Rochester. Great place to make a memory.
With a rich history of civil rights, it shouldn't come as a shock that Rochester is among the most welcoming, LGBTQ-friendly metro areas in the U.S., ranked 11th in 2016's Gayest Cities in America by the Advocate.com. It's also one of the most culturally abundant. Rochester received a perfect score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign.
"The downtown area's Park Avenue corridor has the right mix of chic dining, drinking, and entertainment to make it the gay epicenter in Rochester," reported the Advocate.com. "This tree-lined, charming city in the Finger Lakes region is New York's third largest (and was named sixth most livable in the United States in 2007 by the Places Rated Almanac)."
Tucked 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. Another Rochester newspaper, The Empty Closet, is the nation's oldest continuously published LGBT paper, having been in business for more than 40 years.
There are lots of reasons to visit Rochester every weekend. But several times each year, signature events are especially worth a calendar entry.
The third weekend in July the Gay Alliance (gayalliance.org) produces Rochester Pride. There are foursignature Pride events, on Saturday there is the Pride Parade and Pride Festival, on Sunday the Pride Picnic and then there are the ROC Pride Games-a number of different tournaments for LGBTQ adults and friends. Numerous other events occur in conjunction with Rochester Pride which is a celebration that attracts about 10,000 people, making it New York State's second-largest Pride celebration
ImageOut: The Rochester Lesbian & Gay Film & Video Festival (imageout.org)- Each October, this 10-day event screens sought-after new material from around the world, including foreign films, short programs, documentaries and classics. The festival kicks off with an opening night party, and closes out with one too.
The Lilac Festival (May) features more than 500 varieties of Lilacs with art, music and food.
The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (June) is where all genres of creative improvised music from all corners of the world come together with over 1,200 musicians and more than 300 concerts.
The Cornhill Arts Festival (July) features hundreds of artists and continuous live music.
The eclectic area known as Park Avenue, hosts the Park Avenue Summer Arts Festival (August), attracting just as an eclectic mix of festival goers.
The Memorial Art Gallery's Clothesline Festival (September) offers works from local and area artists.
Expect the unexpected at the Rochester Fringe Festival (September), a unique multi-arts festival that both showcases and stimulates creativity.
Culture, art, music, food, wine and festivals have created a charming, livable city and region where the good life is within reach.
Culinary Experience - Rochester is surrounded by one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. 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.
Hint: For a listing of restaurants in the area, go to http://visitrochester.com/restaurants/ and click on the dining guide.
You'll find a range of gay and lesbian bars and coffeehouses to visit too. 140 Alex Bar & Grill is a casual neighborhood pub downstairs, a lively dance floor upstairs. Equal=Grounds is the quintessential neighborhood coffeehouse, this spacious cafe is filled with comfy chairs, art, and the whirl of the espresso machine. It's in the center of another one of Rochester's most popular urban neighborhoods, the South Wedge, home to galleries, shops, and foodie-magnet attractions. The Bachelor Forum is central to Rochester's Neighborhood of the Arts, home to cafes, galleries, museums, and fantastic restaurants. Tilt Nightclub hosts Drag shows, has a DJ, dancing, full bar, free parking and more. 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.
There's also a broad range of clubs and hangouts with mixed company, where you can feel right at home just the same.
Moms, dads and kids need a getaway, too. For LGBTQ 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 the Travel with Kids section 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
- Seneca Park Zoo
- Seabreeze Amusement Park
- George Eastman Museum
- Memorial Art Gallery
Surprised? Then it's time to check out Rochester. 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.
LGBTQ Area Services: