How to Spend a Weekend in Rochester, New York

You can fit a lot into a weekend trip to Rochester, if you know what to see and where to stay
You can fit a lot into a weekend trip to Rochester, if you know what to see and where to stay | © Debra Millet / Alamy Stock Photo
Culture Trip

As the state’s third-largest city after NYC and Buffalo, sightseeing in Rochester can easily be a week-long affair. But it can also be ticked off over a weekend, if you know what to see and where to stay. Base yourself in great local accommodation, then cram in multiple museum visits before eating your way around Michelin-star restaurants.

Where to stay

1. Staybridge Suites Rochester University


Staybridge Suites Rochester
Courtesy of Staybridge Suites / Expedia

Although you’ll only be in Rochester for the weekend, you’ll feel right at home with your pets welcome, facilities including same-day dry cleaning, and a printer and scanner available in its business center. Each suite boasts well-lit workspaces, which are ideal for journaling or working on the go. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, a fully equipped kitchen invites you to whip up a meal at your leisure.

2. School 31 Lofts at Colors Studios


School 31 2
Courtesy of School 31 / Expedia

Housed in a magnificent public schoolhouse that was constructed in 1919, School 31 Lofts is one of Rochester’s most stylish addresses. Each room is designed slightly differently – but high ceilings, plush sofas and grand windows, which fill the rooms with light, are some of the hotel’s recurring themes. Start your day right here looking out over the Neighborhood of the Arts.

3. Woodcliff Hotel and Spa

Spa Hotel, Luxury

Woodcliff Hotel and Spa
Courtesy of Woodcliff Hotel and Spa / Expedia

Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, in the scenic hills of upstate New York, is big on luxury living. When you’re not swimming in the indoor or outdoor pool, enjoying a massage or pedicure in its spa, or perhaps playing a round of golf on its nine-hole course with spectacular views of the grounds, enjoy gourmet dining. Its Horizons Lounge has an award-winning wine list; meanwhile, you’ll be able to fuel up on pastries and coffee in its Craftsman Cafe, before heading out to hike around the nearby Finger Lakes.

What to do

4. The Strong Museum


The only downside of this family-friendly museum, with an extensive comic book collection, is convincing your party that it’s time to leave. After all, it’s not every day that you get to gaze through a giant kaleidoscope. Upgrade your ticket to visit the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden, and you’ll have visited the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York.

5. George Eastman Museum


Visit the world’s oldest photography museum on the estate of George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film. Strolling through cinematographic technology exhibitions and thumbing through books, you’ll broaden your knowledge of the mediums. Book on the right day and you might even get to hear from an in-house expert during a panel discussion. The theater shows at least five different motion pictures each week, and every year there are at least seven new exhibitions.

6. Genesee Country Village and Museum


Journey back to a 19th-century village, art gallery and 600 acres (243ha) of cultivated and wild land at the frozen-in-time Genesee Country Village. This area was opened to visitors to help preserve the rural architecture of the Genesee Valley, and today it hosts some of the finest collections of wildlife art in America. You can also take your taste buds on a tour with a refreshing pint of ale at the Depot Restaurant, followed by a four-course dinner at the Hosmer’s Inn Tavern Dinner experience.

Where to eat

7. The Mad Hatter Restaurant and Bakery

Bakery, British

Scone with clotted cream and jam
© Sarah Kilian / Unsplash

Freshly baked scones with clotted cream are the speciality at this bakery, which has both gluten-free and vegan options. Its brunch comes highly recommended, too; check out the British Scram section of the menu, all dishes are made with two scrambled farm fresh eggs and an assortment of ingredients. It’s rivaled only by the Queen Croquet, comprising diced applewood bacon, sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese.

8. Avvino

Restaurant, European

Wine bottles
© Amy Chen / Unsplash

This impressive eatery, which serves up plates like braised rabbit with green chickpea-potato purée and crispy onion, is best known for its wine. The owner, Janine, is quite the oenophile with a modest 200-strong wine selection. Plus, the name of this restaurant actually comes from the term avvinare, which refers to the traditional European practice of priming stemware and decanters for proper wine service. In short, they love wine and good food.

9. Tap and Mallet

Pub, Pub Grub

© Lucas Santos / Unsplash

This cosy Rochester spot nails the brief for good pub grub and beers on tap. You’ll be able to sample fresh local ingredients here and try lesser-known beers; the pub boasts a purified selection of 30 draft lines. Don’t know where to start? Its owners want you to feel relaxed and at home, and they’ll happily point you in the right direction.

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