Our home of Rochester, NY is full of unique things to do and places to go. To put together a list of our favorites, we polled some Rochester locals and asked what they often recommend to out-of-towners and friends.
Here are eight of the top “must-do’s” in Rochester, according to the locals who know best.
1. Eat a Garbage Plate
While many copycats have popped up across the country, the original Garbage Plate was created right here in Rochester, NY at Nick Tahou Hots. Don’t let the term “garbage” fool you. It simply refers to the variety of greasy, delicious food that’s heaped onto one plate.
A Garbage Plate consists of a foundation of baked beans and/or macaroni salad. The next layer is either home fries or french fries and on top, you can choose your combination of hamburger, cheeseburger, red hots, white hots, eggs, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, haddock, or fried ham. Hungry, yet?
2. Go to a Red Wings Game
Celebrate spring arriving by heading out to Frontier Field for a Rochester Red Wings game. Grab a hotdog and a local beer, and settle in for a fun night out that’s both affordable and family-friendly.
Local tip: If you go to a game on a Friday night, you’ll get to watch fireworks at the end of the game!
3. Explore the Subway
Unless you’re a Rochester local, you might not know about one of Rochester’s most fascinating experiences — the abandoned subway system.
The winding tunnels below the city of Rochester are an adventure for anyone seeking a little thrill. If you’re into graffiti, bring your camera and be prepared for some the city’s best work in the Broad Street Aqueduct section.
The underground is home to a large portion of the city’s homeless, but locals seem to agree the tunnels are fairly safe as long as you approach the situation (like any urban endeavor) with caution.
Local tip: Make sure you bring a flashlight! It can become uncomfortably dark in certain spots.
4. Visit the Memorial Art Gallery
Part of the University of Rochester, locals seem to agree that this is the best place to go in the city for a good, quality dose of art. The Memorial Gallery’s admirable permanent collection includes works by Monet, Cézanne, Cassatt, Matisse, and Homer.
If weather allows, take a stroll through the Centennial Sculpture Park — on grounds of the gallery and free for the public to enjoy.
5. Go Sledding in Ellison Park
The steep slopes in Ellison Park make it the perfect sledding destination for you, your kids, and anyone else who likes to have a little fun in the snow.
According to locals, the best downhill spot is in the West side of the park, along North Landing Road.
When you’re tired of sledding, Ellison Park has lots of other attractions. In the warmer months, you can play disc golf, hit the hiking trails, or try out your backhand on the tennis courts.
6. Play Kickball at Genesee Valley Park
Kickball is a wildly popular activity for young adults in Rochester. Whether you’re just looking for a quick, Wednesday night pick-up game, or want to join a full-blown league, there are a few different ways to get in on the action.
You can find games going on at different places around the city, including Ellison Park, Marie Daley Park, RIT, and what seems to be the most popular, Genesee Valley Park.
7. Bargain at the Public Market
Operating since 1827, Rochester’s Public Market is one of the oldest marketplaces in the nation.
Here you’ll find tons of high-quality produce, meat, spices, and baked goods, for a fairly cheap price. Not to mention, all prices at a market like this are negotiable — so have so fun haggling and don’t be afraid to shop around.
Local tip: A good portion of the market is outdoors, and since its open year around — dress accordingly!
8. Go Rock Climbing at RIT
The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is home to one of the top collegiate rock-climbing facilities in the country: The Red Barn. Its called the Red Barn because the gym was literally built inside an old dairy barn.
With climbs built for everyone, from beginners to experts, the Red Barn is a perfect family outing, date night, or office retreat.
Local tip: Another weather-related piece of advice … because there is no heat or air-conditioning in the barn, you’ll want to dress accordingly, based on outside temperatures.
So, what did we miss? What are some other must-do Rochester attractions that would make our list even more complete?