered on their faces as they excitedly took seats next to picture windows and watched as the farm fields passed.  While the Fall Foliage Express is done for the year, the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum offers shorter “Pumpkin Patch Train Rides” every weekend throughout the month of October.
Rochester Genesee Valley Railroad Museum Train

Next, we continued our foliage by rail tour with a stop at the New York Museum of Transportation.  While the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum’s has an exclusive focus on trains and the railroad, the New York Museum of Transportation casts a broader net, and its collection includes antique fire trucks, ambulances, busses, and more.  However, we were there for the electric trolley ride through the countryside.  Boarding a 1927 trolley took me back to my Pittsburgh roots, and I felt like a child stepping into “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.”  I pressed my face to the window, listened to the clickety-clack of the wheels on the rails as the whistle offered soft toots into the breeze.  The New York Museum of Transportation’s fall foliage trolley rides continue every Sunday through October.

NY Musuem of Transportation

Our third activity was a Rochester favorite, and based on the crowds over at Stokoe Farms, I think our family was the only one in the area who had never visited.  The 200-year-old family farm was packed, and it’s no wonder – there’s 35 different things to do in the fields.  Your admission ticket includes the corn maze, hayrides, petting zoo, slides, bouncing pillow, and much, much, more – there’s an extra fee for pumpkin launchers and apple cannons, concessions (including the delicious cider donuts and kettle corn), and “U-pick” pumpkins.  One tip, purchase your ticket ahead of time online or at local Wegmans, to bypass the lines waiting to enter.

Pumpkins at Stokoe Farms

The final activities of our staycation weekend were less structured.  Living in Rochester, it’s sometimes easy to forget the fabulous parks within the city limits including the Frederick Law Olmsted designed jewels of Highland Park, Genesee Valley Park, Seneca Park, and Maplewood Park.  I grabbed my camera, and checked out the progress of the foliage at some of my favorite spots along the Genesee Riverway Trail including: Lower Falls, Seneca Park, and Turning Point Park.

Lower Falls

If you’d like a little history with your commune with nature, head to Ganondagan Historic Site – one of the best preserved and developed and 17th century Seneca towns in the entire country.  There are multiple interpretive trails leading to and around Ganondagan’s traditional Iroquois bark longhouse and the Seneca art and culture center that opened in 2015.  Brilliant orange leaves of the maple trees can be found throughout the grounds and signs along the trails indicate the significance of plant life to the Seneca.

Long House at Ganondagan Historic Site

The sunny days and cool nights are perfect weather for exploring the Rochester region, and the leaves will only get more brilliant over the course of the next two weeks.  Do you have a favorite spot for Rochester leaf-peeping?  Please let us know in the comments below.