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Arts & Culture

Itinerary Ideas

Rochester is the cultural capital of Upstate New York. The third largest city in New York State offers an abundance of cultural experiences and institutions, and has previously been named the 17th most arts-vibrant city in the country by the National Center for Arts Research, ranking alongside large cities such as New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

Visit Rochester in 2020 and explore Rochester’s rich arts scene for yourself!

Day 1

  • Begin your arts and culture immersion in Rochester with a visit to the George Eastman Museum, the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the oldest film archives. Housed in the historic mansion of Kodak founder George Eastman, the Eastman Museum offers a glimpse into the life of George Eastman, three rotating photo gallery spaces, historic gardens and the Dryden Theatre, which exhibits more than 300 different films from the Eastman Museum’s collection annually, along with a series of special events throughout the year. New in 2020: The Eastman Museum is undertaking a major construction project to relocate the museum’s main entrance and create a new visitor center.

  • Your next visit is to the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG), a part of the University of Rochester. Located in an Italian Renaissance style building on University Avenue in the neighborhood of the arts. The MAG is known as the “mini Met,” as it offers the best depth and breadth of a collection in New York outside of New York City. Set aside two to three hours to explore 5,000 years of art history.

  • From the MAG, your next stop – the Rochester Museum and Science Center –  will take you from the depths of the ocean to the edge of the universe. RMSC has more than 200 hands-on exhibits that are just as educational as they are fun. You can climb a rock wall, dig for mastodon bones, and even watch a concert performed by Tesla coils! If you need some time to rest your feet, you can catch a show at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. They have plenty of star shows and featured films to keep the whole family entertained.

  • End your day with dinner and a show. Live music can be found in Rochester nearly every night of the week. From the virtuosos at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the talented students and faculty at the Eastman School of Music, live jazz at the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa, to an acoustic performance at the Little Theatre Café, there is always a show to enjoy.

Day 2

  • Kick off the start of day 2 by channeling your inner child at The Strong National Museum of Play. The Strong is the only museum in the world dedicated to all things play, and houses the largest collection of toys, dolls and games in the world. Equal parts children’s museum and American history museum, The Strong is fun for all ages. Enjoy the National Toy Hall of Fame and World Video Game Hall of Fame, along with the largest indoor Butterfly Garden in upstate New York, and many other interactive exhibits and experiences.

  • Continue your creative streak with a visit to ArtisanWorks, a living art space housed within a 40,000 sq. foot warehouse turned art gallery. Nearly every inch of space is covered with art of all genres. Tours are available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and group tours are available by appointment any day.

  • Just down the road from ArtisanWorks is Image City Photo Gallery. The Gallery is located in the heart of ARTWalk in the Neighborhood of the Arts, an area that offers the highest concentration of visual and performing arts in all upstate New York. The partners of this gallery exhibit and promote their work and that of others.

  • Plan on dinner and a show for the evening. A number of local theatres in Rochester always have something running on stage. Check out Geva Theatre Center, Rochester Broadway Theatre League, Blackfriars Theatre, OFC Creations and TheatreRocs for tickets and performances. Looking for some laughs? Check out Comedy @ The Carlson for shows by today’s top comedians.

Day 3

  • Start your day by stepping into history at the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, the national historic landmark home of the legendary American civil rights leader, and the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872.

  • Your next stop is Genesee Country Village and Museum. Located just 25 minutes outside of Rochester, GCVM is one of the largest living history museums in the country, and takes visitors back in time to a 19th century village brought to life. Visit the museum year-round for unique events and experiences for all ages.

  • Conclude your arts & cultural-themed visit with a dance performance. Rochester is home to multiple dance companies, including Garth Fagan Dance, celebrating 50 years in 2020, and the Rochester City Ballet. The Hochstein School of Music & Dance features classes and performance opportunities for students of all ages.