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One of the best ways to get the most out of your family travel budget is to mix it up with free and paid things to do in the city you visit. I’m giving you some easy ways to add free things to do in Rochester, NY to your travel itinerary.

View of High Falls Rochester NY
Also make sure you check out this list of fun things to do in Rochester, NY so you can make the best family travel itinerary full of adventures. I’d like to thank the awesome Visit Rochester team for sharing the insider scoop for this article and the trip they took several of us travel bloggers on last autumn.

Here are 9 free things I recommend adding to your Rochester, NY travel plans.

Ontario Beach Park
Not only can you visit the Ontario Lake Beach for free, but it has a “real sand” beach with designated space and times for swimming. Plus, the parking is free. The park itself is quite large with lovely walking paths, a playground, and plenty of room for kids to run off some energy. You can also watch boats come in and out of the harbor, which is great entertainment for younger kids especially. You can find more local parks here.

Ontario Beach Park Rochester NY
Explore Outdoor Art
Visit the sculpture garden at Memorial Art Gallery then, if the kids aren’t screaming they’re bored, walk over to the Village Gate Square, where the public courtyard features several unique art pieces and sculptures. If you love history, be sure to do some research on Village Gate Square as it’s quite fascinating. One little fun fact is that it used to be a factory complex.

Erie Canal Trail
Take a stroll along the Erie Canal. If you’re lucky maybe you’ll get to see them operate the locks. Either way, you can learn about this history rich canal. I dare you not to sing “15 years on the Erie Canal”. See? I bet you’re already singing it.

Erie Canal Lock Rochester NY
High Falls
Doesn’t every city have its own 96-foot high waterfall? There are several great viewing spots for the falls and if you love historic buildings, you can meander through the historic High Falls neighborhood. High Falls was a crucial part of Rochester development as it offered water power that powered the area’s first mill.

Rochester Public Market
It’s free to meander through the Rochester Public Market, but of course, you’re going to want to buy something. This is the perfect place to restock for the road with my handy list of road trip snacks. I love buying our snacks at the local market since we get to experience the local culture and help the local economy in a practical way all at the same time.

Rochester Public Market
Disc Golf
I’ve never played disc golf but it looks interesting. There are a whopping 12 courses in the Rochester area. Just check out this link for a handy map to all of them.

Wickham Farms
While the farm isn’t directly in the city of Rochester it’s still considered metro Rochester and quite close. You’re sure to find seasonal fun for the kids and some yummy snacks there. It depends on the time of year how much there is to do there but they have a great outdoor play area for kids with some free and some “for pay” things to do.

Wickham Farms Kids Area
You can find more festival information at Visit Rochester but the city is home to quite a few annual festivals, including the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, which offers over 150 free shows during the 11-day festival. We checked out Massaoke in 2018 and it was a fun event that was fairly family-friendly when I was there. It is held at night and draws a large crowd so if they have Massaoke back and you attend, you’ll want to have young kids contained.

Create Your Own Mural Trail
A fun way to discover more of Rochester is to do a mural trail. You can see a map of all the murals in Rochester at Wall Therapy and read more about the history of how all these murals came to be.

hawk mural rochester ny
Have you ever been to Rochester, NY? Give us the scoop on any free things to do that I missed. Don’t forget to save this post as you make your summer family travel plans! Then check out our visits to nearby LeRoy, NY and Niagara Falls with a visit to the JELL-O Museum and what there is to do in Niagara Falls on vacation. You can easily make it a weeklong vacation in this area alone, but I also think you’ll want to spend a day in Corning at the Corning Museum of Glass.

mural picture - free things to do in rochester ny - city view picture

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  1. It’s 15 miles on the Erie Canal…the song is “Low Bridge, Everybody down” By Thomas Allen.
    Fifteen miles was the common distance a mule or horse would work before resting. Fellow Upstate New Yorker…Born and raised.

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