A great weekend getaway starts with a great destination that offers easy access and lots of entertainment options. For many in the upper Midwest or Northeast U.S., or southern Ontario for that matter, that destination might easily be Rochester NY.
If Rochester registers on anyone's radar, its usually affiliated with the once overpowering global headquarters of Eastman Kodak. Sure, George Eastman's home and the story of how he created the economical production of film that so few of us use anymore is a good one and one of the top reasons to visit Rochester, but let's start with the beginning.
A good weekend getaway requires a good hotel. The Strathallan, a Doubletree property, is the perfect place to call home for a few days thanks to its close proximity to George Eastman's home and the many great restaurants and coffee shops of downtown. Located in a residential community, the hotel has a homey, residential feel to it but what really stands out is the quirky and creative art in the hotel's public spaces.
That art is rented from your number one destination in Rochester simply known as Artisan Works. Located in what was once a 40,000 square foot factory that produced parts for battleships, Artisan Works has more than 500,000 pieces of art from countless numbers of creative souls. Some of it is contemporary, some of it classic. For example, there's an original Picasso here, located not far from a birdcage filled with naked Barbie dolls. There's also one of the talking trees or ents from Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers.
Conveniently for your weekend getaway, Artisan Works is open only on weekends. It's fun just to wander around in this really intimate space, despite its massive size.
A mural on the outside of Artisan Works speaks to some of the great people who have called Rochester home. George Eastman is on the mural, of course, but also included are Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and the recently deceased Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The Susan B. Anthony House and Museum is a National Historic Site, and everyone who has ever complained about politics needs to visit this place. Ms. Anthony, of course, was the leading suffragette in the movement to earn women the right to vote. The lady with the alligator purse turned this country on its ear with her efforts coordinated from this house, but never lived to see the 19th amendment ratified or a woman elected to public office.
If the weather is nice, stroll down the street a few blocks to the Susan B. Anthony Park, where a life-size sculpture of Ms. Anthony and her life-long friend, Frederick Douglass, enjoy conversation and a cup of tea.
One destination that might be overlooked by those on an adults-only weekend getaway is the National Museum of Play. While kids love the place, adults can have an equally good time. The original concept of the museum is to demonstrate how the art of play enhances or defines our society. You may be surprised to see the very first Monopoly game; it was round. Or you may be a little freaked out by the creepiness of the very first talking doll, a Thomas Edison invention.
Included in the National Museum of Play is the National Toy Hall of Fame. There Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, and Barbie hold honored seats beside Play-Doh, a wooden rocking horse, and your basic stick and can.
After all of that fun play, you're looking for a good place to eat and while there are plenty of fine selections in Rochester, let's head to NOTA, the Neighborhood of the Arts. From street painting to poetry readings to a birthday party for Harry Potter, there's always something happening in this community filled with independent restaurants, shops, and galleries.
The Gate House serves up great burgers and wood fired pizza, along with a splash of Rochester history. For example, the Hoffman, named for Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a spicy Cajun burger with caramelized onions and one of the more popular items on the menu. The Susan B. Anthony burger is vegetarian, but history doesn't record that Ms. Anthony herself was such.
But for truly authentic dining in Rochester, you must try the garbage plate. Many restaurants serve a version, but the original is served at Nick Tahou Hots on Main Street downtown. The plate includes two cheeseburgers served on top of home fries and macaroni salad covered with a meat sauce.
Yep, people really eat the whole thing, so you have to at least give it a try as a part of your great weekend getaway in Rochester.
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A Midwest farm girl at heart, Diana Lambdin Meyer caught the roaming bug early in life. Diana married well - to a photographer who also has the travel bug and whose work in still and video complements her words. Now based in the Kansas City area, Diana is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers who makes a full-time living on the road and at the keyboard. Read about Diana's adventures on her blog, Mojotraveler or follow her on Twitter or Google Plus.
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