Big-city culture and small-city charm combine in Rochester, 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 family-friendly 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, dance, and acting 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 Center, 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 Center", 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.
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 (email@example.com, fax: +1 585 232-4822), . 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.(43.15717,-77.60336)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. (42.999,-77.413)edit
Tourist Information Center, (at the Scottsville service area near Thruway exit 46 (eastbound)). May-Oct. (43.041,-77.715)edit
Downtown Information Center, 120 E Main St (corner of St Paul), ☎ +1 585 232-3420 (fax: +1 585 232-8365), . 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.(43.156737,-77.609074)edit
The Center at High Falls Visitor Center, 60 Browns Race, ☎ +1 585 325-2030 (fax: +1 585 325-2414), . 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 attraction listing below.(43.161180,-77.616625)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.
For deaf people, few cities in the world are as accommodating as Rochester. Most businesses, especially in Henrietta and Brighton, are accustomed to working with deaf customers and often have teletype machines and dedicated TTY phone numbers. Open-captioned films are regularly shown at the local multiplexes (in particular, at Regal Henrietta), and many major events will be interpreted. At RIT, nearly all events have both captioning and interpreters. Wherever the event is held, a quick phone call is often all that is needed to ensure the presence of an interpreter.
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 (IATA: ROC), 1200 Brooks Ave (I-390 to Exit 18B or I-490 to Exit 6; follow signs) is located just southwest of the city proper, 6 miles southwest of downtown. It is a very nice medium-sized airport, with three runways and two concourses. The airline with the most passengers is Delta, but most of the major domestic carriers and low-cost airlines have multiple daily scheduled flights between Rochester and their hubs. JetBlue sometimes offers very good deals flying to/from JFK in New York City. There are direct flights to and from Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Orlando, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Washington DC. Make sure you book your flight to Rochester, NY, not Rochester, MN.
To travel to/from the airport:
RTS Bus 2 ($1 for a single trip, $3 for a day pass) operates between the airport and the RTS bus hub downtown.
Taxis cost $3/mile; $10 minimum; $2.50/add'l passenger. Taxis can easily be hired at the airport.
Rental cars from all of the major agencies are obtainable at the airport.
Hotel shuttles are free from many of the hotels on the west or south sides of the city.
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. 104 also works if you're coming from the northwest—the northern part of the Niagara Frontier—but an alternative is 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
Amtrak operates from a station at 320 Central Ave (Inner Loop to N Clinton Ave, quick right onto Central), operating 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 in a seedy 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 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 and Trailways 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.
Megabus offers service to Rochester from Toronto, Buffalo, Syracuse, and New York City. Buses stop at the RIT Inn and Convention Center (5257 W Henrietta Rd) on the southwest side of the building near the back entrance. Closed top double decker buses. Free Wi-fi, and power outlets. Wheelchair accessable. Fares from $1 when reserved far in advance.
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.
Rochester and immediate suburbs. A map showing the Downtown area in detail appears below.
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 7AM–8:30AM and 4:30PM–6PM on weekdays.
Six major rental agencies have desks at the Greater Rochester International Airport: Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. 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.
Outside of downtown, any place you want to go will have its own parking lot of some sort. Downtown, you'll find a mix of dedicated lots, street parking, public lots, and parking garages. Most surface lots are $5/day or thereabouts, with higher prices near the Blue Cross Arena on game/concert nights. The garages are generally priced reasonably as well.
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 right 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.
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.
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. Outside of downtown, you shouldn't have any problem navigating the surface streets.
The area bus system is the Regional Transit Service (RTS), run by the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) . 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). The $1.00 fare is valid for an hour so you can change buses without paying again - however, you won't normally be given a ticket unless you ask for one, so let the driver know you plan to change.
Bus schedules are available online  and throughout the city, especially at transit hubs and information centers.
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, there are a number of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, including Park Avenue and the South Wedge, but they are not well connected to each other, or to downtown. 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, 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.
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.
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. Sometimes cabs charge additional for a pickup, or during inclement weather. Some drivers are open to negotiating a set rate for very short rides ahead of time. $10.00 minimum to and from the airport. Local limousine companies can provide more luxurious transportation for a somewhat higher fee.
Most boating in Rochester is exclusively recreational in nature, but you may find it a convenient way to travel between destinations.
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 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 three waterfalls are certainly worth a trip. For nature lovers, the most scenic of the city's parks is probably Highland Park, although Genesee Valley Park has more recreation options.
Rochester does have a good number of cultural attractions, though, especially for a city of its size. The most prominent of these is the Strong National Museum of Play, absolutely a can't-miss attraction if you have young kids with you. History buffs will want to stop by the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, a mecca for students of the women's rights movement. And fans of photography will be awe-struck by the collections at the George Eastman House.
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, . 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, . Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and other historical figures are buried in this beautiful Victorian cemetery. Also a great place for running. Guided tours are available periodically throughout the year; the Halloween tour is particularly popular.edit
Artisan Works, 565 Blossom Rd, . 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
Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, 70 Lighthouse St (Lake Ave to Latta Rd, go SE 400 ft, turn left before river), ☎ +1 585 621-6179, . May 1 - Nov 28, F-M 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.Adults $3; under 18 free. edit
Frederick Douglass Resource Center, 36 King St, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 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
Gallery r, 100 College Ave, (email@example.com), . W-Su 1PM-5PM. A small gallery (just moved to its new location) featuring the work of RIT students.Free. edit
George Eastman House (International Museum of Photography and Film), 900 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 271-3361 (fax: +1 585 271-3970), . 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
High Falls Visitor Center, 60 Browns Race, ☎ +1 585 325-2030 (fax: +1 585 325-2414), . W-F 11AM-5:30PM; Sa noon-5:30PM; Su 1PM-5PM. A small museum is attached to the Visitor's Center at High Falls. It's a great place to start your exploration of the neighborhood and the City. There are interactive exhibits as well as a fine art gallery.$2 donation ($1 children under 15) for exhibit area. (43.161180,-77.616625)edit
Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave, ☎ +1 585 276-8900, . 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  & New York Museum of Transportation , 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 Museum and Science Center, 657 East Ave (+1 585 271-4320), . 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 $12, seniors/students $11, children/teens $10, under 3 free. Admission plus a planetarium show: adults $17, students $13. edit
Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St Paul St (Rt 104 to Clinton Ave; follow signs for zoo), ☎ +1 585 336-7200, . 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
Stone-Tolan House Museum, 2370 East Ave, . Apr-Dec: F Sa noon-3PM; closed Jan-Mar. The oldest remaining building in Monroe County, parts of which were built as early as 1792. The house later served as a tavern for travelers along East Avenue; it's now been restored and serves as an excellent example of the era.Adults $5, children $5. edit
Strasenburgh Planetarium, 657 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 271-4320, . 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
The Strong - National Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Sq, ☎ +1 585 263-2700, . M-Th 10AM-5PM, F Sa 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. This downtown children's museum, the only one in the world 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 $13, seniors $12, children $11, under 2 free. Butterfly Garden $3. edit
Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, 17 Madison St, ☎ +1 585 235-6124, . 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
East Avenue. One should not miss a drive down historic East Ave; with the mansions of Rochester's past barons still mostly intact, 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.edit
Corn Hill, . Most famous for its annual Corn Hill Arts Festival, this area can be nice to walk around any time of the year. As Rochester's oldest residential neighborhood, there are lots of beautiful historic homes. Corn Hill Landing, on the river, has shops and restaurants.edit
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.edit
High Falls. The majestic High Falls of the Genesee are what attracted settlers to the area in the first place. A 96-foot (29 m) waterfall in the center of downtown is certainly a unique sight; viewing is best from the Pont de Rennes pedestrian bridge. But also take a walk around the old warehouses on the west bank between the bridge and the falls; this is the area known as "High Falls" and home to a very nice museum/visitor's center and some very old milling equipment.edit
Neighborhood of the Arts, . An eclectic neighborhood along University Avenue, near the Village Gate and the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Lots of public artwork (thanks to ArtWalk), some small shops and eateries, and beautiful Victorian homes. Very walkable.edit
Park Avenue. 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.edit
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.edit
You might sometimes catch residents complaining that there's not much to do around Rochester, but a little research reveals a wealth of opportunities, even during the long winters. Nearly everything is family-friendly, too; Rochester is consistently ranked one of the best cities in the world for visiting with kids. In addition to the many parks and museums, kids will have a great time at Seabreeze Amusement Park in Irondequoit, near the mouth of the bay (see listing, below).
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!
The flagship festival is, of course, the Lilac Festival, which has been drawing visitors from out of town to Highland Park for over a century. Newer, but no less popular, is the Rochester International Jazz Festival, which has quickly grown into one of the world's top music festivals. Less well-known outside of Rochester is the Park Ave Fest, but it epitomizes the local festival scene and shouldn't be missed if you're in town that weekend.
Among the suburban festivals, be sure to check out Fairport Canal Days 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.  It's about 45 minutes away, but it's worth the trip. It's open weekends from July through mid-August every year.
There are many cultural festivals around the city and the local areas, including Greek and Turkish Festivals.
360 | 365 Film Festival (formerly Rochester High Falls International Film Festival), . May 2013. 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 the spring. Most of the films are shown at the historic Little Theatre on East Avenue, but other venues get into the act as well. On hiatus for 2012.Admission prices vary. edit
Imagine RIT, Lomb Memorial Dr, Henrietta (Jefferson Rd (Rt 252) to RIT campus), . First Sa in May (5 May 2012) 10AM-5PM. 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), (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Mid-May (11-20 May 2011). 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! Free. edit
Zoo Brew, Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St Paul St (Rt 104 to Clinton Ave; follow signs for zoo), ☎ +1 585 336-7200, . 5:30PM-9PM 27 May 2011 (also 24 Jun, 22 Jul, 12 Aug, 9 Sep). Enjoy live music, drink beer and wine, socialize, and enjoy other activities among the animals of the zoo. Ages 21 and up only.$8. edit
Roc City Rib Fest, Ontario Beach Park, ☎ 1-888-ROC-BBQ8, . Late May. An annual BBQ competition with plenty of music and kids activities surrounding it. Lots of food available, too (most of it barbecued or grilled), although you won't be sampling the competition dishes.$5/day, $10/weekend; under 12 free. Food extra. edit
Maplewood Rose Celebration, Driving Park Ave at Lake Ave, ☎ +1 585 428-5990, . mid-Jun. 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 International Jazz Festival, . late Jun (22-30 Jun 2012). 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
Taste of Rochester, Main St Bridge, . late Jun 2012. Sample the best of what Rochester's unique restaurants have to offer, right on the Main Street Bridge over the river. The 2011 event was canceled, but they plan to be back in 2012.Free admission. edit
Rochester Harbor and Carousel Festival, Lake Ave at Beach Ave (Ontario Beach State Park), ☎ +1 585 865-3320, . late Jun. 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
Corn Hill Arts Festival, ☎ +1 585 262-3142, . Early Jul (9-10 Jul 2010). 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
Main Game, W Main St, ☎ +1 585 428-5990. one Sat in Jul, 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
WALL/THERAPY, . Mid Jul (18-29 Jul 2014). WALL/THERAPY is a public community-level intervention using mural art as a vehicle to address our collective need for inspiration. Since 2011, WALL/THERAPY has put up beautiful street art throughout Rochester. Use Graffmap on your smartphone to discover these beautiful murals in person. Free. edit
Monroe County Fair, Northampton Park, Ogden, NY (Route 490 to Route 531 West, exit at last exit (Brockport), and turn left on to Route 36, make first right on to Colby Street, go 1 mile.), (email@example.com), . Early August (Aug 1-4, 2013). Rochester is a city well-connected with its rural outskirts, so agricultural exhibits remain the centerpiece of the fair. There are also tractor pulls, rides, live music, hands-on activities, and other events. All of the surrounding counties have their own fairs, too, throughout late summer.Regular $7; 12 & under free; Seniors $6; free parking; rides extra. edit
Park Ave Summer Arts Fest, . Early Aug (6-7 Aug 2010): Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. 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. mid Aug. 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
Clothesline Festival, Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave, ☎ +1 585 276-8900, . Mid-Sep (8-9 Sep 2012). 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
Greentopia, High Falls, . 10-16 Sep 2012. In 2011, the promoters of a plan to "green" Rochester's Pont du Rennes pedestrian bridge near High Falls added to the city's crowded festival calendar with this event dedicated to environmental issues. The inaugural two=day event attracted four times the expected crowd, so it's been expanded to a full week for 2012. There will be a film festival, a concert series, and all sorts of exhibits.edit
First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival, (East End), . 18-23 Sep 2012. Organizers of this new festival hope to attract 15,000 attendees to a wide-ranging slate of artistic performances, from theater to dance and music. It's the first Fringe Festival in Upstate New York, with events at venues throughout the East End.edit
Irondequoit Oktoberfest, Camp Eastman, 1301 Lake Shore Blvd, Irondequoit (Culver Rd north to Durand-Eastman Park), ☎ +1 585 336-6070, . Two weekends, late Sep. 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. Early Oct. 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, . Ten days, early to mid-Oct. 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, . 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, and many local hotels offer packages and special deals. 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) (Info@RedWingsBaseball.com, fax: +1 585 454-1056), . 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 $6 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, spicy popcorn chicken, or sweet and savory crepes.$7.50-11.50. edit
Rochester Americans (hockey), 1 War Memorial Sq (W Broad at Exchange Blvd), ☎ +1 855 GO-AMERKS (462-6375) (fax: +1 585 454-3954), . Oct-Apr. Known fondly as the "Amerks", Rochester's storied hockey team is the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. 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 are working to overcome recent struggles, but hockey night in Rochester is still a fun time.$11-18. edit
Rochester Rhinos (soccer), 460 Oak St (W Broad St past Frontier Field), ☎ +1 585 454-5425, . Apr-Oct. The Rhinos are in the USL Pro League, a second- or third-tier soccer league in the U.S. They have a relatively new soccer-specific facility currently known as Sahlen's Stadium less than a mile northwest of Frontier Field, and there's not a bad seat in the house. Food options are not quite as good as at the baseball stadium, but the selection is focused on local favorites like Bill Gray's cheeseburgers, Abbott's frozen custard, and Red Osier roast beef.$10-20. edit
Rochester Knighthawks (lacrosse), 1 War Memorial Sq (W Broad at Exchange Blvd), ☎ +1 585 454-HAWK (fax: +1 585 454-3954), . 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 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 Rattlers (lacrosse), 460 Oak St (W Broad St past Frontier Field), . May-Aug. The Rattlers are back after a two-year hiatus and playing top-level outdoor lacrosse at Sahlen's Stadium.$20-25. edit
Rochester Razorsharks (basketball), 1 War Memorial Sq (W Broad at Exchange Blvd), ☎ +1 585 232-9190 (fax: +1 585 232-8086), . Jan-Apr. The Razorsharks, in the Premier Basketball League, are the latest in a long line of successful basketball teams in Rochester. With four championships in just six seasons, they're one of the top minor-league teams in the country.$5-25. edit
Western New York Flash (soccer), 460 Oak St (W Broad St past Frontier Field), . Apr-Aug. National Women's Soccer League team, most notably featuring hometown hero and longtime US women's national team star Abby Wambach, the leading goal scorer in international soccer history (for women or men), along with several other international-caliber players.$13-25. edit
RIT Tigers (hockey), 51 Lomb Memorial Dr, Henrietta (RIT campus on Rt 252), ☎ +1 585 475-4121, . 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 five years at the top level, including a Frozen Four appearance. 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
Wegmans LPGA Championship (golf), 2000 Jefferson Rd, Pittsford/Henrietta (Locust Hill Country Club: Rt 252 between Winton and Clover), ☎ +1 585 427-7100 (fax: +1 585 427-7029), . Early Jun (4-10 Jun 2012). 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 always turned out in droves for this event, making it a favorite stop for the players; this support was rewarded in 2010 by substituting the LPGA Championship major tournament for the annual tour stop. That promotion will continue into 2011 and perhaps beyond.$35 daily; $95-$135 weekly. edit
Buffalo Bills Training Camp (football), 3690 East Ave, Pittsford (St. John Fisher College: Rt. 96 or I-490 to Rt. 31F), ☎ 1-877-BB-TICKS, . Late Jul - late Aug. The closest the Rochester area gets to major-league team sports is the Bills' annual summer training camp, held since 2000 in northern Pittsford. There's lots to do besides just watch practices, too; you can participate in interactive games, peruse the merchandise, or try to get some autographs. You can get a lot closer to the players here than at the stadium in Buffalo!Free (parking shuttle $1). edit
As befits the home of Eastman Kodak, Rochester is a major destination for film buffs. It's no New York or Los Angeles, but no other mid-sized city can compare. The centerpiece of the film festival schedule is the 360|365 George Eastman House Film Festival (see Festivals, above), but there are also GLBT, Jewish, Polish, and short-film festivals.
Rochester is also home to several charming cinemas, where the atmosphere is almost as important as the films.
Cinema Theatre, 957 S Clinton Ave, ☎ +1 585 271-1785, . Rochester's oldest neighborhood movie theater. Always a double feature (both second-run), with a 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.$3-5. edit
Cinemark Movies 10, 2613 W Henrietta Rd, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 292-0303, . Second-run theater showing mostly mainstream Hollywood films for a very low price.$0.50-$2.25. edit
Dryden Theatre, 900 East Ave (at the George Eastman House), ☎ +1 585 271-3361, . 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.edit
The Little Theatre, 240 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 232-3906, . Run by a not-for-profit corporation, the historic 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.$7 ($5 weekend matinées). edit
UR Cinema Group, (University of Rochester, Hoyt Hall), ☎ +1 585 275-5911, . The University of Rochester'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. Movies of every conceivable genre are shown throughout the year, including pornography.Th Free; F Sa $3. edit
The prominence of the Eastman School of Music means that some of the world's best musicians have passed through Rochester during their school years, and many have stuck around to enrich the city's cultural life.
Auditorium Theatre (Rochester Broadway Theatre League), 885 E Main St, ☎ +1 585 222-5000 (Info@rbtl.org), . The Auditorium Theatre is Rochester's Broadway roadhouse; the Rochester Broadway Theatre League brings to town several touring productions each year. The theater is aging and acoustically imperfect, but it's been kept up as well as can be expected, and it's the only area theater with the space to put on the big shows. Other concerts and performances dot the schedule throughout the year; see the web site for upcoming events.edit
Blackfriars Theatre, 795 E Main St, ☎ +1 585 454-1260, . 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.edit
Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, 20 Windsor St, ☎ +1 585 325-4370, . A tiny theatre with seating just a few feet from the stage; great for a small group outing or a date. It's best to call beforehand to buy tickets and get directions, as some productions are housed in one of their three other locations. Their newest space is a relatively enormous 250-seat venue in Brighton (3450 Winton Pl).edit
Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St (at East Main), ☎ +1 585 274-1100 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . The newly renovated Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre is the best place to catch the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (see below), one of the best mid-sized city orchestras in the country. It's by far the best large performance space in Rochester, with the expected variety of events going on all year.edit
Garth Fagan Dance, office: 50 Chestnut St, ☎ +1 585 454-3260 (fax: +1 585 454-6191), . The Tony-award winning choreographer Garth Fagan has his own dance troupe in Rochester, his adopted hometown. When they're not touring the country, they put on a variety of performances around the city. Truly world-class dancers provide a show you can't match in any other city this size.edit
Geva Theatre, 75 Woodbury Blvd, ☎ +1 585 232-1366, . Geva, the city's premiere local theater company, hosts a variety of productions on its two stages, housed in a converted armory! Most popular are its Christmas productions, which alternate between A Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story. Discounts are available for students and seniors.edit
Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 N. Plymouth Ave., ☎ +1 585 454-4596 (email@example.com), . Hochstein Performance Hall is part of Hochstein School of Music & Dance, which has served as a community center for Greater Rochester since 1920. Located in the heart of the city, the 857-seat elegantly renovated Performance Hall offers free recitals and performances regularly, including the long-running "Live from Hochstein" Broadcast and Concert Series. edit
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St (adj. to Eastman Theatre), . Kilbourn is one of the finest small concert halls in the world, and it serves as the primary performance space for Eastman School of Music students. As such, audiences are in for a treat, in the form of free recitals and concerts throughout the year, as elite music students exhibit their talents on stage.edit
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, 108 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 454-2100, . One of George Eastman's greatest legacies, the Rochester Philharmonic is an outstanding orchestra, especially for a city the size of Rochester. The RPO's main performance space is the Eastman Theatre (see above), but they get around town to other venues, especially in the summer. Pops conductor Jeff Tyzik, once Doc Severinsen's arranger for the Tonight Show Band, has taught the RPO to swing like few other professional orchestras can, but their classical chops are equally noteworthy.$20-$75 for most formal concerts, less (or even free) for casual concerts. edit
Water Street Music Hall, 204 N Water St, ☎ +1 585 546-3887, . A wide variety of live music several nights out of the week. There is also a reasonably priced bar inside.edit
Several of the city's bars and clubs also present live music frequently. Of particular note in this respect are The Bug Jar and the Montage Grill. See Drink, below.
For whatever reason, golf is very popular in Rochester. That's reflected not just in the world-class Oak Hill Country Club, host to numerous national and international tournaments over the years, and in the always-fantastic turnout at the yearly Wegmans LPGA tournament, but in the number of high-quality public and semi-public golf courses. Most of them are in the rural suburbs, of course, but there are a few close in to the city:
Durand-Eastman Golf Club, 1200 N Kings Hwy, Irondequoit (in Durand-Eastman Park), ☎ +1 585 266-0110, . edit
Genesee Valley Golf Club, 1000 East River Rd (in Genesee Valley Park), ☎ +1 585 424-2920. edit
Lake Shore Country Club, 1165 Greenleaf Rd, ☎ +1 585 663-9100, . edit
For a city with so many waterways, it's surprising that waterfront activities are so far down the list for most visitors. True, neither the river nor the canal is suitable for swimming (and the lake only barely so), but boating can be a great way to spend an afternoon.
There are two beaches in the city proper:
Durand-Eastman Park, . Apr-Oct: 7AM-11PM; Nov-Mar: M-Th 7AM-4PM, F-Su 7AM-11PM. George Eastman and Dr. Henry Durand donated their summer-cottage lakefront properties to the city in 1909, and the park is now a popular summer getaway for everyone. Its beach is open for swimming during the summer, and it's less often closed due to water conditions than Ontario Beach. Also has a golf course and other standard park amenities.edit
Ontario Beach Park, 4650 Lake Ave (Lake Ontario State Parkway or Route 104 to Lake Ave, north to the lake). Located at the northernmost reaches of the city, Ontario Beach is the most popular beach area in Rochester. Unfortunately, there's a persistent algae problem that lends a unique scent to the area and closes the beach to swimming fairly frequently. When conditions allow, swimming is open 11AM-7PM daily during the summer. If you can't go in the water, though, there are other things to do; in particular, the 1905 Dentzel carousel should not be missed.edit
Boats can be launched at the Port of Rochester where the river empties into the lake; on Irondequoit Bay; or along the canal in many surrounding suburbs like Pittsford and Fairport.
If you don't have your own boat, there are a couple of nice cruises available, including the Sam Patch  replica packet boat in Pittsford. For boats departing from the city:
Harbor Town Belle, 1000 N River St, ☎ +1-800-836-8930, . daily 12PM, 3PM, 6PM. This 80-foot paddlewheeler recalls the heyday of the Mississippi riverboats. It docks at the Port of Rochester and cruises both up the river and out onto the lake. Lunch and dinner cruises available, including specialty packages. Fall foliage cruise in October.Adults $12, under 10 $6. edit
Mary Jemison River Boat, office: 12 Schoen Pl, Pittsford (departs Corn Hill Landing, 301 Exchange Blvd), ☎ +1 585 262-5661, . early May - late Oct. The Mary Jemison, run by Corn Hill Navigation, departs from and returns to Corn Hill Landing, just south of downtown. It takes a 90-minute cruise up the river to the canal and back, with historical information provided by an on-board narrator. Lunch and dinner cruises available.edit
Three major (albeit under-improvement) multi-use trails pass through the Rochester area, and they all meet up inside Genesee Valley Park.
Genesee Riverway Trail, . This not-quite-completed trail runs along the river, north from the canal, through downtown, and all the way to the lake. You'll get a good look at the gorge along the northern section, and it can be a nice way to get downtown if your legs (and shoes) are up to the task. One highlight is the wide boardwalk over the Turning Point basin a couple of miles south of the lake.edit
Erie Canalway Trail, . 6AM-9PM daily. This trail, which will eventually stretch across the state, is being created from the former Erie Canal towpath, where the mules would walk to tow the barges along. 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.Free. edit
Genesee Valley Greenway, . 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.edit
Aside from the trails, there's not much hiking to do without heading for the suburban parks, though Cobb's Hill Park might tide you over:
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.edit
Winter sports are not as popular in Rochester as one might think given the climate, but there are plenty of opportunities. The nearest downhill ski resort is Bristol Mountain, north of Naples in Ontario County; it's a popular day trip for Rochesterians.
Several ice rinks around Rochester offer public skating sessions, in particular Ritter Arena on the RIT campus and the Webster Ice Arena in Webster.
Rock Ventures, 1044 University Ave, ☎ +1 585 442-5462, . 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
Seabreeze Amusement Park, 4600 Culver Road, Irondequoit, . Late May - mid-Sep. 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. The fourth-oldest amusement park in America. Don't miss the historic Jack Rabbit roller coaster, the fourth-oldest operating coaster in the world.$25. Free parking. edit
The great, great House of Guitars (the basement, at least)
Shopping around Rochester is dominated by the major suburban commercial strips: Route 104 (Ridge Road) in Greece, and Route 252 (Jefferson Road) in Henrietta. You'll also find major big-box retailers along Route 104 in Irondequoit and Webster, Route 31 (Monroe Ave) in Brighton and Pittsford, and Route 96 in Victor. The three area indoor shopping malls are The Mall at Greece Ridge in Greece, The Marketplace in Henrietta, and Eastview Mall in Victor. Pittsford Plaza is an upscale and very large strip mall on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford.
Within the city proper, you won't find many large chains, but rather a wide array of independent shops and boutiques. Park Avenue is a particularly rich location for such shops, as well as great dining options. You'll also find quaint shopping districts in Charlotte near the harbor, along Exchange Boulevard on the east side of Corn Hill, and all along Monroe Avenue.
One unique space you won't want to miss is Village Gate Square on North Goodman Street between University Avenue and East Main Street, part of the "Neighborhood of the Arts". It doesn't look like much from the outside, but on the inside it's an old industrial space filled with small independent retail shops and eclectic restaurants. The upper floor also houses space for artists' workshops, so it's almost like a free art gallery up there. Among the many shops on the lower floor:
Comics Etc., 274 N Goodman St (Village Gate), ☎ +1 585 473-7150, . M noon-6PM, Tu Sa 11AM-6PM, W F 11AM-6:30PM, Th 11AM-7:30PM, Su noon-5PM. There are a few good comic shops in Rochester, but Comics Etc. has long been one of the best.edit
OUTlandish Videos and Gifts, 274 N Goodman St (Village Gate), ☎ +1 585 760-8383 (Outlandish@frontiernet.net), . M-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su noon-5PM. GLBT items of every sort from T-shirts and greeting cards to leather and fetish wear. They sell GLBT-themed videos, too, both mainstream films and more "adult" fare.edit
Yankee Peddler Book Shop, 274 N Goodman St (Village Gate), ☎ +1 585 271-5080. M-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Over 25,000 antique and other used books. Stacks upon stacks of paper-based reading material. You never know what you'll find.edit
Some other places of note for shoppers:
Rochester Public Market, 280 N Union St, ☎ +1 585 428-6907, . Tu Th 6AM-1PM, Sa 5AM-3PM. Established in 1905, the public market features over 300 stalls where independent sellers ply their wares, from cheap locally grown produce to handmade crafts and other curiosities. Great fun to just walk around, but good luck getting out without buying anything. Open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays.edit
Archimage, 668 Monroe Ave, ☎ +1 585 271-2789. 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
The Bop Shop, 1460 Monroe Ave, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 271-3354 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Tu-Sa 11AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. The legendary Bop Shop just moved from the Village Gate to a larger location on Monroe Avenue. The shop is still crammed to overflowing with vinyl records, cassette tapes, and compact discs covering every era and every style. True music-lovers can spend hours pawing through the racks and uncovering treasure after treasure—albums they either never knew existed, or haven't seen in decades. The staff are all highly knowledgeable collectors and they love to talk music with customers. Often hosts jazz concerts; see web site for schedule.$0.50-$20 and up. edit
Craft Company No. 6, 785 University Ave, . Housed in a converted firehouse, this is probably one of the most unique stores you will ever go to. Everything is handmade and for sale. Very artsy and not mass marketed.edit
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.edit
House of Guitars, 645 Titus Ave, Irondequoit, ☎ +1 585 544-3500, . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 1PM-5PM. The "Great, Great House of Guitars" 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, "Weird Al", etc.) go out of their way to come to this store, because of the selection and the knowledgeable, well-connected staff.edit
Lori's Natural Foods, 900 Jefferson Rd, Henrietta (in the Genesee Valley Regional Marketplace), ☎ +1 585 424-2323, . M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 10AM-6PM. An organic and natural-food superstore; incredible selection and very good service.edit
Parkleigh, 215 Park Ave, ☎ +1-800-333-0627 (email@example.com, fax: +1 585 244-7773), . M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-5PM. The most typically Park Avenue of all the Park Avenue stores, Parkleigh is a gift shop par excellence. One of the oldest retailers of MacKenzie-Childs ceramics, they also specialize in gourmet coffee and tea.edit
Record Archive, 33 1/3 Rockwood St, ☎ +1 585 244-1210, . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 12PM-5PM. A Rochester icon with probably the biggest selection of used vinyl records in the city. Doesn't have a great selection of newer records but will wow you with its extensive collection of used records The Record Archive also hosts many concerts on a stage located in the middle of its spacious warehouse.edit
Simply New York, 4364 Culver Rd, Irondequoit (Sea Breeze Dr to Durand Blvd, W to Culver, turn right), ☎ +1 585 413-0895, . Tu-Sa 10AM-7PM. This new boutique sells nothing that was not manufactured or assembled in the state of New York. You'll find foodstuffs of all kinds, of course, but also fine silverware, musical instruments, backpacks, and licensed puzzles and games from Buffalo Games. A great place to go to get gifts and souvenirs, or even just for your regular shopping.edit
While the usual generic liquor stores abound, there are specialty shops that are worth a second look:
Beers of the World, 2599 East Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14623, ☎ +1 (585) 334-0034 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 585 427-0524), . Mon-Wed 10am–7pm Thu-Fri 10am–9pm Sat 9am–8pm Sun 11am–4pm. A huge selection of both macro and micro brews from all over the world, plus home-brewing 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!edit
Century Liquor and Wines, 3349 Monroe Ave, Pittsford (Pittsford Plaza), ☎ +1 585 248-0931, . M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. In the highly regarded Pittsford Plaza, Century Liquor has a very large selection of wine and liquor, 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.edit
East Ave Liquor and Wine, 1667 East Ave (Across the street from Wegmans), ☎ +1 585 271-5119. M-Sa 8:30AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. Wide selection of imported, domestic and New York wines and very helpful staff. Off-street parking.(43.1467,-77.5599)edit
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.edit
Black Button Distilling, 85 Railroad Street (Rochester Public Market), ☎ +1 585 730-4512 (email@example.com), . Tuesday-Friday 12-6pm (6-8pm with reservation), Saturday 9am-4pm, Sunday 12-4pm. Rochester's first craft distillery since prohibition located at the public market. Stop in for a tasting of our vodka, gin and moonshine. Tours run on the weekends, every hour on the hour.edit
There are several bookstores on Monroe Ave and East Ave which sell new, used, and rare books.
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 nearly every other burger joint and diner 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.
Of course, if you do want mouth-scalding sauce, Buffalo-style chicken wings are almost as popular here as they are in Buffalo. Most any bar, bar-like establishment, or pizza joint will have "wings" on their menu (no need to specify "Buffalo wings"; it's assumed). Everyone has a favorite location for wings, but Jeremiah's Tavern has some awards to back up their claim, and Buffalo's own Anchor Bar (where the Buffalo wing was invented) now has a location here in Rochester.
If you're looking for something a little more traditional, Rochester's beaches spawned a great set of local burger joints (most of which don't call them burgers; they're "ground steak sandwiches"). The two big local chains are Bill Gray's, with their flagship location at Seabreeze, and Tom Wahl's, which started south of the city in Avon. Tom Wahl's is famous for their root beer floats and homemade ice cream, while Bill Gray's has incorporated Abbott's Frozen Custard into several of their locations. Both have great burgers and classic old-time atmospheres.
Speaking of Abbott's, it's the place to go for ice cream—only it's not ice cream; it's frozen custard, which is richer and creamier than regular ice cream. With about thirty locations around Rochester, you have no excuse not to drop in and try some.
DiBella's is a chain of local sub shops that locals swear by, despite inroads from Quizno's and Subway. DiBella's restaurants have a classic 1950s atmosphere, with lots of neon, chrome, and checkerboard patterns. The sub rolls are made fresh in-house each morning, and they're solid and big enough to hold all the toppings you could want. The "Godfather" and "Dagwood" subs are quite popular. You can order them hot; it takes a few minutes, but it's well worth it. Don't forget to pick up one of Grandma DiBella's chocolate chip cookies; they're also baked fresh in-house and have almost as many fans as the subs do.
For pizza, everyone has a different favorite. The local style is somewhere between New York thin-crust and Chicago deep-dish–not surprising considering Rochester's location. The oldest local chain, dating from 1947, is Pontillo's, but quality varies widely from location to location. The best Pontillo's pizzas are truly outstanding, but the worst are truly bad. More consistent quality can be found at another local chain, Salvatore's. Mark's Pizzeria is also popular, and Cam's is expanding and popular with college students.
It's not just pizza, either. Rochesterians love all sorts of Italian food; it seems like around every corner is another favorite neighborhood Italian-American restaurant, at least in the suburbs. You'll also find a lot of places owned by Greeks, from greasy spoons like Nick Tahou's to classy family restaurants, although they usually toss in plenty of Italian and traditional American entrees as well. 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.
All this focus on the lower end of the dining spectrum shouldn't obscure the upscale dining available, mostly in the downtown area. The options are neither as exclusive nor as pretentious as those in other, bigger cities like New York, but that doesn't mean you won't want reservations, and you will want to dress up a bit.
Finally, no trip to Rochester is complete without stopping in to a local Wegmans supermarket. No joke: residents frequently take their out-of-town guests to Wegmans, not necessarily to buy anything, but just to see the place. "Wait," the guests say, "you're taking us to a grocery store?" But Wegmans is something special, and Rochesterians are justifiably proud of their hometown grocer. Customer service is paramount at Wegmans, consistently ranked one of the best companies to work for in the U.S. The stores are attractive, clean, well-stocked, and open 24 hours a day. They also each feature an amazing "Market Cafe", where a wide variety of prepared foods are available for purchase (eat-in or carry-out), all made in-store from Wegmans-branded grocery items. Don't miss the very good subs; Wegmans' sub shops were modeled after DiBella's and rival Rochester's favorite sub shop in quality.
There's only one Wegmans left in the city proper, but the suburbs are loaded with them. The flagship location is on Monroe Avenue adjacent to Pittsford Plaza.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
up to $10
Rochester's cheapest options are epitomized by the burger joints that sprung up along the lake shore in the middle of the 20th century—Bill Gray's, Vic & Irv's, and Don's Original at Sea Breeze near Irondequoit Bay; and Schallers west of the river. The greasy spoons like Tahou's are also easy on your wallet (if not your arteries).
Anchor Sports Bar and Grill, 270 Miracle Mile Dr, Henrietta (Marketplace Mall), ☎ +1 585 272-9333, . 11AM-2AM. The original Anchor Bar in Buffalo is famous for inventing the Buffalo chicken wing, and they're now making their mark on the Rochester's wing scene. More restaurant-y than the now-closed downtown location, with a more family-friendly atmosphere and, hopefully, more staying power.$8-13. edit
Bill Gray's, . Su-Th 10:30AM-9PM, F Sa 10:30AM-10PM; Jun 21 - Labor Day: daily 10:30AM-10PM. The largest local burger chain may also be the best, with a wide-ranging menu of burgers, hots, wings, and "plates". With eight locations in and around the city, and four more in the outer suburbs, you won't have to go far to find one. In a delicious local partnership, several locations have Abbott's Frozen Custard stands right inside, and most have a game room as well.$3-$12. edit
4870 Culver Rd, Irondequoit (on Hot Dog Row), ☎ +1 585 266-7820. Su-Th 10:30AM-9PM, F Sa 10:30AM-10PM; closes 1 hr later Jun 21 - Labor Day. The original location, at Sea Breeze.
Bill Gray's at the Skyliner Diner, 1 Manhattan Sq (inside Strong Museum), ☎ +1 585 232-5284. M-Th Sa 10AM-5PM, F 10AM-8PM, Su 11:30AM-5PM. This location is housed in a tiny 1950s-type diner, long and narrow like a train car. The diner, which used to be known as the Skyliner Diner, is in turn located in the lobby of the Strong National Museum of Play. No museum admission is needed to get to the restaurant (or to the carousel, for that matter!).edit
3240 Chili Ave, Chili, ☎ +1 585 889-8260.
2987 Buffalo Rd, Gates, ☎ +1 585 247-3940.
2050 Latta Rd, Greece, ☎ +1 585 663-7320.
1225 Jefferson Rd, Henrietta, ☎ +1 585 424-2350. Biggest location, including a large game room.
869 East Ridge Rd, Irondequoit, ☎ +1 585 342-9070.
Campi's, 205 Scottsville Rd (Just north of I-390 exit 17), ☎ 235-7205. Su noon-9PM, M-W 11AM-10PM, Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. This tiny joint northeast of the airport is no longer Rochester's best-kept-secret; Adam Richman's Man vs. Food Nation recently featured Campi's signature dish, the massive Steak Bomber. Take a huge pile of sliced chuck, top it with carmelized onions and other veggies, add Rochester's meaty hot sauce, and put it all on a 12-inch-diameter toasted roll.edit
Don's Original, 4900 Culver Rd, Irondequoit (on Hot Dog Row), ☎ +1 585 323-1177, . One of the three burger joints on Hot Dog Row in the Seabreeze neighborhood. Motto: "Where Quality Predominates".$3-10. edit
2545 Monroe Ave, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 244-2080.
One other location in Penfield at Lloyd's Corners.
Cobbs Hill Pizza and Pasta, 630 Park Ave, ☎ +1 585 442-6730. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11:30AM-9PM. Don't go looking for this joint at Cobbs Hill; it long ago moved north to Park Ave, where it sits in a tiny retail plaza. The New York-style pizza is actually only so-so, but what really distinguishes Cobbs Hill is the extensive menu; for such a small place, they'll cook up just about anything you can think of, as long as it's vaguely Italian or American. Subs, wings, and some very good pasta are all on the menu. Great neighborhood joint.edit
DiBella's Old-Fashioned Submarines, . daily 10AM-9PM. The best subs in Rochester, hands down. It's the rolls, freshly baked in-house, that do it. Red Osier roast beef and other high-quality toppings put Subway to shame. The cookies are also among the best in town.$4-$8. edit
DiBella's Italian Market, 620 Jefferson Rd, Henrietta. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-7PM. This new flagship location includes soups and salads in addition to the usual subs, chips, and cookies.edit
1876 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 473-1118. M-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-9PM.
1900 S Clinton Ave, Brighton (Tops Brighton Plaza), ☎ +1 585 256-2060.
Jay's Diner, 2612 W Henrietta Rd, Brighton (across from Movies 10), ☎ +1 585 424-3710, . Daily 24 hours. A popular hangout with local college students, there's cheap food and it's always open.$5-$10 (10% discount with student ID). edit
Malek's Bakery, 1795 Monroe Ave, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 461-1720. M-Th 6AM-6PM, F Su 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 (Th F Su) and poppyseed danish (Th F Su).$1-$6. edit
Mark's Texas Hots, 487 Monroe Ave, ☎ +1 585-473-1563. Daily 24 hours. 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 you might ever visit that has a bouncer. Go if only for the spectacle.$4-$14. edit
Nick Tahou Hots, 320 W. Main St, ☎ +1 585 436-0184, . M-Sa 8AM-8PM. 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!".$3-$9. edit
3070 W Henrietta Rd, Henrietta. New location in the suburbs; expect it to be packed with RIT students late at night.
Red Osier Metro Cafe, 39 W Main St (in the County Office Building), ☎ +1 585 413-0151 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 585 413-1159), . M-F 7AM-3PM. Red Osier is best known for their Landmark Restaurant in Genesee County, which serves amazing prime rib. But their catering division, which focuses on hot prime rib sandwiches, has been expanding in recent years (you can find them at Frontier Field and Sahlen's Stadium, for instance). Their latest venture is this sandwich shop in the middle of downtown. The prime rib is as juicy and tasty as you'll find anywhere, but they've also got Zweigle's hot dogs, pizza, wings, and specialty sandwiches, all made fresh daily. You can put Dinosaur BBQ sauce on your beef, or try the beef-on-weck pizza (when available).$3-9. edit
Salvatore's Old-Fashioned Pizzeria, . This chain, founded by local legend Salvatore "Soccer Sam" Fantauzzo, advertises that they "deliver everything... but babies!" But primarily, they deliver pizza, some of the most popular pizza around town. With 22 locations in Rochester and its suburbs, you won't have to go far to find one.$3-$10. edit
1985 E Main St, ☎ +1 585 288-4570. Su noon-10:05PM, M-Th 10:05AM-10:05PM, F Sa 10AM-12:05AM. The original Salvatore's location.
Schallers Drive-In, 965 Edgemere Dr, Greece, ☎ +1 585 865-3319. Another Rochester burger joint that grew up along the beach, this one in Greece west of the river. The Greece location has some excellent ice cream.edit
559 Ridge Rd E, Irondequoit, ☎ +1 585 544-2097.
2747 W Henrietta Rd, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 427-7810.
Steve T. Hots and Potatoes, 2260 Lyell Ave, ☎ +1 585 429-6388, . Daily 24 hours. Just as authentic as Nick Tahou's, but in a safer part of the city and always open.$2-$8. edit
Vic & Irv's, 4880 Culver Rd, Irondequoit (on Hot Dog Row), ☎ +1 585 544-7680, . Daily 11AM-. $2-$8. edit
The middle ground is where most of Rochester's restaurants lie. A variety of ethnic cuisines are available, if you're willing to look around a bit. In particular, Rochester's barbecue scene is better than you might expect.
Abyssinia, 80 University Ave, ☎ +1 585 262-3910. Tu-Su noon-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.$10-$15 (University of Rochester students get a 15% discount). edit
Aja Noodle Co., 2602 Elmwood Ave, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 244-1052. M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-9PM. Serves lunch and dinner. Though located away from other travel attractions, the noodles are some of the best in Rochester. Second location in Perinton south of Fairport.$7-$12 ($5 for all noodle bowls with a college ID). edit
California Rollin', 274 N Goodman St (Village Gate Square), ☎ +1 585 271-8990, . Weekday lunch: Tu-F 11AM-3PM; weekday dinner: M-Th 5PM-10PM, F 5PM-11PM; weekends: Sa 1PM-11PM, Su 1PM-9PM. 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.$3-$22. edit
California Rollin' 2, 1000 N River St (in the former ferry terminal), ☎ +1 585 271-8920. edit
Highland Park Diner, 960 S Clinton Ave, ☎ +1 585 461-5040. M-Th 7AM-9PM, F Sa 7AM-11PM, Su 7AM-3PM. 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 omelets and a glorious eggs Benedict. Be sure to ask for "sweet cheese" on your waffles, pancakes & French toast.$3-$20. edit
Hogan's Hideaway, 197 Park Ave, ☎ +1 585 442-4293 (email@example.com), . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-10:30PM, Su 4PM-9PM. A cozy eatery in the heart of the Park Avenue neighborhood, offering traditional fare with a slight upscale twist. Most entrees change daily, though a few are constants. Parking is iffy.$6-24. edit
Hose 22, 56 Stutson St, ☎ +1 585 621-2200 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Tu-Su 11:30AM-?. Housed in a former firehouse, Hose 22 offers up great American grill fare.$8-$22. edit
The King and I, 1455 E Henrietta Rd, Henrietta, ☎ +1 585-427-8090 (fax: +1 585 427-8288), . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-9:30PM. 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.$8-$10. edit
Olive's Greek Taverna, 50 State St, Pittsford (off Schoen Pl), ☎ +1 585 381-3990. M-Sa 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. Reservations only taken for 3 or more. On the weekends they're basically required, or you'll wait hours for a table.Appetizers $5-10, sandwiches and entrees $5-15; cash only. edit
Sea Restaurant, 741 Monroe Ave, ☎ +1 585-473-8031, . Su-F: 11:00AM-9:00PM; F-Sa: 11:00AM-10:00PM. Vietnamese cusine. Very large portions.$7-11. edit
Seoul Garden, 2805 W Henrietta Rd, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 424-2220. Su Tu Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-10:30PM. 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.$7-$15. edit
Shiki, (1054 S Clinton Ave), ☎ +1 585 271-2090, . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner: M-Sa 5PM-10PM. 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.Lunch $4-$16; dinner $9-$19. edit
Tavern 58 at Gibbs, 58 University Ave (at Gibbs St), ☎ +1 585 546-5800, . M-Th 4PM-midnight, F Sa 4PM-1AM. Classy yet casual, one of the newest and best-reviewed restaurants in downtown. They have positioned themselves as a great place to get dinner after seeing a performance at the Eastman Theater or Downstairs Cabaret. Dinner-and-theater packages available with some Auditorium Theatre shows; being able to park at the restaurant is a major benefit. Go for sandwiches if you want to spend less than $10, or steaks or seafood if you're willing to spend about $20.$8-$26. edit
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on Court Street is where everyone you ask will send you for barbecue; it's a small Syracuse-based chain that Rochesterians have adopted as their own. But there are some other very good options that might even surpass the Dino in one way or another.
The Beale New Orleans Grille and Bar (formerly Beale Street Cafe), 689 South Ave (in the South Wedge), ☎ +1 585 271-4650 (fax: +1 585 271-0270), . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-midnight, Su 2PM-9PM. The Beale has recently expanded their menu; their great BBQ dishes are still there, but they've expanded their quite good Cajun and Creole offerings. 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. Every Tuesday is, redundantly, "Mardi Gras Tuesday", with drink specials and music. Second location on Empire Blvd west of Webster.$8-$20. edit
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 99 Court St, ☎ +1 585 325-7090, . M-Th 11AM-midnight, F Sa 11AM-1AM, Su noon-10PM. 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.$10-$23. edit
Steel River BBQ Bar & Grill, 421 River St (Lake Ave north to Latta Rd, then east to river), ☎ +1 585 360-2311, . Opened in July 2012, this establishment in Charlotte offers barbecue "with a Spanish flair".$10-$18. edit
Sticky Lips Pit BBQ, 625 Culver Rd (parking lot off Atlantic Ave), ☎ +1 585 288-1910, . 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
Sticky Lips BBQ Juke Joint, 830 Jefferson Rd, Henrietta. Brand new location along Henrietta's commercial strip, with live music and a full bar. Consistently packed; get there early.edit
Rochester is no New York City when it comes to upscale dining, but there are a few options around for when you want to dress up and have a fancy meal.
Bamba Bistro, 282 Alexander St, ☎ +1 585 244-8680, . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM; Dinner: M-Th 5PM-10PM, F Sa 5PM-11PM. Once Rochester's most upscale restaurant, the Rio Bamba has been scaled down a bit into the more casual Bamba Bistro. The place is rarely crowded and sometimes downright empty, but the food is generally considered high quality, if not quite as good as it once was.Lunch $6-$14, dinner $12-$32. edit
The Crab Shack, 749 E Henrietta Rd, Brighton (Rt 15A to Crittenden Rd), ☎ +1 585 427-7420 (email@example.com), . M-Th 4:30PM-9PM, F 4:30PM-9:30PM, Sa 4PM-9:30PM, Su 4PM-9PM. Not to be confused with national chain Joe's Crab Shack (which just opened a location in Henrietta), The Crab Shack is the newest venture from the family that created Mario's Italian Steakhouse. Featuring fresh seafood trucked in daily from Boston, this may be the best seafood restaurant in the area. But don't feel intimidated; the atmosphere is very casual and the decor evokes a seaside beach resort. The food isn't cheap, but it's tasty; the chefs don't weigh the food down with overly complex preparation, letting the quality and freshness shine through. The tiny Italian ice (served on the house) makes the perfect ending to your meal.$10-$25+. edit
Grill at Strathallan, 550 East Ave (at the Strathallan Hotel), ☎ +1-800-678 7284, . Breakfast: M-Sa 6:30AM-10:30AM, Su 7AM-11AM; Lunch: daily 11:30AM-2PM; Dinner: M-Th 5PM-9:30PM, F Sa 5PM-10PM. Perhaps not the top-of-the-line experience it once was, the Strathallan is still one of the finest dining options in Rochester. Features what is probably the area's longest and best wine list. Live jazz Thursday–Saturday.Lunch $7-15, dinner $19-$37. edit
Mario's Italian Steakhouse (Mario's Via Abruzzi), 2740 Monroe Ave, Brighton (Just off I-590), ☎ +1 585 271-1111 (fax: +1 585 271-1149), . M-Th 5PM-10PM, F 5PM-11PM, Sa 4PM-11PM (closes 30 min earlier, Nov-Apr, M-Sa); Su Brunch 10AM-3PM, Su Dinner 4:30PM-9PM. A mainstay on Monroe Avenue between I-590 and Clover St, Mario's is the gold standard for Italian restaurants in a city overflowing with them. Proprietor Mario Daniele and his family have imported the cuisine and hospitality of the Abruzzo region, and Rochesterians have responded with gusto. Large dining room and banquet facilities.$13-$36. edit
Max Chophouse, 1456 Monroe Ave, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 271-3510, . Tu-Su 5:30PM-10PM. This might be the only place in Rochester to get a $15 hamburger.$15-$40. edit
Max of Eastman Place, 25 Gibbs St (across from Eastman Theatre), . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; Dinner: M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F Sa 5:30PM-11PM. Considered one of the top restaurants in Rochester, with an elegant atmosphere and a menu to match.Lunch $8-$15, dinner $23-$35. edit
Phillips European, 26 Corporate Woods, Brighton, ☎ +1 585 272-9910 (fax: +1 585 272-1778), . M-Sa 11AM-11PM. 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. The mere mention of a trip here for coffee and dessert will get Rochesterians salivating. 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. edit
Restaurant 2 Vine, 24 Winthrop St, ☎ +1 585 454-6020 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Lunch: M-F 11:30AM-2PM; dinner: M-F 5PM-9PM, Sa Su 5PM-8PM. 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.Lunch $9-$16; dinner $12-$30. edit
Scotch 'N' Sirloin, 3450 Winton Pl #25, Brighton (off Winton Rd), ☎ +1 585 427-0808, . M-Th 5PM-9:30PM, F Sa 5PM-10PM, Su 4:30PM-8:30PM (closed Su in Jul/Aug). Simple but substantial entrees served in a cozy atmosphere by waitstaff in crisp white uniforms. It's a fairly casual environment for the price—don't feel like you need to dress up, but jeans might be pushing it a bit. The open kitchen, wood-and-stone decor, and candle lighting contribute to the warmth, although some visitors complain that the place hasn't changed a bit since 1972, when it first opened. The steak teriyaki comes highly recommended.$15-$35. edit
Uncle Ralph's Steakout & BBQ, (various locations), ☎ +1 585 490-0250, . usu. 5:30-9:30. 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 Sunday, he's at the Anchor Bar at East Ave and Alexander St; Monday he's at Paddy's Irish Pub in Greece; Wednesday he can be found at Daisy Dukes in Webster; and Thursday finds him at Gi-Gi's Restaurant in Irondequoit. (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
The local brew is Genesee, along with its label-mates Genny Lite, Genesee Cream Ale, and the Dundee  line of lagers (especially The Original Honey Brown). Don't believe the wags who tell you the beer is "brewed from the waters of the Genesee"; although the river is clearer than it used to be, you won't find its influence in the local beverages. Genny isn't as popular around town as you might expect, but it's working at making a comeback, and few locals would turn down a Cream Ale or Honey Brown if offered one.
Sitting as it does at the edge of the Finger Lakes, Rochester is also a good place to get some high-quality wine. Finger Lakes wines can be found in many restaurants throughout the city and its suburbs, although just as many forgo the local stuff in favor of the same old Californian and European selections. If you can, seek out the places that serve local wine; it gives you a better taste of the region and is better for the environment to boot.
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 East End Festival, held on three separate Fridays each summer, is a great opportunity for bar hoppers and pub crawlers to hear all sorts of music and try all sorts of drinks. Outdoor stages are added to the usual indoor venues, and the East End becomes packed (more packed than usual). The 2010 festival dates are June 5, July 9, and August 13.
Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Ave, ☎ +1 585 454-2966, . 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.edit
The Distillery, 1142 Mount Hope Ave, ☎ +1 585 271-4105 (email@example.com), . M-Sa 11AM-?, Su noon-?. This popular sports bar and grill is expanding and now has four locations around Rochester. The food—including steaks—is quite good for a place known mostly as a sports bar. Also worthy of note are the 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; entrees $8-$21. edit
Jeremiah's Tavern, 1104 Monroe Ave, ☎ +1 585 461-1313 (fax: +1 585 461-1766), . daily 11:30AM-2AM. The epitome of the neighborhood bar, Jeremiah's is best known for its award-winning wings.edit
2200 Buffalo Rd, Gates. New location in Gates, opened June 2012.
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.edit
Lux, 666 South Ave, ☎ +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.(43.142495,-77.604322)edit
Marge's Lakeside Inn, 4909 Culver Rd, Irondequoit (across from Hot Dog Row), . W-F 5PM-2AM, Sa Su 7PM-2AM. Once a speakeasy during Prohibition, this joint was one of the first in the area to get a liquor license after it was repealed. Today, it's a wild and raucous neighborhood bar; there's no food, but folks come for the drinks and the atmosphere. The deck extends out onto the beach for a great view of Lake Ontario. Parking is non-existent; you'll have to jockey for a spot on the south side of Culver. 21+ only.edit
Mex, 295 Alexander St. A Mexican restaurant and bar, known for its frozen drinks and Cinco de Mayo parties.edit
Monty's Korner, 363 East Ave, . M-W F 4PM-2AM, Th 4:30PM-2AM, Sa 7PM-2AM, Su 8PM-2AM. Rochester's "soccer friendly" sports bar. Large selection of single malt scotches and port wine, beer with an emphasis on Belgian drafts.(43.154949,-77.594623)edit
The Old Toad, 277 Alexander St, ☎ +1 585 232-2626 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 12PM-2AM, Su 5PM-2AM. Great English beer, 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. edit
Pearl, (Upper East End, East Ave). A retro contemporary lounge with nightly house music DJ's spinning.edit
Rohrbach Brewing Company, 3859 Buffalo Rd, Ogden, ☎ +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.edit
Scotland Yard Pub, 187 St Paul St. A new English-style pub has replaced the Table 7 lounge.edit
Tapas 177, 177 St Paul St, . Where the martinis are as big as the day is long.... so kick off your heels, and loosen your tie.edit
Tilt Nightclub and Ultralounge, 444 Central Ave, . 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.(43.163025,-77.605057)edit
Venu, 151 St Paul St, . Jazz lounge with an urban flair. [CLOSED]edit
Upper East End bars (Heat, Whiskey River, Woody's, A-Pub Live). Several bars, same owner, all repetitive. College-type bars with hints from the mid-west. 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.edit
Sheridan's Pub, 1551 Mount Hope Ave, ☎ +1 585 271-7777. M-Sa 11AM-2AM; Su 12PM-2AM. This small pub tucked away on Mount Hope Avenue away from the hustle and bustle of the East End and Monroe Ave is truly a hidden treasure. It has some of the nicest staff you will find in the city and an overall friendly atmosphere. They also know how to pour the finest Guinness in the city. Although located near the U of R, Sheridan's is hardly a college bar attracting a diverse crowd. The food is also excellent, especially the fish fry that is served on Friday night.edit
Rochester has its share of Starbucks locations, although that mega-chain's presence is relatively recent and not yet overwhelmingly ubiquitous. Much more popular around Rochester is the coffee at Canadian donut shop Tim Hortons.
But venture beyond the big chains and you'll find a number of cozy little coffee shops perfect for lounging around and meeting new people.
Boulder Coffee Company, 100 Alexander St (at Clinton Ave), ☎ +1 585 454-7140, . An independently owned coffee shop with regular live music. Their web page lists upcoming acts. Drinks and snacks are typical coffee shop prices. Free WiFi on the premises.(43.146094,-77.60235)edit
910 Genesee St. Opening in August.
1 Public Mrkt.
739 Park Ave.
Easy on East, 170 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 325-6490. Laid-back lounge-type bar aimed at young professionals.(43.156657,-77.599647)edit
Equal=Grounds, 750 South Ave, ☎ +1 585 242-7840. 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
Java's Cafe, 16 Gibbs St (next door to Eastman Theater/Kilbourn Hall). 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.(43.157293,-77.601484)edit
Jembetat Cafe, 645 Park Ave (Near Berkeley), ☎ +1 585 442-8960, . A tribal arts importer orders select creations from area bakers, inviting guests to dine among large African statues. Take in a coffee while you wrestle with desires for an amber necklace.edit
Spot Coffee, 200 East Ave (next to the Little Theatre). A trendy, popular hangout housed in a former Chevrolet dealership, 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. Local art of various sorts is often marked for sale on the walls.Drinks $2-$3, light meals around $5. (43.156377,-77.598963)edit
Starry Nites Cafe, 696 University Ave (one block north of East Ave), ☎ +1 585 271-2630. A funky space named after Van Gogh's famous painting, near many of Rochester's museums. Along with the required drinks, they make their own soup, salads and sandwiches. Free WiFi.(43.155814,-77.583927)edit
Soaring over Rochester. That's Lake Ontario in the back there.
There are only seven hotels within the Rochester city limits, including three downtown high-rises. They aren't cheap, but most travelers will be staying in one of the numerous suburban hotels anyway. No matter where you stay, though, you probably won't be far from an expressway, which means you can get pretty much anywhere you want to go in 20 minutes or less.
Many—maybe even most—hotels in the area offer free shuttle service to and from the airport. Several of them even have "Airport" in their names, but pay attention to the map; they may be miles away in reality.
East Avenue Inn, 384 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 325-5010, . Located just steps from the busy nightlife district of the East End at East Avenue and Alexander Street, location is this hotel's biggest selling point. The aesthetics are a different story; this is not a luxurious resort hotel by any stretch of the imagination. Its walls are a bit thin and the decor a bit dated, and there are no amenities to speak of, but it's a great place to crash after a night of partying in the East End. As of June 2012, renovations are under way to improve the hotel's condition.$85-$100. edit
Hyatt Regency, 125 East Main St, ☎ +1 585 546 1234, . Twenty-five-story downtown hotel connected via enclosed walkway to Rochester Riverside Convention Center, making it one of two hotels of choice for conventioneers. One of the tallest buildings in Rochester.$160-$195. edit
The Inn on Broadway, 26 Broadway, ☎ +1-877-612-3595, . Romantic, turn of the century, old world city architecture inside the Inner Loop. Gracious low-key service. Beautifully decorated suites, artfully articulated interior finishes. Beloved by many it's many guests. Highly regarded, wonderful on-site restaurant, Tournedos. Poised for future expansion.$190-$215. edit
Radisson Riverside, 120 E Main St, ☎ +1 585 546-6400, . This hotel lives up to its name—it's right on the eastern bank of the river. It's the other popular choice for conventioneers, since it's connected to the Riverside Convention Center across Main Street by the Skyway. It's a bit cheaper than the Hyatt.$130-$140. edit
Rochester Plaza, 70 State St, ☎ +1 585 546-3450, . On the west side of the river is another high-rise hotel, not connected to the convention center, but still within walking distance of High Falls or the Blue Cross Arena. Renovations will be occurring August 2012 – April 2013.$130. edit
Staybridge Suites, 1000 Genesee St, ☎ +1 585 527-9110, . Designed for extended stays, this brand-new hotel near the University of Rochester is the only one in the city proper that isn't downtown or on East Avenue.$100-$110. edit
Strathallan Hotel, 550 East Ave, ☎ +1 585 461-5010, . The only hotel near the Neighborhood of the Arts, the Strathallan isn't the most attractive building, but the rooms are well appointed. The hotel's biggest attraction is the fabulous Grill at Strathallan, one of the finest dining establishments in Rochester. Closed for renovations until late summer 2012, to add a pool and improve the aesthetics.$120-$160. edit
A Hilton Garden Inn is planned for a parcel just east of the Hyatt, which would bring the number of downtown high-rises to four. If you look around, there are also a number of bed-and-breakfasts in the city, but they don't publicize themselves much.
Comfort Inn Airport, 395 Buell Rd., ☎ +1 585 436-4400 (email@example.com, fax: +1 585 436-6496), . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. Directly across the street from Rochester International Airport. Stay and Fly package available with free airport transportation.$70-$120. edit
Comfort Suites, 2085 Hylan Dr, Henrietta, ☎ +1 585 334-6620, . 100% non-smoking studio suites. Indoor pool and spa, free Wi-Fi access, complimentary breakfast.$120-$130. edit
Doubletree Hotel Rochester (Holidome), 1111 Jefferson Rd, Henrietta (at I-390 and Rt 15A), ☎ +1 585 475-1510 (fax: +1 585 427-8673), . A nice hotel with an incredible six-story glass arboretum (the hotel was called the "Holidome" when it was a Holiday Inn). Well worth stopping in just to see the foliage and landscaping inside.$100-$145. edit
Holiday Inn Airport, 911 Brooks Ave, Gates, ☎ +1 585 328-6000, . One of three hotels near the airport. It's located in a tiny wedge of Gates, surrounded on all four sides by the city of Rochester, and just across I-390 from the airport. Other than its location, it's a typical Holiday Inn.$124-$165. edit
The area code for Rochester and the surrounding area is 585. You don't need to dial the area code locally.
Despite Rochester's strong technology base and highly educated citizenry, you won't find much in the way of public Internet access. Perhaps that's because so many residents have access right in their homes. For public access, your best bets are coffee houses (for Wi-Fi connections) and libraries (for public terminals and Wi-Fi). There are very few, if any, dedicated Internet cafes.
The area's main post office is actually south of the city, in Henrietta:
Rochester Post Office, 1335 Jefferson Rd, Henrietta, ☎ +1 585 272-5953 (fax: +1 585 272-5870), . M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-2PM. edit
Like most other cities, Rochester is generally safe but there are areas that are more prone to crime than others. Potentially dangerous areas exist in the 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.
The presence of the University of Rochester Medical Center means the Rochester area enjoys access to very high-quality health care. If you need medical assistance, there are several local hospitals:
The local daily newspaper is the Democrat and Chronicle. 75 cents daily, $3.00 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.
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 the WHAM Morning News, 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.
Libraries are your best bet for public Internet access, unless you can find a Wi-Fi hot spot elsewhere. Fortunately, the city and its suburbs have an excellent network of libraries, the Monroe County Library System. There are a total of eleven library branches in the city, and more than twenty in the suburbs.
Note that if you want to check out any materials, there's a $30 annual membership fee for non-residents of the county.
Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 115 South Ave (park in Court St garage), ☎ +1 585 428-7300 (TDD +1 585 429-8023). M Th 9AM-9PM, Tu W F 9AM-6PM. This is the main library for the county, and the biggest of the branches. It's split between two buildings on opposite sides of South Ave; there's a tunnel connecting them.edit
Rochester has many places of worship of different religions and denominations. The Interfaith Chapel at the University of Rochester sits on the banks of the Genesee River; it houses servicesof different religions and denominations. There are many others to be sure in Rochester as well as surrounding towns and suburbs
Here are a few of the many worship places within the Christian Community; If you're looking for a lively Protestant church in the heart of downtown, Bethel Community Fellowship on 321 East Avenue and Broad Street which seats a good number of worshipers.
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.S
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.
Also downdown, next door to the Geva Theatre is St. Mary's catholic church. This church has beautiful architecture to behold. Across the street is the Universalist church which also is interesting to visit. 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).St. Stanislaus on Hudson Avenue preserves Polish culture and european architecture.
A few miles west of downtown, visible from 490, is an exhuberant Spanish congregation: Iglesia La Luz Del Mundo, 200 Child Street
Also within the Christian community are 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 Rd.
Other houses of Christian worship include, Baptist, Christian Science to name just two.
Within the Jewish community there are more than a dozen welcoming synagogues and communal services available within a few miles of downtown:
If your hotel is in Henrietta, check out Temple Beth Am, a conservative congregation on 3249 E. Henrietta Rd which has interesting modern architecture.
The largest conservative synagogue is Temple Beth El on South Winton Road.
The largest Reform synagogue is Temple B'rith Kodesh on 2131 Elmwood Avenue in the Town of Brighton which is adjacent to Rochester and minutes from downtown. It too has very interesting design.
Temple Sinai is a reform congregation on Penfield Rd. also a hop and a skip on East Avenue from downtown. It has a beautiful sanctuary with a wall of glass looking out to the natural beauty outside.
Beth Sholom , Rochester's largest modern orthodox and zionist synagogue, is located at 1161 Monroe Avenue, near downtown.
Light of Israel, Rochester's only sephardic minyan, is presently located within Beth Sholom at 1161 Monroe Avenue and welcomes all. It preserves the distinctive beauty of ancient mizrachi (mideast) worship.
Chabad 1037 S. Winton Rd is located in the heart of Brighton at 12 Corners and has branches at the University of Rochester and in Pittsford.
Other Synagogues are: Congregation Etz Chaim (reform) in Fairport, about 15 minutes from downtown, Beth Hamedresh-Beth Israel (Conservative),on East Avenue, Temple Beth David (Conservative); Beth Hakneses Hachodosh (Orthodox), Temple Emanuel (Reform) and there are others.
The Jewish community is also served by Kosher food restaurants :Abba's Pizza, locate in Chabad, Geula's Cafe at the Jewish commnity Center (1200 Edgewood Avenue), the Jewish Home (2021 Winton Rd S), Malek's Kosher Bakery(1795 Monroe Avenue), Lipman's Kosher Market (1482 Monroe Avenue) and several grocery stores such as Wegmans on Monroe Avenue and Tops on Clinton Avenue.
Beth Hatvilla, the mivkvah, is located off Monroe on St. Regis.
For more information on Jewish Rochester, contact the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Federation or Jewish Bureau of Education.
There are also Hindu, Islamic, Bahai communities in Rochester.
First and foremost, you'll want to check out the many attractions in Rochester's immediate suburbs, especially the canal communities of Fairport and Pittsford on the east side and Brockport and Spencerport to the west. There's also much to be seen in suburbs such as East Rochester and Victor.
Rochester is also the perfect jumping-off point for forays into the incredible Finger Lakes region of New York. Several destinations in that region stand out:
Canandaigua — only a little over half an hour from Rochester by car, this small city offers excellent lake-front activities, a nice small water park, and the beautiful Sonnenberg Gardens
Letchworth State Park — "The Grand Canyon of the East" features a second set of three waterfalls on the Genesee, mirroring Rochester's trio; the Mount Morris Dam is also a sight to see
Seneca Falls — a cradle of the women's rights movement, this village houses the Women's Rights National Historical Park  and is a great place to visit after seeing Susan B. Anthony's home in Rochester
Only about 90 minutes away from Rochester is one of the world's greatest natural attractions, the spectacular Niagara Falls; if you've never been, you owe it to yourself to take this easy day trip. You could also swing by Buffalo, the state's second-largest city and home to historic architecture, major league sports, and plenty of Buffalo wings. To the east, Syracuse is also 90 minutes away.
For onward travel, New York City and the scenic Adirondack mountains are both a six hour car trip to the east. Cosmopolitan Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is even closer by and can be reached by a three hour drive around Lake Ontario.