Buffalo has been booming lately, but sometimes it feels like you’re going to the same coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Cure that holed-up feeling with a short road trip to another fun WNY city just about an hour Northeast of here, Rochester, NY. From Buffalo City Hall, Rochester is only about an hour and a half away, and it’s a straight drive down the 1-90.
It may surprise you to read this, but Rochester isn’t that much smaller than Buffalo. While we’re filled with all sorts of Buffalove, Rochester has proven to us time and time again it has many cool things to offer as well. From art galleries and museums to shops and small book stores, Rochester is bursting with places to explore – new and old.
Here’s a plan of attack for the next time you wander that way including where to’s and what to do’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, things to do, and then some.
Breakfast: Glen Edith Coffee Roasters
23 Somerton St. + 44 Elton St. // Website
Rochester is full of hip and trendy coffee shops and we say Glen Edith is the perfect way to kick off your day trip. This coffee shop has a menu full of espresso drinks like coffee, cappuccinos or lattes as well as baked goods and breakfast goodies for a light meal. Glen Edith not only roasts their own beans, but they’re a part of the process from the beginning, making sure their beans come from farms where the workers are paid fair wages.
P.S. — They’re known for their nitro cold brew, so give that a shot.
Take a morning stroll through Highland Park
180 Reservoir Drive // Website
Highland Park is a local favorite. The park is full of beautiful and well-kept gardens and located on the grounds is Lamberton Conservancy, a gorgeous botanical garden that is perfect for a relaxing walk and cute Instagram picture. Enjoy this park with a coffee in one hand and camera (read: phone) in the other.
Fun fact — this park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same architect who designed our very own Delaware Park, etc.
127 Railroad St. // Facebook
Yes, it’s time for lunch already. Boxcar may seem like another coffee shop on the outside but when you look at their menu, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see they’re a specialty fried chicken restaurant. So basically, this is where we live now. Order a classic fried chicken sandwich (chicken, crunchy slaw, basil ranch and house-made pickles), waffles on a stick (“fried chicken in a waffle on sticks with local NY maple syrup”) or their scotch ale mac and cheese.
For the more adventurous, we recommend digging in to a donut chicken sandwich, because YOLO. Boxcar is known for their house-made donuts and this sandwich is made with fried chicken breast, spring mix, bacon, sriracha mayo all on a glazed donut bun. Everything comes with a sauce, one side, and a piece of cornbread. If that doesn’t make your mouth water I truly don’t know what will. Goodbye.
Have a *cultured* afternoon museum hopping
First Stop: George Eastman Museum
900 East Avenue // Website
The George Eastman museum is a must-see for any photography or film buffs out there. Located on the old estates of George Eastman, the “pioneer” of popular photography and motion picture film, this museum always has at least three exhibitions on cinema and photography that rotate out every few months.
The museum also has tours, talks from famous speakers, music recitals every Sunday and shows around 300 movies a year in their Dryden Theater. There is always something to do and see here.
Second Stop: Rochester Contemporary Art Center
137 East Ave. // Website
If modern and contemporary art is more your speed, you must check out the Contemporary Art Center. This museum features many colorful and moving exhibits. They feature many local artists and host cool events. One of their most note-worthy exhibitions is the annual 6×6 showcase, pictured above. The 6×6 showcase displays mini squares of art submitted by local artists and each one is for sale. Each square is unique and special in its own way, so this showcase doubles as an exhibit and art sale.
Dinner: Good Luck
50 Anderson Ave // Website
Good Luck, aside from the charming name, has a dinner menu that is bound to make your mouth water. They’re an Italian restaurant, with large plates meant to be shared. Try a flatbread or pasta, or be more adventurous and go for the duck or perhaps a steak. Also, make sure to pair a glass of wine with your meal. They have many choices or order a pitcher of their special sangria for the table.
Visit the Bug Jar for entertainment – Temporarily Closed Due to Covid
219 Monroe Ave // Website
Bug Jar is an entertainment venue that hosts live music and DJs seven days a week. Along with nightly musicians, they also have trivia nights and vintage arcade games. Tickets to most shows are pretty inexpensive and if you want to experience Rochester like a local, Bug Jar is a great place to jam out in.
Grab after-dinner drinks at Ox and Stone
282 Alexander St. // Website
Live music, craft cocktails, and a candlelit atmosphere? Count us in. This bar and restaurant concocts all kinds of unique specialty drinks that you’re absolutely going to have to try. They have specials every day of the week (including bottomless bloody mary’s on Sundays, hallelu!) and chill live music fit for a romantic end to an evening. Relax and unwind after your busy road trip here.
Also, after all that drinking, we hope you have a ride home. If not, grab a Lyft, Uber, Hotel, Airbnb, something!
This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated.