The areas in and around Rochester are rich with green space --- diverse, convenient, and beautiful places to walk the dog, take out a canoe, find a zoo, or smell the lilacs. From the beautiful Seneca and Highland Parks, both designed by 19th-century landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted, to Durand-Eastman Park, where you can feel the immensity of that Great Lake --- here is just a partial list of some of our favorite parks in the Monroe County (256-4950, www.monroecounty.gov) and City of Rochester (400 Dewey Avenue, 428-6767 or 428-6755, www.cityofrochester.gov) systems. Enjoy.
Cobbs Hill Park Culver Road and Norris Drive
As the highest publicly-accessible point in Rochester, this park offers one of the best views of the downtown skyline, which may be one reason why it topped our Best of Rochester readers' poll in the "make-out spot" category. Its circular access road that loops the reservoir also makes it a popular destination for runners and walkers.
Durand-Eastman Park Lakeshore Boulevard
With nearly a mile of sandy shoreline and acreage just shy of 1000, there's no better way to experience Rochester's Lake Ontario coast. There's also an abundance of forest and wetlands to explore, along with a golf course and playground for the less adventure-inclined.
Ellison Park and Wetlands Blossom and Landing Roads, Brighton and Penfield
You'll hear people call this "the dog park," and on a weekend afternoon it can seem like a dog is the price of admission. Technically there is no off-leashing allowed, but owners often let their pets run free to chase, swim, and socialize as they like. A pathed loop along the creek makes a nice stroll, but the park has a lot more depth than that. You can also find plenty of room to hike, picnic, or ride horses.
Genesee Valley Park (East) 200 Elmwood Avenue
A sprawling 800-acre oasis, this park functions as the hub of two networks: waterways and trails. Here, the Genesee River intersects with the state Barge Canal (this is where they moved the Erie Canal after taking it out of downtown) and Red Creek. Meanwhile, the Genesee Valley Greenway meets a plethora of local trails, making this an ideal spot to start or end a journey by foot or paddle. The park also sports an assortment of playing fields, a golf course, and city recreation center.
Highland Park 450 Highland Avenue
Famous for its signature local lilacs (there's over 1200 of them) and their eponymous festival each spring, there's something on offer year-round at this hilly Rochester arboretum. A gardener's delight, it includes a conservatory as well as smaller plantings throughout its winding course along the city's southern boundary. For an extra treat, track down the Sunken Garden.
Lehigh Valley Linear Trail Park East River, Quaker Meeting House, West Bloomfield, and Mile Square Roads, Rush and Mendon
This 15-mile long park is really a trail that wends its way through the towns of Rush and Mendon in the southern end of the county, perfect for walking, biking, or skiing.
Mendon Ponds Park Clover Street and Pittsford-Mendon Center Road, Pittsford and Mendon
At 2500 acres this is the largest of the parks in the county system, and it's also one of the finest. It's been a National Natural Historic landmark for three and a half decades while boasting 30 acres of trails and half a dozen ponds, all set in a unique glacier-carved landscape.
Ontario Beach Park 4800 Lake and Beach Avenues
The crown of Charlotte, this park blends the energy of the city with the expansive presence of Lake Ontario. You can drink, dine, stroll along the beach, or walk out onto the pier to visit the historic lighthouse, all in the same place.
Seneca Park and Zoo St. Paul Street
Originally meant to bookend the city as the northern counterpart to Genesee Valley Park, this gem perched on the edge of the Genesee River gorge is now home to the county zoo. After you've seen the animals, there are a few miles of wooded trails to complete your trip to this urban oasis.
Webster Park Lake and Holt Roads, Webster
A popular destination for sledding and cross-country skiing, there's plenty do year-round in this quintessential park which includes playing fields, lodges, and plenty of Lake Ontario Shoreline, including a fishing pier.
Mt. Hope Cemetery Mt. Hope and Elmwood Avenues
Okay, it's not a park per se, but this is still definitely one green patch on the map worth visiting. In addition to the final resting places of some of our greatest local luminaries like Fredrick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, the cemetery contains steep hillsides, glacial eskers, and enough trees (including some rare ones) to be a forest.
Still want more? There's plenty more green space in greater Rochester, from city block parks to undeveloped wilderness. Start by checking these out:
Black Creek Park Kendall Road and Main Street, Riga
Cornhill Landing Exchange Street at South Plymouth Avenue
Greece Canal Park 241 Elmgrove Road, Greece
Jones Square Park 170 Saratoga Avenue
Manhattan Square Park 353 Court Street
Maplewood Park Maplewood Drive at Seneca Parkway
Northampton Park Colby Street, Salmon Creek Road, and Route 31, Sweden and Ogden
Powder Mills Park Route 96, Perinton
Thompson Park 69 Lyell Avenue
Turning Point Park 260 Boxart Street
Washington Square Park 10 St. Marys Place
Further afield, here are a couple of regional parks that are worth the drive. Find out more at www.nysparks.com.
Hamlin Beach State Park One Camp Road, Hamlin
One of just two state parks in the county (the other is a boat launch on Irondequoit Bay), Hamlin Beach makes for the perfect Lake Ontario daytrip. There are 10 miles of trail for hiking, biking, skiing, or snowmobiling, plus launches for car-top boats and an environmental interpretative center in the Yanty Creek marsh. There are also campsites available if you think you'll need more than one day to take it all in.
Chimney Bluffs Garner and East Bay Roads, Sodus
When glaciers retreated from this part of the globe they left deposits of earth and rock that take the form of long, low, north-to-south-running hills, known as drumlins. When these meet the shore of Lake Ontario and begin to erode the result is a cluster of unique and fanciful shapes in the cliff-like bluffs. Chimney is among the most spectacular collections of these, and the undeveloped state park there has plenty of trails and beachfront from which to enjoy them. A word to the wise: The bluffs are constantly eroding. Help preserve them and yourself by not climbing on them. You're better off enjoying the natural beauty from terra firma.
Letchworth State Park One Letchworth State Park, Castile
We hate to have to admit it, but Rochester's three Genesee River falls aren't much compared to the three Letchworth has to offer. Billed as the "Grand Canyon of the East," this destination lives up to the name. At just over 50 miles from Rochester (about an hour's drive) there's no excuse not to visit. And in addition to the spectacular vista like the famous falls, 600 foot cliffs, and railroad trestle, there are nearly 70 miles of trails and nearly every activity imaginable, from hot-air ballooning, to hunting, to performances.
Allegany State Park Allegany State Park Route 1, Salamanca
At 65,000 acres Allegany clocks in as the largest park in the state system (the Adirondacks and Catskills are preserves). Since much of that is undisturbed woodland --- and the park bumps up against the much larger Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania --- it's hard to imagine a better playground for all your outdoor pursuits. There are also more amenities than you need for a quieter natural experience, including over 300 cabins, half of them winterized.
Some days, you might just want to watch someone playing rather than seek out the play yourself. These are our teams.
Home games at Blue Cross Arena
Home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo
Home games at Blue Cross Arena
Home games at East Rochester High School
Home games at Bishop Kearney High School
Triple-A League baseball
Home games at Frontier Field
Home games at Frontier Field
Rochester also proudly hosts a LPGA stop each June.
Locust Hill Country Club