Last fall, I transferred into the University of Rochester from the West Coast, moving to Rochester at the tail end of summer. Now in the midst of my first full summer season, I've discovered Rochester to be a magical place this time of year. The weather is warm. The festivals are in session, and my classes are not (though summer session is an option!).
Opportunities abound for the local Rochestarian, and I've been making the most of them: exploring new areas, shops, and eateries—meeting new friends and traveling old roads.
Here’s a few of my favorite Rochester stops I've discovered this summer:
I took a trip up to the lake and had a wonderful time. The lake is serene and peaceful; a Great Lake with waves and an unending horizon, it helps ease the pain of being so far from the ocean. Ontario Beach is a fun hangout with volleyball courts, a park, a lighthouse, and ice cream. The best part? It is only about a 15–20 minute drive from Rochester.
Canandaigua, New York
The Finger Lakes are a great little getaway for someone looking to get out of town, but not wanting to pay for a hotel. The drive to Canandaigua is just under 40 minutes from Rochester, making it a perfect day trip. The lake’s water is clear, and the slight breeze pushes sailboats alongside a shore featuring wineries, restaurants, and lake-front homes. In addition, Canandaigua’s quaint and quick downtown district makes for fun shopping.
Every year, during late June, Rochester hosts Jazz Fest. It’s just one of the many festivals you’ll find in Rochester this time of year. Almost every weekend, it seems, there is a festival thriving somewhere. So far, Jazz Fest is my favorite. Live music takes over downtown and people and good food swarm the streets. You’ll find energy like none other. The best part? It’s all situated on the East End, surrounding the Eastman School of Music.
Since classes are out of session, I've had extra time to explore shops. Record Archive is a favorite of mine. The stock and variety have really impressed me. If you’re a vinyl collector, a movie frequenter, a used CD-aholic, or just a fan of weird, boutique retail, then I’d have to recommend Record Archive as a must-stop.
Fraiche Bistro & Dessert Bar
What is there to say? They have a Donut & Coffee Milkshake. They literally stick the doughnut into your glass. Added bonus: down the block from Eastman School of Music.
Looking for some light reading this summer? Are you a fan of comic books and graphic novels? This great little shop is tucked away on East Main. I took a wrong turn one day (I wasn't lost, I promise), and the parking lot I turned around in happened to host Comics Etc. Full disclosure: I’m not a big comics fan, but the employees were so friendly and so welcoming that I couldn't help but walk out with a couple new issues to read at the lake.
Pour Coffee Parlor
Finally, the Starbucks on campus is great, but since I have time to travel and explore, I thought I’d taste-test some local cafes. Pour Coffee Parlor is brand new to Rochester, opening just this summer. It’s located in the popular Park Ave area just behind another great local cafe, Boulder Coffee. If you haven’t guessed yet, Pour specializes in … pour-over coffee. The coffee is outrageously delicious, the atmosphere is artsy, and (despite my reservations about coffee snobs) the people are actually quite friendly.
So there you go. I’d love to keep writing and sharing, but I think, instead, I’ll go out and explore some more. I hope you’re having a great summer. Here’s to making the most of it!