Rochester is a smaller city in New York that sits along the coast of Lake Ontario. If you haven’t heard of the city, you’ll be surprised to know it’s a nexus for international festivals and cultural centers. While many cities are famous for being cultural melting pots and hosting international events, you’ll be surprised by the unorthodox festivities in Rochester. After a busy day of learning things you’d have never expected to learn, you can treat yourself to the unique delicacies of Rochester cuisine.

01Learn everything you never Imagined About Games

An old Atari game system ideabug / Getty Images

Whether you’ve been playing games since Pong, you stay up all night playing the latest hit, or you love to relax playing Sim City, you’ll adore the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. It contains an impressive collection of all things videogames, including a game library numbering in the tens of thousands! The ICHEG also has information exhibits dedicated to the history of games throughout human history. You’re sure to learn all sorts of fascinating things about the roles that games have played in human history. It goes without saying that there are plenty of interactive exhibits!

02Take a stroll to the Strong Museum of Play

Fun at the Arcade kali9 / Getty Images

The ICHEG adjoins the Strong Museum of Play. While the ICHEG focuses on gaming, the Strong is dedicated to all the ways people entertain themselves. The interactive exhibits are sure to be a hit for the whole family. You’ll be learning while you have fun, too; one of the major goals of The Strong Museum is to illustrate that the ways unique cultures play can teach you a ton about those cultures.

03Enjoy a plate of Hot Garbage

A more orthodox meal LauriPatterson / Getty Images

Now now, it’s not literal garbage. The popular local restaurant 'Nick Tahou Hots' invented and serves a now-iconic Rochester dish that’s been nicknamed a ‘Garbage Plate.’ It consists of fried potatoes, baked beans, and a spicy meat sauce that’s equally delicious and hard to describe. It earned the name because guests had no idea what to call it and often asked for ‘the plate filled with garbage.’

04Rock out at the largest guitar store in the world

A large guitar collection SteveRosset / Getty Images

This destination has attracted all sorts of musical talent to Rochester since The Beatles made it somewhat famous, although it was not the largest guitar store in the world then. The store has a massive collection of guitars, sound systems, and all sorts of accessories and memorabilia. It even has its own stage; if you check out their website and time your visit right, you can enjoy a free concert by a live band.

05Get a taste of Upstate New York’s local wineries

Friends doing a wine tasting StefaNikolic / Getty Images

Each year, Experience the Finger Lakes takes thousands of visitors on its popular Seneca Lakes Wine Tour. There are dozens of wineries in the area, and you can take a full-day tour or a half-day tour to visit some of the best. You’ll learn about the wine-making process from the experts themselves and taste all sorts of vintage wines. The full-day tour comes with lunch, but the shorter tour is good if you’re facing a time crunch.

06Explore the abandoned subway of Rochester

An abandoned train tunnel krazedkat / Getty Images

This activity isn’t for the faint of heart. Rochester city officials blocked off this abandoned subway over half a century ago, but don’t let that stop you. There are gaps by which you can enter, and the gates are often unlocked or broken. If you enter the old subway, you’ll notice it—the city attempted to turn an abandoned canal into a subway route! Before that, though, you’ll see the area is decked with countless works of graffiti art. If you’d like, no one will stop you from adding your own piece to this communal mural.

07Visit monuments in honor of America’s most famous suffragette

Bridge from the Underside
planetsheldon / Getty Images

Everyone in America knows of Susan B. Anthony, the Civil Rights hero who helped to kickstart the Suffragette movement. There’s a beautiful, simple monument to her illegal ballot cast in the 1872 election; a bronze ballot box left in the historic spot in question. Additionally, Susan B. Anthony’s Rochester home now stands as a museum dedicated to her life and the Civil Rights movement. Everyone owes it to themselves to learn about such an important figure in the fight for equality.

08Enjoy the St. Stanislaus Festival in August


Dar1930 / Getty Images

Every August, the local Polish population descends on Rochester to enjoy the festival to Saint Stanislaus. It’s a great activity for anyone with Polish heritage, but anyone will have a great time there. A glass or three of piwo while watching the polka dancers is a fun time for everyone, and you’ll get to try Polish cuisine. Grab a few Polish dumplings and fill the pierogi-shaped hole in your life you didn’t even realize you had.

09Watch the annual Soapbox Derby in June

Two kids vying for the championship RichVintage / Getty Images

In the early days of June, Rochester holds a delightful event for participants and spectators. The city invites kids to put together vehicles in their backyards and clears a course for them to race. If you don’t live too far and have your own kids, they might love to participate. If you’re in Rochester at the right time, it’s always fun to watch the kids compete for first place in their homemade hotrods.

10Visit the Cobbs Hill Park

The Rochester waterfall StanRohrer / Getty Images

Visiting Cobbs Hill should be a priority in any season. In the summer, you need to climb the hill and enjoy the view. The lush greenery in the forefront and the city skyline behind the trees make for a great sight. Then, you can relax on the soft grass and spend the warm, summer night stargazing. During the winter, sledding down the Cobbs Hill snowdrifts is a joy no matter how old you are.