Rochester New York was one of the boom towns along the Erie Canal, and then benefited from the industrial genius of George Eastman. There’s a lot to see and do in this very livable and enjoyable city. Here are some suggestions for a long weekend’s worth of driving and exploring in Rochester and the surrounding countryside.
Start downtown at the Genesee River High Falls, which is where Rochester got its start harnessing all of that water to run industries of all kinds. The pedestrian bridge called the Pont de Rennes offers dramatic views of the wide and 96 feet high waterfall that would be on everyone’s bucket list, if Niagara were not so close-by. Be sure to stop at the High Falls Visitors Center on the west side of the bridge for the changing and permanent exhibits there.
On the far side of the Pont de Rennes bridge, you will find the Genesee Brewing complex, where Rochester’s famous Genesee beer has been made since 1878. Plan to have lunch at the Genesee Brew House where you can view the falls in dramatic comfort while you dine. There are beer-theme tours you can take in town; you are also on the edge of the Finger Lakes wine country. Just remember to have a designated driver if you choose a spirited venue.
The Erie Canal passes through Rochester and has done so since 1835. The best way to see the Canal is to set sail upon it. We recommend one of the canal boat tours out of Pitsford or Fairport, for a leisurely navigation of the storied waterway.
Eastman Kodak was founded by George Eastman in 1888 and the Kodak Tower dominates the Rochester skyline. Kodak-related places to see include the George Eastman House, a Colonial Revival mansion with gardens that serves as the home of the International Museum of Photography and Film. Located at the George Eastman House, the beautifully restored 535 seat Dryden Theater offers quality films often with interpretive programs associated. Check for schedules.
Hungry? Sample Rochester’s own “white hot” version of the hot dog. Also popular are the “garbage plate” meals that include a hearty combination of home fries, mac salad, meat sauce, onions, mustard and choice of hot dog or hamburger.
The Susan B. Anthony House is a must for any who want to remember the women’s suffrage movement in America. The displays tell the authentic story of Susan B. Anthony, and the many reforms she championed including suffrage, abolition, temperance, and education,
The Memorial Art Gallery is the civic art museum of Rochester, founded in 1913. It is part of the University of Rochester, and is housed in a rather splendid Beaux Arts style building. Stop in to see masterpieces by Winslow Homer, Claude Monet, Rembrandt and many more, up close and personal.
Mount Hope, dedicated in 1838, is America’s first municipal Victorian Cemetery, and was designed to be a place to stroll and enjoy nature as well as to remember the departed. The park-like setting will appeal to photography, history and nature buffs.
Frank Lloyd Wright fans will tell you that the Boynton House, which remains in private hands, is also worth driving by, on its tree lined suburban street; the house evokes the same sense of the new that made it a standout work of architecture in the year it was built, 1908. If you go, please stay on the public sidewalk as you admire this masterpiece.
Lake Ontario is not far away, and offers the added attraction of Seabreeze, the fourth oldest amusement park in America. Enjoy some of those wonderful old amusement park rides as you enjoy the setting high on a bluff overlooking the Lake.