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Learning Through Play 

When it comes to learning on the road, Rochester leads the way. Whether remote learning or looking to add a little enrichment to your family vacation, Rochester is a city deeply seeded in history, leading the way in science, and turning play into knowledge. We’ll bet there’s something the whole family can learn from a trip to ROC. Expand your horizons and enjoy a trip that will have you sharing your discoveries the whole car ride home!

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 our educational activities for all ages below and use this itinerary as your inspiration and your guide.

DAY ONE

  • Start your visit by touring the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, where the legendary civil rights leader lived for 40 of her most politically active years. Relive the historic moments of her life, be inspired by her amazing story and even stand in the front parlor where she was arrested for voting in 1872.

  • Before you leave the neighborhood, walk down the block to 31 Madison Street to Susan B. Anthony Square to see the “Let’s Have Tea” statue of Anthony enjoying a cup of tea with her friend and fellow advocate, Frederick Douglass.

  • Continue the story with lunch at the 1872 Café, where you can visit a replica ballot box commemorating the spot where Susan B. Anthony cast her illegal vote in the 1872 Presidential Election. The café serves up soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, wings and more, along with drip coffee and other specialty drinks.

  • Next, take a short trip to Martin Luther King Jr. Park, where fresh new murals honor the late icon. Give the kids a stretch break at the on-site playground or make some music with the instruments found there. In the winter, families can ice skate at the park’s outdoor rink. In the summer, the park’s three fountains provide a refreshing splash break.

  • Right next door to the park lies The Strong Museum of Play, an interactive museum that is full of fun and learning opportunities for all. Learn about flora and fauna in the tropical butterfly garden or reminiscence on previous pastimes in the National Toy Hall of Fame. Take the little ones for a walk down Sesame Street and practice counting, colors and your ABCs with Elmo and friends. Then practice making change when you shop at the mini Wegmans, where kids can play both cashier and customer.

  • Wrap up your day by exploring over 5,000 years of history and art at the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) – from contemporary movements to antique artwork and relics. In addition to perusing the indoor gallery, visitors can marvel at Centennial Sculpture Park, a showcase of public art spread out across ten acres of the Gallery’s grounds.

  • Food Stop! Dine at one of these recommendations:

    • Salena’s Mexican Restaurant puts you in the heart of the Neighborhood of the Arts for amazing Mexican fare. Located right next to the Memorial Art Gallery at Village Gate, the whole family can settle in for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other traditional Mexican entrees – while mom and dad enjoy a margarita, or two. Set in a bright, fun Mexican cantina atmosphere.

    • Just a few streets over, Rochester’s Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was the second location for this local eatery, which originated in Syracuse, NY. It sits overlooking the Genesee River and serves up all the best in home cooking and “cue,” from brisket, to ribs, to pulled pork, and all the fixins’ too. 

    • Grappa Italian Nouveau is another great option, offering a modern approach to traditional Italian cuisine. Wind down the day with a glass of wine as you enjoy seasonal arancini specials, pork osso bucco and veal parmesan, pasta favorites, hand-tossed pizzas, and more.

 

DAY TWO

  • Start your day off on a sweet note with seasonal, handcrafted donuts and specialty coffee from Boxcar Donuts! Their donut selection rotates daily, but you can expect to find new and old favorites on the menu – like maple bacon, cinnamon apple, peanut butter & fluff, strawberry cheesecake, blueberry pancake and more. They also have vegan options available.

  • Next, visit the home of the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film, George Eastman. At the George Eastman Museum, the world’s oldest photography museum brings to life his story and that of the Eastman Kodak Company. Enjoy hands-on image-making activities for kids in the Discovery Room and bring the fun home too with downloadable coloring pages, historic recipes, photography and pre-cinemas activities that will continue the learning.

  • Just down the road, satisfy eager minds with a deep dive into science, technology and regional heritage among three floors of immersive exhibits at the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC). Understand our ever-changing Earth, become an energy expert, learn about light and optics, and more. Then, take to the skies and discover the wonders of our universe at the RMSC’s Strasenburgh Planetarium. A variety of star shows, laser light shows, and featured presentations take place on weekends with separate admission.

Bonus! RMSC also runs and operates the Cumming Nature Center, nestled between Canandaigua and Honeoye Lakes in the Finger Lakes. This 900-acre preserve is the perfect place to take the family on an outdoor adventure, with more than 15 miles of hiking trails, cross-country ski or snowshoe rentals in the winter, indoor and outdoor nature exhibits, and special programming year-round.

  • Enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes and restaurants that dot picturesque Park Avenue.  Family-friendly favorites include Jines Restaurant, Magnolia’s Deli & Café and the Frog Pond.

  • Continue your day of learning by teaching the kids about conservation! Open year-round, rain or shine, the Seneca Park Zoo will transport your family to another world to discover animals from the savanna, the rocky coasts, the tropics, and more. Watch as the California sea lions charm the crowd, feed the giraffes, observe the lions roar and play, and delight in the fluffy and adorable red pandas. Talk about the responsibility that zoos have in saving animals from extinction, the importance of caring for other species and the role that each animal has to play both globally and locally.

  • Have you ever seen a Great Lake? Well you’re in luck, as Rochester is located on the southern shore of Great Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is the eastern most of the five great lakes and the only to not touch the state of Michigan, it is the smallest by surface size, but exceeds Lake Erie by volume. It is the 13th largest lake in the world and serves as an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence seaway. Visit Ontario Beach Park or enjoy a scenic drive via the seaway trail.

  • After a full day of learning and fun, fill hungry bellies with a Rochester “delicacy” – the famed and aptly named Garbage Plate. There’s only one true place to try the original and that’s Nick Tahou Hots. Get yours sit down or to-go, piled high with mac salad, home fries, red or white hots, cheeseburger, meat sauce, onions, hot sauce, ketchup, mustard and more. You may not be teaching the kids about healthy eating with this one, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime dish that will certainly have them trying new things.


DAY THREE

  • Start your morning with a visit to High Falls, the site of a 96-foot waterfall in the center of downtown Rochester. Surrounding High Falls is Brown’s Race, a National Register Historic District and a city Preservation District. Brown's Race is an urban cultural park that celebrates Rochester's earliest industrial area started during the Flour City era.

  • Spend the day at the largest living history museum in New York State! At the Genesee Country Village & Museum, give your family a peek into the past – the 19th century. With 68 historic buildings and knowledgeable, costumed interpreters on-site, visitors to the Village can enjoy live demonstrations on pottery-making, tinning, blacksmithing and more, ask questions of the interpreters, play historic games, meet the animals and understand life of long ago. It’s sure to be a blast and will give everyone in the family an appreciation of the advances that we enjoy today.

  • Enjoy a little 19th-century dining before you depart, down the road at Farmer’s Creekside Tavern & Inn. Built in the 1820s, the building was one of the first structures in LeRoy and served as many things before a fire nearly claimed it in 2004. Now restored, it offers contemporary waterfront dining and has won several awards for its casual and gourmet menu offerings – which change seasonally and feature entrees such Blue Crab Cakes, Chickpea Gnocchi, Korean BBQ Short Ribs and more.

  • On the Way Home: If your path home takes you to the east, plan a final stop in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s rights movement. You can swing by the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, the Wesleyan Chapel where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, with exhibits and photographs that share the amazing and inspiring story of hundreds of American’s women of yesterday and today.


ACCOMMODATIONS 

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

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Rochester is located right off of I-390 and north of the New York State Thruway, providing easy access for families traveling by car. The rooms offer all of the amenities and comforts a traveler could need, with a warm cookie upon check-in that only the DoubleTree can offer. Check out Bistro 252 in the hotel for hearty breakfast and the Atrium Lounge for lunch, dinner and a full bar menu.

  • Stay at The Del Monte Lodge Renaissance Rochester Hotel & Spa for a luxury experience that puts you right along the Erie Canal. Beautiful rooms feature a refined design. A high-end menu is found at the hotel’s Erie Grill restaurant. And a spa ensures that you’ll find true relaxation at the end of any family vacation.

  • 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, and free and convenient parking for guests.