Rochester can sometimes be a drab place. Our winters are incessantly cold, and the other seasons can certainly seem painfully short in comparison. But despite this, the area is also a place with a rich, unique history and landscape. In our warmer months, going off the beaten path a bit can offer some wonderful sightseeing. To get you started, here's some of the best and brightest spots to soak up some views during your time in Rochester.
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Where Culver Road ends in the Town of Irondequoit, you'll find the quaint lakeside community of Sea Breeze. The main attraction of the area is the Seabreeze Amusement Park, the only roller coaster destination in the greater Rochester area. Seabreeze is home to the oldest continuously running roller coaster in America, "The Jackrabbit," and the "Whirlwind," a rotating roller coaster that, at its 52-foot peak, offers a stunning view over Lake Ontario with a slowed, fairly long straightaway.
For a more quiet Sea Breeze experience, the pier offers a chance to breathe in the Ontario air. A classic Rochester fishing spot, the quarter-mile walkway culminates in a red and white striped lighthouse.
At the junction of Culver Road and Norris Drive stands the hilltop space known as Cobbs Hill Park with the large reservoir sitting at the top. A 144-million-gallon basin that supplies drinking water to the city, the reservoir itself is a sight to behold. However, the true attraction of this century old construction is the view. In spaces between the trees lining the edges of the reservoir, one can take in a breathtaking view of the Rochester skyline, with nearly every building in the metropolis' silhouette visible. Particularly in the evening, where the city lights shine against the setting sun, the view from Cobbs Hill is stunning.
At the bottom of the hill, Cobbs Hill Park hosts basketball courts, soccer fields, a baseball diamond, and a quiet spot for picnics or relaxation.
Home to the tale of the "White Lady," the most pervasive ghost story in Rochester, Durand Eastman Park, with entrances off of King's Highway and Lakeshore Boulevard, offers much more to the intrepid nature-lover than urban legends. Featuring several small lakes and dozens of crisscrossing trails, Durand Eastman Park is a haven for a light Rochester day hike.
If hiking isn't your forte, simply take a seat atop "The White Lady's Castle," a stone wall standing on the north end of the park, facing Lakeshore Boulevard. From here, you can catch a spectacular sunset view over Lake Ontario.
Constructed in 1965, the 190-foot-tall stainless steel Liberty Pole was constructed in testament to the colonial liberty pole tradition, whose constructions celebrated victories in freedom and independence. Standing at the intersection of East Main Street, Franklin Street, and East Avenue, the site is also a memorial to two former liberty poles, built in 1846 and 1889. Today, not only is the Liberty Pole a Rochester landmark, but also a great spot to start your urban exploration. Check out the Liberty Pole during the holiday season, where the steel cables hanging along its sides are adorned with lights.
Perhaps no other site on this list holds a stronger link to Rochester's history than the High Falls. The Genesee River's 96-foot waterfall was formerly used to power flour mills — such a strong portion of Rochester history that the moniker "The Flour City" lingers today — as well as the Genesee Brewery and much of the city's early industries. Today, the building at 60 Brown's Race, a former 19th-century waterworks building, is home to the High Falls Center and Interpretive Museum, celebrating the history behind the falls and the area, including the historic Susan B. Anthony and the Brown's Race districts.
For a more leisurely experience, the Genesee Brew House, located at 25 Cataract Street at the site of a 19th-century packaging plant, offers a striking view of the falls from its patio.