Visiting Rochester New York? When you first tell your friends this is where you are going, you may not get “oohs” of excitement. Don’t let that bother you. Just tell them there are plenty of things to do and see in Rochester. They will be surprised.
About Rochester: The “Flower City,” was founded in the early 1800’s on two major waterways: the Genesee River and, eventually, the Erie Canal (also called the Barge Canal.) On the northern border of Rochester is Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes, with a number of beaches and bays that encourage summer fun: boating, swimming, beach combing, fishing, even a deep-winter Polar Plunge! For sports lovers there have the Red Wings minor league baseball, Rhinos soccer and Rochester Americans “Amerks” hockey to name a few. Live theater is plentiful. GEVA Theater, Rochester Broadway Theater League and the Eastman Theater the home of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra all host an abundance of performances to choose from.
Four family-fun destinations in Rochester, New York, to put in your plans:
Festivals – Rochester hosts many annual festivals. The two most popular are the Lilac Festival at Highland Park. This park is richly bedecked with hundreds of lilac bushes and other flowering trees. Concessions, games and concerts are there throughout the two-week event. Another festival that is very popular with visitors is the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. Local, national and international jazz musicians perform there. It is a jazz lover’s dream come true!
There are more festivals dotting the summer calendar including the Park Avenue Summer Arts Festival and Corn Hill Arts Festival in addition to many cultural fairs held throughout the spring and summer months.
The National Museum of Play (formerly the Strong National Museum of Play) – The Strong family was part of the old Rochester aristocracy. They left their mark on the city in many ways for years to come. Strong Hospital is named after them and so is the Strong National Museum of Play. That is due to Margaret Woodbury Strong’s benevolence and deep love for dolls and doll houses. (Authors note: I had the privilege of seeing her elaborate doll collections and other artifacts while they were still in her mansion. That was just as they were preparing to build a museum to house them.) The vast collection became the core of this museum which has blossomed into an amazing, hand-on experience for children and their adults to enjoy. Plan on spending at least a day!
In addition to toys, there are thematic rooms – a child-sized Wegmans grocery store to “shop” and “work” in, pirate ship, Bernstein bears world, child-sized choo-choo train ride, mystery room, and on and on. Just when you think you know the attractions, they add something new! Be sure to visit their Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden while you are there. It is fascinating.
The Eastman Museum – Rochester is the birthplace of the Eastman Kodak Company and its founder, George Eastman. His lovely mansion, now a museum, is located on East Avenue with adjoining Dryden Theater. At “The Eastman House” you will hear about his life, see the historical décor and lovely gardens and learn the history of photography. Try to time your visit for one of their scheduled events. Late in the fall they host a Gingerbread House contest that is particularly fun for kids. The many entries are so intricate and imaginative. Visitors can pick up a clipboard quiz as they enter the house that has a list of the houses to find. See whether you can find them all – there are many but you can do it!
Seneca Park Zoo – This zoo may not be one of the biggest zoos but it is stocked with a multitude of exotic creatures in a plush setting that is being developed and improved every year. It is such a fun place for the whole family explore with a cafe and gift shop, too.
Historical Tid Bits: Rochester, New York has been the home of many noteworthy people including the previously mentioned George Eastman and Margaret Woodbury Strong. Additionally, it was home of Frederick Douglass – former slave turned abolitionist leader – and women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony as well as contemporary soccer star Abby Wambach. The greatest religious revival of the historical ministry of evangelist Charles G. Finney also took place in the 1800’s in Rochester.
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About the author: Sinea Pies is a freelance writer and blogger at Ducks ‘n a Row. Ducks ‘n a Row features delicious recipes, organizing tips, household hints, kids crafts, mom advice, faith, pets and more. Please stop by and follow her on social media, too. Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Google+ * Bloglovin‘