People associate New York with bright lights and even brighter futures. That should not be surprising in any way for a city that’s called as the Big Apple and The City That Never Sleeps. However, you shouldn’t confine yourself to the city of New York if you are a wide-eyed traveler. There are many great areas in the state of New York and if you want a slice of the quiet life then you should not travel any further than Rochester, New York. While this city is far from the neon lights of New York City, it is never short on culture, arts, and history. As such, it is a must traveler for all travel bugs in the world.

How To Get To Rochester, New York

Sadly, getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city life in New York City is not easy. Worry not know as getting to Rochester, New York is already the hardest part of the trip so once you are there, there’s nothing else to worry about other than having great fun.

It will be hard getting to Rochester directly but if you are in New York already that would be easy. Your goal is to book a flight to the Greater Rochester International Airport. You can book connecting flights from the John F. Kennedy International Airport or the LaGuardia Airport. There’s not a lot of flights that get to the Greater Rochester International Airport so your best bet is taking other routes.

An inconvenient but very rewarding way to get to Rochester is by taking a drive from New York City. Since there are numerous car rental services at the major airports, you can take a long drive instead. The most efficient path is the I-80 W/ I-81, N/I-280 W/I-380N. This cuts west towards the northern part of New Jersey. The path here will be less congested with traffic and it will take at least 6 hours to get to Rochester.

There are also Amtrak trains that run from New York City’s Penn Station to Rochester. It will be a 6-7 hour trip that takes you through a scenic route across Schenectady and Upstate New York. Seats range from $45 to $150 depending on the time of the trip and the type of the sheet.

Alternatively, you can take a bus directly from New York City to Rochester. Your best option is the Greyhound which goes on a few runs each day and trips will last over 6 hours. You’re looking at spending somewhere between $35 to $70.

Getting Around Rochester

If you are already in Rochester, you’ll need to choose which mode of transportation to use when getting around. The cheapest and healthiest option would be to take a walk around the city. Rochester isn’t all that big so if the weather isn’t too hot or too cold, then you might want to walk around the city instead.

If you have a car along, you’ll have no trouble getting around the city as the streets are carefully laid out so it’s not easy to get lost.

You can also take the Erie Canalway Trail and Genesee Riverway Trail using a bike. The city is dubbed as a Bicycle Friendly Community so expect great biking routes as well. Luckily, there are several bike routes you can take in Rochester, making it one of the ideal methods of getting around the city.

There’s always the option of public transportation available. The Regional Transit Service provides a great option for city residents and travelers. The bus routes will get you to most of the key parts of the city.

Budget For Rochester

Unlike New York City, you won’t need to worry too much about spending all your savings on your trip to Rochester. Most of the things you’ll need are relatively cheaper on this side of New York. In total, you are looking at $100 per day per head. Of course, it would be cheaper if you are going to travel with a group.

For your budget, you’ll be spending a lot on accommodations. The high-end rooms in Rochester will cost you around $100 per night. However, there are cheap hostels and hotels which you can book for at least $30 only. Ideally, these are the rooms you want to book as you’ll be spending most of your time outside anyways.

Unless you have a car along, you’ll also have to spend at least $20 per day on public transportation. However, we recommend booking a bicycle instead if you know how to bike. It will cost you at least $10 per day to rent a bike and you don’t have to worry about gas anymore.

Food isn’t much of an issue as while it is far from the atmosphere that New York offers, there are many food stands in Rochester still. You can get great tasting and filling grub for at least $3-5.

Best Time To Visit Rochester

Rochester has fairly decent temperatures throughout the year. However, if you want to get the most out of the city, then you may want to visit from late spring or early fall. This way, you can avoid the summer crowds and the blazing summer temperatures so you can fully enjoy Rochester at your own pace.

The average temperature in May ranges from 68-75 so it will be cool and breezy. Meanwhile, temperatures in September and October are at 71 and 60 degrees respectively. During these months, room rates are at their average so if you book a lot earlier, you may get the chance to get some exciting deals.

As with the rest of New York, Rochester may get unbearably cold during the winter so this is a season you may want to avoid. However, you can avoid excessive crowds and see some amazing discounts on rooms during this season. If this is the time you are headed, be sure to bring several layers of clothing with you to withstand the cold.

With these things in mind, it’s now time to plan your visit to Rochester. Check out some of the best things that you can do in this amazing city.

Rochester, NY Activities

Rochester, New York is also one of the cities in the world that has a lot of tourist spots to offer. There are activities that will make your blood rush, there are ones that will just let you reset your mind and soul, and so much more. The fun never stops when you’re in Rochester and there are lots of activities that awaits regardless of what type of activity you’re looking for. Even if you are looking for some of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY, you still won’t get disappointed. In fact, Rochester has plenty of them as well. In case you want to know more so you can add some to your travel itinerary, here are some of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY that we’re sure you’ll love as well.

1See a huge collection of games and consoles

Consoles and titles on display (Source)

If you’re a gamer, paying the National Center for the History of Electronic Games a visit is one of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY that we know you will surely love. This place as a vast collection of more than 20,000 games and consoles. From the early years of the Atari models to even today’s Nintendo Wii, you can get to see it all here. Included in the National Center for the History of Electronic Games’ collection are more than 10,000 video game titles too. There also 5,000 games for children that are on display and so much more. The best part of it is that most of these consoles are still in working condition. You can even get to play some of it.

2Get inside the White Lady’s Castle

An image of a white lady emerged from a tree near the White Lady’s Castle (Source)

In ghost stories, white ladies and other ghosts appear lost and homeless but in Rochester, you can get to see a white lady’s castle and even explore it. Located near a forest in Rochester (which, by the way, makes it all the more creepier) is the actual building ruins of a European castle that is believed to be the home of a white lady. The legends say that it belongs to a protective mother and her daughter. One night, the daughter went out for a stroll but she never returned. Thinking that her daughter ran away with a young suitor, the word says that she continues to haunt their home. In fact, locals have reported seeing apparitions – hence the name.

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3Reminisce about your childhood in The National Toy Hall of Fame

From rear left are Risk, sand and Clue. From second row left are: Transformers, My Little Pony, UNO, Matchbox Cars, Wiffle Ball, play food, and Magic 8 Ball. The PEZ candy dispenser at center foreground. (Source)

Prepare for the nostalgic feel that The National Toy Hall of Fame brings with the toys that it has on display. Some of the toys that are put on display are the Duncan Yo-Yo, Legos, Barbie, Erector Set, Crayola Crayon, Etch-a-Sketch, Frisbee, Hula Hoop, Marbles, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker toys. In 2011, the dollhouse, Hot Wheels, and the blanket (also known as Blankie) were added to the toy collection. You can also nominate your favorite toy to the hall of fame. However, note that The National Toy Hall of Fame has its own basis of criteria in selecting toys to include in the hall of fame. Also, inductions are held every November so be sure to get your entries early.

4Talk to the dead

The Fox sisters’ knocking table (Source)

Spiritualism was a thing in the mid-19th century because of the Fox sisters Kate, Lea, and Margaret. They were at the forefront of this phenomenon as they “helped” the living communicate with the dead using a table that is now on display at the Rochester Historical Society and seeing it, by the way, is one of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY. You won’t be able to communicate with the dead, though, as this table is specifically made to fake the sounds that the Fox sisters use to “confirm” the presence of spirits. If you will look closely within the enclosed top of the table, you will see a spring that’s connected to a long metal rod that when pushed, it will create the “rapping” sound that the Fox sisters used as “evidence” to confirm if the dead were present.

5Discover a secret room in a library

The Central Library of Rochester on the outside (Source)

Shelves that lead to secret rooms are what we often only see on TV but you can get to see it in real life in Rochester and it’s, of course, one of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY. You won’t find any secret that will help you solve mysteries just like in series and movies, though. Rather, you will see a secret room filled with dolls and quilts and can be used as a reading room too. Tucked in the Central Library Building in Rochester, NY, this room is sometimes used for events as well. And the best part of it is that it’s wheelchair accessible. Adults will still need to duck, though. Even so, it’s a nice place to discover.

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6Witness the Lilac Festival

Live music at the Rochester Lilac Festival ( Source)

If you’re in Rochester, might as well time your visit to witness the Rochester Lilac Festival too. It is actually a festival of flowers but it’s not just your ordinary celebration. Rather, the Lilac Festival at the Highland Park is the largest flower festival in North America which makes being a part of it one of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY too. First took place in the spring of 1898, this festival has become larger that today, it features arts and crafts, live music, 5 and 10k races, lots of food, and a search for the Lilac Festival Queen. Aside from these and the lilacs, the park can also talk big about its cherry blossoms, rhododendrons, as well as Japanese maples.

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7See the Threshold

A closer look at the steel sculpture (Source)

Also one of the cool things to do in Rochester, NY is to see the Threshold, a monument made by Albert Paley. At first glance, you might just want to pass on it as the steel sculpture may not look as impressive as you’d expect it to be. It’s just a yellow steel work that seems so abstract that you might not be able to understand what it’s trying to portray. But wait and take a look at its shadow projected on the ground when the sun hits the right angle. You’ll see shapes of plants and animals that wouldn’t even imagine were there. You’ll get to have a closer look on this if you head to the St. Louis Zoo.

8See antique skeletons that once hid in a university closet

University of Rochester (Source)

Tucked in the University of Rochester is Hutchison Hall that has some unique artifacts on display. Some of which are more than 300 skeletons including a gorilla’s. There are taxidermied animals as well plus a rare tuatara on display and seeing these is one of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY that you shouldn’t miss as well. But what makes it even cooler is how these artifacts were discovered. Yes, they were just accidentally discovered as the faculty at the University of Rochester was looking to expand their office space. The artifacts have already been put on display on the second floor of Hutchison Hall. S don’t forget to add this on your travel itinerary.

9Explore Susan B. Anthony’s House

Susan B. Anthony’s house (Source)

Susan B. Anthony is one of the most popular women in the American history. In case you don’t know her yet, she devoted her life to gender, racial, and educational equality and she especially played a big role in paving the way for the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution that gave women the right to vote. Hence wouldn’t it be nice to see a glimpse of her life? Fortunately, you can do that if you head to the west side of Rochester city to see her house that turned into a museum. Here, you can get to see rare photographs of her, a desk that was given to her when she started her newspaper, and so many more.

Before you go, note that the Museum is only open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 AM to 5 PM and closed during major holidays. There is also an admission fee of $15 for adults.

10Visit Susan B. Anthony’s grave

Voters flocked Susan B. Anthony’s grave leaving “I Voted” stickers (Source)

Susan B. Anthony, again, has played a big role in the American history, especially in fighting for women’s rights. So why not honor her legacy and visit her grave? If you’ve already been to Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, Mt. Hope where Susan B. Anthony’s remains lies is just a stone throw away so you won’t have to worry about driving extra miles to get to it.

In addition to Anthony’s grave, you can also get to see many more tombs and monuments that belong to other historically significant figures such as Jon Jacob Bausch and Frederick Douglass. In addition to that, the place, in general, is also a sight to see as it also has beautiful landscaping and natural features that are worth talking about.

11See the House of Guitars

Inside the House of Guitars (Source)

Whether or not you are fond of guitars, going to the House of Guitars is also one of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY. This is because it is the largest guitar store in the world. But just because it’s called the House of Guitars doesn’t mean that you can only get to see guitars. Sure, there are plenty of guitars to see but this place is more to it than that. The House of Guitars also has a recording studio, recordings, a music school, an in-house repair shop and more memorabilia. The House of Guitars even has its own stage that can be used for free concerts. Its walls are also covered with signatures and messages from so many artists.

12Marvel at a Seussian sculpture

The Dr. Seussophone (Source)

If you’re looking for a unique things to see in Rochester, seeing the Seussian sculpture is one of the coolest things to do in Rochester, NY too. Made of junk instruments parts, this item will astound you not just for its appearance that’s part trumpet, part trombone, and other brass instruments. Rather, it will also surprise you as it plays as well. However, it’s not quite easy to see this sculpture as you’d have to contact Paul Able, the brilliant mind behind this sculpture. You can contact him at [email protected] in advance so he can accommodate you. You can also dial 585-283-1181.