Photo Credit: By Sheridan Vincent

Winter Family Fun 

Winter is a wonderful time of the year to visit Rochester, NY. When the world gets quiet under a dusting of snow, the temperatures may dip but the happenings are just heating up. Whether you prefer outdoor activities that appreciate Mother Nature’s wintry welcome or finding foods that will warm you up from the inside out, there’s plenty to do and see during the season.

Pack your bags and take to the roads for an unforgettable trip in a destination full of surprises. Let us help you plan – check out our can’t miss winter getaway activities below and use this itinerary as your inspiration and your guide.


  • Start your day with a hot cup of joe, cocoa or espresso. Known for their cold brew and seasonal latte options, Melo Coffee & Kitchen is a local coffee parlor that takes pride in making a well-crafted cup of coffee. The University Ave location is just a 3-minute drive from your next stop.

  • Each winter, the George Eastman Museum transforms into a holiday delight with seasonal décor on display. Once the home of George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film, the historic estate is filled with deliciously decorated gingerbread houses, wrapped wreaths and tabletop trees. While these displays run from November into December, the mansion is magnificent to see any time of year.

  • The interactive Strong Museum of Play features a tropical butterfly garden, the National Toy Hall of Fame, World Video Game Hall of Fame, and more. Shop your heart out at the mini-Wegmans, where kids can play both cashier and customer or become a super sleuth and solve mysteries in Reading Adventureland. There are hours of fun to be had at The Strong – so be sure to reserve plenty of time to see and do it all.

  • Have a hearty lunch at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Station and overlooking the Genesee River. The classic ‘que menu will have your mouth watering, with starters such as fried green tomatoes and creole deviled eggs, plus salads, sauced sandwiches and big, bar-b-que plates. The Dino Kids menu offers mini meals with full-on flavor.

  • Next, lace up your skates, available for rent, and get onto the ice at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. The rink is full of glistening, gliding fun for the whole family. Open skate is scheduled at different times throughout the week, so be sure to plan ahead. Plus, enjoy an additional treat if ROC Holiday Village is town! The seasonal festival occurs during December of each year and features free ice-skating, crafts for kids, food trucks, shopping, and more.

Food stop! Recharge following a full day of play at one of these recommendations:

  • Grappa Italian Nouveau brings a modern approach to traditional Italian cuisine. Choose from pizzas, pastas and meat entrees, with plenty of gluten free options available. 

  • Set in an old church building, The Playhouse/Swillburger is a trendy hangout that combines an eatery, cocktail bar and vintage arcade. Grab something to eat from their modern take on the classic American burger joint, with both vegan and gluten free options. Then let your competitive side loose as you battle it out on over 30 classic arcade games.


  • Start your day by hitting the slopes at Bristol Mountain, the premier ski resort of the Finger Lakes region. With a 1200’ vertical rise, Bristol Mountain sits as the highest vertical between the Rocky Mountains and the Adirondack/Laurentian Mountains. Choose from 38 different slopes and trails, with a variety of inclines for every skill level.

    • Food Stop! For mid-mountain morning nutrition Fridays-Sundays, visit Morning Star Café – a slopeside waffle house serving up homemade Belgian waffles with locally produced maple syrup. Other dining options throughout the day include two base lodges with a variety of cafeteria-style eateries, summit grilling and a 21+ lounge with cocktails and appetizers.

  • After Bristol, pay a visit to the Rochester Museum & Science Center's Cumming Nature Center in Bristol, NY. The Nature Center features miles of trails perfect for a stroll in the snow. Look for maple sugaring events in early spring. 

  • While you’re still bundled up, head to Mendon Ponds Park, the largest Monroe County Park with over 2,500 acres of glacially created landforms. Color coded hiking trails are a great way to take in winter views and spot seasonal creatures, and two designated hills offer some of the best sledding around.   

  • On your way back towards Rochester, stop at Casa Larga Vineyards and Winery for a sample of ice wine. This winter delicacy is made from grapes that have been left on the vine until after temperatures drop below freezing, resulting in a lusciously sweet adult treat. This time-honored tradition has been respected and perfected by Casa Larga, which is evident in their line of ice wines – the most awarded ice wines in the country, making it a sin to skip this stop!

Food Stop! Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of these recommendations:  

  • The menu at Aladdin’s Natural Eatery features a large variety of soups, salads and homemade pastas, and their Mediterranean meals – such as Souvlaki, Spanakopita and pita sandwiches certainly impress. Located on the historic Erie Canal, your delicious dinner is paired with a view.  

  • If you’re familiar with the grocery store chain, you know how well Wegmans does food. Next Door by Wegmans is no different, with a menu of delicious, healthy meals that will please. Select some of their sushi rolls or order off their entrée list, with options like the Next Door Burger or Organic Half Chicken.  

  • Settle your sweet tooth with dessert from Pittsford Farms Dairy, whose landmark dairy dates back to 1814. The dairy uses the old fashion method of vat pasteurization, which takes longer but makes their milk and ice cream taste sweeter. Savor an ice cream sandwich or pick out a pastry to end your evening on an enjoyable note.


Kick up your feet and stay a while with these local accommodations, fit for the whole family!

  • The Courtyard by Marriott Rochester Downtown is located in the East End, Rochester’s most vibrant neighborhood in the heart of the arts and entertainment districts. This brand-new hotel has spacious guest rooms and suites, a bistro with refreshing breakfast choices in the morning, and a variety of dinner and cocktail options in the evening. 

  • The Strathallan Hotel is located in the heart of Rochester's museum, cultural, theatre and arts center. It features a heated indoor pool, professional gym, rooftop bar, Hattie's, and full-service restaurant, Char Steak & Lounge

  • Staybridge Suites Rochester University plays as a perfect home base during your visit, located less than two miles from the Rochester Airport. Each suite’s comfortable living area with flexible workspace and wifi, makes it easy to continue remote working or learning. In addition to free breakfast each morning, enjoy the self-laundry facilities, on-site business center and on-site fitness center.

  • Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/University & Medical Center is located in the newly developed College Town complex, ten minutes from both the heart of downtown and the airport. In addition to its warm and comfortable atmosphere, there’s an indoor pool, fitness center and restaurant with all-day dining.

  • High ceilings and marble floors grace the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, which was once the former home of the National Clothing Company, established in 1924. But more than charm, this Hilton has all the right amenities for a family vacation – a heated pool, arboretum, fitness center, in-room wifi and complimentary transportation to and from the airport.


Rochester Family - Winter Family Fun