Six or so weeks into the fall semester, we students get to bask in the glory of a four-day weekend known as fall break. We’ve soldiered through enough papers, exams, and homework assignments to deserve this downtime. In fact, until this weekend, I’ve been so busy I haven’t slowed down, gathered my thoughts, and reflected on my college experience thus far. But as I finally snuggled up in my surprisingly comfortable dorm bed for an extensive nap on Sunday, I thought about all that I’ve done in my short time here. I’ve been busy with classes, groups, and a new job at the Goergen Athletic Center, but perhaps best of all, a good deal of my time over the last six weeks has been spent off campus.
It may come as a surprise, but Rochester, New York, has a lot to offer. And the best part is it’s all accessible to students between walking, taking one of the school’s free shuttles, or renting a Zipcar. Here are some of the highlights so far.
1. The Little Theatre
I’ve been to The Little Theatre once so far, and now I’m eagerly awaiting my return. The Little is a local hub for independent films and the arts, and it also contains a café filled with delicious options that I took full advantage of a few weeks ago. Two friends and I journeyed into the city to see the film Tracks, which chronicled Australian woman Robyn Davidson’s exhilarating solo (save for her trusty dog and some camels) trek from the middle of the continent to the Indian Ocean. As my friends and I enjoyed our enormous cookies from the café, we became mesmerized by and emotionally invested in Davidson’s tale. While seeing a film at The Little was a fun way to spend the evening with friends, it was also educational on an intellectual level as well as on a personal one. Plus, we walked over to Java’s, a coffee shop neighboring the Eastman School of Music, afterwards, and had the chance to reflect on the movie over some quality coffee. The whole experience of The Little is both enjoyable and beneficial, and I think it’s fair to declare it a Rochester must.
2. South Wedge
I’ve heard multiple people comment that living on campus can sometimes put students in a “bubble,” but right around the corner from the University of Rochester is a great little neighborhood called South Wedge. It’s within walking distance, but a shuttle also drops students off there as well. South Wedge offers a plethora of coffee shops, a deli and marketplace, a record shop, some consignment and clothing shops, a chocolate shop, some restaurants, and more. It’s a lively, bustling place and live music can often be heard as well. Not only are the vibes good, the deals are often good in South Wedge as well. Periodically, South Wedge devotes certain nights to providing UR students with good deals in the shops and restaurants as part of “South Wedge-ucation.” It’s worth the short walk or even shorter shuttle ride to South Wedge anytime, but especially on these nights.
Sonic, on paper, is just a chain fast food restaurant, but to my friends and me, it’s much more. Several times so far, we’ve split the cost of a Zipcar and driven to Irondequoit, where a new Sonic (the only Sonic in the region, as a matter of fact) recently opened. It’s not too far of a drive, but the trek offers us a chance to bond, listen to our favorite music, de-stress, and explore Rochester through the warmth and comfort of a car. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that we know delicious milkshakes and greasy food await us. Perhaps Sonic doesn’t appeal to all, but as simple or silly as it may sound, Sonic runs with my friends have been a highlight of my college experience thus far. And thankfully, there exists a gym and plenty of places to run so that one can easily burn the Sonic calories off, which brings me to my next point.
4. Mt. Hope Avenue
Mt. Hope Avenue is a major artery linking downtown Rochester and its outskirts and suburbs, and it runs behind campus along the famed and massive Mt. Hope Cemetery. Random as it may seem, I’ve taken a particular liking to this street. I enjoy running down Mt. Hope; its tree-lined sidewalks offer a refreshing experience of the fall foliage, it’s connected to Highland Park (another great option for running), and best of all, it’s connected to the College Town area. Though College Town isn’t fully open yet, the area is bustling and will contain a variety of shops and restaurants that will link students and residents of Rochester. Plus, it contains the school’s vast and impressive new bookstore. And perhaps best of all, the area is home to a Chipotle, which is within walking/running distance of the school. (As you might be able to tell, much of my life tends to revolve around food, so I’m loving all of these options!)
5. Dinosaur BBQ
Again, one of the hotspots involves food! Dinosaur BBQ is a Rochester hallmark; in fact, even before arriving at school, I’d heard of Dino BBQ. Several people had proclaimed things like, “Oh, you have to go to Dino BBQ! It’s a must!” As a vegetarian, I’d been skeptical and resistant to the idea. However, a few days ago, my friends and I made the relatively short walk from our dorm to Dino as part of a hall program. The walk itself was enjoyable: the crisp Rochester autumn air enlivened us, and the sunset blanketing the Genesee and the Rochester skyline provided such picturesque views that we stopped multiple times for pictures. Once we got to Dino, we all enjoyed filling, delectable meals and a lively atmosphere. I enjoyed my vegetarian meal, but since I can’t provide an accurate review of what Dino’s really got to offer, you can take my meat-eating friend Grant Sorbo’s word for it: “Dinosaur is well worth the wait; if you eat meat, it needs to be on your list.”
Here’s a picture of Rochester (or Rachacha, as I’ve learned locals lovingly call it) courtesy of Grant in all its glory, cascaded in a majestic sunset:
As you can see, Rochester is the place to be. It’s beautiful, friendly, and things are happening here. Come by, explore the city, and see for yourself all that Rachacha has to offer!