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Rochester Top 25

By Adam Evans, M.D.

The Rochester area is filled with a broad range of hikes, museums, amazing restaurants, bars and bakeries. These are some of my favorites sites and spots from my seven years here (as you’ll see I’m a big fan of food). Some of these recommendations are seasonal, so you’ll just have to come spend time with us to get of benefits of four seasons in Rochester, NY. The recommendations are not in any particular ranking and I’ve noted the specific season that applies if the event/experience is not available all year long.

  1. Grab your friends and join an evening beach volleyball league at Durand State Park. Otherwise bring your own net and ball and start up a pick-up game. Summer.
  2. Book an evening reservation at Good Luck Restaurant. The sicilian pizza and the burger are absolute musts but check out the nightly specials and the homemade pasta. Good Luck has been named one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine. Year round.
  3. Head to Scratch Bakeshop on Sunday morning to grab their featured gourmet donuts of the day. Check out their Instagram page early in the morning to see the flavors of the day. While you’re there check out their amazing cake (also sold by the slice) with GF and vegan options. Year round.
  4. Rent a motorboat from South Bay Boat and Tackle and head out onto Irondequoit Bay with your friends. Summer.
  5. Visit Highland Park in May for the Rochester Lilac Festival. Spring.
  6. Visit Atlas Eats for Sunday brunch (don’t miss the Kimchi pancakes) or make a reservation for one of their weekly Prix Fixe dinners featuring different cuisines from around the world. Year round.
  7. Grab a yoga class with Karyn or Randi at Midtown Athletic Club. Other great local yoga studios include TRU Yoga and YogaVibe Rochester. If you’re more of a spinning fan, head to M-Body on University. Year round.
  8. Drive to Letchworth State Park (called the "Grand Canyon of the East") for a hike. Stop at the Glen Iris Inn for lunch or pack a picnic.
  9. Head to Pittsford village and bike or run along the historic Erie Canal—if you don’t have a bike you can rent one from Towpath Bikes right along the canal. Treat yourself to an iconic Pittsford Farms Dairy ice cream afterward. In the winter, grab a coffee from the Village Bakery & Café and take the short canal loop for some fresh air. Year round.
  10. Visit the Corning Museum of Glass to see some iconic pieces by Chihuly. Year round.
  11. Plan a Fingerlakes wine tour. Don’t miss Ravines Wine Cellar, they have the best dry riesling in the region. Spring, summer, fall.
  12. Take a tour of the city’s popular wine bars. Grab a flight of wines at Living Roots a local urban winery, then hop in a cab and head to Apogee Wine Bar on Park Ave, make sure to grab a piece of Scratch Bakeshop cake at Apogee cake to go with your wine. Year round.
  13. Take a tour of the city’s museums. Start at the Memorial Art Gallery then walk through their gardens on your way to the George Eastman House (founder of Kodak). Make sure to spend on time in the estate’s gardens. If you have kids, grab an Uber and head to the Strong Museum of Play next. Otherwise, walk to nearby Park Ave for lunch. Year round.
  14. Try the iconic Rochester garbage plate. Versions of the local favorite are present all over the city. My favorite is at Dogtown on Monroe Ave, though the original is from Nick Tahou’s. You’ll find Rochesterians have very strong opinions about their favorite garbage plate spot. Year round.
  15. Grab tickets to a performance by the fantastic Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) at Kodak Hall downtown. Afterwards, grab a coffee Java’s Café. Year round.
  16. Grab dinner downtown at Branca Midtown or Pane Vino and head to The Little Theater, Rochester’s independent theater for a film. They have the best popcorn in the city, hands down.
  17. Head to the Rochester Public Market on Saturday morning to buy local product direct from farmers and local producers. Year round.
  18. Hit up the best local bars. Grab a margarita at Bitter Honey, then grab an Uber and head to the Daily Refresher where you’ll usually find one of Rochester’s great food trucks parked out back. Next head downtown to the Spirit Room, a craft cocktail bar with local performers every weekend. Finish the evening in the South Wedge neighborhood by stopping by Solera and Lux. Year round.
  19. Head to the Rochester Food Truck Rodeo at the Rochester Public Market the last Wednesday of every month to sample the rich food truck culture of Rochester. Spring, Summer.
  20. Grab your friends, order takeout sushi from Shema Sushi and watch the summer sunset from the top of Cobb’s Hill reservoir.
  21. Head to one of Rochester’s famous festivals including the Rochester International Jazz Festival (summer), Park Ave Fest (summer) and the Fringe Festival (fall).
  22. Rent some cross-country skis and tackle the trails at Mendon Ponds Park in Pittsford. Winter.
  23. Join a group run at the Rochester Running Co or Medved Running. Year round.
  24. Find a friend (or attending) with a sailboat and head out on Lake Ontario.
  25. Head to Toronto for a long weekend, don’t forget to stop at Niagara Falls along the way!