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Foodie, Find Your Haven in Rochester, NY

There are limitless delicious options for food-loving families to enjoy during their visit to Rochester, NY. In fact, Rochester was named the “4th Best City for Foodies” in the country – and it comes as no surprise. Known for the “Garbage Plate,” bursting with fresh flavors, and as the gateway to the world-renowned Finger Lakes wine region, families need not fear about finding something for every taste bud in our city. 

Pack your bags and take to the roads for an unforgettable trip in a destination full of surprises. Let us help you plan – check out the flavors you’ll find in our city and those you just can’t miss below – and use this itinerary as your inspiration and your guide. 

DAY ONE

  • Start your morning and your trip off with a visit to the City of Rochester Public Market (open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays). Grab a breakfast bite at one of the many cafés, food stands, or coffee shops, then browse the market’s outdoor and indoor vendor sheds, bursting with fresh seasonal produce, baked goods and food items, ethnic delicacies, handmade and homemade items. It’s all too easy to fill your basket with some of the region’s best in-season produce and other goodies.

  • Spend the rest of the morning at the Seneca Park Zoo, open year-round, rain or shine, right in downtown Rochester. The moment you drive through their scenic entrance you’ll be transported into another world. Once inside, you’ll meet Masai giraffes, African elephants, California sea lions, red pandas and more!  

  • After your wild morning with the animals, settle hungry tummies with lunch at the Genesee Brew House. With its pub-style fare and 16 taps pouring the freshest beer in Rochester, this menu has all the familiar favorites – hamburgers, chicken wings, salads and sandwiches, and some Rochester specialties, like Zweigle’s Red or White Hots (hot dogs). An outdoor terrace overlooks High Falls and the Genesee River in downtown Rochester, while indoor and rooftop seating offer plenty of extra space.

  • Spend the afternoon wandering down Park Ave, a pedestrian-friendly and picturesque street brimming with cafés, bistros, boutique shops and more. A visit to Stever’s Candy is a must for families. The Stever’s have been making delicious confections for over half a century, with operations out of their Park Ave store since 1970. Original recipes are still in production here, along with regional favorites such as the melt-in-your-mouth milk or dark chocolate-coated sponge candy. Take some home to enjoy on the road!

  • For dinner, make a reservation at Restaurant Good Luck. The menu here is meant to be shared, meaning the whole family can indulge in multiple of their seasonal, rotating and chef-made entrees and apps. The Good Luck Burger is a favorite – a full pound of grass-fed local beer on brioche, with Cuba cheddar, vegetable slaw, and a ketchup/mayo/brandy sauce. Also recognized by Esquire as one of the “Best Bars in America” in 2016, their creative and classic cocktails can’t be missed.  

DAY TWO

  • Head to Pittsford, NY for a vibrant scene right on the path of the Erie Canal. First, enjoy breakfast at Simply Crepes, a great option for the family looking to try a new twist on some old favorites. Tapping into its French-inspired roots, the restaurant is known for “homespun” and “handcrafted” dishes on a menu that rotates seasonally. Enjoy savory breakfast crepes stuffed with eggs, bacon, sausage and ham or sweet options drizzled in pure maple syrup and brown sugar. Their Mimosa Flight is a must for mom and dad, too. 

  • After breakfast, walk the canal path or rent bikes to enjoy the route at a faster pace. The canal offers beauty in every season, with little boutique shops and restaurants dotting the path as you go. 

  • Grab tickets to enjoy a 90-minute cruise along the Erie Canal with The Sam Patch Tour Boat, a replica packet boat that offers public tours. Learn the history of New York State’s legendary canal, by some considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. Kids will love the quintessential canal experience of passing through Lock 32, a century old lock that brings you in through its massive 40-ton gates and floats you gently upward as the lock fills. 

  • Before leaving the Pittsford area, make a final stop into Pittsford Farms Dairy, whose landmark dairy dates back to 1814. The Dairy uses the old fashion method of vat pasteurization, which takes long but makes their milk and ice cream taste sweeter. Grab a cone or hand-packed pint of one of their unique homemade flavors to-go or pick out a bakery pastry (lemon squares, chocolate bombs, filled croissants and scones, cupcakes, cookies and more) for the road. 

  • Next, take a ride over to Wickham Farms, open July -October, and enjoy the farm’s family activities. In the fall, apple picking, pumpkins and farm store items are also available on-site.

Food Stop! Check out the Big Barn Café for lunch options like pulled pork and apple butter grilled cheese or grab-and-go pizzas, pretzels, and the (seasonal) signature “Fall Shake Up” (apple cider slushee and vanilla ice cream, topped with a cider donut!) on the Pizza Porch. They also have 32 flavors of ice cream to enjoy! 

For dinner, check out one of our downtown favorites: 

  • Italian: Enjoy rustic Italian fare at Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta, right in the heart of downtown Rochester. Veneto is a great spot for a family looking for a more upscale dining experience and hoping to expose the kids to a little something new. With amazing dishes like their Pasta con Funghi, homemade Ricotta Gnocchi or chef’s choice Arancini, you can’t go wrong. There’s also traditional favorites like Margherita Pizza and Chicken Parmigiano on the menu for the more particular eaters in the bunch. 

  • Mexican: Bitter Honey is a casual neighborhood restaurant serving up elevated and authentic Mexican fare in a family-style setting. In Mexico, meals are a time for sharing good conversation over even better food – and that’s what this place is all about. Burritos, Tamales, a Mexi-Cali Bowl, Nachos and Churros grace the menu, along with a huge selection of Tacos and a rotating “Taco of Week.” Don’t forget the margaritas with traditional, Mezcal and berry options. 

  • New-Age American: Native Eatery and Bar offers a casual upscale dining experience featuring locally sourced cuisine, hand-crafted cocktails, local microbrews and a vast array of wine. Much of their menu is made to be shared, but a few dishes are just too good to give up and come in individual portions as well. 

  • Late Night Snack: Still hungry? Order in and enjoy Rochester’s famed and aptly named Garbage Plate. There’s only one true place to try the original and that’s Nick Tahou Hots. Get yours piled high with mac salad, home fries, red or white hots, cheeseburger, meat sauce, onions, hot sauce, ketchup, mustard and more. 

DAY THREE

Finish your Rochester foodie adventure with one of our unique local food tours!

  • Flower City Food Tours takes you through the neighborhoods of Pittsford, Park Ave, the Neighborhood of the Arts, or Uptown Downtown in Rochester’s City Centre on a 3-hour eating experience. Enjoy tastings from seven local establishments along with historical, cultural and architectural points of interest highlighted along the way. 

  • Finger Lakes Food Tours | Tours in the Finger Lakes highlight the Canandaigua, NY area, just outside of Rochester in the Finger Lakes Region. A true gastronomic experience, this 3-hour guided tour will bring you to area restaurants and specialty shops and share the backstories of the amazing chefs behind the dishes. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Kick up your feet and stay a while with these local accommodations, fit for the whole family!

  • High ceilings and marble floors grace the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, which was once the former home of the National Clothing Company, established in 1924. But more than charm, this Hilton has all the right amenities for a family vacation – a heated pool, arboretum, fitness center, in-room wifi and complimentary transportation to and from the airport. 

  • Right in the midst of the action, The Strathallan puts your family downtown and nearby all of the best Rochester attractions. Check out their current packages and you may find museum tickets, pizza party deals and more included in your overnight stay. The Strathallan also features a heated pool, fitness center, spa, in-house restaurant Char, and free and convenient parking for guests. 

  • Situated in the scenic hills overlooking the city, Woodcliff Hotel & Spa takes you out of the downtown scene and into a relaxing retreat. It’s truly a resort hotel, with an on-site nine-hole golf course, full-service spa, café and restaurant, outdoor pool, fire pits and more. No one in the family will be complaining about a stay at Woodcliff, with a little something to suit every taste and style. 

VIEW & PRINT YOUR FOODIE-LOVING FAMILIES GUIDE

Rochester Family - Foodie