When we head to a playground, we love to bike there when we can. Not only do we love the connection we get with our surroundings when we’re out on our bikes–we chat with people, discuss all the things we see–but as caregivers, we get some exercise in too before the kiddos let loose on the playground.
And many days, it turns getting to the playground into as much fun as being at the playground.
There are a bunch of school-owned or private playgrounds which we love to visit around the Village and Town when there’s no school in session. There are also a few public playgrounds which are very easy to reach by bike or foot. Some are in Pittsford and others are in our neighboring communities, like Fairport, East Rochester, and the City of Rochester. The walkability/bikebility of each playground is somewhat subjective depending on where you are coming from, but we’ve found these ones to be pretty definitively walkable-bikeable based on their connections to the surrounding communities. These are organized below roughly by the distance to each from the Four Corners in the Village of Pittsford.
Spiegel Recreation & Community Center (Pittsford)
In the heart of the village, this playground can be found at 35 Lincoln Avenue. My favorite thing about this playground is that it is shady for much of the day–we’ve found not many playgrounds are shady and cool! Easy to reach from the village and surrounding town neighborhoods by roads with sidewalks, or via the Erie Canal towpath and through the Four Corners. Distance within the Village of Pittsford: 0.3 miles. [Note: this playground is closed during the Spiegel Center renovation and will reopen in Fall 2018.]
Jefferson Road School (Pittsford)
This awesome playground has play structures that seem to go on for miles for kids of all ages, plus big-kid swings, basketball hoops, and a small sandbox (and a mulch pile, if you’re lucky). Located at 15 School Lane, this playground obviously is off-limits when school’s in session but we love to stop by on weekends and over the summer. Distance from the Village of Pittsford: 0.8 miles from the heart of the village via neighborhood streets.
First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford/Pittsford Nursery School (Pittsford)
This sweet little playground is a hidden gem, all fenced in for those of you with runners on your hands. It has a small play structure, with four different slides, a small rock climbing wall, and a sandbox full of shovels, pails and diggers. While technically this playground is for the preschool, when school isn’t in session the First Presbyterian Church and Pittsford Nursery School have been very welcoming to the surrounding community. Just make sure you close up the sandbox, take your trash with you, and leave it the way you found it! Located at 25 Church Street, the playground is accessible from both Church and Locust Streets by foot/bike. Distance within the Village of Pittsford: 0.2 miles.
St. Louis School (Pittsford)
This neat little playground boasts a small play structure for preschool-aged kids and a sprawling large play area with ladders, monkey bars, bridges, and multiple slides for bigger kids. Some important notes about playground availability though: St. Louis School welcomes the community to use the playground but only when school is not in session. That means, the playground is open to the public on school days only after 5:30pm and until dusk. And on weekends and school days off, the playground is open from 9:00am until dusk, except during any weekend and holy day church services. As with the other school playgrounds, they ask that you please be respectful, bring home any trash, and take care of the school grounds. To access the playground, visit the school at 11 Rand Place, enter through the driveway, make an immediate left behind the building and you’ll see it straight ahead, or enter via the school’s S. Main St driveway, follow the driveway to the right and you’ll see the playground straight ahead. Distance within the Village of Pittsford: 0.3 miles.
Tug Boat Jungle Gym (Pittsford)
Ok, so this one’s not a playground per se, but it’s a fun little jungle gym to stumble upon when you’re out biking or walking on the canal towpath. And I remember climbing on this tug growing up 30 years ago! You’ll find it just west of Lock 32 on the Erie Canal towpath (and adjacent to the Clover Street parking lot, for reference). It’s a fun place to stretch legs (for anyone riding along in a seat) and has quickly become a requested stop on our rides “Tug! Tug! Tug!” Distance from the Village of Pittsford: 2.1 miles.
East Rochester Elementary School (East Rochester)
Talk about awesome playgrounds that are shady too–we love this one! Adjacent to East Rochester Elementary School, this little pocket park is found at the intersections of Garfield Street and Woodbine Ave. Since it’s affiliated with the school there, it’s off-limits during school hours, but we loved visiting on a weekend. LOTS of slides, bridges, ladders, and nooks to explore. There’s a fancy new play structure behind this one too, and although it’s in the sun, it has state-of-the-art climbing, hanging, and exploring playground equipment. The ride here from the Village of Pittsford can be done completely on sidewalks and quiet neighborhood streets. Cross Fairport Rd at Sherwood Dr and you’ll get to take advantage of a button to cross the road that changes the light immediately for you. Follow the sidewalk around the high school and elementary school to avoid riding on Fairport Rd. The sidewalk crossing I-490 was a bit overgrown when we crossed (whacked in the head with grape vines) and the sidewalk was surprisingly busy with cyclists so we had to take turns on the bridge, but besides that uneventful. Distance from the Village of Pittsford: 2.2 miles.
Edmund Lyon Park Playground and Splash Park (East Rochester)
We came here for the splash park and it did not disappoint. But just a few steps away we found another playground, adjacent to the Bird/Morgan School, to add to our adventure. Located in the heart of the Village of East Rochester, Edmund Lyon Park is a large, shady green space with a gazebo, fountain, walking paths, baseball field, and play areas. The spray park, which re-opened last year after significant re-investment, is amazing. It’s sunny and hot, so plan accordingly, but the water is cool and kids (and caregivers!) all seem to have a blast running through pirate ship-themed fountains raining down, spraying water cannons, and sliding down a kid-sized water slide. Like the other East Rochester playground, the ride here from the Village of Pittsford can be done completely on sidewalks and quiet neighborhood streets. Cross Fairport Rd at Sherwood Dr and you’ll get to take advantage of a button to cross the road that changes the light immediately for you. Follow the sidewalk around the high school and elementary school to avoid riding on Fairport Rd. Distance from the Village of Pittsford: 2.7 miles
Kreag Road Playground (Perinton)
Erie Canal-adjacent (although, not the towpath side), this playground can be found at 555 Kreag Road, and also sports tennis and basketball courts, covered picnic seating, a sandbox, and a boat dock. And bathrooms (key when traveling with kids or parents who need LOTS of coffee to stay awake!). My favorite thing about this playground is that it has different equipment to please both big and small kids. Accessible from nearby neighborhoods via Kreag Road, which does have sidewalks, although not consistent on both sides for the entire stretch in both directions. Easily accessible from the Village of Pittsford via the Erie Canal towpath: turn off the towpath at Bushnell’s Basin, cross the one-lane bridge at Marsh Road towards Pittsford Victor Rd. Make a left there or hop on the sidewalk at that intersection heading left. Make another left onto Kreag Rd and the playground will be on the left immediately after you pass under the I-490 bridge. Distance from the Village of Pittsford: 3.5 miles.
Park Road School (Pittsford)
Our friends took us on an impromptu trail ride and we were so pleasantly surprised by a new-to-us trail and an awesome playground at the end of the ride. Park Road School has nice walkability from its neighboring streets, but did you know that you can also get to the school–and it’s fantastic playground–from the Village of Pittsford via some sweet trails, sidewalks, and a bit of street riding on generally quiet roads? There are a few road crossings as well, but we found this to be very doable and not too hairy at all. Starting at the Four Corners, head to South Street and take it all the way south to Jefferson Road. Cross at the light and take the sidewalks, or generous shoulder a short distance to Knickerbocker Rd (on sidewalk, take care: a few driveway entrances and neighborhood streets to cross; on shoulder, take care: fast traffic). Turn right up Knickerbocker and cross a short ways up the hill at the first crosswalk you see. There’s a trailhead here. Take the trail for a long ways, behind houses, past cornfields, horses (!) and tractors, pumpkin patches–and maybe if you’re lucky like us you’ll see a red-tailed hawk swoop off with an afternoon snack. The trail here is not great–broken asphalt, large rocks, gravel–but the scenery more than makes up for the bumps. Exit the trail at Mill Rd and ride in the road (35 mph street, low traffic) until Thornell Rd. Cross Thornell at the crosswalk and you’ll see another trailhead. Take that to East St, cross at the crosswalk and head down Park Rd for a short distance. The school will be on the left. Distance from the Village of Pittsford: ~3.8 miles
Perinton Park Playground (Perinton)
This park is also Erie Canal-adjacent with a large playground, tons of swings, a climbing wall, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, docks, ducks, picnic tables, swinging bench seats overlooking the canal, bathrooms and a Little Free Library. Close to the Village of Fairport if you’re looking to do some exploring or find some yummy food while you’re out and about. Perinton Park’s address is 99 O’Connor Road in Fairport, but it’s also right off the towpath. Distance from the Village of Pittsford: 6.1 miles off-road via Erie Canal Towpath (or about half that if you take major roads, something we usually don’t do when we’re hauling the kiddos).
Genesee Valley Park (Rochester)
Save this one for when you’re wanting an adventure–and a workout! It’s a little bit of a haul from Pittsford (7+ miles one way, plus a little detour for bridge reconstruction along the canal path in Henrietta, if you’re lucky), but it’s a fun one. Getting yourself into the city, into beautiful Olmsted-designed Genesee Valley Park, and connecting to the Genesee Riverway Trail is a treat. The playground itself is almost just a bonus for this bike trip. It’s a great place to stop, stretch legs, and have a destination. It’s not shady, and it’s not super up-to-date as far as playgrounds go…however, my kiddos did not care at all. They loved the two slides, several climbing structures, and monkey bars that are close enough to the ground for older kids to reach. Plus we could ride on to see the “Tree of Life” and the Riverway Trail. To get there, follow the Erie Canal towpath into the city and as you enter Genesee Valley Park, you’ll see the playground off to your right near the Roundhouse. Distance from the Village of Pittsford: 7.3 miles.
There’s one playground in particular not too far away in Pittsford–Kings Bend Park–which I would love to be able to walk or bike to, but alas, that last short 45 mph stretch with no sidewalk makes it a no-go for us. Hopefully soon, we’ll be able to add Great Embankment Park’s playground to this list too.
Which are your favorite walkable-bikeable playgrounds around the area? Please share your tips so we can explore and I’ll update this post!