Rochester Places

TripWhat's travel guide to Rochester; our list of the best things to see, including Lilac Festival, The Strong - National Museum of Play and Water Street Music Hall.
  • The best place in Rochester: Lilac Festival

    Lilac Festival

    Highland Park
    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! [2]
    Ellwanger-Barry food nearby
  • The Strong - National Museum of Play

    The Strong - National Museum of Play

    1 Manhattan Sq
    M-Th 10AM-5PM, F-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. Adults $13, seniors $12, children $11, under 2 free. Butterfly Garden $3. 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.
    Central Business District eat nearby
  • Water Street Music Hall

    Water Street Music Hall

    204 N Water St
    A wide variety of live music several nights out of the week. There is also a reasonably priced bar inside.
    Central Business District restaurants nearby
  • Dryden Theatre

    Dryden Theatre

    900 East Ave
    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.
    Atlantic-University food nearby
  • Seneca Park Zoo

    Seneca Park Zoo

    2222 St Paul St
    Apr-Oct daily 10AM-5PM; Nov-Mar daily 10AM-4PM. Apr-Oct: Adults $9, seniors $8, youths $6, under 3 free; $2 discount Nov-Mar. 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.
    eat nearby
  • Rochester Red Wings

    Rochester Red Wings

    1 Morrie Silver Way
    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.
    Brown Square restaurants nearby
  • Geva Theatre

    Geva Theatre

    75 Woodbury Blvd
    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.
    Central Business District food nearby
  • House of Guitars

    House of Guitars

    645 Titus Ave, Irondequoit
    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.
  • Genesee Riverway Trail

    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.
    Brown Square restaurants nearby
  • Mount Hope Cemetery

    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.
    Highland food nearby
  • Cobb's Hill Reservoir Park

    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.
    Brown Square eat nearby
  • Record Archive

    Record Archive

    33 1/3 Rockwood St
    M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-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.
  • Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

    Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

    108 East Ave
    $20-75 for most formal concerts, less (or even free) for casual concerts. 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.
    Central Business District food nearby
  • The Little Theatre

    The Little Theatre

    240 East Ave
    $7 ($5 weekend matinées). 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.
    Central Business District eat nearby
  • Rochester Knighthawks

    Rochester Knighthawks

    1 War Memorial Sq
    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!)
    Central Business District restaurants nearby
  • Memorial Art Gallery

    Memorial Art Gallery

    500 University Ave
    W-Su 11AM-5PM; Th 11AM-9PM. Adults $10, students/seniors/military $6, children $4, under 6 free. Th 5PM-9PM, $6.
    Atlantic-University food nearby
  • Auditorium Theatre

    Auditorium Theatre

    885 E Main St
    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.
    Atlantic-University eat nearby
  • Rochester Museum and Science Center

    Rochester Museum and Science Center

    657 East Ave
    M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Adults $12, seniors/students $11, children/teens $10, under 3 free. Admission plus a planetarium show: adults $17, students $13. 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.
    Atlantic-University restaurants nearby
  • Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

    Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

    99 Court St
    M-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su noon-10PM. $10-23. 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.
    Central Business District
  • Corn Hill Arts Festival

    Corn Hill Arts Festival

    Early Jul (9-10 Jul 2010). Free. 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.
    Corn Hill eat nearby
  • Rochester Rattlers

    Rochester Rattlers

    The Rattlers are back after a two-year hiatus and playing top-level outdoor lacrosse at Sahlen's Stadium.
    Brown Square restaurants nearby
  • Hochstein Performance Hall

    Hochstein Performance Hall

    50 N. Plymouth Ave.
    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.
    Brown Square food nearby
  • 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.
    Central Business District eat nearby
  • Gallery r

    Gallery r

    100 College Ave
    A small gallery (just moved to its new location) featuring the work of RIT students.
    Atlantic-University restaurants nearby
  • Maplewood Rose Celebration

    Maplewood Rose Celebration

    Driving Park Ave at Lake Ave
    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.
    Edgerton food nearby
  • Tavern58 at Gibbs

    Tavern58 at Gibbs

    58 University Ave
    M-Th 4PM-midnight, F-Sa 4PM-1AM. $8-26. 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.
    Central Business District
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of places in Rochester uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.