Whether you spend a day exploring one neighborhood, or bounce between several of them, you'll find that the city of Rochester features a variety of historic places, shopping spots, parks, cultural districts, and nightlife opportunities. Starting out on the far north end of Lake Avenue, this is one route to see the sites, taste the flavors, and live the history that Rochester has to offer.
Along Lake Ontario, with the town of Greece to the west and the Genesee River to the east, is Charlotte, a narrow neighborhood with a distinct feel. Many of Charlotte's attractions and businesses are directly linked to the nearby water. Along the lake, where Lake Avenue ends, is OntarioBeachPark. Sunbathers and swimmers can be found enjoying the beach during the warm months, and the beach is also the site of the "polar plunge" during the city's Lakeside Winter Celebration every February. The park also includes a carousel that has been in operation for more than 100 years, a pier that stretches out into the lake, a boardwalk, and several beach volleyball courts.
Head south along Lake Avenue and you'll find that Charlotte is home to several popular Italian restaurants, including Mr. Dominic's. The area's diverse nightlife scene includes Rab's Woodshed, a mainstay that features live blues; NOLA's BBQ, which features live rock and pop music; and the Penny Arcade, which hosts metal and punk bands almost nightly.
Farther south along Lake Avenue is the Maplewood neighborhood. With Kodak's industrial area to the north and west, and the Genesee River to the east, the neighborhood is listed on the national and state registers of historic places. The neighborhood streets are lined with homes dating to the turn of the 20th century, in architectural styles like Tudor Revival, Italian Villa, and Queen Anne. The homes, along with the accompanying manicured lawns and small gardens, attract visitors to the annual home and garden tour of the neighborhood. The neighborhood is also home to the Maplewood Rose Garden on Driving Park Avenue at Lake Avenue. This urban oasis has more than 3000 rose bushes filling more than an acre, and is home to an annual festival.
Continue south along Lake Avenue and turn west onto Emerson Street to enter the Edgerton neighborhood. In the EdgertonCommunity Center on Backus Street is the Stardust Ballroom, which is often packed with swing dancers, concertgoers, and even boxers. The far west side of the city, near Emerson Street and Lee Road, features large stretches of industrial buildings, warehouses, and shipping docks. In the east, at the Driving Park Bridge, is the beginning of the Genesee River Trail, which runs north along the river into Charlotte. The trail is a mixture of large wooded areas, waterfront pathways, and scenic viewpoints of some of the falls and gorges along the Genesee.
Back on Lake Avenue, continue south and turn west onto Lyell Avenue to the Lyell-Otis neighborhood. The neighborhood houses Paetec Park, the home field for both the Raging Rhinos (soccer) and the Rattlers (lacrosse). The largely working-class neighborhood includes several business mainstays. Travel southbound on Mt. Read Boulevard toward Jay Street. On Jay you'll find Antonetta's, a homey Italian restaurant that serves lunch on weekdays and dinner on Fridays. Back on Lyell Avenue is Smokin' Joe's Bar and Grill, an eclectic biker bar that has live rock and blues music. Neighborhood bars, bodegas, and nail salons have popped up among the many old factory buildings along the main drags.
From Lyell Avenue, go south on Broad Street into the southwest side of the city, which features the Dutchtown neighborhood on the north end, the Greater Rochester International Airport to the southwest, and the Genesee River to the east. At Broad and Main, head east into the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood, where you'll find the Susan B. Anthony House on Madison Street. The home, the site of the suffragist's famous arrest for illegally voting in 1872, is open to the public. Walking around the neighborhood is a little like stepping back in time. The narrow streets and alleys still hold historic homes centered around a public square, which includes a statue depicting Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass having tea.
Head east on Main Street and south on Plymouth to enter the Corn Hill neighborhood, located just southwest of downtown Rochester. This area of the city includes many historic homes located around a central park on Frederick Douglass Street and Edinburgh Street. Corn Hill Landing, located along the Genesee River, contains apartments, restaurants, shops, and a river walk. Residents embrace the sense of community in Corn Hill, exemplified by the popular summer arts festival that packs its street, and the Corn Hill Tool Library. The tool library allows residents to borrow from the more than 300 neighborhood-owned tools for gardening, home repair, and general use.
Take Plymouth Avenue southbound, veering to the right onto Brooks Avenue, and you'll be in the neighborhood known as the 19th Ward. The 19th Ward is home to many college students, long-time residents, and two housing co-ops. The neighborhood attitude is summed up by the slogan of the 19th Ward Community Association, "urban by choice." The association has been instrumental in maintaining the neighborhood's racial diversity and identity.
Located on both banks of the Genesee River, just southwest from the University of Rochester campus, is GeneseeValleyPark, one of the oldest parks in the county. This urban park includes soccer, cricket, and softball fields, an 18-hole golf course, trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing, and several picnic shelters.
Head eastbound on Elmwood Avenue, to the University of Rochester campus. Now the area's largest employer, the University of Rochester is a major research center in the health and science fields. Head further eastto Mt. Hope Avenue, where you'll find Mount Hope Cemetery. The nearly 175-year-old cemetery is the burial ground for some of Rochester's most famous and influential residents, including both Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. To learn more about the people buried there, check out the tours led by the Friends of Mt. Hope during the warmer months.
From Mt. Hope Avenue, head east on Gregory Street to the South Wedge and Swillburg neighborhoods, which have seen some revitalization in recent years thanks partially to an influx of young homeowners and entrepreneurs in the area. They've built on the strong foundation laid by some of the neighborhood's older establishments.
The Cinema Theatre on Clinton Avenue is the city's oldest neighborhood theater, attracting movie-goers since it first opened its doors in 1914. Beale Street Café on South Avenue serves hot Cajun and barbeque food alongside smoking-hot, live blues music. The nearby German House, on Gregory Street, has an auditorium that hosts some of the area's top touring bands as well as local functions.
The South Wedge has many relatively new businesses with young owners around the corner of South Avenue and Gregory Street, like Equal Grounds Coffee House, HeadzUp Hats,Mise en Place Market, Thread, and Lux Lounge. Frequent customers of these shops are likely to end up on a first-name basis with the owners, who are often behind the counter.
From South and Gregory, head down South Avenue to Highland Park, home to the annual Lilac Festival and hundreds of the fragrant bushes that it's named after. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted - the landscape architect behind New York's Central Park - and is filled with thousands of flowers, trees, and shrubs. The nearby Highland Park neighborhood sits on a one-time horticultural nursery, and its residents share strong sense of community; porches act as informal meeting grounds, and the sidewalks always seem to be in use.
Several neighborhoods in the southeast quadrant are named after the main streets that are central to their development. From Highland Park, head north on Goodman Street to the Monroe Avenue neighborhood, which is sometimes divided into Upper Monroe and Lower Monroe; both have specialty stores, quaint eateries, and an alternative nightlife scene.
Continue north on Goodman Street to the Park Avenue neighborhood, which is a blend of boutique shopping, fine dining, unique cafes, and upscale apartments and homes.
Take Park Avenue away from downtown, to Culver Road. Across 490 you'll find Cobbs Hill Park, and the adjacent Cobbs Hill neighborhood. This large residential area is filled with many homes along tree-lined streets. Cobbs Hill Park and neighboring Washington Grove are the cornerstones of this neighborhood. Residents and visitors can find walking trails, basketball courts, a reservoir, and sledding hills here.
Drive north on Culver Road and take a left on East Avenue, which is lined with many historic mansions, some of which have been converted into apartments. The East Avenue Neighborhood is also home to the Rochester Museum and Science Center, which has a planetarium, and several exhibits for kids and adults.
Many of the city's museums and galleries lie in the Neighborhood of the Arts, along University Avenue. A short trip down Goodman Street or Culver Road will get you there. The George Eastman House is a museum devoted to the history and study of photography, and its Dryden Theatre screens contemporary and historically significant, films. The Memorial Art Gallery on University Avenue has numerous exhibitions throughout the year, and is a premier museum in the region. Village Gate on Goodman Street is an indoor mall located in a refurbished printing plant. Inside are restaurants, business offices, and specialty stores like the Bop Shop, which sells an eclectic mix of CDs and albums on vinyl. The neighborhood is also home to ARTWalk. A stroll or drive down University will reveal a variety of public sculptures; even the bus stops have been reimagined into works of art.
North of University Avenue is the North Winton-Browncroftneighborhood, named after its two main streets with Merchants Road cutting diagonally across. This area has a stable population of homeowners. Shops here are destination points for many area residents, including the Ravioli Shop on Winton Road, which sells freshly made and packaged pastas, sauces, and bread.
Travel west along Clifford Avenue from Culver Road to the neighborhood known as 14621 - its zip code - which covers nearly one-sixth of the city. This vast area has seen waves of immigrant populations. Several ethnic food stores serve the community and are destinations for those outside the neighborhood. Hartmann's Old World Sausage and Meats, on North Clinton Avenue, is a German butcher shop that sells traditional German and Austrian sausages, as well as other assorted meat and food products. Wojtczak's Bakery on Hudson is known for its rye bread and many other baked goods.
On the western side of the neighborhood, along the Genesee River, is a smaller neighborhood sometimes referred to as Seneca-Ridge. This area is filled with well-maintained, single-family homes along wide streets. Nearby is the Seneca Park Zoo on St. Paul Boulevard, and SenecaPark, which includes a three-mile forested, river gorge, with plenty of hiking trails and open fields.
South 14621 is the Rochester Public Market located in theMarketviewHeightsneighborhood. The Public Market is a large outdoor marketplace featuring goods from local farmers, bakers, and butchers. Get to the market by traveling south and east along Portland Avenue, Central Park, and North Union Street.
Surrounded by the Inner Loop, a circular portion of highway 490, downtown Rochester, like many cities, has lost many of its retail stores. But it is still an important regional center, with office buildings and government headquarters. There is a growing interest in downtown housing, with more than 3600 people living in new condominiums, Victorian townhouses, and loft apartments in converted industrial buildings.
Many of the city's cultural institutions are here as well, including Geva Theatre on Woodbury Boulevard, the Strong - National Museum of Play next to Manhattan Square Park, and the Eastman Theatre. These host some of the city's finest opportunities for live entertainment and interactive learning.
The St. Paul Quarter, a few blocks of St. Paul Boulevard north of Main Street, includes several nightclubs, restaurants, and live music venues. Tapas 177 Lounge serves food with a Latin flavor; with live bands and DJs, Tapas attracts music fans and dancers alike.
Just south of Main Street you'll find the East End, a prime nightlife destination. The area around the corner of East Avenue and Alexander Street includes numerous dance clubs, bars, and shops. The Little Theatre is an independent movie house that also offers live music in its café. Daisy Dukes is a country-themed nightclub on East that comes complete with a mechanical bull. Just off East Avenue is Java's, a coffee shop that's open late and often has live music.
Nearby is the High Falls area, which was once a large industrial site in the city along the Genesee River, and now is an area in development where the falls are visible from a bridge overlooking the water.
Take State Street back toward Main to Frontier Field, which is home to the Rochester Red Wings baseball team. Downtown offers a range of high end restaurants, like Max of Eastman Place, to more quaint eateries, like HealthGarden on State Street, where $5 buys a heaping plate of freshly cooked vegetarian and West Indian food.