Rochester, NY: A Lakefront City On The Rise
Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Rochester – the third largest city in New York – rises on Lake Ontario's southern shore. It's home to some of the most beautiful natural surroundings anywhere, and waterways of every kind.
Great Lakes boaters will want to dock at the Port of Rochester Marina, a state-of-the-art public marina offering a full service facility for marina patrons and their guests. Amenities include showers, restrooms, laundry facilities, a lounge, and a small ships store. There are pump-out services and utility connections including Wi-Fi, electricity, and water. Equipped to accommodate boats of all shapes and sizes, transient slip reservations are available.
Boaters will discover many dining and entertainment options at the Port, including the Port Terminal Building, adjacent to the marina. Take advantage of the Lakeside Farmers’ Market every Sunday morning at the marina. Walk to Ontario Beach Park for beach fun, with free concerts every Wednesday night during the summer months, and the city’s downtown is nearby – only seven miles from the lake.
Irondequoit Bay is also a favorite among boaters and fishermen. Irondequoit Bay Marine Park is a launch site for small vessels and power boats, with a small toilet facility and a boat clean-out station. Bring your fishing gear and go fight coho, chinook, and Atlantic salmon.
Row, sail, canoe or kayak, Rochester’s many waterways are easily accessible. Discover the Genesee River, meandering creeks, the spectacular glacial Finger Lakes, and the enchanting Erie Canal.
While sailboats and motorboats primarily claim the bays and open waters of Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay, the allure of Rochester's rivers, inlets, coves, and the Erie Canal belongs to those seeking premier paddling territory. Glide along the Genesee River toward Rochester and marvel at the city skyline rising above you. Dock at downtown’s Corn Hill Landing and enjoy a meal.
Bring your bike, too. A greenway trail connects the lakefront to downtown via the Genesee River. From the river, bikers can also connect to the Erie Canalway, a national heritage corridor with a flat towpath ideal for biking and jogging.
Take a car or bike ride to the Erie Canal and experience a 200-year-old engineering marvel. The contemporary Canal is a well-maintained recreational paradise rivaling any canal in the world for beauty and ease of travel. Picturesque canal towns are full of festivals, dining, shopping, and music.
Right in the heart of downtown Rochester, High Falls is a 96-foot waterfall in the Genesee River, one of the largest urban waterfalls in the country. Swing by the adjacent Genesee Brewery – the oldest brewery in New York – for a Genesee beer and a bite to eat.
Getting Around Rochester
You will find the community is easy to get around, with very little traffic. Uber, Lyft, taxi services, and public transit are all available at the Port of Rochester. Rochester is also home to the Pace Bike Share service, with different stations available throughout the community.
Now is an exciting time to visit! Like many other mid-sized cities in the U.S., Rochester is experiencing a wave of revitalization. Countless new projects and developments are reshaping the community.
Rochester’s food and drink scene is also booming. New restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and coffee roasters are making a name for themselves on the local, regional, and national level. Try local favorites like Restaurant Good Luck, Radio Social, The Revelry, Bitter Honey, and Bar Bantam. Besides the venerable Genesee Brewery, Rochester is rich with craft breweries, including Rohrbach Brewing, ROC Brewing, and many more.
Rochester’s first urban winery just opened up with Living Roots, while Casa Larga Vineyards and Winery has been making Italian-inspired wines in Rochester since 1978. In Rochester’s Public Market District, check out Black Button Distilling, the first small batch distillery to open in Rochester since prohibition.
If you love exploring the arts and culture scene, you've come to the right place! Named one of the most arts-vibrant cities in the country, Rochester offers experiences year-round, from stage productions and documentary film screenings to craft festivals and street art.
Visitors return for attractions like The Strong National Museum of Play (home to the Toy Hall of Fame), the George Eastman Museum, and the Memorial Art Gallery. Love history? Enjoy a visit to the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, home to Susan B. Anthony during her 40 most politically active years. Or take a step back in time at the Genesee Country Village & Museum, a 19th century village brought to life at New York’s largest living history museum – and the third largest living history museum in the country.
Special Events and Festivals
Rochester Lilac Festival, May 10-19
The largest free festival of its kind in North America, spring in Upstate NY is welcomed with ten incredible days and nights of non-stop festivities. Peek around every corner and you’ll discover magnificent gardens, musical gems, exciting exhibits, and exhilarating special events. The star of the show is Highland Park’s world-famous collection of lilacs. Enjoy the sensational scent of 1,500 lilac bushes in bloom.
CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, June 21-27
This internationally-known festival navigates all genres of creative, improvised music from all corners of the world with over 1,500 musicians and more than 325 concerts at 19 venues. Free and family-friendly concerts are scheduled for every day of the festival.
Fairport Canal Days, May 31 – June 2
The largest summer event held alongside the famous Erie Canal. Juried arts festival with shopping, arts, and entertainment, plus food, music, and more.
Corn Hill Arts Festival, July 13-14
Corn Hill Neighborhood
This free festival features 375 juried artists, four music stages, and two beer & wine gardens all set in beautiful, historic Corn Hill.
Park Ave Summer Arts Festival, August 3-4
Park Avenue Neighborhood
Over 350 artists and craftspeople, three stages of entertainment, food and shopping along a 1-1/4 mile stretch of trendy Park Avenue in downtown Rochester.
KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, September 10-21
Various locations in downtown Rochester
Now one of the top fringe festivals in the U.S. – and the largest multi-arts festival in New York – expect the unexpected from this unique, multi-genre arts celebration with more than 500 performances and events – over 150 of which are free – in 20+ downtown venues.
For More Information
This article first appeared in the Launch Issue (May/Jun) 2019 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.