Photo credit: Jim Montanus 

Rochester was named one of the top nine cities in the U.S. to visit in 2020 by SmarterTravel. With exciting new events, exhibits, anniversaries, restaurants and more 2020 is shaping up to be a milestone year for Rochester. To help inspire your next trip, here are 20 reasons to visit Rochester in 2020. 

  1. 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. 2020 marks the centennial of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote in the U.S. Rochester and the Finger Lakes are the birthplace of the women’s rights movement. Rochester will celebrate the suffrage centennial all year long through different events, performances and a new exhibit at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. You can also celebrate the suffrage centennial by visiting one of the many restaurants, shops, bed & breakfasts, and other businesses owned and run by women in the Rochester area. 

  2. Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday /75th anniversary of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. In a monumental year for women’s rights, Rochester celebrates the 200th birthday of suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s birth. Anthony is buried in Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery, and visitors can tour her national historic landmark home, which celebrates its 75th anniversary as a museum this year.

  3. New visitors center at George Eastman Museum. Rochester’s other national historic house, the George Eastman Museum, recently broke ground on a brand new visitors center and education pavilion. The new main entrance and visitor’s center will also feature a new café space and will be complete in July 2020. 

  4. One of the top beer scenes in the northeast. “Rochester has reinvented itself as the Northeast’s best beer town.”  - Matador Network | In recent years, Rochester's reputation as a top city for craft breweries continues to grow. With more than two dozen breweries in Monroe County alone, craft beer drinkers should put Rochester on their must-visit list this year. 

  5. Expansion underway at The Strong National Museum of Play. The Strong Museum – the national museum of play – is in the midst of an expansion project that won’t just add new space to the museum, but will shape and form a new neighborhood in the City of Rochester. Once completed, the Neighborhood of Play will be a new, vibrant, walkable neighborhood, revitalizing the downtown area surrounding The Strong. The museum piece of this project includes a a 90,000-square-foot expansion, which will draw millions of people to play and learn at The Strong.

  6. See the stars in a new light at the Strasenburgh Planetarium at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.  The Strasenburgh Planetarium recently debuted new state-of-the-art projection systems bringing an even clearer picture of the stars above to visitors of all ages.

  7.  Finger Lakes wine region recognized as one of the best in the world. Rochester is the gateway to the Finger Lakes wine region, which was named the best in the country in 2019 by a USA Today reader poll.

  8. 50 years of Garth Fagan Dance.  2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Garth Fagan Dance, based in Rochester. Fagan is best known as the Tony-award winning choreographer of The Lion King. His company performs several times a year in Rochester and offers classes in the community. 

  9. Craft cocktails and coffee. Check out the 6th annual Rochester Cocktail Revival in June, New York State’s largest craft cocktail festival. Cocktails not your thing? Rochester is “addicted to good coffee” according to Food & Wine, and the mid-sized city boasts an impressive modern coffee culture.

  10. 100th anniversary of the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, plus new tours of the historic building. A site on the Underground Railroad that harbored runaway slaves, and a former church that hosted the funerals of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, is today home to a school for music and dance that aims to provide access to arts education to all. 

  11. New restaurants to discover. Rochester’s first restaurant by a Michelin-starred chef, REDD Rochester, recently opened. Other new favorites include Rella, an intimate small plate seafood bar, and LUCKY’s, opened by the dream team behind Rochester’s wildly popular Restaurant Good Luck.

  12. ROC the Riverway. A major new community initiative in Rochester focused on a series of transformative projects designed to revitalize and leverage the value of the Rochester’s riverfront along the Genesee River.

  13. 140+ Annual Festivals and Events. Home to more than 140 annual festivals and events, Rochester transforms into “Festival City,” with the festival season unofficially kicking off in May with the Rochester Lilac Festival, home to the largest display of lilacs in North America. Other festival favorites include the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival and the Keybank Fringe Festival.

  14. 100th anniversary of the Jack Rabbit roller coaster at Seabreeze Amusement Park. The Jack Rabbit is the oldest continuously operating wooden roller coaster in the U.S. and can be found at Seabreeze Amusement Park on the shores of Lake Ontario.

  15. The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter’s Stained-Glass Art exhibit. The Path to Paradise is the first survey and major scholarly assessment of this groundbreaking artist’s 37-year career. Organized by the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, the exhibition will be on view in Rochester from February 15 through May 24, 2020, after which it will travel to two additional venues in the U.S.  

  16. A city with an amazing soundtrack. Rochester is a musical destination. The city hosts several major music events during the year, including the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, one of the top international jazz festivals in the world, Party in the Park, a weekly summer concert series in downtown, and the ROC Summer Soul Festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020.

  17. Rochester is the cultural capital of upstate New York. A mid-sized city with an arts scene that matches a major metro area, Rochester has an abundance of unique arts and cultural offerings. Rochester has 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.

  18. Independence Day at Genesee Country Village & Museum. The largest living history museum in New York State hosts one of the most unique Independence Day celebrations in the country – a naturalization ceremony for new citizens.

  19. Film Festivals in the Flower City. As the birthplace of Kodak, Rochester has an affinity for all things film. The city hosts nearly a dozen film festivals annually, including ImageOut, the largest LGBTQ film festival north of New York City, and the High Falls Women’s Film Festival, one of the few festivals in the world that celebrates the role of women in film – both in front of and behind the camera.

  20. Return of Roc Holiday Village. The Roc Holiday Village will return for year three in 2020. Roc Holiday Village was inspired by NYC’s Bryant Park and has restored holiday magic to downtown Rochester.