March 4, 2024

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Complete Guide To History, Art, & Culture

Complete Guide To History, Art, & Culture

Rochester is an amazing travel destination in Upstate New York, as there are plenty of sites to see and fun adventures to experience. The city is known for its world-class museums and art galleries but also boasts an incredible culture to explore.


There are numerous family-friendly attractions, a fantastic dining scene, and fascinating food markets. Rochester is also recognized for its beautiful music concerts, several dance shows, and seasonal festivals to catch.

Things To Do

Rochester is one of the most impressive cities in Upstate New York because of the myriad of magnificent sights it presents. Planning a visit to New York’s third-largest city? Here is the ultimate travel guide to everything worth doing in Rochester.

UPDATE: 2023/04/15 14:37 EST BY NOAH STAATS

The Vacation Never Has To End In Rochester, New York!

This article has been updated with five new tourist attractions for people visiting Rochester, new images, and tips for a successful vacation to New York. Whether someone wants to explore a museum, sit at the park, or even head to the zoo: Rochester is the place to be!

1 The Eastman Museum & Mansion

Crosby Hall, Faculty Rd, Rochester, NY 14627, USA, United States
Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Crosby Hall, Faculty Rd, Rochester, NY 14627, USA, United States

This museum is named after the man behind the invention of photography, George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak Company. His Colonial Revival Mansion, now the Eastman Museum, is where vacationers can learn the history of photography, explore the galleries, and stroll through his stunning home and gardens.

There are a lot of photographs that illustrate the history of film and cameras. There are amazing exhibits to experience, including ones that showcase the life Eastman lived.

2 The National Museum Of Play

Rochester, NY, USA
Photo by Clark Rasmussen on Unsplash

Rochester, NY, USA

As its name suggests, the National Museum of Play takes us back to the time when we were kids, displaying a good number of beautiful toys, games, and other play items for children.

This museum is Rochester’s best tourist attraction and one that kids would love, making it incredibly fascinating for a family.

3 Seabreeze Amusement Park

Family fun
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Family having fun outdoors

Seabreeze Amusement Park is one of the oldest amusement parks in New York and offers plenty of exciting activities for kids, including roller coasters and rides. It’s a nice place to show children how amusement park rides used to be in the olden days.

While the rides may not as fun as modern amusement parks, this is a fun, inexpensive way to spend an afternoon in Rochester.

4 City Of Rochester Public Market

Rochester, New York
Shutterstock

Beautiful Skyline of Rochester, New York

The City of Rochester Public Market market has served the surrounding community since 1905, making it a staple of Rochester, New York. Many generations have come to buy and sell goods over the years, adding to the history of the shopping complex.

In addition to special market events, there is also regular shopping throughout the week. Visitors can come and buy local produce and farm-to-table ingredients and enjoy the authentic culture of Rochester. If anyone in the group loves supporting small businesses, this is the spot to hit up.

5 Cobb’s Hill Park

Park in Rochester, New York
Photo by Kyle Ryan on Unsplash

Person laying in grass at park in Rochester, NY

Another stop in Rochester is Cobb’s Hill Park. This park is in the city’s southeast area and features 109 acres of luscious greenery and places to enjoy the day. Cobb’s Hill Park also has various trails that visitors can walk, adding to the fun.

The park features a reservoir in the middle, surrounded by a decorative iron fence, sidewalk, and grassy/landscaped areas.

6 Mt. Hope Cemetery

Cemetery at dawn
Via: Brett Sayles: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-cemetery-3648308/

A quiet cemetery basks in the first rays of sunlight on a cold morning 

For people wanting to experience a Victorian cemetery while in Rochester, New York, the Mt. Hope Cemetery should be at the top of the list. This renowned burial place is one of America’s most remarkable Victorian cemeteries, totaling 196 acres.

Visitors can walk the grounds, pay their respects, and admire the various styles of tombstones throughout the property.

  • This cemetery is open daily from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, giving tourists plenty of time to take in the scenery.

7 Highland Park

A woman posing in front of a lilac tree
Photo by Nellia Kurme on Unsplash

A woman posing in front of a lilac tree

For people wanting to get outside and explore the woods in Rochester, New York, heading to Highland Park is a perfect idea. This 150-acre park hosts fun activities, including hiking, events, art installations, and other family-friendly occasions.

Notably, the Lilac Festival takes place at Highland Park, where tourists can view all the flowers blooming each spring. This is considered a botanical park, as there are countless flowering species and other specialty plants native and uncommon to New York.

8 Ontario Beach Park

Shutterstock

People out in the sun at Ontario beach, New York

Another outdoor event to consider while in the Rochester area is to head out to Ontario Beach Park. Visitors can set up an umbrella and beach chair and watch the waves crash along the shore. Notably, this beach features a century-old carousel, swimming, boating & rentable shelters.

This could be an excellent spot for an afternoon picnic or even an excuse to wake up early to see the sunrise. Regardless, this beach can get busy on weekends, so heading out on a weekday may be better.

Ontario Beach Park can get crowded during weekends. Therefore, Rochester visitors may want to check out this location during the week when it is less crowded.

9 High Falls

Moody Sunset over Rochester New York
Shutterstock

A photo of Moody Sunset over Rochester New York

One of Rochester’s major draws is its location on the Genesee River, and High Falls is the product of this amazing feature. This waterfall is a top-rated destination for Rochester tourists, making it a must-see for tourists.

The river tumbles 95 feet from the cascading High Falls to its destination. Located right downtown Rochester, High Falls’ most spectacular views can be seen from the High Falls Terrace Park. Visitors can have a close-up view of the cascading from the High Falls Lookout near the Gorsline Building.

Related: 10 Things To Know About Palouse Falls, No Matter When You Visit

10 Seneca Park Zoo

Lion At Zoo
Photo by Daley van de Sande on Unsplash

Lion rolling around at zoo

Seneca Park Zoo is one of the best zoos in New York and is usually ranked right after Brooklyn Zoo. The place boasts various animals, including elephants, rhinos, apes, birds, some penguins, and bears. The staff is incredibly friendly, and the zoo’s features are easy to navigate.

Plus, they’ve installed ramps and benches to make the place more accessible.

11 Best Time To Visit Rochester, New York

Rochester, NY, USA
Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Rochester, NY, USA

Rochester’s climate is continental. Summers can be warm or hot, while winters are always freezing and snowy. Spring and autumn are the most impressive time to explore the ‘flower city.’

The weather is pleasant in mid-March through May and September through November, making them the most stable periods to explore the city. The periods also present several outdoor opportunities for outdoorsy travelers.

12 Best Ways To Get Around Rochester

Rochester, NY, USA
Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Rochester, NY, USA

Travelers have several options when it comes to getting around Rochester. Vacationers can use several pedestrian skyways and underground paths to get to their various destinations.

Taxis, Uber, or Lyft are convenient, especially when going far from the city limits.

Most of Rochester’s hotels offer free shuttle services to their guests. Vacationers can also use car rentals at Rochester International Airport, downtown, or other car rental companies spread throughout the city.

Related: The Ultimate Travel Guide To Upstate New York: Areas To Explore & Where To Stay

13 Where To Eat In Rochester

Pasta Bolognese for dinner
Photo by Emanuel Ekström on Unsplash

A photo of pasta Bolognese for dinner

Jines Restaurant

At Jines Restaurant, travelers can carry take-out food and have indoor or outdoor dining. The food here is quality; one can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner in a comfortable atmosphere anytime.

It is the best option for breakfast, as the menu is extensive, and any choice is reasonably priced. English muffins, omelets, Italian raisin toast, and turkey sausage & eggs are some of the items that vacationers will find on the menu.

Char Steak & Lounge

Located right in the heart of The Arts, Char Steak & Lounge is part of the Strathallan Hotel & Spa. A wide range of flavors, including homemade pasta, grilled steaks, and fantastic desserts. It is an incredible option for lunch.

  • Opening hours:
    11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que has an accommodation capacity of up to 50 guests, boasts a full bar and free internet access, and guarantees the most delicious dinner dishes in Rochester. Travelers can make reservations through the restaurant’s website.

  • Opening hours:
    11:00 am – 9:00 pm Mondays to Thursdays, 11:00 am–10:00 pm Fridays and Saturdays, 11:00 am–9:00 pm Sundays.

Related: Charleston In 24 Hours: Where To Eat & What To Do In A Day

14 Where To Stay In Rochester

The Metropolitan, South Clinton Avenue, Rochester, NY, USA
Photo by Parrish Freeman on Unsplash

The Metropolitan, South Clinton Avenue, Rochester, NY, USA

Rochester boasts many accommodation options for travelers, from luxury resorts to bed & breakfasts to budget hotels and hostels. Here are the top hotels to check out.

Staybridge Suites Rochester University (Luxury)

Overlooking the Genesee River, Staybridge Suites Rochester University is an incredible option for families and vacationers visiting the city for business reasons.

It’s located a short distance from UR River Campus and UR Medical Center—and boasts elegant rooms that come with fully-equipped kitchens. One can choose to stay in a one-bedroom or two-bedroom suite.

Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/University & Medical Center (Mid-Range)

Located a few steps away from the University of Rochester, Mount Hope Cemetery, and Highland Park, Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/University & Medical Center offers access to several medical facilities, businesses, restaurants, and shops.

The Museum of Play, a beautiful museum with amazing toys and play items from childhood, is located not far from here.

Newly Remodeled And Spacious Getaway

Located in the South Wedge area in Rochester, the Newly Remodeled and Spacious Getaway boasts beautiful rooms with fully stocked kitchens. It’s also close to the nearby restaurants, shops, bars, fitness centers, and more.

  • Accommodation:
    Newly Remodeled and Spacious Getaway

  • Address:
    Rochester, New York, United States

  • Amenities:
    Adults only, kitchen, Wi-Fi, air-conditioned, coffee machine, washing machine, clothes dryer, linens, and towels.

Related: Where Should You Stay In Honolulu? Best Neighborhoods & Hotels

15 Tips For Staying In Rochester

Rochester, NY, USA
Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Rochester, NY, USA

Rochester is a perfect destination for travelers who enjoy the great outdoors, as many hiking trails lead to some of the city’s most impressive waterfalls. Before visiting Rochester, here are some of the things vacationers should know.

  • Rochester’s temperatures can sometimes go up from the 70s to below freezing. Vacationers should pack skin care products to ensure they don’t suffer sunburns when it gets too hot in summer.
  • Beware of the parking rules in Rochester. Also known as ‘alternative parking,’ the city’s parking restrictions only allow visitors and locals to pack on the even-numbered side of the street on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but only until 7:00 pm. Parking on the odd-numbered side of the road is allowed on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays until 7:00 pm.

16 How To Spend The Perfect Day In Rochester

Rochester Skyline, Rochester, New York
Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

Rochester Skyline, Rochester, New York

Start the day by visiting the Rochester Public Market for a cup of coffee, perhaps at Java’s. One may have to wait in line, but it’s worth it. Explore the colorful items in the market after that.

Over 300 vendors have unique offerings, including dairy products, seafood, and local produce.

Vacationers will also find breweries, gift shops, and flower shops in this thriving market.

From the market, choose between the National Museum of Play or the National Toy Hall of Fame if visiting with kids. A family can choose to spend a whole day at any of the museums since there are fun things to see and do for an entire family.

Related: One Day In Bar Harbor: What’s Worth Doing In 24 Hours

If not visiting with children, travelers can skip the museums and explore Rochester’s beautiful art scene at the Memorial Art Gallery or Rochester Contemporary Art Center.

In the evening, enjoy music in one of the many venues in the city. Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at the Eastman Theater is an excellent place to visit.

Rochester is beautiful, and visiting it is worth it. There is a wide range of activities to explore, places to stay, and incredible hotels offering comfortable accommodations in the city. Every vacationer will always have a wonderful trip to Rochester. Have fun!

FAQ

Q: Is Rochester New York worth visiting?

Rochester is beautiful, and visiting it is totally worth it (even when it’s pitted against Syracuse). There is a wide range of activities to explore, places to stay, and incredible hotels offering comfortable accommodations in the city. Every vacationer will always have a wonderful trip to Rochester.

Q: What is special about Rochester?

Rochester is an amazing travel destination to visit in Upstate New York, as there are plenty of sites to see and fun adventures to experience. The city is known for its world-class museums and art galleries, but it also boasts an incredible culture to explore.

There are numerous family-friendly attractions, a fantastic dining scene, and fascinating food markets. Rochester is also recognized for its beautiful music concerts, several dance shows, and seasonal festivals to catch.

Q: When is the best time to visit Rochester?

Rochester’s climate is continental. Summers can be warm or hot, while winters are always very cold and snowy. The most impressive time to explore the ‘flower city’ is in spring and autumn.

In mid-March through May and September through November, the weather is pleasant, making them the most stable periods to explore the city. The periods also present several outdoor opportunities for outdoorsy travelers.

Of course, many upstate NY towns are still beautiful during the winter, if travelers pack their coats and boots.