By Emily Newburn
It may not be New York City or San Francisco, but Batavia has its own unique charm. At first glance, it may not seem like there’s anything super exciting in the area, but look again! Whether you’re a resident of Batavia, looking for some ideas of how to fill your time, or a visitor searching for what there is to do in town, you’ve come to the right place.
Fermilab is more or less Batavia’s “claim to fame.” It is an incredible, unequaled facility that was built to conduct world-class scientific research. Visitors can choose to carry out a self-guided tour to explore the displays, viewing areas, and the Fermilab Art Gallery. You can take a look at some of the hands-on exhibits, which are family-friendly and appeal to kids in younger age groups. Public tours of the building are also available. My personal favorite part is the view from the 15th floor. A wide window overlooks a stunning 6,800-acre site. Another cool part of the location is a small herd of Bison. Fermilab is one-of-a-kind, and definitely worth checking out.
2. Batavia Riverwalk
The Batavia Riverwalk is a perfect place to spend a summer afternoon, whether on a bike or foot. It includes a boardwalk leading to a pavilion with a gorgeous view of the river. If you continue along the path, you will be able to see the Batavia dam, as well as the Riverwalk wildflower sanctuary. Pedestrians can cross the river on a walking bridge, known by locals as ‘The Peace Bridge.’ In the summer, kayaks are available to rent ($10 for a half-hour rental) providing a fun ride down the Fox River. During the coldest months of winter, the Depot Pond is open for ice skating.
3. Fabyan Windmill
Nicknamed, ‘The Windmill City,’ Batavia wouldn’t be Batavia without the Fabyan Windmill. Built all the way back in the 1850s, it is a genuine, working Dutch windmill. Despite its age, it’s in surprisingly good condition. A new foundation was built for it, and some features were updated, but the structure itself is the same as it was over 160 years ago. It sits at the top of a grassy hill, which makes a great place to sled in the winter.
4. Water Street Studios Gallery
Water Street Studios is one of the city’s jewels. They have new and exciting art on display around the clock. A unique part of the studio is that they house some artists inside their building, providing the opportunity to talk to the artists during gallery walks. Additionally, they offer art classes for adults to learn how to create oil paintings, mix colors, create three-dimensional images, and utilize brush techniques.
5. The Quarry
The Quarry swimming area was created when water from underground springs filled the holes created from digging limestone. In 1920, Frederick H. Beach bought the land and donated it to the town. It wasn’t until 1993 that a beautifully restored facility was opened for public use. It features a sandy beach area, a thrilling drop slide, a diving board & high dive, a picnic area, a concession stand, and sand volleyball courts.
6. Batavia Boardwalk Shops
The Batavia Boardwalk Shops are a relatively new addition, opened in June of 2020, designed to “attract small business, create more retail shopping, and bring people into downtown Batavia.” There are currently eight tiny shops, each selling unique, handmade goods. It provides small businesses an opportunity to take their companies to the next level and the space to make their ideas come to life. Some of the things you can buy in the shops are baked granola, handmade pillows & decor, wood designs, pet supplies, leather products, and baked goods.
7. Riverside Pizza
Riverside Pizza is a family-friendly pizzeria, restaurant, and bar located near the Riverwalk in downtown Batavia. They offer fresh, quality ingredients and flavorful food. A must-have on their menu is the Giant Pretzel. It is lightly buttered and salted, served with ranch, honey mustard, and cheese dipping sauces. It could easily feed a group of friends or family and is the perfect appetizer to get you ready for the main course! The restaurant also offers outdoor seating, letting you appreciate the outdoors while enjoying the dining experience.
8. The Popcorn Depot
The small, original stand known as the Popcorn Depot has been bringing delicious popcorn to Batavia since 1929. They advertise “delicious, fresh popcorn in a variety of flavors that will bring a smile to your face.” They certainly aren’t lying! Their flavor list comprises original white, caramel, and cheese popcorn. You can also get a mix of two or three flavors in one bag. On occasion, you can find a band or solo singer playing outside the stand. Grab a bag of their mouthwatering popcorn and share it with a friend! Or eat it all yourself: nobody would blame you!
9. West Main Community And Bark Park
The West Main Community Park has a seemingly endless amount of activities to take advantage of. The park boasts an 18-hole golf course, full-size basketball courts, a roller hockey court, a baseball & softball field, and a two-acre fishing pond. There is also a mile-long walking/jogging path and several soccer fields used by the Tri-Cities Soccer Program during spring and fall soccer seasons. Finally, for dog lovers, the Bark Park accommodates three acres of fenced-in space for your dog to run wild off-leash.
10. The Batavia Creamery
This top 10 list wouldn’t be complete without adding the Batavia Creamery. It has arguably the best quality ice cream in town at affordable prices. They offer 40 flavors daily and rotate over 150 different flavors, yet they keep many of the classics year-round. These flavors include non-dairy and vegan options. The store also makes shakes, smoothies, and customizable cakes. The staff is always friendly, and they prioritize giving the best customer service possible.
This list highlights just a few of the many great places in Batavia. Part of what makes the area unique is the small businesses. The employees at almost all of the shops are welcoming and helpful. If you’re looking for some fun things to do in town, visit a few of these locations!