5 Fun Activities You Can Do in Rochester Once the Pandemic is Over, and 5 You Can Do Right Now

We’ve been stuck in quarantine for almost a year now, and with vaccines being distributed it looks like the era of coronavirus might finally be turning. Here’s a few things I’m looking forward to doing in Rochester once we get there.

See a movie at The Little Theater or Regal Culver Ridge Plaza

The movies almost feel like an ancient relic of the past, what with Netflix, Hulu, Disney + and all the other streaming services that have all but took over in the pandemic. While the convenience of these services has been great, I’ve been missing physical movie theaters more than ever. When I was at home for winter break, my family splurged and rented out our local movie theater, so I got to watch “The Fellowship of the Ring” in (albeit nearly empty) theaters for the first time. Even with movies closer to our fingertips than ever, nothing quite beats the cinematic experience of a theater.

Go Jumping at Skyzone

Skyzone is one of my favorite franchises to exist, and we’re so lucky to have one just a few miles away from campus. It’s the perfect mix between exercise and fun, a great activity to blow off some steam or get away from the stress of finals. Play a game of trampoline basketball, or imagine you’re the next American Ninja warrior with their fun obstacle courses.

Swoon over the Lilac Festival

I can’t count how many people I have heard gushing about how much they can’t wait for the Lilac festival to come back. If you haven’t heard of it yet, the Lilac Festival is a springtime Rochester tradition. There’s music, caramel apples and caramel corn, and beautiful gardens to walk through in full bloom. Whether on a date, with friends, or even on your own, the Lilac Festival is an attraction that will be met with a surge in reopening.

Take a Class In Person at the Roc Brainery

The Roc Brainery was a discovery I made only recently, and is a true gem of the Rochester area for people of all ages. Roc Brainery offers classes on everything under the sun – glass blowing, donut making, photography, brand building and so much more. While I’ve appreciated their current online offerings, I can’t wait until they’re back in person again. Architecture tour, here I come!

Grab a Meal and Hang at Swillburger

This is one of my favorite restaurants in Rochester. Not because of the food – even though their fries and milkshakes are fantastic, and they even offer the famed impossible burger. No, it’s because the whole two stories are packed too bursting with game cabinets, old and new. Pacman, Mariokart, Pong, shuffleboard, dozens of pinball machines, and more. It’s a great place to spend a few hours, or as a social event for any of the clubs on campus.

But in case that still feels too far away, here are some alternatives that you don’t have to wait an extra second for!

Take a Walk Downtown for a Bubble Tea

Tai Chi opened my first semester at the University of Rochester, and has been going strong for almost four years now. You can catch the College Town shuttle, or simply take a 15-minute walk to arrive at this College Town staple. They offer a wide range of bubble teas, smoothies, sushi bowls, and ramen, making this the perfect weekend pick-me-up.

See Beautiful Art at the MAG

Good news for all those art lovers – the Memorial Art Gallery is still open! The current exhibits are dedicated to Andy Warhol and Rochester’s own FUA Krew. Admission is free for UR students, so nothing is stopping you from taking some time to soak up the culture there.

Hike at Mendon Ponds

I took a hike with my theater family last fall in Mendon Ponds, and instantly fell in love. The area has beautiful walking trails, and since hiking has now overtaken bread baking as the new go-to pandemic activity (at least in my family), Mendon Ponds is a great place to go, not any farther from the more popular Letchworth, and far less crowded. As the weather gets warmer, this would also be the ideal spot for a picnic, or to throw a football around with friends.

Explore Rochester’s Abandoned Subway

If you’re interested in history, this might be just the excursion for you. Not many people know that there were once grand plans for a comprehensive Rochester transit system that took hold in the 1940’s. In 1956 however, Rochester’s short lived subway trains ground to a halt. Despite the tragedy this lack of transportation would provide, the subway still exists as a fun spot to visit, now colored in graffiti.

Visit Warner Castle

I always wanted to be a princess, mostly to wear a tiara and attend the most splendid parties and dances. But while I might not have the title or the clothes, I can still get a taste of splendor by visiting Warner Castle in Highland Park. Built in 1854, this splendid piece of architecture is an ivy-covered spectacle offers self-guided tours, and a beautiful garden close by –  it’s part of the Highland Park Conservatory.


About the author

Madeleine Fordham

My name is Madeleine Fordham, I'm from Amherst, Massachusetts. Right now I am planning to double major in American Sign Language and theatre, with clusters in web design and British history. I also do every extracurricular activity I possibly can, including (but not limited to) ASL Club, Debate Union, TOOP, Todd Theatre, Campus Times, and Quidditch—go UR Thestrals!

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