Road Trip! Destination: Rochester, N.Y., region
Shutting down Main Street in Rochester, N.Y., for a week was less of a problem than it might seem.
The closing was done to allow the filming of chase scenes for the upcoming “Spider-Man” sequel, and civic officials “said they were all in,” says Don Jeffries, CEO of Visit Rochester, the tourism agency. They knew having the film shot there would be good for the city's image and provide bookings for 300 hotel rooms.
Jeffries says Rochester is attentive to keeping the city lively. For instance, there are 137 festivals in the summer months alone in the area, he says, topped by the Lilac Festival, which ends May 19, and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, June 21 to 29.
“You could go to a different festival each day,” he says.
Besides all of that summer fun, the western New York area of a little more than 1 million people boasts historical sites from the Erie Canal to a Museum of Play. It also has great schools such as the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester with its famed Eastman School of Music.
The Rochester area sits along Lake Ontario and is near the colorful Finger Lakes region and its wineries.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
The word Eastman has become something of a synonym with Rochester.
No wonder. Not only does the University of Rochester's famous school of music bear that name, but the city also is the home of Eastman Kodak, one of the innovators of bringing photography to the masses.
The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film celebrates that famous role with its collection of photographs, photo technology and films. Founded in 1947, it is in the home of Kodak founder Eastman (1854-1932), who was born in a small town in New York about 2 1⁄2 hours away, and is the city's biggest single tourist site.
The museum is the world's first dedicated to still and moving images.
Details: 585-271-3361 or www.eastmanhouse.org
Places to play and learn
Both of Rochester's main museums take their jobs seriously — even if one is dedicated to play.
The Rochester Museum & Science Center (www.rmsc.com or 585-271-4320) covers a gamut of areas of study. It has the only exhibit in the state on civil-rights activist Frederick Douglass, and it boasts a planetarium with a Zeiss star projector. The Cumming Nature Center has miles of thematic trails, nature films and art exhibits.
On a lighter note, the National Museum of Play at The Strong (www.museumofplay.org or 585-263-2700) is all about amusements. At 282,000 square feet, it is the largest children's museum in the nation. It features the National Toy Hall of Fame and allows visitors to meet the Berenstain Bears, play through the history of video games, walk through a giant kaleidoscope and onto the pages of a pop-up book.
Who says learning can't be fun?
You've come a long way
Not only is Rochester the home of Kodak, it also is the birthplace of women's rights.
Susan B. Anthony (1802-1906) was a Rochester native whose tireless suffrage efforts led to the 19th Amendment, often called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
Her work, in which she was arrested in 1872 for the crime of voting, can be studied at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, where she met with other civil-rights leaders such as abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-95) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) from nearby Jamestown.
The house is part of the National Women's History Trail, which goes to the site of the first National Women's Rights Convention in 1848 and to Stanton's home.
Details: 585-235-6124 of www.susanbanthonyhouse.org.
Good for a long drive
Rochester is serious about golf and should be.
The home of legendary champion Walter Hagen and course designer Robert Trent Jones, Rochester has 60 courses within a 45-minute drive of the center of town. Golf Digest magazine lists its courses in the Top 10 of any area in the state and in the Top 20 of areas in the nation.
This summer, it will be the first city to host in the same year the LPGA Championship in June and the PGA Championship in August.
The Oak Hill Country Club is the only course in the nation to have been host to all six major men's golf events that tour.
Details: www.visitrochester.com, 800-677-7282
Keeping history afloat
The Erie Canal still is serving a functional role in the Rochester area.
In the early 19th century, the canal was a way west to those looking for a new life farther into the continent. Now, the canal provides a home for canoes, kayaks and tour boats rather than the barges and packet boats that once were the dominant craft. It also is on the route of a bike path that practically spans the state.
The nearby village of Fairport offers a good way to experience the canal. Its Potter Park is the main canal area, but the town also has three side parks that are great places for a stroll or a brown-bag lunch. The town has docking areas for larger boats on the canal. The village is the site of a Canal Days celebration each June with more than 400 vendors.
Details: 585-223-0313 or www.village.fairport.ny.us
Checking out ways to check in
Outlets of the Marriott, Hyatt and Radisson chains are among the many hotels and motels that make the logistics easy for a stay in the Rochester area.
But, sometimes, more individual venues make travel memorable.
The Woodcliff Hotel and Spa is in nearby Fairport, but close enough to have views of the Rochester skyline and the nearby Bristol Hills. It also has a nine-hole regulation golf course, a spa and a sports club. After a day on the links or in the gym, the Horizons Restaurant offers a way to reward yourself.
Details: 585-248-4880 or www.woodcliffhotelspa.com
If you want to be a little closer to the urban heart of the city, the Strathallan Hotel will make a bid as a premier boutique venue. It is in the middle of town, right at the heart of business and cultural events and offers a comfortable setting and the Tuscan-theme Char restaurant.
Details : 585-461-5010 or www.strathallan.com
Uncorking another part of the visit
A stop at the nearby Finger Lakes is a vintage experience in a visit to Rochester.
The area is not only beautiful, but it also is the home of the ever-growing wine industry. The Canandaigua Wine Trail is a “small, but mighty” route through the area, says Cathy Fabretti, president of the nonprofit that directs visits. It has five wineries and a wine center in its 41-mile route, which also features a brewery, restaurants, hotels, shopping and even golf.
For an afternoon trip, the $5 Canandaigua Wine Trail Passport provides complimentary tastings at three wineries and a percentage off purchases at three others.
Details: 585-223-4210, ext. 121, or www.canandaiguawinetrail.com