A Perfect Getaway
We crossed into the city’s west end and passed by a famous tavern called Nick Tahou’s House, which is the home of the “garbage plate”: a plate full of hamburgers, fries, and a variety of other heart-attack inducing delicacies. This route took us past a beautiful modern townhouse development that, surprisingly enough, holds recently built subsidized housing. We then made our way towards Susan B. Anthony’s house. Anthony was a daring social activist who insisted on voting rights for women and was arrested in 1872 for voting in the presidential election, challenging the law. Her house was a congregation for many of her activist friends, including the famous suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Rochester’s history includes another famous activist, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and both Susan B. Anthony and Federick Douglass are featured in sculptures in a little park just down the road from the Susan B. Anthony House.
Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass
We then took in the Corn Hill neighbourhood, an area with tidy historic homes that hosts the Corn Hill Arts Festival every July. The next stop on our itinerary was the Strong Museum, ranked one of the top 10 children’s museums in the United States. It holds the National Toy Hall of Fame and many world renowned collections of toys, miniatures, dollhouses as well as the world’s most comprehensive collection of dolls. The entrance area features an authentic 1950s diner still in operation and an antique carousel.
Entrance to the Strong Museum
Crossing the city again into the east end, past tree lined avenues with attractive homes, we headed outside of town to a quaint Rochester suburb called Fairport, located on the Erie Canal. On the way we passed through the wealthy suburb of Pittsford, which is the location of the Oak Hill Country Club where the 2003 PGA Championships were held. On our way to Fairport we drove past St. John Fisher College which is the location of the Buffalo Bill’s training camp. Fairport itself is a gorgeous little village with beautiful storefronts, a river walk and public docking facilities. We caught a glimpse of the Colonial Belle, a 2-deck sight-seeing boat that cruises the Erie Canal.
From Fairport we went back to Pittsford, whose quaint historical center is also located right on the Erie Canal. Pittsford has a number of retail stores and restaurants that are built around an old lumber mill and it is the home of the Sam Patch, an excursion and charter boat that is a replica of an old canal packet boat. Both Fairport and Pittsford reminded me of Niagara-on-the-Lake with beautifully restored architecture, colourful overflowing flower baskets, and a variety of shopping and dining opportunities.
Erie Canal in Pittsford
Well, after this comprehensive sightseeing program it was time to go for dinner. We headed up towards the Lake Ontario shoreline and into beautiful Irondequoit Bay. The name for this large bay of water is from the Iroquois Nation and means “where the two waters meet.” The Native Americans once used this bay and the incoming Irondequoit Creek for canoe travel to avoid the high falls on the Genesee River. At the southern end of the bay is a large attractively styled new restaurant called Bazil’s which features casual Italian cuisine.
Although the restaurant is fairly new, the place was absolutely packed, and the first thing we noticed was the chandelier in the front entrance hall which is made completely of wine bottles. We waited for about 15 minutes and then had a great dinner in the bay-side dining room area. I enjoyed the dinner which was capped off by the largest and most delicious funnel cake I have ever seen.
After this long day of sightseeing Patti and Carrie dropped me off at the Holiday Inn Express where I had well-deserved night’s rest since another round of sightseeing would await me in just a few hours. My first day in Rochester had left me with a number of impressions:
– the large expanses of green spaces within the city
– meticulously manicured neighbourhoods with attractive well-kept homes
– several vibrant entertainment districts, including the historic High Falls area
– one of my favourite spots: the outdoor art experience of ArtWalk
– the historic buildings of the downtown core
– and the beautiful bayside dining at Bazil’s.
I admit I didn’t know much about Rochester before I got there, but the scenic quality of its suburban and downtown neighbourhoods definitely struck me. Combined with convenient access to water sports on the Erie Canal and Lake Ontario as well as to a huge variety of sports activities including golf, hiking, biking and skiing ust minutes from the downtown core, I realized why Rochester’s slogan is “Made for Living”.