If you’re planning a visit to Rochester, NY, and want to make it a couple’s getaway, you’re in luck: there are so many fun places to visit! Last month, Mr. Locke and I had the pleasure of visiting the city and fell in love with how easy it is to navigate and how friendly the locals are. From museums that make you feel like a kid again to historical boat rides along the canal, here are my favorite fun things to do in Rochester, NY, for couples!
Disclosure: We were graciously hosted by the fine folks at Visit Rochester to give you the scoop on the fun things to do in Rochester for couples. All opinions are my own!
I’ve been to Rochester, NY, a couple of times, but each was to check out cool things to do in Rochester for families. This time, Mr. Locke and I hit the road to explore the fun things for couples and we weren’t disappointed. At all. Here are my top choices.
Things to Do in Rochester NY for Couples: Take a Swim in Lake Ontario
Whether you want to dip your toes in Lake Ontario or simply stroll along the sandy beach, Ontario Beach Park is a must do. The pier is downright historically adorable and the Dentzel Carousel from 1905 just adds to the throwback look and feel.
With 1,800 feet of beachfront, complete with lifeguards, we hung out in the shady areas of the park setting, grabbed a frozen custard from Abbott’s (HIGHLY recommend!), and simply relaxed for a couple of hours. There’s plenty of free parking and lots of space to get way from other folks.
Stars in Our Eyes
Rochester Museum and Science Center is not only a three-floor, hands-on museum, it’s the location of one of the coolest things to do in Rochester: a laidback planetarium show. Complete with lounge-style chairs, we took a seat along the wall (I think it’s the best view) and watched a super-informative (yet fun) film on black holes.
After the show, we hit the museum proper and checked out the exhibits. As a wife of a husband that loves science centers, I literally had to pull him out of the building. The quote of the trip? “I don’t wanna go downstairs. Downstairs leads to the exit!”
Yep, it’s that much fun.
Things to Do in Rochester NY for Couples: Strong Play Vibes
The Strong National Museum of Play is one of those places where age is truly just a number. It was literally designed to encourage play, so whether it’s in the pinball room (plays are only 25 cents each!) or the Butterly Garden or even sitting on the stoop in Sesame Street, you’ll find the museum a full-day place to visit.
I’m calling it: if I had to choose the best museum for kids, it’s The Strong. Did I mention it has an entire area that lets guests walk into storybooks, complete with the decor to go with it? Yeah. It’s magical.
Cruise the Erie Canal
When you head out on the Sam Patch, an 1800’s packet boat replica, it’s like you’re stepping back in time. Cruising west, we actually went through a lock. Yep, an actual water-rising-while-you’re-tied-off-to-the-side-of-the-canal lock. I’m not going to lie, thinking about the concept was scary but, after watching the process I was perfectly fine.
Bonus: I was actually given the honor to steer the boat for a few minutes. It was a super cool experience and I’m elated I got the chance. Additionally, we learned a ton about the history of both the canal and the boat itself.
Things to Do in Rochester NY for Couples: Sip Some Iron Smoke
Seriously, if I could create the perfect atmosphere for a distillery, it would be that of Iron Smoke Distillery. It has a carnival side show meets tattoo parlor meets old saloon feel.
Just outside of Rochester in Fairport, we sipped handcrafted straight bourbon, enjoyed live music, and simply enjoyed the atmosphere.
Shop for Bargains and Amazing Food in One Place
On our final day of our visit, we hit the Rochester Public Market and I’m stocked we did. It has everything for locally-made wares and crafts to locally-grown fruit and veg. Inside the main building, there are plenty of spots to buy donuts, coffee, and to-go items.
Open three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) the weekends are definitely busier. If you can hit the market mid-week, it’s probably your best bet.
Things to Do in Rochester NY for Couples: It’s a Zoo in There!
The Seneca Park Zoo is not a giant space, but it does pack a punch when it comes to animal species and exhibits. Walking around the paths, it was easy to spy both common and exotic animals. When we were done, we took the tram back to the entrance for $2 each.
My favorite moment of the visit was being nearly face-to-face with a female lion with only a thick pane of glass between us. When it’s hot, there are misting stations to cool off and plenty of snack booths as well.
Old School Cool Photos
Eastman, even apart from the Rochester connection, is a super famous name when it comes to photography. And the George Eastman Museum, has been showcasing the beauty of photography since 1947. Mr. Eastman’s home is part of the admission and the gardens are gorgeous to mosey around.
Sure, the photography exhibits are super pretty, but it’s the history of the man, his home, and his family that I found particularly fascinating. I mean, he was responsible for creating the first Kodak camera that gave affordable photography to the masses. Plus, he had an elephant head mounted on the wall. Just saying.
Things to Do in Rochester NY for Couples: Where We Stayed
I highly recommend The Strathhallen if you’re looking for affordable, aesthetically-pleasing lodging in Rochester. It’s location is just down the street from the Rochester Museum and Science Center and just down the street from the George Eastman Museum. We loved our king guest room (bed was super comfy and there was plenty of room!) and the staff couldn’t have been nicer.
If you simply want to hang around and grab a cocktail, there are two cool spots: The Char Steak & Lounge in the lobby and Hattie’s rooftop bar.