As we enter the third week of school, it may feel like the days of soaking up the sun and enjoying the outdoors are over while you stress over all your deadlines and commitments.

Don’t fret! Though it might feel like your work is multiplying by the minute, there is still some sun left to get your mind off of school for a bit.

Take some time to explore these options so you don’t miss the last few rays of sun before we dive into the winter months:

Letchworth State Park

Located 35 miles south of Rochester, Letchworth State Park holds an abundance of opportunities—hiking, rafting, camping. Hiking trails around the park range from a half a mile to 20, varying from easy to moderate difficulty. Whitewater rafting on the Genesee River is available to experienced whitewater paddlers. You can even go hot air ballooning over the park until mid October, with each ride lasting 45 to 60 minutes.

“My team goes on hikes there every fall,” sophomore Colleen Stone said. “It’s a really pretty hike up to the waterfalls.”

The star of the park is the Genesee River, cascading over three falls, one of which is the 107-foot drop of the Middle Falls. If you hike here, be sure to stay after dark to see the Middle Falls illuminated by lights (only until October).

Lake Ontario Beach

Hamlin Beach, located 30 miles away from campus (a 30-minute drive), is a beautiful beach on the shores of Lake Ontario. With lots of amenities and crystal-clear water, it is a great way to have a chill day with your friends.

“It’s a nice place to go to get away,” junior Dominick Sarappa said. “It’s a good place if you like to go to the beach and relax without worrying about all the chaos.”

If that’s not your thing, though, Hamlin Beach offers plenty more for you to enjoy. There are six miles of hiking and biking trails to use for some outdoor exercise and fun, as well as salmon and trout fishing. Worried about how you’ll get there? Just rent a Zipcar for a couple hours (or become friends with someone who has a car).

“It ain’t no Jersey shore, but it’ll do,” Sarappa said.

River running trails

You don’t need to travel all the way to Hamlin Beach or Letchworth for running and biking trails. There are over 40 trails right here in Rochester. The one that runs right by the River Campus is the Genesee River Trail, which you can follow for one or two miles before hitting a route to the Rochester suburbs.

“Of course, I love running along the river trails, because they’re beautiful,” varsity rower and junior Sarabeth Rambold said. “But also because running there gives me a different perspective […] of the river and the surroundings of campus that I don’t really get to appreciate while rowing.”

Run, bike, walk, skate—you can do anything on these trails. Be sure to make use of these beautiful, scenic routes at least once before winter hits.


Biking is another great way to get outside on a sunny day, but with the added benefit of allowing you to shop or sightsee as well. The closest fun location you can bike to is Collegetown, where you can grab a bite to eat and hang out with friends. It’s incredibly easy to travel downtown, as well, requiring only a three-mile bike ride on the Genesee Riverway Trail to reach the Eastman School of Music.

“I barely left the UR bubble during freshman year and never realized how many hidden gems there are around the city of Rochester,” sophomore Josephine Foong said. “I decided to invest in a bike and made a list of places I’d explore.”

Don’t have a bike? No problem! The school offers the CityCycles program, a bicycle-lending library that allows you to check out a bike for 24 hours or until the close of the next business day, whichever comes first. Considering how bicycle-friendly the city is, it is easy to get wherever you need to go on two wheels.


Genesee Valley Park is home to eight picnic shelters and is located right across the street from the University entrance by Elmwood. Grab sandwiches, waters, and fruit (or just order some Dinosaur Bar-B-Que), and toss a frisbee around while listening to music. Of course, there are plenty of spots around campus, too, such as the Eastman and Wilson Quads or Jackson Court and the surrounding grass.

“My favorite part about the warm months […] is eating ice cream from Hillside by the river by the little picnic benches,” junior Siena Krey said.

Be sure to go outside once in awhile and enjoy the sun while it lasts because, even though schoolwork may have you stuck in Rush Rhees with your face in a book, it’s only a matter of time before the first snow falls.

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