Hello new students! Welcome to Rochester. This city will be your home for more-or-less four years, so you may want to get acquainted with it.
The UR Orange Line bus hits many hot spots of Rochester and surrounding neighborhoods. The Campus Times visited some stops so we could describe only some of what brings vibrancy to Rochester’s streets.
Gregory & South
You’re now in one of Rochester’s oldest neighborhoods: the South Wedge. Lots of the buildings are made of brick, and clustered close together.
Along Gregory street is the Historic German House and Needle Drop Records. South Avenue hosts some beauty and leisure spots. The fried chicken at Toasted Bear Tavern looks mouth-watering, and you can lose all the tiny hairs on your face at Sujana Beauty and Brows, if you’re so inclined.
The street is a patchwork of styles. Some stores, like Fine Wine and Spirits, use color sparingly, others are rainbows like Equal Grounds, and a few have earthy tones like Leaf Tea Bar (a bar that serves just tea) and Coffee Connection. You can feed a sweet tooth at Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream and Chocolates, or Cheesy Eddies.
Recommendation: The serene garden spot tucked into an alley in the middle of South Avenue. It has a vine-covered gateway, and inside, a small wooden stage and picnic benches. Bring friends and food, or your book — or take advantage of the mural for a photoshoot.
South & Alexander
One highlight is Nathaniel Square Park, a peaceful corner with lots of green, flowers, and benches. It’s named after — and has a statue of — the city’s founder, Nathaniel Rochester.
On South Clinton Avenue, you’ll find Kamikaze Tattoo, Mexican restaurant La Casa, and Next Level – House of CBD.
Recommendation: Boulder Coffee Co and Lounge is just next to Kamikaze. They have friendly baristas, coffee, cocktails, food, and events (like live music or comedy) almost every day.
Monroe & Alexander
In immediate view are Dunkin’ Donuts, Arbys, a bank, but strolling up and down Monroe reveals some gems. About a block past Dunkin’ is Bug Jar, a bar with live (typically indie) music, also hosting comedy and trivia nights. It welcomes 18+ customers from Sunday to Thursday, while Friday and Saturday are 21+.
In the direction of Arby’s, there are some interesting options, and things pick up once you reach Bruegger’s Bagels. This section of Monroe was notable for its cluster of international restaurants (and vape shops). You can get Asian cuisine at Han Noodle Bar, Plum House, and SEA restaurant; Mexican food from Neno’s and the Empanada shop; or Greek food from Aladdin’s Natural Eatery. There’s also a sprinkling of tattoo shops and piercing studios. To get here quicker, get off the Orange Line when it stops at Monroe and Goodman.
Recommendation: Book lovers check out Rick’s Recycled books to get new reads for as little as $2.
Park Avenue (starting from Park & Culver)
You can walk all of Park Avenue without getting bored. Many stores decorate their porches with fairy lights,giving the street a soft glow. The air is filled with smells from the restaurants (pricey, but affordable for a lovely night out) lining the street. If you’re determined to stay thrifty, Chester’s Cab pizza claims it’s “the best in Rochester,” charging $4 for a huge slice.
You can hang in coffee shops Cafe Sasso or Glen Edith, or one of the dessert shops (one doubles as an African art gallery).
Walking down Park from Culver to Alexander revealed a number of intriguing specialty shops: a skateboarding shop, an exotic piercing shop, an African clothing store, a bridal lounge, and a candle-lit wine bar.
Recommendation: Parkleigh is an upscale, local gift shop reminiscent of Target (but cuter and slightly pricier). They sell niceties that could brighten up your room, kitchen, skincare regime, and more. You can find paintings, windchimes, soaps, bags, jewelry, stationary, sweets, and coffee.
East and Barrington
A tree-lined street with old, beautiful houses. This is East Avenue and in front is the George Eastman Museum, once the eponymous philanthropist’s house. It’s home to the world’s oldest photography collection, a film archive, gardens, and the Dryden Theater.
Recommendation: If you’d like to do something active and sleuth-y, the Great Escape Room is a twelve-minute walk from this stop.
East and Alexander
This stop connects the quiet, foliage-filled side of East Ave with its more urban side. After some wandering, you can find some restaurants, a small concert venue named Anthology, and the Little Theater. With its small size and vintage vibe, the Little is a go-to stop for foreign films and indie movies you don’t see in mainstream cinemas. They also have a Saturday Night Rewind series for any nostalgia-hounds.
The Rochester Museum and Science Center is an eight-minute walk from the stop. Be sure to visit the Strasenburgh Planetarium connected with the museum.
Recommendation: Pop Roc is a hangout spot that sells coffee and huge bowls of gourmet cereal, and houses rows of the latest comics and collectible figures.
Eastman School of Music
Even if you don’t take classes there, there are still many reasons to visit. The school puts on over 300 free and discounted concerts a year. Most ticketed concerts (as expensive as $70) have a discounted price of $10 for students (with ID). Their morning chamber music series usually happens on Saturday mornings. These concerts tend to be lovely, intimate affairs with Eastman and guest musicians in the ornate Hatch Recital Hall — a perfect Saturday morning.
If you get bored studying in the same three spots on River Campus, make a trip to the Sibley Music Library. It’s often quieter and has lots of natural light and couches. Another hidden gem is Greenwood Books, a used bookstore for those with a bit of wandering time and an interest in inexpensive books.
Recommendation: A popular spot is Java’s coffee shop, which has an eclectic art taste and delicious drinks. Try the London fog.