Travel to Rochester for a scenic escape filled with diverse activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Home to the University of Rochester as well as two of New York State’s most notable museums—the Strong National Museum of Play (an ideal indoor activity for kids!) and the George Eastman Museum—Rochester is the ideal weekend getaway, no matter the season.
5:30 pm: Bib-worthy Bar-B-Que
Get yourself settled and then head to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which has been named the country's #1 BBQ on Good Morning America. The Rochester outpost is located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Station overlooking the picturesque Genesee River so you can take in the sights as you chow down.
8 pm: Reel it in
Immerse yourself in the Rochester cultural scene by catching a family-friendly performance (some shows are 12 and up) at the Geva Theatre or head to the Little Theatre for the latest independent or foreign film.
9 am: Marvel at the Market
The Rochester Public Market has served the community since 1905 and offers a huge assortment of fresh local produce, meats and seafood, dairy, baked goods, pasta, specialty and prepared foods, general merchandise and much more! Peruse the stalls of hundreds of vendors and grab a breakfast sandwich, empanada, or handmade crepe while you soak in your surroundings.
10 am: Play All Day
Whether you’re traveling with kids, or are just a kid at heart, The Strong National Museum of Play is a play-lover’s paradise. It houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play including the new, cutting-edge Toy Halls of Fame. Go hands-on with beloved favorites, from dolls and board games, to electronic and video games, with lots of interactivity—and even rides on a carousel and train! You can also play antique pinball and video games in their classics arcade. A typical visit is around 2 to 5 hours, but you just may want to make a day of it, especially if there are special activities or themed programs being offered while you’re there.
2 pm: Hotdog Heaven
Stop in for a hotdog at DogTown (a lunch hotspot according to Movoto), where the specialty dogs are named after dog breeds and are served on freshly baked French rolls, smothered with the toppings of your choice. Or indulge in homemade soups, home fries, burgers and more. The price points may be super cheap, but the quality of these dogs is anything but!
3 pm: Walk on the Wild Side
Lions and tigers and bears, oh yes! One of Rochester's most beloved gems is the Seneca Park Zoo. Situated along the Genesee River, the zoo proudly leads conservation efforts locally, regionally, and internationally. Animals from all walks of life reside here including polar bears, rhinos, elephants, penguins, pandas, and so many more.
6 pm: Dinner at Avvino
"Locally sourced, fiercely seasonal" is the motto at Avvino, a contemporary American restaurant serving high-end comfort cuisine with Italian and French inspiration, in a familiar space. Start with a ceviche, try the venison curry or house-made squid ink spaghetti for dinner, and finish strong with doughnut bread pudding for dessert.
9 am: Dine in Style
Start your day with breakfast at Highland Park Diner, a classic railcar diner included in the Rochester Landmark Society’s list of architectural gems. It serves freshly prepared breakfast (all day!) and outrageous milkshakes, so be sure to leave room for a cold creamy treat!
11 am: Meander the Museum
A National Historic Landmark, the George Eastman Museum tells the story of photography, motion pictures, and the fascinating tale of the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, George Eastman. Explore the unparalleled collections and archives (the largest film collection in the country!) as well as the property’s mansion and gardens. If you stay until 3 pm, you just may catch a music recital in the mansion. Recommended length of visit is 2-3 hours or longer if you'd like to attend one of their excellent screenings.
By train: Amtrak to Station Building; 320 Central Ave, Rochester, NY
By bus: RTS Bus Service & Megabus
From Buffalo: 1 hour, 15 minutes
From Albany: 3.5 hours
From Toronto: 3 hours
From Montreal: 5 hours