This spring, I spent nearly a week in Albany, New York visiting family. While I always love visiting family, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Albany over the years, and I wanted to see another part of the beautiful state of New York on this trip. So my significant other and I decided to make a brief, spontaneous getaway to Rochester, a city in Western New York known for both its rich history and its natural beauty.
To make our impromptu trip to Rochester possible, we checked out HotelTonight’s website to book a last-minute Rochester hotel. Within minutes, we had booked a great hotel room in the heart of Rochester, and we were ready to head out and explore a new part of New York. The drive from Albany to Rochester took a little over three hours, but it was such a scenic drive that the hours just flew by. Before we knew it, we were smack dab in the middle of the charming city of Rochester, New York.
Rochester is one of the oldest cities in the country, so it’s no surprise that this city is full of historic neighborhoods and beautiful old buildings. As we walked through Rochester’s Park Ave neighborhood, we passed well-preserved, historic homes and charming sidewalk cafes. Along Park Ave and Berkeley Street, we stumbled upon countless trendy shops, cafes and restaurants, and it was impossible not to fall in love with the charm and beauty of this area on a crisp, sunny spring day. We were definitely aware of how lucky we were to visit this city in late spring, though, since we know that Rochester tends to have cold, harsh and long winters.
After indulging in some delicious food and dessert on Park Ave, we headed to Highland Park, a local favorite during warmer months. This picturesque arboretum spans over 150 acres, and it’s home to thousands of varieties of flowers, from lilac shrubs and magnolias to azaleas and native wildflowers. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer behind New York City’s Central Park, Highland Park is one of the most breathtaking public parks I’ve ever visited. We spent the entire afternoon wandering alongside colorful flowerbeds and touring sights like the Warner Castle and the Lamberton Conservatory.
Since we were staying at a hotel in downtown Rochester, we decided to spend the evening close to our hotel. It proved to be the perfect neighborhood for dinner, as Rochester’s downtown boasts some of the best restaurants in Western New York. While walking through downtown Rochester, I noticed the unmistakable blend of the old and historical with the hip and modern, which creates a unique, interesting neighborhood vibe that I immediately loved. There are over 250 shops, restaurants and local businesses located downtown, so it’s a great neighborhood for both locals and visitors looking for some good food, shopping and entertainment.
The next morning, we started our day at the Rochester City Public Market. This city-run market is enormous, but it’s also extremely popular, so we had a bit of trouble finding parking initially. Locals love this public market, as it features an impressive array of vendors, so you can buy everything from fresh produce to artisanal soap at one place. The market is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but we were lucky enough to be in Rochester on a Saturday, so we made sure to stop in and grab some fresh food before heading out to Lake Ontario for the day.
Since Rochester is situated on Lake Ontario, locals love to visit this beautiful lake when the weather starts to warm up. After picking up picnic supplies at the Rochester City Public Market, we headed to Ontario Beach Park, where we enjoyed our fresh picnic and took a long stroll along the beautiful shore. There’s plenty to do at this beach, from playing beach volleyball to swimming to fishing. We basked in the beauty and the sunshine on that warm spring day and reminisced on our short – but sweet – time in Rochester.
When most people think of New York, they often only think of New York City, which is a shame considering there are so many other beautiful, exciting areas to visit in this East Coast state. I was grateful that we were finally able to explore a new part of New York, and it was all possible thanks to HotelTonight, which made it easy to find a last-minute hotel in Rochester. Now that we know it’s so quick and simple to book a last-minute hotel on HotelTonight, we will definitely be planning more spur-of-the-moment trips, which always provide so much fun and great memories. Rochester is definitely one of New York’s overlooked cities, but it’s a destination that I fell in love with during my brief stay. If I have the chance to visit Rochester again in the future, I definitely won’t be able to say no.