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Visitng Rochester?

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Pittsburgh, PA
posts: 61
reviews: 65
Visitng Rochester?

I was looking for a getaway for my family (with a small child). I stumbled accross Rochester and saw the museum of play. I see a lot of sites and blogs online that say Rochester is an unsafe place. Is Rochester an ok place to stay? Areas of the city to stay in / avoid? Thanks for your help!

Irondequoit, New...
posts: 624
reviews: 61
1. Re: Visitng Rochester?

Odd, I wonder why they say Rochester is unsafe?

Regardless. There are bad sections of Rochester, just as any other city. There is no reason for a visitor to the city to go to these places, though. The company I used to work for had a lot of people come into town and here is the rough, and admittedly unfair to certain areas, guideline. On the east side of Rochester, stay east of the Genesee River and south of E. Main St unless you have a specific destination (the Public Market, for example) to go to. All areas east of Culver Road are fine, as are all areas north of NY 104. I'm not real good with the west side, but generally west of Mt. Read Blvd and north of NY 104 are fine. Please note that the areas that I'm excluding are NOT completely "bad" neighborhoods, but you could easily make a wrong turn there into a bad neighborhood.

So, given that your focus is the museum of play, I'll assume you are also considering the museum and the planetarium, perhaps the beach. Rochester traffic is some of the lightest in the northeast (I've driven in most NE cities, including spending many hours stuck in Pitt traffic), so you really could stay anywhere. There are a couple of hotels downtown, but you don't really need to be downtown for those activities (most hotels are about 15 minutes, max, away. Maybe 20-25 in rush hour). look into Henrietta hotels, though I'm not a huge fan of that area (safe, but big-box-boring). There's also Greece (similar to Henrietta), Webster, and a brand new Hampton Inn in Irondequoit and a newer Holiday Inn Express.

One other thought. On your way up to Rochester from Pitt, consider taking US22 to Altoona, I-99 up to I-80, cutting across to US220 and I-99 (it isn't complete) up to NY and stopping at the Corning Museum of Glass. The difference between that route and the I-79/I-90 route time wise is about two hours, less if you're already east of Pitt (I take it all the time from Greensburg), but it is a nice drive and CMOG, depending on your child's age) is probably worth a visit.

Rochester, NY
posts: 384
reviews: 2
2. Re: Visitng Rochester?

Google "Strong National Museum of Play" to see why you should DEFINITELY visit Rochester. The museum is just amazing... and even fun for people withOUT children! It's right in the center of the city... but, as the other poster noted, there are hotels all over and it's very reachable from any of the suburbs. Rochester also has a fine zoo with a brand new African exhibit that would be another super destination and easy to reach from anywhere. Come visit and enjoy!

Lynn in Rochester, NY

Ithaca, New York
posts: 103
3. Re: Visitng Rochester?

I, too, recommend the Museum of Play. Just inside the main door are a number of fish tanks. One has the "Nemo" fish kids love to watch. Bring your bikes and ride this trail: ilovethefingerlakes.com/rivers/genesee-part5… It will take you to the Ontario Beach Park ilovethefingerlakes.com/entertainment/carous… where you can ride the carousel, picnic and swim in the lake. You can also rent kayaks at the Waterways Center mentioned in the genesee-part5 article. I highly doubt you will going anywhere where there will be unsavory types about, but I would recommend that you not give money to anyone who approaches you and asks for it. This is a common ploy in Rochester.

Pittsburgh, PA
posts: 61
reviews: 65
4. Re: Visitng Rochester?

Thank you so much! I'm considering staying in Webster, that would be fine? Is there close access to any beach on the lake? Are you able to swim there?

Irondequoit, New...
posts: 624
reviews: 61
5. Re: Visitng Rochester?

Webster is a good choice.

There is a county park, Webster Park, right on Lake Ontario, I'm not sure if they have swimming. Also, if you are staying in the area I believe you would be in Webster, there's another park, North Ponds Park, that could be in walking distance (it's the backyard of the Holiday Inn Express).

Other Lake Ontario swimming options are Durand Eastman park and Ontario Beach Park, with Durand being closer to Webster. Always check, though, as unfortunate geography and specific weather patterns can close the beaches for a few days at a time.

There are a lot of good local restaurants in Webster, also, so there is no need to go to the big box chain restaurants.

Now, to throw a minor monkey wrench into the works that seems to contradict an earlier statement of mine about traffic. The best route to downtown Rochester from Webster has some work being done on the Bay Bridge that is shutting down lanes (and, this weekend, the whole eastbound bridge). The alternate routes are easy, however. If you leave Webster in the morning between 7:30 and 9:00AM, you will be in the heaviest traffic, but here that means you may be doing 30-40MPH on the expressway for extended periods. Having spent what seems likes days stuck on routes like I-376, I can assure you it's *nowhere* near that. Come to think of it, I got stuck on US30 in Greensburg yesterday afternoon and even that was worse than our traffic....

Rochester, New York
posts: 70
reviews: 11
6. Re: Visitng Rochester?

Not too far from Webster is Charlotte. Ontario Beach State Park is located there, and Durand Eastman Park (also on the lake) is close by. I personally love walking the pier at Ontario Beach, and there's a cute old carousel there that the kids would enjoy.

P.S. I moved to Rochester from Pitt almost 6 years ago. I miss the place!

Edited: 1:42 am, June 24, 2012
Pittsburgh, PA
posts: 61
reviews: 65
7. Re: Visitng Rochester?

Thank you for all your help. I just have one more question.. are there any must-eat local foods / restaurants?

Irondequoit, New...
posts: 624
reviews: 61
8. Re: Visitng Rochester?

Rochester's unique food items are probably the white hot dog and hot sauce (a spiced meat sauce, not always spicy hot). These are also combined into the infamous haute cuisine creation, the Garbage Plate (tm). Culturally, think Primanti Sandwich, but without the health benefits. These were invented by Nick Tahou's, …wikipedia.org/wiki/… but are now ubiquitous in the area (though under other names).

While you will be close to the original Nick's when at the Museum of Play, given previous concerns about bad areas, I would avoid it.

Perhaps the most important must see food destination for out of town visitors is Wegmans supermarket. If you are staying in Webster, the closest locations would be Holt Road or Baytown Plaza (Empire and Bay). Go for lunch, there are a wide variety of options. The flagship store is in Pittsford which, while not necessarily real close to Webster, isn't too bad, and a fairly quick ride from downtown. The only thing to watch is that most things are sold by weight, and the weight of your plate can accumulate quickly. Well worth the money, though.

Other good restaurants to check out would be Guida's Pasta Villa on E. Ridge Road in Irondequoit, which you can then couple with a visit to a new home-made ice cream store on Titus Avenue, whose name escapes me. I haven't visited yet myself, but I drive past it regularly and it's always packed, and the people I know who have gone there love it. If you are a musician or just want one of the more unique shopping (or browsing) experiences, right next to that ice cream place is House of Guitars.

Proietti's in Webster is a good choice, Beale St. is fairly popular and not bad. Tandoori Flame has its fans, but I prefer other Indian restaurants in town. There's a mexican restaurant, Monte Alban, that is also hugely popular and among the best mexican restaurants the area has to offer, but, with apologies, that isn't saying much for the Rochester area. Golden Dynasty (chinese) just opened a new building, haven't been in there yet, Jade Palaca is the other choice for chinese. Phuket Thai is also fairly good. Please note that this paragraph is sticking to Webster locations.

Other than that, my personal tastes runs toward places that are inexpensive with great food, but that tends to mean the atmosphere suffers, so I tend to be reluctant to recommend.

Irondequoit, New...
posts: 624
reviews: 61
9. Re: Visitng Rochester?

D'oh!

I hope I can correct this before my Rochester card gets put up for review....

Must do foods/restaurants, especially with children, especially in the summer, especially if visiting the lake, would be Abbott's Custard. If you go to the sand beach of Ontario Beach park, it's right across the street, look for the long line. Standing in line is a requirement for this location, it makes the ice cream better and is a rite of passage for local residents.

If you go to Durand, stop by Seabreeze for Abbotts, couple it with a cheeseburger (with hot sauce, naturally) at one of the three restaurants there. If you decide to go there, grab any phone book or newspaper and look for the "buy one, get one" coupon, they're everywhere, and all three places accept competitor's coupons.

If you go to the beach at Webster Park, go to Seabreeze anyway. Do not let the GPS route you along the lake shore this time of year, that's a seasonal bridge only open between November and April. You must take NY 104 to Culver Road exit, turn right, don't stop until you get to the water. Well, stop for red lights, but that's it. Maybe pedestrians, too. And small furry animals. OK, use your judgment on when to stop, but your destination is the lake shore....

WNY
posts: 140
reviews: 3
10. Re: Visitng Rochester?

You should be aware that Ontario Beach Park - and sometimes Durand beach - is occasionally [often?] closed due to unsafe water quality, especially if it's just rained a lot or if it's very hot. Never heard of any problems in Webster.