Famous for being the birthplace of the Kodak camera and occupying a beautiful location on the shores of Lake Ontario, Rochester is large enough to provide plenty of cultural appeal, but small enough to feel welcoming for all travellers.
For history and culture lovers, there will always be something to do during their stay. Learn about the history of slavery at the Frederick Douglass Museum or about the history of photography at the home of George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, while there is also a museum dedicated to pioneering feminist Susan B Anthony.
For families with little ones to entertain, there is a fine science museum, as well as a charming zoo with elephants and orangutans to see. But a unique attraction provided by Rochester is the town’s Museum of Play, which features many interactive games and toys and teaches visitors about the history of toys at the same time.
Even shopping fans are looked after, with the Village Gate Square market housing many local independent crafts and food businesses. Rochester has something for all passions.
Rochester is also famous for its vibrant festival season, the most famous event being the town’s gorgeous Lilac Festival, which is how the town acquired its nickname as the “City of Flowers.” But the International Jazz Festival is now known across the world, while the Erie Canal also hosts events on the water during the summer months.
Lovers of the outdoors are well catered for in Rochester as well. Test your golfing skills at the championship quality Oak Hill course or stretch out and soak up the rays at the Ontario Beach Park. Rent a boat and cruise the lake or hike the Genesee Valley Greenway. You can even ski at the nearby Bristol Mountain resort, giving the area year-round appeal.
Visit between May and September to make the most of the city’s thriving festival calendar, shop at the outdoor markets and hike the nearby trails. But beware of price increases when international events like the Jazz Festival are taking place. For something different, try December for a festive break and a chance to take to the local ice rinks or slopes.
Rochester is laid out on a grid pattern, and tends to sprawl a little, making a car the best choice for getting around. Fortunately, Rochester also has a reputation for having very little traffic, so inexperienced drivers should be fine. The regional bus system is comfortable, but check the timetables thoroughly before traveling.