Discover the Best Things to Do in Rochester New York – Your Ultimate Guide

Introduction to Rochester, New York:

Rochester, also known as “The Flour City,” is a vibrant and historic city located in Upstate New York. It is known for its rich history, thriving arts and cultural scene, and beautiful outdoor spaces. Rochester is also home to several world-renowned educational institutions, making it a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

What is Rochester Known for?

Rochester is known for its diverse range of offerings, including:

  1. History and Culture:
  2. Rochester has a rich history, including being the birthplace of the women’s rights movement led by Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. The city is home to numerous historic sites and museums that showcase its past.

  3. Education and Innovation:
  4. Rochester is home to top-rated universities, such as the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology, known for their contributions to science, technology, and entrepreneurship.

  5. Recreation and Outdoor Activities:
  6. Rochester offers a plethora of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to boating and fishing. The city is also home to several parks, including the picturesque Highland Park and the Genesee Riverway Trail.

Top Things to Do in Rochester:

With so much to offer, here are the top things to do in Rochester:

  1. Visit the Strong National Museum of Play:
  2. This interactive museum is a popular attraction for both kids and adults, with exhibits on the history of toys and games.

  3. Explore the George Eastman Museum:
  4. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of George Eastman, the founder of Kodak. It features photography exhibits, a film archive, and beautiful gardens.

  5. Take a Stroll in Highland Park:
  6. This urban park is known for its annual Lilac Festival and features over 1,200 lilac bushes, as well as other beautiful flowers and trees.

  7. Enjoy a Day at the Seneca Park Zoo:
  8. The Seneca Park Zoo is home to over 90 species of animals and features interactive exhibits and educational programs.

  9. Discover the Rochester Public Market:
  10. This bustling market offers fresh produce, local goods, and a variety of international cuisine.

  11. Attend a Concert at the Eastman Theatre:
  12. This historic theater is renowned for its excellent acoustics and hosts a variety of concerts and performances throughout the year.

  13. Tour the Susan B. Anthony House:
  14. Experience the life of Susan B. Anthony, a prominent leader in the women’s rights movement, at her former home.

  15. Explore the Rochester Museum and Science Center:
  16. This interactive museum offers hands-on exhibits and activities on topics ranging from science and technology to natural history and space.

  17. Visit the Memorial Art Gallery:
  18. This art museum features a diverse collection of art from all around the world, including paintings, sculptures, and photography.

Where to Eat in Rochester?

Rochester is known for its diverse and delicious food scene. Some must-try local dishes and dining spots include:

  1. Try the Famous Garbage Plate:
  2. A quintessential Rochester dish, the Garbage Plate consists of a mix of meat, potatoes, and macaroni salad, topped with hot sauce and onions.

  3. Sample Local Craft Beers at Genesee Brew House:
  4. This brewery offers a variety of craft beers and a rooftop bar with stunning views of the city.

  5. Indulge in Some Sweet Treats at Abbott’s Frozen Custard:
  6. This local custard shop has been a Rochester favorite since 1926, offering delicious frozen custard in a variety of flavors.

  7. Dine at the Historic Corn Hill District:
  8. This charming neighborhood features several restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines, including Italian, Mexican, and seafood.

  9. Satisfy Your Cravings at the Rochester Public Market:
  10. In addition to fresh produce, the public market also offers a variety of food vendors serving up dishes from all around the world.


From its rich history and culture to its thriving arts and culinary scene, Rochester is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a diverse and exciting experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore the vibrant history and culture of Rochester through its museums and historic sites.
  • Experience the city’s renowned education and innovation scene through its world-class institutions.
  • Get active with a variety of outdoor activities, from strolling through scenic parks to visiting the zoo.
  • What is Rochester Known for?

    Rochester, New York is a vibrant city with a rich history and a variety of attractions. From its thriving art and music scene to its renowned educational institutions, there is something for everyone to enjoy. In this section, we will delve into what Rochester is known for and explore three main aspects: its fascinating history and culture, its innovative education and technology, and its abundance of outdoor activities and recreational opportunities. Join us as we discover the unique and diverse offerings of Rochester, New York.

    1. History and Culture

    When exploring the rich history and culture of Rochester, New York, be sure to consider the following:

    1. Visit the city’s historical landmarks, such as the Susan B. Anthony House and the George Eastman Museum.
    2. Immerse yourself in the diverse cultural heritage by exploring the Memorial Art Gallery and attending events at the Eastman Theatre.
    3. Engage with local residents to gain insights into the city’s history and culture through their stories and experiences.

    During my visit to Rochester, I had the opportunity to join a guided tour of the Susan B. Anthony House, where I learned about the influential women’s rights activist and her contributions to the suffrage movement. It was a captivating experience that truly brought the city’s rich history and cultural significance to life.

    2. Education and Innovation

    • Explore renowned educational institutions like the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology, both playing a significant role in technological and medical advancements.
    • Engage in Rochester’s thriving innovation scene by visiting the Rochester Museum and Science Center, which features cutting-edge technologies and hosts events focused on innovation.
    • Participate in educational programs offered by organizations such as High Tech Rochester and NextCorps, promoting entrepreneurship and technological innovation in the region.

    3. Recreation and Outdoor Activities

    • Visit the Strong National Museum of Play for family-friendly recreational and educational activities.
    • Explore the beautiful outdoor gardens and photography exhibitions at the George Eastman Museum.
    • Take a relaxing stroll through the picturesque landscapes of Highland Park.
    • Enjoy a fun and educational day at the Seneca Park Zoo, featuring various outdoor exhibits and attractions for recreation and outdoor activities.

    Top Things to Do in Rochester

    Rochester, New York has a plethora of activities and attractions to offer visitors. From museums to parks to markets, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. In this section, we will highlight the top things to do in Rochester that will make your trip unforgettable. From family-friendly activities to cultural experiences, there is no shortage of options to explore. So, let’s dive in and discover the best that Rochester has to offer.

    1. Visit the Strong National Museum of Play

    • Plan your visit to the Strong National Museum of Play during non-peak hours to avoid crowds and make the most of your experience.
    • Check the museum’s website for any special exhibits or events happening during your visit to enhance your experience.
    • Explore the various exhibits, including the National Toy Hall of Fame, eGameRevolution, Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden, and the American Comic Book Heroes exhibit.
    • Engage in hands-on activities and interactive displays suitable for all ages, fostering a fun and educational experience.
    • Consider purchasing tickets in advance to save time and secure your entry, especially during weekends and holidays.

    2. Explore the George Eastman Museum

    • Begin your exploration of the George Eastman Museum by checking their official website for current exhibitions and events.
    • Plan your visit by considering the museum’s operating hours and any special guided tours or photography workshops.
    • Upon arrival, start your tour by exploring the historic mansion, which provides insight into George Eastman’s life and impact on photography.
    • Continue to the museum’s galleries to view an extensive collection of photographs, cameras, and cinematic artifacts.
    • Take time to appreciate the beautiful architecture and serene garden on the museum grounds.

    3. Take a Stroll in Highland Park

    When you take a stroll in Highland Park, start by entering through the Lamberton Conservatory and immerse yourself in the breathtaking collection of plants. Then, follow the winding paths and discover the iconic Lilac Arches, especially vibrant during the Lilac Festival. Next, head towards the Warner Castle and take in its historical charm, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Lastly, make your way to the Reservoir and Highland Bowl to appreciate the serene landscape and, if timing aligns, catch an enchanting performance at the outdoor amphitheater.

    During my visit to Highland Park, I followed the picturesque trails and stumbled upon a hidden garden with a captivating view of the city skyline. It was a serene and memorable experience that made my visit to Rochester truly special.

    4. Enjoy a Day at the Seneca Park Zoo

    When planning to enjoy a day at the Seneca Park Zoo, keep the following in mind:

    • Start early to catch the animals at their most active times.
    • Check the feeding schedules to witness exciting animal behavior.
    • Bring sunscreen, hats, and water to stay protected and hydrated throughout the day.
    • Utilize the zoo’s map to efficiently navigate and cover all exhibits.

    Fact: The Seneca Park Zoo is home to over 90 species, including African elephants, polar bears, and California sea lions, providing an enriching experience for visitors of all ages.

    5. Discover the Rochester Public Market

    Make the most of your visit: Check the market’s schedule to plan your trip during operational hours, typically on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Arrive early for the best selection of fresh produce and local goods.

    Explore the diverse stalls: Wander through the various stalls offering fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, flowers, and artisanal products. Engage with local vendors to learn about their offerings and the culinary scene of the region.

    Taste the unique flavors: Sample regional delicacies like the famous Garbage Plate, Kielbasa, Goulash, or other ethnic foods. Don’t miss out on trying unique products such as maple syrup, honey, or homemade baked goods.

    Immerse yourself in the atmosphere: Embrace the vibrant atmosphere filled with live music, bustling crowds, and a strong sense of community. Enjoy street performances, cultural events, and seasonal celebrations.

    Support the local businesses: Contribute to the community by purchasing from small businesses and independent producers. Take home some souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones.

    Spend a delightful day discovering the Rochester Public Market, savoring its local flavors, and supporting the vibrant community.

    6. Attend a Concert at the Eastman Theatre

    1. Check the schedule for upcoming performances at the Eastman Theatre.
    2. Book tickets in advance for the desired concert to secure the best seats.
    3. Plan your arrival, allowing some extra time for parking and finding your way to the theater.
    4. Explore nearby dining options for a pre-show meal or post-show drinks.
    5. Arrive early at the venue to soak in the historical ambiance and perhaps take a guided tour of the Eastman School of Music.

    During my visit to Rochester, I had the opportunity to attend a mesmerizing concert at the Eastman Theatre. The acoustics of the theater were truly exceptional. From booking the tickets to the post-show discussions over dinner, the entire experience was unforgettable. I highly recommend attending a concert at the Eastman Theatre when in Rochester.

    7. Tour the Susan B. Anthony House

    • Start your visit by touring the Susan B. Anthony House located at 17 Madison Street, Rochester, New York.
    • Explore the museum and learn about Susan B. Anthony’s life, her pioneering work in women’s rights, and her role in the women’s suffrage movement.
    • Take a guided tour to gain insights into the historical significance of the house and its contribution to the advancement of women’s rights.
    • View the various exhibits showcasing Susan B. Anthony’s impact on the women’s rights movement and her efforts towards achieving gender equality.
    • Engage with knowledgeable staff who can provide in-depth information about Susan B. Anthony’s legacy and the historical context of her residence.

    8. Explore the Rochester Museum and Science Center

    When visiting the Rochester Museum and Science Center, be sure to follow these steps to get the most out of your experience:

    1. Begin your exploration by checking out the exhibits on natural science and the environment.
    2. Participate in the interactive displays and hands-on activities to enhance your learning and understanding.
    3. Engage in the planetarium shows to uncover the mysteries of the universe and outer space.
    4. Discover the extensive collections of artifacts, fossils, and scientific marvels housed at the museum.
    5. Don’t forget to take part in the engaging educational programs and workshops offered by the museum.

    Since its establishment, the Rochester Museum and Science Center has been a hub for scientific exploration and educational enlightenment, inspiring curiosity and discovery in countless visitors throughout the years.

    9. Visit the Memorial Art Gallery

    1. Plan your visit by checking the official website of the Memorial Art Gallery for current exhibitions, events, and opening hours.
    2. Consider joining a guided tour to gain in-depth insights into the collections and history of the gallery.
    3. Explore the diverse range of art mediums and styles, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and photography.
    4. Engage in interactive activities or workshops offered by the gallery to enhance your experience and understanding of art.
    5. Take advantage of any special events or artist talks scheduled during your visit to the Memorial Art Gallery.

    Where to Eat in Rochester?

    Rochester, New York is a food lover’s paradise with a diverse array of culinary delights to satisfy any craving. In this section, we will highlight some of the must-try dining experiences in Rochester. From the famous Garbage Plate to local craft beers at Genesee Brew House, and indulgent sweet treats at Abbott’s Frozen Custard, there is something for everyone. We’ll also take you to the historic Corn Hill District for a taste of Rochester’s rich history and diverse flavors. So, get ready to tantalize your taste buds and explore the best places to eat in Rochester.

    1. Try the Famous Garbage Plate

    • Head to a local diner or eatery in Rochester, New York to try the famous garbage plate.
    • Choose your preferred combination of items, typically including home fries, macaroni salad, and a choice of meat such as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, or sausage.
    • Customize your plate with toppings such as onions, mustard, and hot sauce, adjusting the spice level to your liking.
    • Experience a unique culinary delight that has become a beloved tradition in Rochester over the years.

    Pro-tip: If you’re a first-timer, start with a classic combination like cheeseburgers, home fries, and macaroni salad to savor the authentic flavors of the famous garbage plate.

    2. Sample Local Craft Beers at Genesee Brew House

    • Experience the best of local craft beers at Genesee Brew House, located in Rochester, New York.
    • Take a guided tour to learn about the brewery’s history and witness the beer-making process.
    • Indulge in a beer tasting session to enjoy a variety of handcrafted brews, including ales, lagers, and specialty beers.
    • Enhance your tasting experience by pairing the beers with delicious food options available at the brew house.
    • Engage with knowledgeable staff who can provide insights into the unique flavors and characteristics of the featured beers.

    3. Indulge in Some Sweet Treats at Abbott’s Frozen Custard

    Indulging in some sweet treats at Abbott’s Frozen Custard is a delightful experience. Here are the steps to make the most of your visit:

    1. Choose your favorite flavor from a wide range of creamy custards and refreshing ices.
    2. Personalize your treat by adding delicious toppings like hot fudge, caramel, nuts, or fresh fruits.
    3. Pair your custard with a freshly made waffle cone or opt for a classic sundae for an extra special treat.
    4. Find a cozy spot to savor your dessert and soak in the inviting ambiance of Abbott’s Frozen Custard.

    During my visit to Abbott’s Frozen Custard, I indulged in their famous Turtle Sundae with velvety caramel custard, decadent hot fudge, and crunchy pecans. It was a moment of pure indulgence amidst the bustling city, leaving me with a sweet memory to cherish.

    4. Dine at the Historic Corn Hill District

    When visiting Rochester, make sure to dine at the Historic Corn Hill District. This charming area offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and delicious culinary experiences. Take a stroll through the picturesque streets and admire the Victorian-era homes, immersing yourself in the district’s rich heritage.

    With a variety of dining options, from trendy cafes to upscale restaurants, you can indulge in diverse cuisines. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try local flavors and specialties, such as the famous Garbage Plate, a must-try in Rochester.

    Additionally, be sure to engage with the lively community by attending cultural events and festivals that often take place in this vibrant district.

    5. Satisfy Your Cravings at the

    • Try the local delicacy, the Garbage Plate, at Nick Tahou Hots or Dogtown
    • Sample delectable craft beers and pub food at the Genesee Brew House
    • Indulge in delicious frozen custard at Abbott’s Frozen Custard
    • Experience diverse culinary options in the Historic Corn Hill District
    • Satisfy your cravings at the diverse eateries lining the streets of Rochester, New York

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are some unique things to do in Rochester, NY?

    There are many unique things to do in Rochester, NY! Some popular activities include visiting the National Museum of Play, exploring the city with a local, trying out different restaurants and food options, and visiting the Strong National Museum of Play.

    When is the best time to visit Rochester, NY?

    The best time to visit Rochester is in June, when the weather is warm and the Lilac Festival takes place. This is also a great time to explore the city’s parks and outdoor activities.

    What is Rochester, NY known for?

    Rochester is known for being the third most populated city in New York state and for its strong ties to the women’s rights movement. It is also known as the “Flower City” and for its role in the photographic and digital print industry, thanks to the Eastman Kodak Company.

    What are some must-try foods in Rochester, NY?

    Some must-try foods in Rochester include the famous “Garbage Plate” and the local favorite, “white hots” (white hot dogs). The city also offers a variety of delicious restaurants and food options to explore.

    What are some outdoor adventures to enjoy in Rochester, NY?

    Rochester, NY is a great destination for outdoor adventures. You can go hiking in nearby parks, kayaking on the Genesee River, or fishing on Lake Ontario. There are also well-marked trails and beautiful scenery to enjoy.

    Why is Rochester, NY considered a hidden gem?

    Rochester, NY is considered a hidden gem because it is often overlooked as a travel destination, but it has a lot to offer. It is a major metro city with a rich history, beautiful parks, and a vibrant arts and cultural scene. It is also conveniently located between Buffalo and Syracuse in the Finger Lakes region.