Rochester, the third most populous city in New York State, is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Outdoor enthusiasts ride bikes along the banks of the Erie Canal. History buffs visit the Susan B. Anthony House. Fans of the performing arts attend events at the Eastman Theater and GEVA Theater Center. In fact, there are more Rochester activities and Rochester attractions than there are weekends to try them out.
Here are some of my favorite Rochester NY Must Sees:
STRONG NATIONAL MUSEUM OF PLAY
One Manhattan Square, Downtown Rochester, www.museumofplay.org
This has been, by far, the favorite museum of all four of my children. Strong is a hands-on, fun place for kids to use their imaginations. Whether conducting a train in One History Place or driving a mini shopping cart around the child-size replica of Wegman’s (upstate New York’s famous grocery store chain), this place will keep your kids actively engaged and thinking all the time.
Upstairs there is an extensive exhibit of toys, including all the inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame (book suggestion below). Visitors will find old favorites like EZ bake Ovens, Erector Sets, and so much more. There’s a butterfly garden (make your reservations in advance; only a limited number of guests are admitted), a carousel ($1/ ride), an indoor passenger train ($1/ ride). A food court offers Subway and Pizza Hut options, but our family's favorite dining option is the vintage Skyliner Diner that actually sits INSIDE the museum. Grab a stool, and order a burger and a milkshake.
THE GEORGE EASTMAN INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM
900 East Avenue, Downtown Rochester, www.eastmanhouse.org
The museum is housed in the 35,000 square foot home of the late George Eastman, Rochester’s pre-eminent benefactor and founder of the Eastman Kodak Company.
Here, you can:
-learn about the state-of-the art technology used to build and run the mansion;
-view the fascinating exhibitions that illustrate the history of photography, motion pictures, George Eastman, himself, and his inventions;
-Wander through four of Eastman’s meticulously researched, restored, and cultivated formal gardens;
-Visit the Discovery Room, where there are hands-on activities for children; and
-View a film at the onsite Dryden Theatre where vintage and current day projectors show motion pictures from an extensive library of classics and new releases.
ROCHESTER PUBLIC MARKET
280 North Union Street, Downtown Rochester Rochester Public Market website
The Public Market is not just a place to by fresh produce. I can seriously spend an entire Saturday morning here.
First of all, you must arrive with an empty stomach and head directly to whatever smells most delicious. Sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches? Ethnic delicacies? Just follow your nose.
You’ll need to bring an empty tote bag because you’ll want to fill it with homemade breads from nearby Amish farms, jams and jellies, soaps, cheeses, fresh poultry, meats, and fish. After the tote bag is full, you might want a wagon to carry the plants, furnishings, and decorative items back to your car. Everything is priced to sell, so bring cash.
Route 104 & Monroe-Orleans County Line Road, Holley, www.hurdorchards.com
Hurd Orchards is a beautiful produce and flower farm just a short ride west of Rochester. But it’s also a fabulous source for delicious jams, fresh produce, and charming gifts.
The pick-your-own season starts in early May when the asparagus is ready for harvest, but my summer visits to Rochester often coincide with the end of the school year, so we arrive just in time to pick strawberries. You will keep your fruit bowls filled with the freshest fruits if you visit often to pick your own. Everything from rhubarb, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries, to peaches, plums, apples, and pumpkins has a season at Hurd Orchards. If you’re only passing through town, however, I suggest you swing by the farm shop where you’ll find jams, pickles, and jarred fruits, all beribboned and beautifully packaged – equally appropriate for hostess gifts or business gifts.
RED WINGS BASEBALL AT FRONTIER FIELD
1 Morrie Silver Way, Downtown Rochester
Red Wings website
When I was young, the Rochester Red Wings was the farm team for the Baltimore Orioles, and it was a big deal when the Major League bus would roll into town with Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell onboard for an exhibition game at the long-gone Silver Stadium (book selection below). Nowadays, the team is an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and they play downtown in a $35 million stadium with food options galore –everything from pizza, pretzels and prime rib sandwiches to crepes, coca cola, and calzones. My kids, who have been to their share of NY Yankees’ games, love the intimacy of a game at Frontier Field in Rochester. This is a place where between innings, the pitcher will catch the eye of a grandfather and toss him a ball for a five year old girl. While the stadium is new, there is something particularly old-fashioned about attending a game here. Believe it or not, you can buy a reserved ticket for $6.50 (of course, a Zweigle’s white hot might cost you as much at the Frontier Field food court).