Rochester. Great place to make a memory.
Rochester. Great place to make a memory.
Tucked into the sprawling Genesee Valley between Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes wine region, the tradition of dignity for all runs deep here. Susan B. Anthony's home, a National Historic Landmark, still stands in Rochester and is open to the public. Frederick Douglass established his abolitionist newspaper, The North Star, here. The first statue in the country honoring an African-American still stands in Highland Park. Both Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass are buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester-The oldest municipal Victorian cemetery in the country.
Another Rochester newspaper, The Empty Closet, is the nation's oldest continuously published LGBT paper, having been in business for more than 40 years. And, another Rochester trailblazer, Tim Mains, was New York State's first openly gay elected official.
With such a rich history of civil rights it shouldn't come as a shock that Rochester is among the most welcoming, gay-friendly metro areas in the U.S. It's also one of the most culturally rich.
Surprised? Then it's time to check out Rochester.
From captains of industry to prestigious universities, Rochester has long been home to famous inventors and entrepreneurs. The birthplace of Kodak, Xerox, Bausch + Lomb (all of whom have LGBT employee groups) enjoys an increasingly diverse economy-and a diversity of people that makes the area exceptionally progressive when it comes to the LGBT community. In fact, we boast the 3rd largest chapter of Out and Equal in the U.S.
But it's not just Rochester's municipal or corporate courage that makes the area an attractive place for lesbians and gay men. Culture, art, music, food, wine and festivals have created a charming, livable city and region where the good life is within reach.
It's easy to get to Rochester. By car, there are three exits on the New York State Thruway; and Amtrak provides east/west service a couple of times each day. If you're flying into the Greater Rochester International Airport, you can rent a car, grab a cab, or hop on a free hotel shuttle and head for your hotel. The area has a range of gay-friendly places to stay, from large, luxury chains to small downtown boutiques to countryside Bed and Breakfasts. Whatever your preference, you'll be pleased with your choices.
Rochester loves the night life.
Sure, you'll find a range of gay bars and coffeehouses here. The most popular lesbian and gay clubs in the area:
- 140 Alex-A casual neighborhood pub downstairs, a lively dance floor upstairs. Stop by for a beer, shoot some pool, or get your groove on at this friendly tavern.
- The Avenue Pub-an institution in Rochester, this bar offers a place to chill, visit and mingle with the locals in the heart of Rochester's eclectic Monroe neighborhood. Surrounded by places to stop for a late night pizza, sushi, or coffee. All within a few walkable blocks.
- Boulder Coffee-called Rochester's premiere coffee house + music venue, each of Boulder's five venues presents a hip, relaxed atmosphere with the smell of roasted coffee and mix of friendly locals.
- Equal=Grounds-the quintessential neighborhood coffeehouse, this spacious cafe is filled with comfy chairs, art, and the whir of the espresso machine. It's right in the center of another of Rochester's most popular urban neighborhoods, the South Wedge (Business Association of the South Wedge Area), home to galleries, shops, and foodie-magnet attractions.
- Tilt Nightclub-if all you want to do is dance, this cavernous brick warehouse has all the pulsing lights and latest beats your heart desires-and a rotation of local celebrity DJs to keep your feet on the floor.
- The Bachelor Forum-Although known as a leather bar for bears, it has become a popular gathering spot for men of all ages. The Forum is central to Rochester's Neighborhood of the Arts, home to cafes, galleries, museums, and fantastic restaurants.
There's also a broad range of clubs and hangouts with mixed company, where you can feel right at home just the same. These include the ultra-chic One, the Vertex Goth bar, and the richly eclectic Lux, among others.
Great dining at affordable prices.
Rochester is surrounded by one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. And many of the area's restaurants offer regional fare prepared by world-class chefs from locally sourced ingredients-from wine to cheese to produce to chicken and beef. Tip: Some of the best ones are found on-site at the region's wineries.
It wouldn't be a gay destination without plenty of options for brunch. In Rochester, there's the classic route with a tasty omelet and fresh coffee at one of several bistros and diners in the city's historic Park Avenue neighborhood. This tree-lined, meandering boulevard is filled with 19th century homes and apartment buildings, shops and even a candy store. At Jines Restaurant you may see the Mayor, County Executive, and/or local businesspeople mingling with college students, retirees, or young families-it's a favorite among locals.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, the Rochester Public Market-recently voted the best in the nation-where fresh coffee, fruit right from the farm, local bakeries, and breakfast empanadas can be had. A century old, this friendly outdoor market draws thousands of locals each week for seasonal treats.
The area is home to immigrants from nearly every corner of the globe, and they bring with them all of the culinary variety you'd expect from a large city. Thai. Vietnamese. Indian. French. and of course, Chinese and Italian, just to name a few. Just don't fill up too much. Save room for dessert...or dancing.
Hint: For a listing of restaurants in the area, go to http://visitrochester.com/restaurants/ and click on the dining guide.
A long tradition of loving people and living well.
There are lots of reasons to visit Rochester every weekend. But several times each year, signature LGBT events are especially worth a calendar entry. Each offers entertainment with a powerful sense of LGBT solidarity.
- ImageOut: The Rochester Lesbian & Gay Film & Video Festival-launched in 1993, this 10-day festival has grown dramatically. Each October, this world-class event screens sought-after new material from around the world, including foreign films, short programs, documentaries and classics. The festival also kicks off with an opening night party, and closes out with one, too.
- Rochester Pride Festival, Parade, and Picnic-Started in 1989, Rochester Pride has evolved into a 10 day celebration that draws about 10,000 people each July, making it New York State's second-largest Pride celebration after Manhattan.
- Empire State Pride Agenda Spring Dinner-also, second only to New York City, this annual dinner in May draws hundreds of supporters for a night of celebration, solidarity, and serious talk. A prominent political ally or celebrity advocate joins the event for a rousing keynote.
- Miss Gay Rochester-the city has a considerable community of drag queens, some of national fame, and each November the best and bawdiest take to the stage in a contest to crown a new queen.
- Gay Expo-before same-sex marriage was legalized in New York State, this annual event was already drawing dozens of Rochester-area designers, caterers, and stylists to reach the area's large LGBT community, many of whom plan weddings and commitment ceremonies each year.
Moms, dads and kids need a getaway, too. For LGBT families, Greater Rochester is a dream trip. Countless festivals and attractions offer fun all year round. Note, during Pride Week, there are a number of family-friendly events scheduled.
Be sure to check out VisitRochester.com for more information on family friendly activities including
- National Museum of Play and National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong
- Genesee Country Village & Museum
- Rochester Museum & Science Center
- Lilac Festival
- Seneca Park Zoo
- Seabreeze Amusement Park
- George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film
- Memorial Art Gallery
For your spiritual side.
Greater Rochester is home to an extraordinarily large number of faith communities that warmly welcome visitors including folks from the LGBT community. So, if you find yourself in the area looking for a place to observe your religious tradition, there's a very good chance you'll find a place where you fit right in.
See for yourself. Make yourself at home.
Arts. Culture. Food. Wine. Romance. Family fun. Rochester has it all, wrapped up in four glorious seasons of color, beauty and refreshment.
Find out why the region has long nurtured the human spirit-and the cause of equality. Visit http://www.visitrochester.com/ or call 800-677-7282 to learn more about experiencing Rochester's hospitality first hand.
One caveat: Rochester covers a lot of territory. And while the center city area has walkable neighborhoods and friendly hotels, you'll want a car to fully enjoy all the area has to offer.