Free Date Ideas In Rochester, NY (and within a 1 hour drive)

Free Date Ideas in RochesterIf necessity is the mother of invention, my current lack of cash is the necessity that prompted me to invent this list!   While some of these free date ideas in Rochester (Mt. Hope Cemetery and Highland Park) are popular spots, I hope you’ll be inspired by some new ideas.

11 FREE Date Ideas in Rochester, NY and Surrounding Areas

  1. The Abandoned Subway

ROchester Subway

The subway has received plenty of attention lately, as news of a developer coming in and filling it in emerged.  In protest, a petition has been circulating calling for the preservation for the Subway.  It’s unclear what will happen with it, but for now, it remains one of the coolest places to spend an afternoon. Note: While I don’t believe the Subway is unsafe, people do live down there, and I wouldn’t personally visit by myself. Just use reasonable caution and respect.

2. Cobbs Hill Water Towers

Cobbs Hill Water Towers

It’s not exactly secret, but it is out of the way, so be prepared to hike through some dense woods to get there. The water towers are an ever-changing canvas for art both high and low, including pieces from the city’s best graffiti artists as well as, well, other things.  Cobbs Hill Park, where the water towers are located, also boasts a spectacular view of the city at sunset.

3. The Windmill

The Windmill

Photo Credit: Chris Clemens

Yes, it’s a market, and yes, there are things for sale, but you can easily enjoy yourself strolling around,  browsing the unique wares, and people watching. Plus, the scenic drive into Penn Yan is gorgeous.

4. Chimney Bluffs

Chimney Bluffs

Photo Credit: Instagram User @BreannaFuss

At just under an hour away, Chimney Bluffs features unique stone clay formations on the edge of Lake Ontario.  The area boasts well-maintained hiking trails as well as picnic facilities.  Fsome vantage points you may catch a glimpse of Oswego’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Power plant, if that’s your thing.  Note: This is a state park, and accordingly, New York State charges $5 per car entrance fee.

5. Fairy Houses of Tinker Nature Park

Tinker Fairy Garden

Photo Credit: Chris Clemens

Yes, Tinker Nature Park is in Henrietta, but it is as far away as you can get from the traffic and lights of Jefferson Road.  Tinker Park features rotating nature exhibits, hiking trails, and a meditation maze, but the coolest thing, I think, is the Fairy Park. While this is a fun date idea, it’s also perfect for a mommy or daddy and me date!

6. Mt Hope Cemetery

Mt Hope Cemetery

Dead people are buried here. Yes, that’s true. But Mt Hope Cemetery is beautiful, bucolic, peaceful, and full of history. I adore the idea of bringing a picnic lunch and eating al fresco on a set of stone steps.

7. Wild Wings, Mendon Ponds Park

Free Date Ideas in Rochester

Yes, these are my children and friends.

If animals are your thing, you’ll love this rescue park. Most of the animals are birds, but there is a bobcat! While Wild Wings is free, it is a rescue, and donations are encouraged.

8. Outdoor movies in Highland Park

What is more romantic than a movie under the stars? Bring a blanket and a sweatshirt, and enjoy the evening at Highland Bowl. In addition to movies, there are also free Shakespeare performances some nights.

9. Walk the Labyrinth

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Behind the First Unitarian Church (which has its own architectural bragging rights), there is a lovely natural labyrinth. Walk it the labyrinth then sit on the stone steps nearby in the flower gardens, which are free and open to the public.

10. Free Concerts

Free Date Ideas in Rochester

Photo Credit: Instagram User @RochesterPhilharmonic

In the summer, there are free outdoor concerts in both the city and almost every surrounding suburb. Check your town’s page for information. Notably, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will offer a free concert at Ontario Beach Park on July 6.

11. Volunteer!

If service is your thing, many Rochester organizations, like Rochester Cares, offers volunteers one-time, low-commitment opportunities to give back to the community.


What are YOUR favorite Free Date Ideas in Rochester?  Let me know in the comments below!

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