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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Big-city culture and small-city charm combine in Rochester [1], a mid-sized city on the shores of Lake Ontario. The birthplace of amateur photography, Rochester has long been known as Kodak Town, but its fame was established well before George Eastman came on the scene. Today, its historical treasures complement modern attractions that rival those found in much larger communities.

In Rochester, you can find the only museum in the world dedicated to play; award-winning music and dance ensembles; a dense festival calendar covering nearly every weekend of the year; minor-league sports of the highest caliber; and a trio of majestic waterfalls right in the middle of the city. The gateway to the scenic and culinary delights of New York's Finger Lakes region, Rochester is the perfect place to begin your exploration of Western New York.


Rochester, known as The Flower City and The World's Image Centre, is the third-largest city in the state of New York, after New York City and Buffalo. Lake Ontario lies to its north, with the Genesee River flowing northward through the city and over a set of three waterfalls. The historic Erie Canal also runs along the city's borders.

But Rochester is much more than just its waterways. The city loves to celebrate its long history of industry and invention, taking pride in the many innovators and social reformers that have made their marks here. It also looks to the future, to the new places to which today's innovations will lead. And when it's time to relax, few cities of its size can compare in the variety and quality of cultural and recreational events available here.

Above all, the city's primary trait may be perseverance. Epitomized by the yearly collective slog through another snowy winter, this perseverance also manifests itself in the way Rochester has reinvented itself over the years. Even today, as the city tries to chart its course through the 21st century, its people plunge forward with that same determination, carrying with them not just the hope, but the certainty that springtime will arrive and with it, growth.


Rochester has always been defined by water. It was born in the early nineteenth century as a small village on the Genesee River, a few miles south of Lake Ontario. The village was constructed around flour mills that took advantage of the three waterfalls on the river for power. When the Erie Canal was built a few years later, it was routed through Rochester, and the small village became America's first boomtown, a major trade center for grain being shipped east and goods being shipped west. It soon garnered the nickname "The Flour City", and its products were known as far away as England.

As time went on, and farmland opened up in the Great Plains, Rochester's flour industry faded, to be replaced by a variety of others, including clothing, shoes, boats, and horticulture. By the middle of the nineteenth century, Rochester's nurseries and gardens had led to a new nickname: "The Flower City", celebrated each year with the famous Lilac Festival each May. Rochester also became a center for social progressivism. The great abolitionist orator Frederick Douglass made his home here for many years, and suffragist Susan B. Anthony was a life-long resident.

In the early 1900s, the modern city began to take shape, molded in large part by the philanthropy of George Eastman, whose Eastman Kodak camera company became the area's largest employer. The Eastman School of Music, the Eastman Theatre, the George Eastman House, and numerous other buildings and institutions remain today as testaments to his influence and generosity.

Since World War II, Rochester has seen a decline in population but has also seen periods of urban renewal funded by industry. In the 60s and 70s, the city became known as the leading jazz town in upstate New York, a legacy recalled today by the annual Rochester International Jazz Festival in June. Since the turn of the century, Rochester has called itself "The World's Image Centre", based on the local prominence of imaging giants Kodak and Xerox and optics company Bausch & Lomb.

Rochester's recent industrial decline has been painful, but it has been countered by a rise in world-class historical and cultural attractions.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 31 33 43 55 68 77 81 79 71 60 47 36
Nightly lows (°F) 17 17 25 35 46 55 60 59 51 41 33 23
Precipitation (in) 2.3 2.0 2.6 2.8 2.8 3.4 2.9 3.5 3.5 2.6 2.8 2.7
Daylight (hrs/day) 9 11 12 13 15 15 15 14 12 11 10 9
Water (°F) 38 36 36 38 44 56 67 70 66 56 48 41

Check Rochester's 7 day forecast at NOAA

Rochester is unashamedly part of the Snow Belt of the United States, competing every year with its upstate neighbors for the "coveted" Golden Snowball Award (for most snowfall). Snowfalls in Rochester were once legendary, although lately the lake-effect snow has favored Syracuse and Rochester has started to fall behind.

Visitors are often surprised by the amount of snow Rochesterians will put up with. It takes multiple feet of snow or biting cold frostbite-in-ten-minutes temperatures to close schools; anything less and you just put another layer on and grab the shovel. And forget about work or college being canceled; unless the governor has declared a state of emergency, you'll find commuters dutifully plunging forth across barely-plowed roads and highways. And sometimes, even then...

Simply stated, snow is a daily fact of life in Rochester winters, and the traveler must be prepared to deal with it as the locals do: with a hearty grumble of resignation, the assertion that "at least we don't have earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes", and the knowledge that better days lie ahead.

An illustrative anecdote

Rochester astronomer Lewis Swift (1820-1913) once attended a conference in California. Invited to gaze through the telescope there, he expressed amazement.

"What do you see?" he was asked.


"Well what did you expect to see?"


Fortunately, those "better days" are truly gems, and few cities appreciate them more when they arrive. "The weather is beautiful" headlines can often be found in the news media when a wave of pleasant weather hits. July and August can be very humid at times, but relief is rarely more than a few days away. May, June, late August, September, and early October have the most comfortable temperatures. Outside of those months, partly sunny days alternate with overcast conditions and heavy precipitation, ranging from light fluffy snow to heavy wet glop to cold damp drizzle.

But all this emphasis on winter should not overshadow Rochester's short but beautiful springs, mild summers, and very colorful autumns. Rochesterians make the best of winter, but they really take advantage of every nice day the rest of the year—and so should you.

  • VisitRochester, +1 800 677-7282 (, fax: +1 585 232-4822), [2]. The official visitor's association for the Greater Rochester area. They have information centers in the following locations:  edit
    • Center City Visitor Information Center, 45 East Ave (near East Main). M-F 8:30AM-5PM; Sa 9AM-2PM. This is the main office for VisitRochester.  edit
    • Visitor Information Booth, Greater Rochester International Airport (lower level). M-F 8AM-8PM; Sa 10AM-6PM; Su 11AM-5PM.  edit
    • Seneca Thruway Visitor Information Center, (at the Seneca service area near Thruway exit 45 (westbound)). M-Th 10AM-3PM; F 10AM-5PM; Sa Su 8AM-4PM.  edit
    • Tourist Information Center, (at the Scottsville service area near Thruway exit 46 (eastbound)). May-Oct.  edit
  • Downtown Information Center, 120 E Main St (corner of St Paul), ''+1 585'' 232-3420 (fax: ''+1 585'' 232-8365), [3]. M–F 8:30AM-5:30PM. Focuses on downtown information. Keep an eye out for red-shirted Downtown Safety Services team members on bike or on foot; they roam downtown and can help you with any problems you have.  edit
  • The Center at High Falls Visitor Center, 60 Browns Race, ''+1 585'' 325-2030 (fax: ''+1 585'' 325-2414), [4]. W-F 10AM-5PM; Sa noon-6PM; Su 1PM-5PM. This visitor's center focuses on High Falls but has information on the whole city as well. Also features a small museum, a gift shop, and walking tours of the High Falls area (call ahead). See also the activity listing below.  edit


Rochester is part of the "Inland North" dialect region of the United States, with only a few minor local variations. There is, though, one language issue that separates Rochester from the rest of the Finger Lakes region: American Sign Language. Rochester has one of the highest populations of deaf people (per capita) in the United States, and as such sign language is not an uncommon sight around the city. It's not a given that you'll see ASL being used if you visit Rochester—unless you drop by the Rochester School for the Deaf, or the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology—but you never know. Most businesses, especially in Henrietta and Brighton, are accustomed to working with deaf customers and often have teletype machines and dedicated TTY phone numbers.

If you encounter a deaf person but don't know sign language, do not shout. You can raise your voice slightly, but it's most important to speak clearly and directly, being careful not to hide your mouth with your hand. If all else fails, find a piece of paper and write back and forth. If an interpreter is available, be sure to address the deaf person, not the interpreter. The deaf person will watch the interpreter, but you should be looking at the deaf person and listening to the interpreter.

Greater Rochester International Airport and vicinity.
Greater Rochester International Airport and vicinity.

The Greater Rochester International Airport, 1200 Brooks Ave (I-390 to Exit 18B or I-490 to Exit 6; follow signs) [5], is located just southwest of the city proper. It is a very nice medium-sized airport, newly remodeled in 2008, with three runways and two concourses. The airline with the most passengers is US Airways, but most of the major domestic carriers (Southwest is an exception) and low-cost airlines JetBlue and AirTran have multiple daily scheduled flights to and from their hubs. Flights are also available to and from fellow upstate cities Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany, as well as seasonal direct flights to and from Orlando. AirCanada offers daily flights to and from Toronto.

Depending on the day of the week, JetBlue can have very good deals flying in from JFK in New York City.

From the airport, you'll probably use either a taxi or a rental car to take you to your destination. All of the common car rental agencies have a presence here, and this is the only place in the city you can reliably find a taxi to hire. Bus service on RTS is available, but not convenient unless you're headed downtown. The other option is a hotel shuttle; many of the hotels on the west side of the city offer complimentary airport shuttles.

By car

Because of Rochester's location close to Lake Ontario, the New York State Thruway, Interstate 90, passes a few miles to the south, through the southern suburbs. It still provides the quickest route into the area from the east and west, though. Whichever way you're coming, you'll take I-490 to get into the city proper; it leaves the Thruway eastbound at Exit 47, passes through downtown Rochester, then rejoins the Thruway at Exit 45.

Exit 46, between them, is for I-390, the primary route into Rochester from points south. I-390's south end is at I-86, and it also connects with U.S. Route 15 out of Pennsylvania.

From the northeast, if you don't want to head south to the Thruway, most drivers will take State Route 104, a former federal route that constitutes the main rural drag through the northern part of Western New York. From the northwest—northern Orleans and Niagara Counties—104 is still an option. There's also the Lake Ontario State Parkway, which starts 35 miles northwest of downtown and follows the lake shore to the Rochester harbor.

The Amtrak station, Greyhound/Trailways station, and vicinity
The Amtrak station, Greyhound/Trailways station, and vicinity

The Amtrak station, 320 Central Ave (Inner Loop to N Clinton Ave, quick right onto Central), [6], has daily scheduled service on three lines. The Empire Service heads east to Syracuse, Albany, and New York City (with some stops along the way), and west to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The Maple Leaf is the same but keeps going past Niagara Falls across the Canadian border to Toronto. The Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to Boston or New York also stops in Rochester.

The station is not in the "best" part of town, so don't try to walk there at night. The station itself, and its parking lot, are well lit and quite safe, though. Be prepared for delays—this is Amtrak after all—and be aware there's really nothing to do to kill time in or around the station.

A few taxis will often be waiting at the station around the scheduled arrival times, or you may want to arrange for a rental agency to pick you up.

  • Greyhound [7] and Trailways [8] share a bus station just across the street from the train station, at 186 Cumberland St. It is some distance north of the RTS hub, although several routes stop nearby.

By boat

With the Erie Canal, Genesee River, Lake Ontario, and Irondequoit Bay, waterways are a rare but not unheard-of method of getting to Rochester. Your best bets for mooring are at the mouth of the Genesee (the Rochester harbor) and in Irondequoit Bay, but those only work if you're coming from Lake Ontario. If you're on the Erie Canal coming from points east or west, you can often moor in one of the villages along the way, including Pittsford, Fairport, and Brockport, although these are all a few miles outside of Rochester. You could also take the canal to the river, then north almost to downtown, mooring at Brooks Landing or Corn Hill Landing.

Downtown Rochester and surrounding areas.
Downtown Rochester and surrounding areas.

Get around

Most people will tell you that a car is a virtual necessity for getting around Rochester. Although largely true, especially taking into account the suburbs, the adventurous can manage to see a lot of attractions on foot or bicycle, and the patient can take advantage of the municipal bus system to traverse the entire county.

Of course, in winter all bets are off. Driving becomes potentially hazardous, biking becomes impossible, and walking is very much hit-or-miss.

Rush hours in Rochester are approximately 7-9 AM and 5-6 PM on weekdays.

By car

Six major rental agencies have desks at the Greater Rochester International Airport: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. Most also have locations scattered throughout the city and surrounding towns, and they will usually come pick you up if you're coming in from, say, the Amtrak station. Contact your preferred agency for details and locations.

Those who balk at needing a car to get anywhere in the Rochester area can at least take heart that it is a very drivable city. A common local maxim is that the travel time between any two points in or around the city is twenty minutes. The expressway system was designed in the 50s, when Rochester's population was booming; this growth slowed to a stop soon afterward, leaving a network of high-capacity roads that rarely see congestion. You'll encounter some mild rush-hour slowdowns, especially on Interstates 390, 490, and 590, but visitors from more populous areas will scoff at what Rochesterians call "traffic".

Construction and severe winter weather can disrupt Rochester's normally placid roads, however. In winter, pay close attention to traffic advisories, and if they say "no unnecessary travel"—they mean it. Most of the time, though, drive slowly and carefully and you'll be fine. It takes locals a snowfall or two to remember this every November, so be extra-cautious early in the season.


The highway system is designed as two loops, the unofficial "Outer Loop" and the official "Inner Loop", with feeders coming in from the west, east, and south. (North is Lake Ontario—no highways there!) The Inner Loop is an urban expressway, weaving both above and below the surface roads of downtown. It circumscribes the nominal downtown area, although some "downtown" attractions—Frontier Field, High Falls, and most of the museums, for example—lie outside the Inner Loop. Because it's a loop, you can get turned around if you're not familiar with the area; visitors should probably stick to surface streets.

The Inner Loop begins and ends at I-490, which runs east-west straight through the middle of the city and forms the bottom portion of the actual loop. I-490 is the feeder expressway that connects the Outer and Inner Loops on both the east and west sides of the city, eventually connecting up with Interstate 90, the New York State Thruway, on both ends (several miles out).

The Outer Loop runs very close to the official city limits. I-390 comes up from the south (where it connects with the Thruway), then turns sharply west at a junction with I-590, which heads east. The two spurs curve out and up to the north to form the bottom part of the loop, until they each reach I-490 on either side of the city. Their Interstate designations end there, but the highways each continue north as State Routes 390 and 590. 390 passes State Route 104 and continues north as an expressway to the Lake Ontario State Parkway, just west of the Rochester harbor. 590 also passes Route 104, but soon becomes a surface road for the rest of its run to the lake, at Seabreeze near Irondequoit Bay.

New York State Route 104 is a major east-west route and forms the northern part of the Outer Loop, although it's only an expressway on one side, from the river east. It's also the main feeder route from the northeast and northwest.

Surface roads

While driving downtown, keep an eye out for these directional signs; they're color-coded by quadrant and provide directions to parking and attractions.
While driving downtown, keep an eye out for these directional signs; they're color-coded by quadrant and provide directions to parking and attractions.

The expressways will get you close to your destination, but navigating the surface streets is necessary as well. Rochester's early founding as a milling village means that its major avenues were laid out to facilitate traffic to outlying and neighboring settlements—namely, in a radiating pattern. In general, "avenues" radiate outward from downtown and "streets" connect the avenues, but this is not set in stone and there are almost as many exceptions as there are examples.

On the east side, St. Paul Street follows the river north to Irondequoit. North Clinton Avenue, Hudson Avenue, Portland Avenue, North Street, and Goodman Street all head north to Irondequoit as well. East Main Street and Atlantic Avenue head east towards Penfield. East Avenue (State Route 96) and Monroe Avenue (State Route 31) head southeast for Pittsford. South Clinton Avenue, South Avenue, and Mount Hope Avenue (State Route 15) venture southward toward Brighton and Henrietta.

On the west side, Exchange Boulevard (State Route 383) and Plymouth Avenue head southwest toward the airport. West Main Street (State Route 33) heads for Chili, West Broad Street (State Route 31) for Gates, and Lyell Avenue for Greece. State Street follows the river north toward Lake Ontario and the harbor.

The only place it's really tricky to drive is downtown. There is a small selection of one-way streets, just few enough to confuse you when you encounter one. There are also some turning restrictions on weekdays, especially for turning onto Main Street; watch the signs carefully.

By bus

The area bus system is the Regional Transit Service (RTS), run by the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) [10]. While the buses are clean, efficient, comfortable, and cheap, the service has often been criticized as inconvenient.

The bus routes are designed as a hub-spoke system, optimized for travelers headed to and from downtown. The hub is downtown, so travelers trying to get from one suburb to another often have to ride one bus all the way into the city, then another all the way back out. The system works great for getting to the center of downtown, but the typical rider will be faced with a walk or another bus ride to get the rest of the way to his or her destination.

If the bus routes are convenient for you, though, RTS service is hard to beat, especially when the roads get slushy in winter. Every RTS bus has a bicycle rack on front, which can provide some flexibility if you're willing to bike to a bus stop. Fares are $1.00 per ride, or $3.00 for an all-day pass. $14.00 gets you a 5-day pass and $56.00 allows you to ride freely for a full month. Discounted fares are available for children and seniors (although you'll need a Medicare or RTS low-fare card for the senior discount).

Bus schedules are available online [11] and throughout the city, especially at transit hubs and information centers.

By foot

Downtown Rochester is very walkable, at least for eight months out of the year. Traffic is light outside of rush hours, and crosswalks are plentiful. The Rochester Skyway is a system of enclosed elevated walkways and underground tunnels that connect numerous buildings downtown, including hotels, office buildings, and parking garages. It's especially useful in the winter, but the network only covers the east side of the river, and its continuity was severely disrupted by the recent closing of Midtown Plaza. Still, it provides a relatively warm, traffic-free route around the area. Look for the blue Skyway logo to find your way.

On the surface streets downtown, most areas are relatively safe, but be careful in the northeastern area (bounded by E. Main Street, East Avenue, the Inner Loop, and N. Clinton Avenue), especially at night.

Outside of downtown, the city is not very walkable, except in isolated areas. Safety and navigation become issues the farther out you get from tourist attractions and recreation areas. Especially at night, you'll want vehicular transportation available.

One exception to the general lack of walkability is the Genesee Riverway Trail [12], an almost-completed walking and biking route along the river. Once completed, this trail will take you from the Erie Canal on the south edge of the city all the way to Lake Ontario at the harbor. It also connects with other trails, especially the Genesee Valley Greenway south of the city.

Outside of the city, the inner suburbs are similarly hard to walk in, but there are pockets of village-like atmospheres where walking can be pleasant, such as Twelve Corners in Brighton and the Titus-Hudson area of Irondequoit.

By bicycle

Much of the advice above for pedestrians applies to bikers as well, although bikers won't be able to make use of the Skyway. The Genesee Riverway Trail is fully accessible for bicycles, and they're a common sight all over the area in the summer, especially on the Erie Canal towpath. The low traffic in Rochester is a boon for cyclists, allowing brave ones to take to the highways (but stay off the expressways!). Also, as noted above, all RTS buses have bike racks mounted on the front, which can be a great convenience.

By taxi

You can hire a taxi, but you'll need to call ahead to have one pick you up unless you're at the airport or the Amtrak station. Prices are set by the city at $0.50 per 1/6 mile, plus $2.00 per additional passenger. $10.00 minimum to and from the airport. Local limousine companies can provide more luxurious transportation for a somewhat higher fee.

By boat

Boating in Rochester is usually done for recreation rather than transportation, but the latter is not unheard of.

The Genesee River is not navigable through downtown; you can go downstream from the south (Erie Canal) as far as the Court Street Dam, or upstream from the north (Lake Ontario) as far as the Lower Falls, but the three waterfalls and the downtown area are no-go. That still leaves some options, however. Mooring is available at the harbor near Lake Ontario and at Brooks Landing and Corn Hill Landing between the canal and downtown. The Erie Canal [13] passes along the southern city limts, providing access from points east and west to the upper river. It's doable, but be sure to plan for the additional transportation you'll need once your boat is docked.

Note that the Erie Canal is drained every November and not refilled until the end of April.


Rochester isn't the most popular place for sightseeing, although the Genesee River gorge and its waterfalls are certainly worth a trip. The city does has a number of cultural attractions, though, especially for a city of its size.


Famed landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted designed Rochester's first public parks, which today comprise Highland, Genesee Valley, Maplewood, and Seneca Parks. Each remains a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

  • Genesee Valley Park, Moore Rd (take Elmwood Ave or E River Rd west from Mt Hope Ave). 7AM-11PM. Located at the confluence of the Genesee River and the Erie Canal, the park is a great place to step off onto the Genesee Riverway Trail, the Genesee Valley Greenway, and the Erie Canalway Trail (see below).  edit
  • Highland Park, Highland Ave at South Ave, +1 585 753-PARK, [14]. 7AM-11PM. Most famous for its hundreds of lilacs, Highland Park is the site of the annual Lilac Festival. Even when the lilacs aren't blooming, though, there are countless other examples of Rochester's horticultural tradition. There is a Sunken Garden behind the Warner Castle, and the Highland Park Bowl, a natural amphitheater, hosts concerts and films during the summer. The park also hosts the county's Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the AIDS Remembrance Garden.  edit
    • Lamberton Conservatory, 171 Reservoir Ave, +1 585 753-7270. 10AM-4PM. The conservatory holds a number of more exotic plants that wouldn't survive outside in Rochester, including desert and tropical species. Open year-round and a wonderful refuge from the stark winter landscapes. Adults $3, youths/seniors $2, under 6 free.  edit
  • Mount Hope Cemetery, 1133 Mt Hope Ave, [15]. Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and other historical figures are buried in this beautiful Victorian cemetery. Also a great place for running.  edit
  • Artisan Works, 565 Blossom Rd, [16]. F Sa 11AM-6PM; Su noon-5PM. A non-profit organization housed in a huge warehouse, Artisan Works comprises a labyrinth of hallways and levels where every square inch is covered with art in all media (but mostly painting and sculpture). Everything is for sale. The gallery provides studio space to dozens of artists, some of whom may be working when you visit, and all of whom are happy to chat about what they're making. Also within is the Triangle Theater, a 30-seat movie theater which features films by student and local filmmakers. Adults $12, students/seniors $8.  edit
  • Campbell-Whittlesey House Museum, 123 S Fitzhugh St, +1 585 546-7029 x14, [17]. Apr-Dec, Th F noon-3PM, group tours by appt. One of the best-preserved examples of residential Greek Revival architecture in America. Adults $3, children $1.  edit
  • Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, 70 Lighthouse St (Lake Ave to Latta Rd, go SE 400 ft, turn left before river), +1 585 621-6179, [18]. through Nov 1, Sa Su 1PM-5PM. If, when you get to the lighthouse, you wonder where the shore is, it's half a mile northeast. That's how much land has been added to the northern shore of New York since the lighthouse was built in 1822. Museum on the first floor has a lot of displays on Rochester's harbor history. Free.  edit
  • Frederick Douglass Resource Center, 36 King St, (), [19]. Orator Frederick Douglass lived in Rochester during his most productive years as a speaker and abolitionist, publishing his famous newspaper North Star here, but efforts to create a memorial or museum have only recently come to fruition. This resource center is still working to fill its space, but for now offers a glimpse at Douglass' time in Rochester.  edit
  • George Eastman House (International Museum of Photography and Film), 900 East Ave, +1 585 271-3361 (fax: +1 585 271-3970), [20]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This mansion was built by the founder of Eastman Kodak and has been restored to appear much as it did when he was alive. It could be considered three museums in one: first, the building itself and its living areas, which illustrate the life of Rochester's elite in the early twentieth century; second, exhibits highlighting the history of photography and film; and third, the museum's enormous photograph and film archives, among the largest in the world. Films are often presented in the museum's Dryden Theatre (see below). Guided tours of the house and the exhibits are available. Adults $10, seniors $8, students $6, children 4-12 $4, under 4 free.  edit
  • Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave, +1 585 276-8900, [21]. W-Su 11AM-5PM; Th 11AM-9PM. Adults $10, students/seniors/military $6, children $4, under 6 free. Th 5PM-9PM, $6.  edit
  • Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum [22] & New York Museum of Transportation [23], 6393 East River Road, +1 585-533-1113, Sundays 11AM-5PM. Railroad- and transportation-themed exhibits, track car and trolley rides between museums, locomotive and caboose rides on selected dates (including some Saturdays).
  • Rochester Medical Museum and Archives, 333 Humboldt St, +1 585 922-1847 (), [24]. M-F 9AM-4PM.  edit
  • Rochester Museum and Science Center, 657 East Ave (+1 585 271-4320), [25]. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. A science museum filled with hands-on exhibits and activities. Fantastic for kids, but a lot of it is fun for parents, too. Kids will love the Adventure Zone, full of active and creative play opportunities. Don't miss the enormous mastodon skeleton in Expedition Earth, which displays an overwhelming amount of information on the post-glacial history of western New York. Other permanent exhibits focus on the people of the Haudenosaunee, nineteenth-century Rochester, the Underground Railroad, and more. The Strasenburgh Planetarium is next door. Adults $10, seniors/students $9, children/teens $8, under 3 free. Admission plus a planetarium show: adults $15, students $11.  edit
  • Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St Paul St (Rt 104 to Clinton Ave; follow signs for zoo), +1 585 336-7200, [26]. Apr-Oct daily 10AM-5PM; Nov-Mar daily 10AM-4PM. Rochester's zoo is nestled inside the Olmsted-designed Seneca Park. While small—the entire zoo can easily be enjoyed in an afternoon—a lot of value is packed into the small area. Genny C and Lilac are the only African elephants in the state; the zoo's three orangutans are also unique in New York. The Rocky Coasts exhibit, with polar bears, sea lions, and penguins, is a definite highlight. Apr-Oct: Adults $9, seniors $8, youths $6, under 3 free; $2 discount Nov-Mar.  edit
  • Strasenburgh Planetarium, 657 East Ave, +1 585 271-4320, [27]. The planetarium adjacent to the Rochester Museum and Science Center offers a variety of large-format films and weekly planetarium shows using their state-of-the-art star projector. Saturdays during the summer feature laser-light shows set to music. Show times and prices vary; tickets that include admission to the RMSC are available.  edit
  • Strong National Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Sq, +1 585 263-2700, [28]. M-Th 10AM-5PM, F Sa 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. This downtown children's museum, the only one with a specific focus on play, is the place to visit if you have kids from 1-12. This museum focuses on learning through play and features tons of interactive exhibits, including some focused on well-known themes like Sesame Street. One nice feature is that most exhibits have information for adults to read (such as on how fairy tales have changed with the times) while the kids do things like climb on a pirate ship. Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden is a new addition, but it costs $3 extra to get in. The museum also houses the National Toy Hall of Fame; the toy archives are less interactive but might bring back a lot of memories for older visitors. If you have kids you can easily spend a whole day here, or visit a couple of times to enjoy everything. Adults $10, seniors $9, children $8, under 2 free. Butterfly Garden $3.  edit
  • Susan B. Anthony House, 17 Madison St, +1 585 235-6124, [29]. Sep-May W-Su 11AM-4PM; Jun-Aug Tu-Su 11AM-5PM. This is the house where the women's rights activist lived for many years, and where she was arrested after voting illegally in 1872. The museum highlights Anthony's influences, the many reforms she worked for (suffrage, abolition, temperance, education, and a purse of her own among them), her friendship with Frederick Douglass, and her trial for voting. Adults $6, seniors $5, students/children $3.  edit
  • High Falls. Featuring a waterfall in the center of downtown, this is a nice area to walk around.
  • Park Ave. There are a lot of great trendy shops in this district, and it's serviced by the RTS service. However, it's definitely not an entire day activity, and things close relatively early.
  • The South Wedge. A triangular neighborhood bordered by the Genesee and Interstate 490. The South Wedge is what some may call an "up and coming" neighborhood. Many night life options and a growing number of shops and businesses. Located close to Alexander street as well as the University of Rochester and Mt. Hope Cemetery.
  • Grove Place. Small residential neighborhood in downtown Rochester. Full of beautiful 19th century townhouses. Several good restaurants are in the neighborhood and it is in easy walking distance to Eastman Theater and the Eastman School of Music as well as the Memorial Art Gallery.



Once May rolls around, snow becomes less likely, and Rochester's renowned festival season begins. Pretty much every weekend from May through October, there's at least one festival of some sort going on in Rochester or its suburbs. Rochester's festivals run the gamut, focusing on such diverse subjects as horticulture, music, crafts, and food—and admission is free for almost all of them!

Among the suburban festivals, be sure to check out Fairport Canal Days [30] in early June (6-7 Jun 2009). Of the many festivals centered on the Erie Canal, this may be the best, and it's held in the quintessential canal town.

The closest Renaissance Festival is in Sterling, Cayuga County. [31] It's about 45 minutes away, but it's worth the trip. It's open weekends from July through mid-August every year.


  • Imagine RIT, Lomb Memorial Dr, Henrietta (Jefferson Rd (Rt 252) to RIT campus), [32]. 1 May 2010 10AM-5PM. The newest addition to Rochester's festival calendar was established in 2008. Rochester Institute of Technology's innovation and creativity festival showcases what happens "when the left brain and right brain collide," featuring hundreds of student projects from every corner of the university. Robotics, music, sign language, virtual reality, ecology, and weird science are just a few of the many subject areas covered; in fact, most of the projects take elements from multiple disciplines and combine them in innovative ways. Plenty of food, hands-on exhibits, and kids' activities make for an unbeatable value for a day out. Free.  edit
  • Lilac Festival, Highland Park (Sa Su: Park at MCC, 1000 E Henrietta Rd, Brighton), (), [33]. 14-23 May 2010. For ten days every May, Rochester's flagship festival celebrates the community—and its flowers—in beautiful Highland Park, designed by renowned landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted. The park's world-famous lilac collection was started by horticulturist John Dunbar in 1892 with 20 varieties. Today, over 500 varieties of lilacs cover 22 of Highland Park's 155 acres. The usual summer festival staples are all here, such as kiddie rides and food vendors, but also tons of activities for kids, a parade, a craft show, a festival-sponsored 5K race, and a packed schedule of music and entertainment. You can even buy Highland Lilac perfume! [34] Free.  edit
  • 360 | 365 Film Festival (formerly Rochester High Falls International Film Festival), [35]. 5-10 May 2010. It may not be Cannes, or even Toronto, but Rochester's annual film festival has its own niche and charm. Appropriately for the home of both George Eastman and Susan B. Anthony, Rochester's film festival focuses on the achievements of female filmmakers and actresses and each year awards The Susan B. Anthony "Failure is Impossible" Award. The festival runs for six days in May, around the time of the Lilac Festival. Most of the films are shown at the historic Little Theatre on East Avenue, but other venues get into the act as well. Admission prices vary.  edit


  • Rochester International Jazz Festival, [36]. 12-20 Jun 2009. Founded in 2002, this is one of the largest and fastest-growing music festivals in North America. Held in 18 venues, all within walking distance of each other, the nine-day festival offers a mix of free and ticketed events for people of all ages. It attracts fans from the U.S. and around the world who come to hear one of the most multidimensional, international, and diverse artist lineups presented at a major music festival. Outdoor shows: free; club passes: $139; headliner concerts vary.  edit
  • Maplewood Rose Celebration, Driving Park Ave at Lake Ave, +1 585 428-5990, [37]. 20-21 Jun 2009. They may not be the lilacs of Highland Park, but Maplewood Park's rose garden is impressive in its own right. This is also a great opportunity to take a tour of the Genesee River gorge near the park.  edit
  • Rochester Harbor and Carousel Festival, Lake Ave at Beach Ave (Ontario Beach State Park), +1 585 865-3320. 25-27 Jun 2009. The 1905 Denztel Carousel is the centerpiece of this festival, but you can also check out a parade of boats, tour the historic Charlotte lighthouse, and of course visit the artisans and food vendors throughout the park. Free.  edit
  • Taste of Rochester, Main St Bridge, [38]. 26-28 Jun 2009. Sample the best of what Rochester's unique restaurants have to offer, right on the Main Street Bridge over the river. Free admission.  edit


  • Corn Hill Arts Festival, +1 585 262-3142, [39]. 11-12 Jul 2009. The Corn Hill neighborhood is just south of downtown along the river. This festival celebrates its long history with over 400 arts and crafts exhibitors, plus the standard live musicians and food vendors. Free.  edit
  • Monroe County Fair, Fair & Expo Center, 2695 E Henrietta Rd, Henrietta (Route 15A south to Calkins Rd., turn right), [40]. 15-19 Jul 2009. Rochester is a city well-connected with its rural outskirts, so agricultural exhibits remain the centerpiece of the fair. There are plenty of carnival rides, too, plus talent shows, hands-on activities, and live entertainment like demolition derbies. All of the surrounding counties have their own fairs, too, throughout late summer. Kids free; teens $3; adults $5; seniors $2; parking $3/car; rides extra (all-day ride pass $15); grandstand events extra.  edit
  • Main Game, W Main St, +1 585 428-5990. 25 Jul 2009 1PM-6PM. Main Street gets closed to vehicles for this event, which features recreational programs from around the city. Play a variety of street sports or watch dance and martial arts exhibitions. Free.  edit


  • Park Ave Summer Arts Fest, [41]. 1-2 Aug 2009. Park Avenue is already one of the most eclectic neighborhoods of the city, and this festival just cements that. Almost the entire length of the street will be packed with people browsing artisans' wares, eating great food, visiting the local stores and restaurants, and listening to some music. This one may be the most popular of the summer arts festivals. Free.  edit
  • Clarissa Street Reunion, Clarissa St (bet. Dr Samuel McCree Way & Troup St), +1 585 234-4177. 11:30AM-11PM 15 Aug 2009. Many years ago, Clarissa Street was known as "Rochester's Broadway", home to the best jazz clubs in the city. Urban renewal in the 60s and 70s left its unfortunate mark on this neighborhood, but every August people come back for one day to celebrate the place it used to be. Live music is the main draw, but you'll also find a parade and other typical festival fare. Free.  edit


  • Zoo Brew, Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St Paul St (Rt 104 to Clinton Ave; follow signs for zoo), +1 585 336-7200, [42]. 6PM-9PM 11 Sep 2009. Enjoy live music, drink beer and wine, socialize, and enjoy other activities among the animals of the zoo. Ages 21 and up only. $5.  edit
  • Clothesline Festival, Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave, +1 585 276-8900, [43]. 12-13 Sep 2009. This is the most "artsy" of the summer festivals, focused on paintings and other artwork moreso than the crafts of other festivals. You can also take this opportunity to browse the gallery itself. $5; kids free; includes gallery admission.  edit
  • Irondequoit Oktoberfest, Camp Eastman, 1301 Lake Shore Blvd, Irondequoit (Culver Rd north to Durand-Eastman Park), +1 585 336-6070, [44]. 12-14 Sep & 19-21 Sep 2009. Rochester has a number of ethnic festivals throughout the year, but this one, celebrating German culture, is certainly the biggest. The music presented here might be the best you'll find at any other local festival outside of the Jazz Festival. And if you like bratwurst and sauerkraut—or a good German lager—you can't beat Oktoberfest. $8; kids free.  edit


  • Rochester River Romance, +1 585 428-5990. 9-11 Oct 2009. Rochester celebrates the Genesee River with this full weekend of events taking place all along the river. The Rochester Invitational Regatta, a two-day series of rowing races on the upper river near the canal, could be considered the centerpiece, but there are plenty other family-friendly things to see and do. Most events free.  edit
  • ImageOut (The Rochester Lesbian & Gay Film and Video Festival), +1 585 271-2640, [45]. 9-18 Oct 2009. Films and videos of all types, but all having something to do with gender and sexuality, are on tap for these ten days in October at multiple venues around the city.  edit


  • Coldrush, [46]. Jan-Mar. This isn't a single festival so much as a brand name, used to gather all of Rochester's many winter activities under one banner and advertising campaign. There's really a surprising number of events going on all winter. If you're in Rochester during these months, the Coldrush campaign is your central clearinghouse for whenever you're looking for something to do.  edit

A true hometown team

The Red Wings used to be owned by the St. Louis Cardinals—that's how they got their name, in fact. But in 1956, the Cards decided not to continue that relationship. Rochester businessman Morrie Silver organized a drive in which 8,222 shareholders each purchased a share of the team, saving it from relocation or folding. Rochester Community Baseball owns the team to this day.

It may not be the first city people think of when it comes to sports, but few other cities have as wide a variety, or as long a winning tradition, as Rochester does. The city is consistently ranked among the best cities in the country for minor-league sports, which means you can see some very talented players in some great, intimate venues for a very reasonable price.

  • Rochester Red Wings (baseball), 1 Morrie Silver Way (Plymouth Ave just north of the Inner Loop), +1 585 454-1001 (TTY: +1 585 325-4245) (, fax: +1 585 454-1056), [47]. Apr-Sep. A Rochester tradition since 1899, the Red Wings are the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Frontier Field is a beautiful ballpark situated downtown with convenient and cheap ($5) parking. On the 4th of July and certain other summer nights, there are free fireworks shows with admission. Your food options are a bit better than the average—there's the usual hot dogs and beer (white hots and Genny, since this is Rochester, after all), but maybe you'd like to try the roast beef sandwiches, barbecue platters, subs and wraps, or sweet and savory crepes. $6.50-$10.50.  edit
  • Rochester Americans (hockey), 1 War Memorial Sq (W Broad at Exchange Blvd), +1 585 454-5335 (fax: +1 585 454-3954), [48]. Oct-Apr. Known fondly as the "Amerks", Rochester's storied hockey team is the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers. The Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial is an old building, but it was renovated in the 90s and is now a fine downtown hockey arena. One of the oldest and most successful teams in the league, the Amerks have overcome a recent dry spell and now are back on top in the AHL. $11-$19.  edit
  • Rochester Rhinos (soccer), 460 Oak St (W Broad St past Frontier Field), +1 585 454-5425, [49]. Apr-Oct. The Rhinos are in the new NASL, a second-tier soccer league in the U.S. They have a relatively new soccer-specific stadium less than a mile northwest of Frontier Field, and there's not a bad seat in the house. Food options, provided by national barbecue chain Famous Dave's, are improving, but still not quite as good as at the baseball stadium (barbecue excepted!). $9-$19.  edit
  • Rochester Knighthawks (lacrosse), 1 War Memorial Sq (W Broad at Exchange Blvd), +1 585 454-5335 (fax: +1 585 454-3954), [50]. Jan-May. The K-Hawks are a top-tier indoor lacrosse team, featuring some of the best talent in the world. If you've never seen an indoor lacrosse match, a K-Hawks game is a great introduction. The team has several future (and one current) Hall-of-Famers on the roster; you simply won't find better, more exciting lacrosse being played anywhere. (And if the opponent is Buffalo or Toronto, you're in for a real treat!) $16-$23.  edit
  • Rochester Razorsharks (basketball), 1 War Memorial Sq (W Broad at Exchange Blvd), +1 585 232-9190 (fax: +1 585 232-8086), [51]. Jan-Apr. The Razorsharks, in the Premier Basketball League, are the latest in a long line of successful basketball teams in Rochester. With three championships in just four seasons, they're one of the top minor-league teams in the country. $5-$25.  edit
  • Rochester Raiders (indoor football), 1 War Memorial Sq (W Broad at Exchange Blvd), +1 585 427-0020 x554 (), [52]. Mar-Jul. The newest pro team in Rochester, the Raiders have been almost as successful as the Razorsharks. Playing a fast-paced brand of indoor football, the team features a large contingent of local players. $13.75.  edit
  • RIT Tigers (hockey), 51 Lomb Memorial Dr, Henrietta (RIT campus on Rt 252), +1 585 475-4121, [53]. Oct-Mar. Who needs football? Rochester Institute of Technology has hockey! Rochester's only Division I college team plays a hard-hitting and very successful brand of hockey and has already made waves in just four years at the top level. The Frank Ritter Ice Arena is an intimate (okay, small) venue, but it lets the fans sit right on top of the action. The legendary Corner Crew cheering section harasses opposing goalies all night, every night. This classic college hockey atmosphere is worth experiencing. $10.  edit
  • LPGA Championship (golf), 2000 Jefferson Rd, Henrietta (Locust Hill Country Club: Rt 252 between Winton and Clover), +1 585 427-7100 (fax: +1 585 427-7029), [54]. 21-27 Jun 2010. Since 1977, the best women golfers in the world have come to Locust Hill Country Club in the southern suburbs for the annual Wegmans LPGA tournament. Rochester golf fans turn out in droves for this event, making it a favorite stop for the players. This strong support was rewarded when the LPGA decided to hold the 2010 LPGA Championship in Rochester, in lieu of the normal annual stop. Prices TBD.  edit


Outside of New York, L.A. and Chicago, Rochester is the best city for film buffs. There are festivals throughout the year. These include ImageOut (gay and lesbian)[55], Jewish [56], High Falls (women) [57], and even Polish [58]. The venues range from the internationally-known Eastman House to a lowly (but thrifty) second-run multiplex.

  • Dryden Theatre, 900 East Ave (at the George Eastman House), +1 585-271-3361, [59]. The Eastman House, a major not-for-profit film and photographic museum, houses the Dryden Theatre. The Dryden shows a wide variety of Hollywood classics, international and independent films -- literally something different every night of the week. The programming is thoughtful and cutting-edge, with frequent visits by directors and actors. Nearly all films begin at 8PM and are preceded by a brief film talk. Tickets $4-6, except during special events such as visiting filmmakers.
  • The Little Theatre, 240 East Ave, +1 585-232-3906, [60]. Run by a not-for-profit corporation, the legendary Little shows a wide variety of foreign, independent and classic films in five theatres. There is also a cafe bakery (serves a full dinner menu along with wine and beer), sometimes with live music. Tickets cost $7 most nights, except for the weekend matinées where costs drop to $5. Discounts are available for seniors and students.
  • UR Cinema Group. At the University of Rochester, Hoyt Hall, +1 585-275-5911, [61]. UoR's own student run movie group. Movies are shown on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as most Thursdays while Fall and Spring semesters are in session. All Thursday movies are free admission; for Fridays and Saturdays, tickets cost $3 for the general public, and $2 for UR students. All movies have multiple showings.
  • Cinema Theatre, 957 S. Clinton Ave, +1 585-271-1785, [62]. Rochester's oldest neighborhood movie theater. Always a double feature (both second-run, mix of foreign/indie and standard Hollywood fare), this theater also has a resident cat who sometimes will sit on your lap during the show.
  • Cinemark Movies 10, 2613 West Henrietta Road, +1 585-292-0303, [63]. Second-run theater showing mostly mainstream Hollywood films. But prices are low: a high of $2.25 Fri/Sat nights to a low of 50 cents on Mondays.
  • Geva Theatre, 75 Woodbury Blvd, +1 585-232-1366, [64]. A very nice theatre, offering a choice from two different plays at any given time. Discounts are available for students and seniors.
  • Water Street Music Hall, 204 N Water Street, +1 585-546-3887, [65]. A wide variety of live music several nights out of the week. There is also a reasonably priced bar inside.
  • Penny Arcade Rock Club, 4785 Lake Avenue, +1 585-621-ROCK, [66]. A rock club near Ontario Beach park and former Fast Ferry building. Mostly metal/hard rock bands.
  • BugJar, 219 Monroe Ave, +1 585-454-2966, [67]. The walls display various works of art created by local artists, and the stage area/dance floor has an entire roomful of furniture arranged on the ceiling. Drink specials and live entertainment are featured here nightly, presenting popular local and national musical artists.
  • Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, 20 Windsor St, +1 585-325-4370, [68]. A tiny theatre with seating just a few feet from the stage. It's best to call before hand to buy tickets and get directions.
  • The Eastman Theatre, East Main Street, see the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rochester Ballet, the Rochester Opera Group, and a slew of other cultural activities in one of the most striking buildings in Rochester.
  • Blackfriars Theatre, 795 East Main St, "+1" 585-454-1260, [69] Blackfriars Theatre is a mid-sized professional theatre that has entertained audiences for almost 60 years, providing a local showcase for actors and actresses, theater artists and technicians who have chosen to make Rochester their home. They've just moved to a new space on East Main near the Auditorium Center and the Main Street Armory.
  • Seabreeze, [70]. At the junction of Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario, Seabreeze combines the features of an old-fashioned amusement park with the technology and thrills of a modern water park. Has an original 1920s carousel with hand-carved horses.
  • Bristol Mountain, [71], ski in the winter and hike in the summer. Normally the hill opens for skiing shortly after Thanksgiving, it all depends on the snow though. For more information see the official site. From Rochester take Interstate 390 south to exit 10 (Avon). Take US 20/NY 5 East to NY 64 south. Bristol Mountain will be 10 miles (16 km) on your right.
  • Cobb's Hill Reservoir Park. If you happen to be in the area, Cobb's Hill provides a great panoramic view of downtown. Located on the corner of Culver and Monroe, it is an easy walk from the cafes on Park Ave. Large duck pond, baseball diamond, tennis courts and a nice (although steep) trail to the top of the hill, where the reservoir is located.
  • Erie Canal Trail, [72]. Though the walking paths are open year round, the canal is drained, kept empty, and less scenic between November and May. During the winter time, however, the canal trail is virtually deserted, and provides an excellent place to snowshoe and cross-country ski. There is no admission fee, and free parking is available at Genesee park. The trail and facilities are open from 6AM-9PM daily.
  • Genesee Valley Greenway , [73]. Formerly a railroad bed, this mostly gravel trail is perfect for off road cycling/walking/running. It follows along the Genesee river, cutting through the rolling farmland south of Rochester. 50+ miles depending upon how far south they've developed the path.
  • The Hi Tor, [74]. A short drive from Rochester in the village of Naples lies this spur off of the Finger Lakes Trail system. The Hi Tor provides heavy duty steep grade hiking/mountain biking. Leads to a beautiful hill top view of Canandaigua Lake.
  • East Ave, One should not miss a drive down historic East Ave, with the mansions of Rochester's past barons still mostly in tact, you can really see a history lesson of the Rochester area. Another great place to see off of East Ave is the Sandringham/Ambassador Drive neighborhood, some of the greatest residential architecture in Rochester can be viewed here.
  • Rock Ventures, 1044 University Ave, +1 585 442-5462, [75]. M-Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-6PM. This is the country's largest indoor rock-climbing establishment, quite popular with the area's college students. Great exercise and fun, too. $15-$25.  edit
  • Rochester Institute of Technology [76] is a university focusing on engineering, art, and other subjects. It also has a college for the deaf.
  • University of Rochester [77]. A high-caliber research university, possessing both an excellent medical school and the world-class Eastman School of Music among other assets.


As mentioned above, Rochester is known for and is home to Eastman Kodak Company [78]. The largest employer in the city is now the University of Rochester [79], which includes Strong Memorial Hospital [80]. It is also the home of industrial giants Bausch & Lomb, Inc. [81] and Xerox Corporation [82]. Other major companies in the Rochester metro include Paychex [83], the High Falls Brewing Co. (formerly known as the Genesee Brewing Co.): brewer of Honey Brown beer; and Bird's Eye: producer of frozen and packaged foods. To learn more about its corporations visit:

  • Rochester Public Market, 280 North Union St, +1 585-428-6907, [84]. Established in 1905, the public market is full of stalls and vendors. Fun to walk around, it is also an excellent place to purchase cheap locally grown produce. Open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays.
  • Thread, 654 South Avenue, +1 585-232-7110, [85][86]. Hip clothing and gift boutique in the South Wedge. Thread carries clothing brands such as Upper Playground, Heavy Rotation, Beautiful/Decay, Paul Frank, Gentle Fawn, Soundgirl, Poketo, American Apparel, Squidfire, Hey Unite, Burn This Forever, Moneyhunt, Uzi, WESC, Public Domain and Scrapbook.
  • Marketplace Mall, [87].
  • The Mall At Greece Ridge Center, [88].
  • Eastview Mall, [89] The premier mall in the Rochester metro area, this mall contains many of the stores the average American is looking for, as well as several upscale stores not found in many malls in Upstate New York. As of 2009 some stores and restaurants of note are Aldo, Ann Taylor, Apple, Arden B, Arhaus Furniture, Banana Republic, Biaggi's Italian Ristorante, Bonefish Grill, Clarks England, Coach, Coldwater Creek, Crabtree and Evelyn, Eddie Bauer, Godiva Chocolatier, Janie & Jack, J.Crew, J.Jill, Lindt Chocolatier, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Sephora, Solstice, Swarovski, The Walking Company, and White House/Black Market. Teavana and Yogen Fruz opened in 2008. In 2009, Aerie, Game Craze, Francesca's Collections,and Auto Direct open. Anthropologie will open a large store in mid-January 2010. L.L.Bean will open a new free-standing store in July 2010. The mall has announced future plans, "The Signature Experience", for yet more upscale stores to be added.
  • Archimage, 668 Monroe Avenue, 585 271 2789. 11AM-7PM. Great gift shop with a very unique selection. They sell children's toys, cards, jewelry, incense, stones, chimes, housewares, unconventional clothing items, and more...  edit

While the usual generic liquor stores abound, there are specialty shops that are worth a second look:

  • Beers of the World, 3450 Winton Plaza (same plaza as Comix Cafe), +1 585-427-2852. A huge selection of both macro and micro brews from all over the world and homebrew supplies. Also has a large display filled with good cigars. Word to the wise: the owners are quite stand-offish, especially to first time customers and some of the beers are not that fresh. Watch out for dust!
  • Wine Sense, 749 Park Ave, +1 585-271-0590. Located near numerous other small shops and cafes, this wine dealer has a very friendly staff and carries many quality wines from the Finger Lakes region.
  • Century Pittsford Wines,[90], 3349 Monroe Avenue, Pittsford , NY +1 585-248-0931 In the highly regarded Pittsford Plaza,(not far from The Cheesecake Factory) has the largest selection of wine & liquer in the U.S.,including vintage. Was recently honored in NYC by Market Watch Magazine. Receives tour buses from the nearby vineyard and winery laden Finger Lakes, which is the second largest wine producing area in the U.S. .

There are several bookstores on Monroe Ave and East Ave which sell new, used, and rare books. Naturally, there are also large chain stores such as Barnes and Noble and Borders in the city.

  • Greenwood Books, 123 East Ave (near the Little Theatre). A nice selection of new and used books, with some older items that one simply can't find in large chain bookstores. Of particular interest is the selection of books covering both historical and modern Rochester.
  • House of Guitars, 645 Titus Ave, +1 585-544-9928, has a huge selection of new and used records, CD's, and cassettes, most of which you won't be able to find anywhere else. The store is also a shrine to music and musicians, with an extensive collection of instruments for sale. Some of the biggest music groups in the world (Metallica, Ozzy, etc) go out of their way to come to this store, because the selection is so big.
  • Craft Company No 6, 785 University Ave, [91]. Probably one of the most unique stores you will ever go to. Everything is handmade and for sale. Very artsy and not mass marketed.
A white hot garbage plate—two local specialties in one!
A white hot garbage plate—two local specialties in one!

Dining in Rochester is typical of most mid-sized American cities. The immediate suburbs are crawling with large chain restaurants, but you can find more original fare in the city proper, and in outlying areas away from the biggest commercial strips.

There is one mainstay of local cuisine that travelers with a large stomach and no fear of cholesterol should absolutely try: the famous Garbage Plate of Nick Tahou's Hots. For a few dollars, a "Plate" comes with your choice of meat served on top of macaroni salad, home fries, and onions, topped with "hot sauce" and ketchup and/or mustard. Most suburbs of Rochester have a local "Hots" (Penfield Hots, Empire Hots, etc.); each of them, not to mention several other burger joints around town, has its own variant on the "Plate"—but the original and most authentic is found at Tahou's. Steve T. Hots and Potatoes is the former second location of Nick Tahou's, and run by a different branch of the Tahou family; it's an acceptable second choice, mainly because the original is only open until 8PM these days. Late-night "plate runs"—a college tradition in Rochester—thus usually end up at Steve T.'s.

A "hot", by the way, is simply a hot dog, but they come in two varieties: red hots (traditional hot dogs) and white hots. Zweigle's is the local brand; don't even bother with any other brand if you're going to try a white hot. "Hot sauce", rather than the expected mouth-scalding pepper blend, is usually a mildly spicy meat sauce to put on hots, especially on garbage plates.

Buffalo-style chicken wings are almost as popular here as they are in Buffalo. Everyone has a favorite location for "wings", but Jeremiah's Tavern has some awards to back up their claim.

Moving up the dining scale a bit, a staple at local Greek- and Italian-American restaurants is Chicken French. It's a breaded chicken breast sauteéd in a lemon-wine sauce. It's so popular that veal and even artichokes can be found "Frenched" on local menus.

Restaurants of note include:

  • 2 Vine, 24 Winthrop Street. French and Italian food in a casual yet elegant bistro-type setting. Delicious vegetarian dishes, as well as a wide selection of fish, veal, etc. Moderately priced and near The Little Theatre.
  • Aja Noodle Co., 2602 Elmwood Ave, +1 585-244-1052. Serves lunch and dinner. Though located away from other travel attractions, the noodles are some of the best in Rochester. $7-$12 ($5 for all noodle bowls with a college ID).
  • California Rollin, 274 N Goodman St, +1 585-271-8990. If less traditional, more experimental/Western, sushi sounds interesting to you, pay a visit to this excellent sushi restaurant and bar. A special each day of the week; the best values for your buck are the Wednesday $20 all-you-can-eat and the Sunday 3-for-$12 deals. ( )
  • King and I, 1455 E Henrietta Rd, +1 585-427-8090. Located in Henrietta, a sprawling suburb that features mostly grimly terrible chain restaurants, this fantastic Thai spot features reasonable prices, lightning quick service (seriously, it's like they know what you're going to order before you get there) and food that always tastes uncannily fresh and yummy. The ambiance is not great, with a huge cavernous dining room and terrible, terrible art on the walls, but the food is consistently good and you can always get takeout. Make sure to try the Thai iced tea. No need to bother with reservations. Open for lunch and dinner.
  • Shiki, 1054 Clinton Ave S, +1 585-271-2090, [92]. Looks like nothing from the outside, an easily miss-able hole-in-the-wall place on South Clinton. But inside the tiny space is a little haven, authentically Japanese, with rice-paper screens and the most perfectly prepared sushi in Rochester. The only staff are the friendly Japanese owners who will offer lots of guidance if you ask.
  • Seoul Garden, 2805 W Henrietta Rd, +1 585-424-2220. Features extensive Korean menu -- Korean BBQ, scallion pancakes, spicy stews, etc. All meals come with lots of tasty extras, like fermented black beans and kimchee.
  • Abyssinia, 80 University Avenue, +1 585-262-3910. Tu-Su 12PM-9:30PM. The premier Ethiopian restaurant in Rochester and in the Grove Place district of town, Abyssinia has been open since 2000 and shows no signs of slowing down. Go for the combos, which are served injera (Ethiopian bread) or the clay pots of lamb or beef. (University of Rochester students get a 15% discount)
  • Dashen, 503 South Avenue, +1 585-232-2690. The other Ethiopian restaurant in Rochester, Dashen is located in the South Wedge. Most say it isn't as good as Abyssinia, but it is pretty cheap with hearty proportions. Every Saturday there is a DJ spinning African dance music. 11:30AM-10:30PM daily
  • The Little Bakery, 89 Charlotte Street, +1 585-232-4884 (fax: +1 585-232-8101), [93]. Located right behind the Little Theater and 2Vine, this fantastic bakery makes delicious breads and pastries. Check out their great to-go box lunches, all of which include a huge cookie. Lots of inventive and tasty choices for vegetarians.
  • Malek's, 1795 Monroe Ave., +1 585-461-1720. M-Th 6AM-6PM, Fri & Sun, 6AM-3PM. Located in the Twelve Corners area of Brighton, this Jewish (and Kosher) bakery makes European-style breads and pastries. They always have great challah, rye, pumpernickel, white and sour dough, and then each day of the week turn out specialty breads, like the not-to-be-missed chocolate babka (Thurs, Fri & Sun) and poppyseed danish (Thurs, Fri & Sun).
  • Philip's European, 26 Corporate Woods, +1 585-272-9910, [94]. The food is only ok, heavy, traditional French-- good for a business lunch or unadventurous out of town guests -- but the desserts are spectacular, with emphasis on pies, tortes, tarts, cakes and specialty cheesecakes. Examples include their Chocolate Tiramisu Torte and White Chocolate Carrot Cake. A full dessert menu is available in the restaurant, but the cakes can also be ordered whole and picked up. Lunch entrees $8-13, Dinner entrees $12-30. Desserts $6 or $55 for whole cakes.
  • Beale Street Cafe, 689 South Ave, +1 585 271-4650. Beale Street Cafe, while not Dino, is still a good place to grab a bite in the South Wedge if you are hungering for some BBQ. They serve New Orleans style food and is quite good. There is also usually a blues band playing on the weekend. In addition there is a good selection of beers at the front bar to go with the food.  edit
  • Dinosaur BarBQue, 99 Court St, +1 585 325-7090. Amazing Ribs, Chicken, and Black Beans and Rice among many other things. Expect to wait though! Average wait for a table is easily an hour, they don't take reservations, and unless your whole group is there you can't get on the list. They're a tad vigilant about it, but the place pushes so much business through they can afford to do so. The Dino is a must when in Rochester, if only for some of the sauce.  edit
  • Sticky Lips Pit BBQ, 625 Culver Rd (parking lot off Atlantic Ave), +1 585 288-1910, [95]. M Tu 11AM-9PM, W-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-9PM. Again, it's not Dino, but Sticky Lips has its own vibe and charm. Its sauce bottles are decorated with 1940s-style pinups, and the decor features advertisements and periodicals from the same era. The food is good, too, with a very wide variety of options and combos, and five different sauces to choose from. Best part: they're never as crowded as Dinosaur. $6-$20.  edit
  • Uncle Ralph's Steakout & BBQ, (various locations). Don't go looking for a storefront proudly signed as "Uncle Ralph's"—Ralph takes his show on the road to different establishments around the city. On Wednesday and Sunday, he's at the Comedy Club in Webster; Monday he's at Paddy's Irish Pub in Greece, and Nathaniel's Pub in the city hosts the Steakout on Thursdays. (Locations subject to change.) Wherever he's at, and whatever the weather, Uncle Ralph cooks up a variety of meat-based entrees on his outdoor grills. $13-$24.  edit
  • Jay's Diner, 2612 W. Henrietta Road (across the street from the Movies 10 budget cinema), +1 585-424-3710. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. A popular hangout with local college students, there's cheap food and it's always open. $5-$10 (10% discount with student ID).
  • Highland Park Diner, 960 South Clinton Avenue, +1 585-461-5040. Rochester's last classic diner. A 1948 Orleans diner restored in 1986 to an art deco style. Their motto is "real food, served real well at real prices". A neighborhood joint with very good food. Friendly, personal service (the owner himself often takes orders) and fantastic Sunday breakfast/brunch menu: berries & peaches stuffed French toast, tasty savory omelette's and a glorious eggs Benedict. Be sure to ask for "sweet cheese" on your waffles, pancakes & French toast.
  • Nick Tahou Hots, 2260 Lyell Ave, +1 585-429-6388. The original location on west main street is in a bad part of the city, but the Lyell Ave address of #2 is in a better area. Tahou's is the origin of Rochester's authentic cuisine, the garbage plate. For a few dollars, the plates come with your choice of meat, macaroni salad, home fries, onions and special sauce. The most common plate can be ordered by as quickly as possible saying "Cheeseburger plate, mac salad, home fries, everything!". For an authentic "Nick's" experience, visit the original at 320 W. Main St.
  • Mark's Texas Hots, 487 Monroe Avenue, +1 585-473-1563 This is where drunk college kids stumble off of Monroe Ave. to eat a garbage plate. The garbage plates from establishments that reside inside the city limits of Rochester have a decidedly more flavorful character than those in the suburbs. Mark's is the only diner I have ever been to with a bouncer. Go if only for the spectacle.
  • Vic & Irv's, 4880 Culver Road, +1 585-544-7680
  • Schaller's Drive-In, 559 Ridge Road East, +1 585-544-2097, 965 Edgemere Drive, +1 585-865-3319
  • Mykonos Cafe, 3423 Winton Place, +1 585-475-0040 (fax: +1 585-475-1487)
  • Mykonos Express, Mt. Hope Avenue south of Elmwood Ave.
  • Olive's Greek Taverna, Schoen Place, Pittsford, +1 585-381-3990. Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM. Located in Rochester's snootiest suburb, you wouldn't expect the best deal in Rochester, but this charming restaurant will give you the most bang for your buck. Authentic and carefully prepared, don't miss the huge mezede village platter (an appetizer that can be easily shared by two or more), gyros and well-spiced kebabs. Lots for vegetarians, and unbelievable sweet potato fries. Appetizers $5-10, sandwiches and entrees, $5-15. CASH ONLY Reservations only taken for 3 or more. On the weekends they're basically required, or you'll wait hours for a table.


Bars & clubs

There are several districts to party in around Rochester. They include the St. Paul Quarter, the East End (Area around Alexander St. and East Ave.), High Falls Entertainment district, and Monroe Ave. Even during the cold winter evenings, people can be seen on the street, hopping from one bar to the next.

Each district has an array of diverse bars, from trendy, to sports bars, to dive bars you can find a bar you will like in each area. Rochester is known for it wide selection of martinis and micro-brewed beers. Visit any mid-range to upscale bar/restaurant and they will probably have a great selection. Ask for their martini menu!

  • The Distillery, 1142 Mount Hope Avenue, +1 585-271-4105. Open M-Su. A sports bar and grill, this establishment is mostly notable for its specials. Before 10PM, there is a different draft beer on sale every day of the week. After 10PM, the beer sale ends, but all appetizers are half off. Naturally, the best time to arrive is 9:45PM. $3 draft/bottle beers, $6 well drinks.
  • The Old Toad [96], 277 Alexander St (next to several other bars), +1 585-232-2626 ( Open M-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 12PM-2AM, Su 5PM-2AM. Great English beer, poor English Food, friendly English staff. A unique atmosphere with reasonable prices, the Toad is an excellent place to get sloshed. $4 draft/bottle beers, $6 well drinks.
  • Lola, 630 Monroe Ave, Lola Bistro & Bar is a popular destination for happy hour and the pre-bar rush. Lola offers a full bar, a food-friendly wine selection, and an eclectic selection of appetizers, entrées, salads, soups, and sandwiches. [97]
  • Tapas 177, 177 St Paul St, [98]. Where the martinis are as big as the day is long.... so kick off your heels, and loosen your tie.
  • Table 7, 187 St Paul St, True lounge atmosphere with various music nightly.
  • Mex, 295 Alexander St, A Mexican restaurant and bar, known for its frozen drinks and Cinco de Mayo parties.
  • Venu, 151 St Paul St, [99]. Jazz lounge with an urban flair.
  • Pearl, Upper East End, East Ave. A retro contemporary lounge with nightly house music DJ's spinning.
  • Lux, 666 South Avenue, +1 585-232-9030. Lux is something of an alternative bar in Rochester and trades on being in the South Wedge to add cred to the atmosphere. Lots of tattoos and piercings and a good PBR special. The back yard is great. They have hammocks in the summer time and a huge wood burning stove for the winter. This place is something you would expect to find in Brooklyn not Rochester.
  • Monty's Corner, 360 East Ave, Rochester's "soccer friendly" sports bar. Large selection of single malt scotches and port wine, beer with an emphasis on Belgian drafts.
  • The Chocolate Bar/The Ale House, 355/359 East Ave, Two bars by the same owner with two different feels to them. One serves chocolate fondue, the other 12 beers on tap. College type bar for the 18-25 year old, usually always busy.
  • Soho/Daisy Dukes/Coyote Joe's/Bayou Billy's/Woody's/Cosmo Lounge/A-Pub Live/Vinyl, Upper East End, East Ave, [100]. 8 bars, all repetitive. College type bars with hints from the mid-west. All owned by the same owner. You will find the average fraternity guys, girls hoeing it up here. If you are aged 18-25 you will probably enjoy these bars, any older and you should probably avoid them.
  • Tilt Nightclub and Ultra Lounge, 444 Central Avenue, [101]. This place is the closest Rochester has to a NYC style club. Posh and dramatic the club spins dance/house music on one side with chill/down tempo beats on the other. The club is gay friendly, with Friday night being straight night.
  • Rohrbach Brewing Company, 3859 Buffalo Road, +1 585-594-9800. Although Rohrbach's is a bit out of the way their beer is worth the trip. Certainly the highlight is the Scotch Ale and if you don't want to travel all the way to the actual brewpub any number of establishments in the city will have it on tap including Frontier field. However, if there do try as many of the beers as possible as it is some of the best craft-brewing in upstate NY. You can get a sampler of 3 oz. glasses before you decide. The food is also quite good and leans toward German fare such as sauerbraten and bratwurst.
  • Starbucks, 680 Monroe Ave, 1930 Monroe Ave, 1380 Mount Hope Ave. Yes, we have a lot of them too. But some of you need their coffee, so this is where they are.
  • Spot Coffee, 200 East Ave (next to the Little Theatre). A trendy, popular hangout, people come here to relax and socialize while enjoying a cup or two of the brown brew. It's quite acceptable to spend hours here while only buying a single small cup of coffee; students do it all the time. The drinks cost about $2-$3, while light meals are available for around $5. Local art of various sorts is often marked for sale on the walls.
  • Java's Cafe, 16 Gibbs St (just down the street from Spot). Another downtown coffee shop, more popular with the art house crowd. Java's prices and products are similar to Spot. They also sell a variety of large homemade cookies in a variety of styles for about a dollar. At lunch time, an adjacent cafe-style restaurant serves for soup and sandwiches. Local art adorns the walls and local bands of questionable quality occasionally perform.
  • Boulder Coffee Company, 100 Alexander St. (intersection of Alexander and Clinton), +1 585-454-7140, [102]. An independently owned coffee shop with regular live music. Their webpage lists upcoming acts. Drinks and snacks are typical coffee shop prices. Free WiFi on the premises.
  • Starry Nites Cafe, 696 University Ave, +1 585-271-2630. A funky space named after Van Gogh's famous painting, located on University one block north of East, where all the museums are. Along with the required drinks, they make their own soup, salads and sandwiches. Free WiFi.
  • Equal=Grounds, 750 South Ave, (585) 242-7840‎. This coffee shop opened in May 5th 2006 and is fairly new to the South Wedge area. It has a great open minded atmosphere and has a GLBT gift shoppe. The coffee, smoothies, and pastries are temptations.  edit
  • Hyatt Regency Rochester, 125 East Main Street, +1 585 546 1234, [103]. Newly renovated. Twenty-five-story Downtown Hotel connected via enclosed walkway to Rochester Riverside Convention Center & Midtown shopping plaza.  edit
  • Comfort Suites of Rochester, Henrietta, +1 585 334-6620, [104]. 100% non-smoking studio suites. Indoor pool and spa, free Wi-Fi access, complimentary breakfast.  edit

Stay safe

Like any city, Rochester is generally very safe but there are areas that are more prone to crime than others. Potentially dangerous areas exist in some northeast and southwest city neighborhoods. However, there is nothing in these neighborhoods of any particular interest to non-residents so it is unlikely that the average visitor would encounter these areas. Use common sense and situational awareness and crime will not be a problem.

The suburban areas of Rochester generally enjoy a low crime rate.


Print media

The local daily newspaper is the Democrat and Chronicle [105]. 75 cents daily, $1.50 Sundays. On Thursdays, they publish a special section called Weekend with extensive entertainment listings for the next several days. The D&C also publishes a free weekly magazine, Insider, geared toward young adults.

The local alternative weekly is City Newspaper [106].

Broadcast media

When a blizzard arrives, or other significant news hits, Rochesterians turn en masse to radio station WHAM, 1180 AM. George Eastman himself came up with the catchy call letters for Rochester's 50,000-watt clear-channel station. It remains the local gold standard for school closings and other emergency information. In calmer times, WHAM runs a lineup of syndicated and local conservative talk programs, including Rush Limbaugh from 2PM-5PM.

For the morning drive-time, locals who want some strong radio with their coffee turn to WFXF, "The Fox", 95.1 FM, and listen to long-time radio personality Brother Wease, the outspoken morning host who doesn't shy away from the tough topics. Some of Wease's former colleagues from his many years at WCMF (96.5 FM) are still on their morning show, known as the Break Room. Those looking for less intense morning fare go with Beth and Chet on WHAM, or Tony Infantino on WRMM, Warm 101.3 FM.

WGMC, Jazz 90.1 FM, is one of the last remaining full-time jazz stations in the country, although on the weekends they mix in some ethnic flavor.

For specific genres of radio:

  • National Public Radio: WXXI 1370 AM
  • Classical: WXXI 91.5 FM
  • Jazz: WGMC 90.1 FM, WJZR 105.9 FM
  • Country: WBEE 92.5 FM
  • Easy listening: WRMM 101.3 FM
  • Oldies: WLGZ 102.7 FM
  • Classic rock: WFXF 95.1 FM, WCMF 96.5 FM
  • Modern rock: WZNE 94.1 FM
  • Top 40: WPXY 97.9 FM
  • Urban: WDKX 103.9 FM
  • College: WITR 89.7, WRUR 88.5 FM

Places of worship

If you're looking for a lively Protestant church in the heart of downtown, Bethel Community Fellowship on 321 East Avenue and Broad Street seats a good number. New Song Church, which meets in an auditorium at Monroe Community College because it lacks a building of its own, offers a very modern and youth-oriented service. Both of these churches are popular with college students.

A bit down the street from Bethel, you'll find a more traditional service at Asbury First United Methodist Church (1050 East Ave.), recognized for wonderful formal music.

Speaking of music, Pearce Memorial Church features many musicians from the Roberts Wesleyan College community. Take 490 way out west to the North Chili exit, and follow the signs right for Roberts Wesleyan.

Tucked almost in the heart of downtown, Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word is a cozy place 597 East Avenue. Walk across the street afterward for lunch at the Spot.

Over a dozen synagogues are available within a few miles of downtown, and they're worth passing just for the architecture. If your hotel is in Henrietta, check out Temple Beth Am on 3249 E. Henrietta Rd.

Rochester has at least two Messianic Congregations: Petah Tikvah on Doncaster and Shema Yisrael. If you follow 590 North up to the Webster exit, turn right at the first street. Shema Yisrael is on 1326 North Winton, with a quaint store selling Judaica and related books.

A few miles west of downtown, visible from 490, is an exhuberant Spanish congregation: Iglesia La Luz Del Mundo, 200 Child Street.

A popular Catholic Church, St. Pius X, is located on 3000 Chili Avenue, which is the western continuation of Main street (take the expressway to avoid lights; it's between the airport exit and Chili Center).

Get out

A nice day trip, Niagara Falls is an hour and a half by car to the west. There are also several nearby parks; Letchworth State Park, often called "The Grand Canyon of the East", is popular and only an hour drive away. Near Letchworth is Hemlock Lake, which is considerably quieter and less known. The lake has the added bonus of being free of admission and parking fees. Stony Brook Park is about an hour and a half south of the city.

Starting just south of the city are the various towns along the Finger Lakes, such as beautiful Canandaigua.

For onward travel, New York City and the scenic Adirondack mountains are both a six hour car trip to the east. Toronto, Canada is also close by and can be reached by a three hour drive.

Routes through Rochester
BuffaloClarence ← Merges into  W noframe E  → Merges into SyracuseAlbany
END  N noframe S  → Junction GeneseoCorning
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