Be Our Guest, Family Fun
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Getting Recreational With Guest: Donna Herrera

Just when you think summer is over on the east coast, when all of the leaves have fallen and the air is beyond crisp, a surprisingly warm 70 degree day pops up out of nowhere. Last week you were starting to feel the post-summer blues, pulling on the heavy sweater, wishing for something exciting to do… But today, with 20 more degrees than you’re usually allowed during autumn, you’re outside, you’re smiling, you’re frolicking, you’re happy.

Butterfly Conservatory Rochester, NY

Weather is funny like that; it alters our perception of what we think we can do or should be doing with ourselves. While a change in weather naturally signals a shift in daily activity, it certainly doesn’t have to bar us from enjoying an otherwise good time. Friend and recreational therapist, Donna Herrera of Rochester, New York joined me to offer us some activity mojo to keep busy and connected locally throughout the cooler months. It’s her job to provide stimulating activity to hundreds everyday rain or shine!

Christine: Hi Donna, thanks for joining us here at Garden Eats! I keep hearing from patients, clients and friends back east, “there’s nothing to do.” As a rec therapist you must have to dive deep into your creative side.

Donna: Well first off it is very important for a person to actually know what their leisure interests are. I know it sounds silly, but you really have to know what you like to do or what new leisure interests you may want to pursue. There are many publications and websites that offer a variety of listings for recreation activities.

C: The Rochester area is full of different people with a variety of interests. What are your top resources for finding new activities?

D: Kids Out and About is a great resource for family happenings and Freetime is also a comprehensive resource. They have a fall preview guide that is full of recreational opportunities in the area as well as a weekly publication of local activities. (Many new) local websites are very informative such as the city of Rochester’s website as well as Town websites (links from city website).

C: How about your fave places for the entire family?

D: Tons of favorite places for the entire family so I will mention a few! In the summertime and fall, Rochester area parks are a great place to visit and pack a picnic lunch, play games, take a walk, ride bikes or hike. There are so many great parks in Monroe county that people aren’t aware of. You can visit the Monroe County Parks website as well as the New York State website to get a listing of area parks.

The zoo is a great place for the entire family. If you purchase a zoo membership (which is good for the entire year) make sure you go in the winter too. This is the best time to see some of the winter animals in their prime, such as the Polar Bears.

Polar Bears at the Zoo

George Eastman House

Strong museum, the Rochester Science and Museum center and the George Eastman House are great educational places for the family.

If you’re looking for places for kids to exert some energy there are a variety of indoor places such as Kango and Bounce it Out and Jump Club for days weather refuses to cooperate.

YMCA’s – your local YMCA is a great place to get exercise with the entire family and it promotes a healthy lifestyle. They offer many different family activities both during the week and on the weekend.

C: How about families that like to do volunteer work?

D: There are plenty of volunteer work opportunities in the area. Whether you are interested in volunteer work on a regular basis or for a special event there are plenty of volunteers needed everywhere around Rochester. I suggest figuring out how you would like to volunteer and start contacting different agencies. Most of these agencies have volunteer coordinators who could direct you in the right direction. Consider checking out this hub.

C: Although online dating has significantly grown in popularity, some folks still like doing it in person! For those non-bar goers, what a are few places you suggest to make new connections around town?

D: I don’t know of specific places to name, but I do recommend joining a club or organization that interests you to meet somebody with similar interests. Meetup is an awesome site to get you started. You can find anything from a needle-pointing club to yoga clubs there! Meetup offers a huge array of activities and all you do to find out is simply type your zip code into the search bar!

C: What advice do you have for people to stay on top of what’s going on in their community in general?

D: The good old newspaper (or online version)! Check newspapers and websites frequently for information on happenings in your local community. Once you familiarize yourself with these resources it will be easy for you to return to the site on a regular basis which will allow you to be on top of what’s going on in your community.

Missing the sunshine in your neck of the woods? Check out these nifty lights to illuminate your mood!

Still looking for more ways to get out of the house? Pop over here to find an activity that gets you moving!

This entry was posted in: Be Our Guest, Family Fun


C H R I S T I N E Dionese, co-founder of flavor ID and Garden Eats is an integrative health & food therapy specialist, medical & food journalist. She has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. To balance the more serious side of her work, she loves to concoct, write about and connect people through food & drink. You can check out her latest work at The Chalkboard Magazine, The Fullest and Rochester's Boomtown Table. Christine lives, works and plays between Southern California & Upstate New York.

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  1. Pingback: East Meets West: Seasonal Transitions « Garden Eats

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