The city of Rochester and the surrounding region have an abundance of parks. This time of year, many area residents rediscover them—and visitors explore them for the first time.
When respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll were asked to pick their three favorite parks, Letchworth State Park was named more than any other. It ranked among the top three for 48 percent of poll participants. Improvements at the state park that spans parts of Livingston and Wyoming counties include the Letchworth Nature Center, a $6.7 million project slated to open in late spring.
In the city, the 20 acres donated by nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry in the 1880s helped create Highland Park and Rochester’s parks system. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, left his mark on Rochester with Highland as well with Genesee Valley, Maplewood and Seneca parks.
Highland Park came in second on the top parks list, with 38 percent. However, it is the park visited most often by respondents.
Information on dozens of parks throughout the region can be found in RBJ’s annual Explore Greater Rochester, which is the official guide of Visit Rochester. It was delivered to all RBJ subscribers as a supplement to last week’s paper.
More than 590 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted April 18 and 19.
What are your three favorite parks in the Rochester region (within an hour and a half of downtown)?
Letchworth State: 48%
Highland Park: 38%
Mendon Ponds Park: 33%
Watkins Glen State Park: 19%
Stony Brook State Park: 16%
Durand-Eastman Park: 15%
Powder Mills Park: 13%
Ellison Park: 12%
Corbett’s Glen Nature Park: 12%
Taughannock Falls State Park: 11%
Webster Park: 10%
Seneca Park and Zoo: 10%
Hamlin Beach State Park: 9%
Mount Hope Cemetery: 8%
Genesee Valley Park: 7%
Chimney Bluffs State Park: 6%
Ontario Beach Park: 6%
Niagara Falls State Park: 4%
Kershaw Park: 4%
Genesee Riverway Trail: 4%
Lehigh Valley Linear Trail Park: 3%
Turning Point Park: 3%
Black Creek Park: 2%
Greece Canal Park: 2%
Cobb’s Hill Park: 2%
Channing Philbrick Park: 1%
Churchville Park: 1%
Lucien Morin Park: 1%
Northampton Park: 1%
Maplewood Park: 1%
Tryon Park: 1%
Abraham Lincoln Park: 1%
Irondequoit Bay Park West: 1%
Irondequoit Bay Marine Park: 1%
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park: 1%
Name the park in the Rochester region that you visit most often over the course of the year:
Highland Park: 18%
Mendon Ponds Park: 14%
Letchworth State Park: 8%
Durand-Eastman Park: 7%
Webster Park: 7%
Ontario Beach Park: 6%
Powder Mills Park: 5%
Ellison Park: 4%
Seneca Park and Zoo: 3%
Corbett’s Glen Nature Park: 3%
Hamlin Beach State Park: 3%
Kershaw Park: 3%
For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here.
Trying to select just three parks from this incredible list was nearly impossible. We are fortunate to have so many amazing all-season parks in this region.
—Mike Bergin, Chariot Learning
I am privileged to have an office on the first floor of St. John’s Home overlooking beautiful Highland Park. My large picture window affords me a view that—no matter the season—is extraordinary.
—Tammy Cohen, St. John’s
Frederick Law Olmsted (architect of Central Park) said Highland Park was (the) best Valley Park he ever created. We’re so lucky to have his Mona Lisa right here in Rochester.
—Rich Calabrese Jr., Rochester
Cobb’s Hill Park … has the best view of the city. Washington Grove has several acres of virgin woods in the middle of the city.
—Ron Andrews, Bausch & Lomb
The parks are amazing but lacking in funding. The County of Monroe does not have enough real horticulturists and classically trained landscape architects. The Olmsted parks in particular are suffering. Without the knowledge of this specific time period, style and planting types, our most precious parks will be destroyed. Highland Park in particular is abused by the county allowing individuals and groups to put in vanity markers, installing inappropriate memory gardens and allowing influential residents to hold private events that are not allowed in the parks for regular residents. I live at Highland Park and witness these things going on and know people who openly brag about that privilege.
Three are way too few to choose. I would not want to really have to choose among them, even if I only visit some very sporadically. We are blessed with all our choices.
—Jeff Schuetz, Mitchell Pierson Jr. Realtors
I love the parks in our area!
—Haley Rotter, O’Connell Electric Co.
I think the parks along the river close to downtown have great potential and need better maintenance. I take out-of- town visitors to see the high falls from the St. Paul Street side, and they are really impressive, but the view is sometimes marred by high bushes and iffy fences.
Sonnenberg is one of the rare “historic” parks in the New York State Park system—if I recall correctly, there are only five, and four of those are downstate. We are within a very short drive to Rochester, 30 to 40 minutes and so very much a “Rochester” area park. Sadly and as this list demonstrates, we are sometimes too much of a “secret” or “hidden” treasure even in our own area.
—Kimberly Burkard, marketing director, Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park
We have such a large selection of parks here in this great city. Love Rochester and all the wonderful outdoor-natural places to walk, hike, bike, etc. Proud to have my business based here. With my work inspired by nature, it is easy to create my pieces here.
—Kim Pandina, Panda Wear owner and jewelry designer
Your list of parks in our area shows what a great resource we have in Rochester. Does any other area have four Frederick Law Olmsted parks? Watkins Glen, Letchworth, Taughannock Falls and Niagara Falls are gems of the Eastern United States, let alone Western New York. We are so lucky to be in such a varied geography. “Niagara Falls. Slowly I turned … step by step … ”
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services PC
Hard to pick just three! We have so many great parks in this area.
Mendon Ponds has great hiking trails. Really good fishing in the ponds, too. It’s also very convenient.
So many great parks! I am right near Cobb’s Hill, so I am there often.
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