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Parental advisory: Rochester landmarks to take visiting Moms and Dads

STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE '10: Where to take your parents 

Parental advisory: Rochester landmarks to take visiting Moms and Dads

  BY JESSE HANUS

There will probably be at least one weekend during your college life when you set aside regular responsibilities, work, parties, and really any chance of spending time you're your friends, because your parents are coming to visit. The goal for the weekend is to show your loving family around the city without taking them any place where they could potentially embarrass you -- or you embarrass them.

            Instead of leaving you hopelessly searching the internet for "parent-friendly" places in Rochester, we've compiled a list of locales where you and your progenitors might actually have fun together. For more specific ideas, check the extensive calendar section of City Newspaper every Wednesday, or head to the searchable events section at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

Arts & Entertainment

Whether your parents are art aficionados or film buffs, there are plenty of galleries, museums, and theaters in Rochester that will keep them -- and you -- entertained for an evening, or an entire weekend.

            For an artful experience, check out the Memorial Art Gallery (500 University Ave., 276-8900, mag.rochester.edu) for events, workshops, exhibitions, or the museum's permanent collection of nearly 11,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. Another great stop for art is the Rochester Contemporary Art Center (137 East Ave., 461-2222, rochestercontemporary.org), which features more daring work by both renowned and emerging artists from around the region and country. The unique exhibits and special events are the perfect excuse to head downtown, especially during one of the monthly First Friday (firstfridayrochester.org) gallery nights, which Rochester Contemporary organizes.

            The George Eastman House (900 East Ave., 271-3361, eastmanhouse.org) is the place to learn about photography and motion pictures. George Eastman was the founder of Eastman Kodak Company, the company that defined film and photo in the 20th century. Visitors have the opportunity to tour his 35,000-square-foot colonial revival mansion and 8.5-acre gardens, as well as rotating and permanent exhibitions that showcase the history and the future of photography. While there, stop by the Dryden Theatre, which screens archival prints from the museum's extensive film collection, as well as foreign, classic, and independent films you won't see anywhere else in town. For a schedule of Dryden film visit dryden.eastmanhouse.org.

            Another place to see movies that your friends may not have heard of (but that you can tell them about, smartypants) is The Little Theatre (240 East Ave., 258-0400, thelittle.org), Rochester's art-house theater. The Little specializes in foreign and independent films, plus also has art exhibits and live music in the attached cafe. Many of Rochester's numerous annual film festivals are also hosted at the Little.

            For live theater, Geva Theatre Center (75 Woodbury Blvd., 232-4382, gevatheatre.org) is the city's professional stage. With options ranging from the classics and musicals that your parents remember, to more modern pieces and the theater's own improv comedy troupe, you're sure to find something that you can all agree on. If you'd like to check out some Broadway shows without actually driving the six hours to New York City, look no further than the Rochester Broadway Theatre League (Auditorium Theatre, 875 E. Main St, 222-5000, rbtl.org). RBTL presents a half-dozen touring Broadway shows per season, as well as other shows including concerts and comedians.

            If you're looking for more local, community-based productions check out TheatreROCS (theatrerocs.homestead.com), an alliance of nearly 20 local theater groups. Whether you want to have a good belly laugh at comedy improv performances or catch a local production of a classic show, you'll find a group that's right for you.

            If you want to hear a night of music performed by a world-class orchestra, you can stay within the city limits, because we've got the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (usually performs in the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs St, 454-2100, rpo.org). Although the orchestra focuses on classical music, its Pops series features a variety of specially themed concerts, ranging from Broadway to jazz.

Natural Spaces

For outdoorsy families, Rochester has a wide selection of parks, beaches, and general strolling areas to keep everyone happy and taking in some fresh air.

Home of the annual Lilac Festival, Highland Park (accessible from Highland Avenue, 753-7275, monroecounty.gov) is open year-round and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in NYC. Today, it houses more than 500 species of lilacs along with thousands of other gorgeous and unique plants. It's also home to the Highland Bowl Amphitheater, which is used to host summertime concerts, shows, and movies, as well as a conservatory, sunken garden, and yes, a castle.

            For something a little more alternative, learn about local history and famous Rochesterians with a walk through Mt. Hope Cemetery (1133 Mount Hope Ave., 461-3494, fomh.org). Although you can stroll unaided through the hilly graveyard and its stunning statuary during the day, consider taking part in one of the many tours led by the Friends of Mt. Hope. While it may seem creepy at first thought, these tours are actually interesting and entertaining. Tour types include general, twilight, and special themes, like fall foliage and a torchlit nighttime trek right around Halloween.

            If you want to add water to the mix, take a short drive to Charlotte Beach (4650 Lake Ave, 753-7275, monroecounty.gov) on the shore of LakeOntario near the Irondequoit border. Get your toes wet and sandy, walk out on the pier and try to catch a glimpse of Toronto, or sample frozen custard, a local specialty. If you're feeling really sentimental, you could even ride the park's historic carousel or build a sandcastle with the folks.

            If your parents are looking for a quaint afternoon stroll, PittsfordVillage (586-4332, villageofpittsford.org) should do the trick. Take a walk along the canal before stopping by the unique retail stores and restaurants. Eat crepes, buy some wine, or feed the ducks. Just like the good old days, but more sophisticated.

            For a different take on outdoor activities, head to Mendon Ponds Park (95 Douglas Road, 753-7275, monroecounty.gov) in Honeoye Falls. A boat launch, sensory garden, and fishing are just a few of the attractions. There are also several trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing during the winter months.

            A place for season-appropriate activities is BristolMountain (5662 State Route 64, 374-6000, bristolmountain.com) in Canandaigua. Home of the RoselandWaterPark during the summer months, the mountain is also a great place to go when the snow has taken over the city. Embrace the cold by convincing your parents to try out skiing, snowboarding, or tubing.

Sports

Although Rochester is a mid-sized city, it is home to a large number of sports teams. No matter what season your parents are visiting, there's almost certainly some kind of home game to attend.

            For baseball, the Rochester Red Wings (redwingsbaseball.com) will keep you entertained at Frontier Field in the HighFalls district from April through September. The minor-league team is a Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. If the 'rents are more into soccer, check out the Rochester Rhinos (rhinossoccer.com). The team -- or teams, rather, as there are men's and women's squads -- plays from April through September at Marina Auto Stadium off Oak Street.

            There is also plenty going on during the cooler months, like our hockey team, the Rochester Amerks (amerks.com). The Amerks are in the North Division of the AHL, and from late September through April you'll find them at the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.

Or, check out the Rochester Knighthawks (knighthawks.net) for "lacrosse with an attitude," the Rochester Raiders (rochesterraiders.com) for our indoor football league, or our 2008 and 2009 Premier Basketball League champions the Rochester RazorSharks (razorsharks.com).

            If you're tired of the more typical sports, don't fret; Rochester is home to the Roc City Roller Derby (rocderby.com). Three all-female teams gear up in padding, helmets, and of course, roller skates, to battle visiting teams. Things can get rough, but the ladies always have a good time at this family-friendly outing.

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