Spending time in the outdoor air is good for the soul, the mind and the body. It boosts your energy, your immune system, provides you with valuable vitamin D, and it’s said to restore your focus and reinvigorate your creativity. In short, time spent in the sun (or snow, or rain) simply makes us better, healthier people. So, take on the adventure that our great outdoors presents! Try one or all of these amazing activities the next time you visit.
Five and a half miles of outdoor adventure calls to wide-eyed travelers who want to experience the Genesee River like never before. Don your life jacket and paddle and embark on a white-water expedition through the gorge – or a kayak paddle in the calmer months, when the water is low. On warm days, body surf the waves or take “The Leap of Faith” and jump right in!
The wildlife that call Letchworth State Park home surrounds you, as you adventure through the gorge. Keep an eye out for beavers, deer, eagles, hawks, raccoons and river otters as you travel your route. Consider an interpretive trip with the Outfitters on topics like park ecology, history, and philosophy or buy into a BBQ or camping package to extend your natural getaway beyond the confines of the river.
Beaver Meadow allows time to really connect with your natural surroundings, with a 2-bedroom cabin available to rent on this 324-acre nature preserve. Whether staying the night or visiting for the day, you can take in the wetlands with a boardwalk trail, explore the wooded uplands, take a stroll through the meadows or enjoy eight miles of marked and groomed trails.
Beaver Meadow’s trails are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Educational programming is offered to families, and in the winter snowshoe rentals are available.
Floating through the fresh air, held up by hot air – what could be more refreshing than that? With Balloons Over Letchworth & Liberty Balloon Company, you can take to the skies and get a bird’s eye view of some of the most stunning views in the entire state. Soar high above Letchworth State Park or become a bystander at the Annual Red, White and Blue Balloon invitational – where balloonists take flight with their colorful crafts.
Refreshing as it can be, hot air balloons are a weather-dependent vessel. Note that all flights are subject to last-minute postponements due to wind or weather – even on the mildest of days. But don’t let that keep you from the fresh air fun! Letchworth can be enjoyed by land year-round.
Downstream from the gorge-ous Letchworth, the Genesee River meets the Mount Morris Dam, a flood control project and public park found at its northern end. While a dam may not seem like a conventional place to play, it offers a variety of recreational opportunities for visitors – including hiking, biking, snowshoeing, wildlife viewing areas, picnic areas and two playgrounds for the younger travelers.
Stunning views surround you from the top of the dam, and free Ranger-guided walking tours take you INSIDE the dam and its daily operations! The visitor center has interactive exhibits on the history of the park and project, in-season from April to October. Other special events held throughout the year will have you racing to discover the dam in whole new ways.
All these ideas may have you itching to get out on your own – experiencing family or solo adventure among our numerous natural retreats. Stop by the Oak Orchard Kayak Experts to find a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board of your own, along with all the accessories a burgeoning adventurer could ask for.
Or, rent what you need and take a lesson with the experts so you can get out on the water safely and with relative ease. Experience solo or tandem canoeing, lessons in stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), sit on top kayaking, touring or tandem kayaks. Lessons take place at Oak Orchard’s private docks for one to one-and-a-half hours, as needed.
We call it the “best kept secret of Western New York” for a reason. The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 540 National Wildlife Refuges in the U.S. and the largest in the state of New York. It is teeming with approximately 266 species of birds, sitting on the migratory path of many of those species, and over 42 different types of mammal, reptile, aquatic and amphibian wildlife.
The refuge is their home, but visitors are welcome in it to mingle with the wildlife, observe their habits and habitat, take to the trails, paddle, bike, or enjoy a winter sport. With special permits, hunting, fishing and trapping is permitted on the refuge – an important wildlife management tool when pursued responsibly and with an appreciation of animal life. Interpretive programs and environmental education are also regularly available.
Baseball, volleyball, football, softball – play ball or picnic in the Genesee County Park, adjacent to the oldest county forest in New York State. Rolling hills reside on 431-acres of land and exploration awaits at every turn. We’re sure you’ll find plenty of ways to get in a day of exercise or just soak up the sun. Well-maintained trails burst with outdoor adventure for the solo traveler or the whole family and a beautiful interpretive center will give you all the intel you need about this natural landscape.
Special programming around wildlife, animal adventure walks and guided tours are offered year-round – and truly have you partaking in a range of activities (from the wet and muddy pond discovery to the serene evening owl prowls). Mind, body, soul – it’s all here.
The last thing you might imagine for a refreshing vacation is a swamp. But, don’t be so quick to judge. Bergen Swamp is rich in adventure, in wildlife, and in fun. It’s a unique habitat in our state and one that can be called rare on a national scale.
Guided tours through the swamp reveal species of breeding birds that aren’t found elsewhere in the Lake Ontario plain, including at-risk species like the American Bittern, Willow Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Blue-winged Warbler, and Canada Warbler. Five species of owl reside here along with more than 2,000 diverse plant species (and a plethora of orchids). A beautiful forest of deciduous trees rounds out the habitat of this National Natural Landmark – the first designated in New York State by the National Park Service.
Discover all the adventurous things you can see and do in the Fresh Air Adventures region. Then bring your travel packet with you to use while you're visiting destinations in the area.