Top 10 Things to do in Rochester NY for the Best Trip Ever

Cool things to do in Rochester NY

Looking for cool & unique things to do in Rochester, New York? Here you have my Rochester Travel Guide with the best travel tips.

Located on the shores of Ontario, Rochester is the third-largest city in New York (with the first being New York City) and with over 100 different attractions, more than 12,000 acres of parklands and over 140 festivals each year, there is always plenty to do and see in Rochester.

Rochester New York activities

While I highly recommend visiting Rochester as a destination in itself, you may also want to consider combining a trip to Rochester with a trip to Niagara Falls, as Rochester is located just 90 minutes’ drive from the falls and 5.5 hours’ drive from NYC.

If you’re traveling to Rochester, then keep reading this guide which is going to provide you with all the essential information you need for planning a trip as well as some of the very best things to do and see during your time there.

things to do in rochester ny

Pre-Travel Guide to Rochester NY

Here are a few little tips for planning your trip to Rochester:

When to go to Rochester

It’s important to plan when you visit Rochester as some of the attractions can be seasonal and may not be open during your visit. 

During the summer months, the weather can be extremely hot and then super cold and snowy during the winter months. 

Many of the festivals are planned around the seasons, so check out what’s on before you go.

How to Get Around Rochester NY

You really need to have a car with you to make the most out of your trip.

Click here for rental car information and the latest prices.

While there is public transport in Rochester attractions are well spread out, and you will save time and get around more efficiently with a car.

Don’t forget Travel Insurance

I always travel with insurance, even if I travel inside my own country. 

No matter how well you plan and research a trip, there are always things that happen beyond your control. I had to use it several times and it saved my trip! 

Don’t have insurance yet? You can get a free quote here:

Where to Stay in Rochester NY

The best place to stay is in downtown Rochester

I’d recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency Rochester which is a great 4-star hotel.

Rochester things to do

The Hyatt’s facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, a gym, onsite restaurant and my favourite – the rooftop bar! The bar is the perfect place to come and relax after a full day of sightseeing.

The rooms at the Hyatt are spacious and modern and include all the amenities you’d expect from a 4-star hotel such as flat-screen TV, free WI-FI, air conditioning /heating, tea/coffee making facilities, safety deposit box, and iron facilities.

The hotel also provides a free shuttle service to both the airport and the train station.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.

Top Things to do in Rochester NY

There is a ridiculous amount of things to do and see in Rochester that we simply can’t list them all here, but we have chosen what we think are 10 of the very best things to do in Rochester.

View the High Falls

Nothing says Rochester like the High Falls.  Located in the centre of town, the High Falls is a 96-foot waterfall located in downtown Rochester. 

The falls are best viewed from the Pont De Rennes pedestrian bridge or while relaxing with a drink or two at the Genesee Brew House.

Play at the Strong Museum of Play, best thing to do in Rochester NY with kids

Don’t think the Strong Museum of Play is just for kids! 

I visited with a bunch of adults, and we had an absolute ball!!! But yes if you are looking for things to do in Rochester NY with kids, you really can’t not go to this fantastic museum.

experiences in rochester ny

The Strong Museum houses books, magazines, dolls, toys, old carousels, board games and much more.  You’ll love seeing all the old toys you used to play with as a child, as well as the toys your parents and even grandparents played with when they were kids!

There is plenty of things for the kids to play with too such as the miniature grocery store, retro game arcade (I may have spent a lot of time in here), dress-up opportunities, a giant Etch-a-Sketch and replica sets from Sesame Street. One of best things to do with kids in Rochester!

Kids or no kids, everyone will have a ball at the Strong Museum of Play.

Explore Rochester’s Street Art, one of the best things to do in Rochester NY

If looking for unique things to do in Rochester NY, keep your eyes peeled for some amazing street art.

I just love looking at street art when I explore a new city, and Rochester did not disappoint!

Some of the streets you will find some cool pieces of art include:

  • 197 Park Avenue,
  • 70 Greenleaf Street,
  • 84 Scio Street,
  • 68 Matthews Street and
  • the City of Rochester Public Market.

Attend the Fringe Festival, the coolest thing to do in Rochester NY

If you happen to be in Rochester while the Fringe Festival is on – you must go to some of the events, they have on. 

The Fringe Festival is held each September and is said to be the third-largest Fringe Festival in the world

What to do in rochester ny

The festival has over 500 different performances and events across various downtown venues.  Genres include music, dance, theatre, film and comedy.

I was lucky enough to be in Rochester during the Fringe Festival and attended a couple of amazing performances! One of the best things to do in Rochester NY at night!

Have you ever heard of Mass Karaoke? Me neither until I came to the Fringe Festival. It’s basically you and one thousand of your best friends doing karaoke in an open-air venue.  This was truly one of the best nights out I’ve ever had!

Explore the Rochester Public Market

If you’re feeling a bit hungry and are in town on a Tuesday, Thursday or a Saturday be sure to go down to the Rochester Public Market. 

Here you can pick up a great range of souvenirs, pastries, local produce and a range of other delicious goods. 

The markets also have a range of other shops and cafes that line the market, so a perfect place to come down for a meal or snack too. One of the top things to do in Rochester NY for free!

Visit the George Eastman Museum

You might be surprised that the man who invented the worldwide brand of Kodak is not in fact, Mr Kodak but rather a man by the name of George Eastman, who was a Rochester local.

After the death of Mr Eastman in 1932, his family turned is very elaborate home into a fascinating museum showcasing all things about photography. 

While learning about the developments in cameras and the processing of film is fascinating, just wandering the corridors of his mansion are pretty interesting too.

Things to do in rochester

Visit Susan B Anthony House

For anyone interested in the women’s rights movement, a visit to Susan B Anthony House is a must. 

Here you will learn about Susan B Anthony who was arrested after attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential election. 

She also became the president of the National Women Suffrage Association and her home was the headquarters.

Susan B Anthony’s home is now a fantastic museum with various artefacts relating to the movement on display.

Relax on a Sam Patch Tour Boat, one of the most romantic things to do in Rochester NY

top things to do in rochester ny

A great way to spend a few hours in the city, if looking for fun things to do in Rochester NY, is to take a leisurely cruise down the Erie Canal on-board the Sam Patch Cruise

The cruise will take you through the narrow yet picturesque canals, while also listening to commentary explaining the history of the area.

One of the highlights of the cruise is passing through the old lock. If you’re not sure what a lock is, it’s difficult to explain – but you will no doubt be amazed at how it works!

Have Heaps of Fun on a Pedal Tour

Please don’t leave Rochester without going on a pedal tour – this is so much fun!! 

Basically you jump onboard this contraction which is on bikes, and everyone pedals their way around town, while having a few drinks and sightseeing around downtown Rochester.

There is a range of different tours to choose from such as dinner tours, bar crawls and city tours. 

Along the way you make various stops to check out different sites around the city, and your guide gives you some great commentary too.

Tours are around two hours long and are heaps of fun.

Visit the Seneca Park Zoo

Situated over more than 15 acres of land and home to a wide range of animal species from all over the world, a visit to the Seneca Park Zoo is a must for all animal lovers. 

Animals you will find at Seneca include African Elephants, White Rhinos, Sea Lions, Giraffes and more.

So there you have it some fantastic tips on things to do when you’re in Rochester and this is just a sneak peak of some of the great things to do there. 

Whatever you get up to in Rochester you will no doubt have a blast!

Hope you liked this Rochester New York travel guide and these cool & fun things to do in Boulder in winter!

Want to read similar posts? Check out my City Guides.

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Authored by Melissa Kiely
Melissa is the creator behind Thrifty Family Travels which aims to provide families practical travel information on a range of destinations across the globe.  The focus is on affordable family travel, not necessarily cheap family travel, but rather show families how to spend their travel dollars without every compromising on experience. 

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