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Pounding the pavement




I've been thinking about changing my name to Where's Your Car? (though I would have preferred You're Stunning or Are Those Real?). I recently got a car and people always wonder why I still walk places when I have the option to drive. It's because I've concluded that everything a person needs to spend an enjoyable day can usually be found within one compact, hoofable area.

Take Monroe Avenue. What Yonge Street is to Toronto, Monroe Avenue is to Rochester. It's possible to while away some carefree and car-free time in our fair city without ever leaving this one street. All you'll need are sensible shoes and, if you want to go a little farther afield, a number 7 bus schedule.

• The Oxford Square area is full of unique shops. Chief among them is Brownbag Bookshop (678 Monroe Avenue), with its big selection of used books, good prices, and friendly proprietor. Archimage (668 Monroe Avenue) is a great little boutique, teeming with the useless and useful and the first place to go when looking for a gift.

• Hungry? In about a one-mile stretch you'll find Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, little diners, and monster chains. My first choice is always the Plum House (686 Monroe Avenue), a perfect sushi restaurant that never disappoints. I also really dig Ming II (1132 Monroe Avenue), a delicious noodle house where you pay a little and get a lot; as well as Mark's Texas Hots (487 Monroe Avenue), which is open 24 hours and serves yummy comfort food.

• As far as nightlife, the Bug Jar (219 Monroe Avenue) is, without question, the best place to see the best bands. There's also Monty's Krown (875 Monroe Avenue), which doubles as a live music venue and English pub.

• Cooks' World (2179 Monroe Avenue) carries professional-quality knives, cookware and bakeware, as well as gourmet condiments and ingredients. They also have a bargain section in which you can find kitchen implements you never knew you needed.

• Pittsford Plaza (3349 Monroe Avenue) is an interesting blend of the small (Blueground Jewelry, Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters) and the big (Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx). And if you're looking to catch a movie, the nine-screen Pittsford Cinema is nestled in the plaza and provides a decent variety of both Hollywood and arthouse fare.

• Then there's Wegmans (3195 Monroe Avenue). Many out-of-town guests initially wonder why their local hosts are so excited to drag them to what seems to be a grocery store, but they soon understand.

Keep in mind that these are just my preferences. Ten different people could write 10 different pieces and it's possible that none of us would mention the same places. You might even discover spots I haven't yet noticed. And that's the beauty of Monroe Avenue.

In This Guide...

    Annual Manual 2005

    Surprised by Rochester
    When I was getting ready to move to Rochester five years ago, my friends and family were confused. They wore worried faces when they asked me, "What's in Rochester?" and "That's not too far from the city, is it?" and "Do you like the cold weather?"

    A newbie’s checklist

    Beginner’s guide
    So you've arrived, and now you need the basics: phone, utilities, a way to get around town, and, maybe, a way to get out of town. Here is some info to help you get settled in.

    Who's representing

    Mayor Bill Johnson 30 Church Street, Rochester 14614

    It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

    There is so much talk about how to revitalize Rochester's downtown and make the city a more attractive place to live. But many people have discovered the benefits of city life.

    Finding a beat you can dance to

    Live music
    I know it takes a little more than turning on the tube, but heading out for live music is so good for you. Plus the audience (you) is an integral part of each performance.

    We’ve got music

    We're proud of our musical talent; here are four reasons why. The event

    Get yourself something to eat

    Welcome to the Rochester food scene. I write full reviews of different restaurants every other week in City, but here is a bit of a primer, by genre, to acquaint you with the area's amazing variety of dining options.

    Why we love market day

    The Rochester Public Market can be noisy, crowded, and fishy, but that is part of the vibrancy and spirit that make it a unique experience. Where else in Rochester is it almost too crowded to move for hours at a time?

    Tending to your health

    Major hospitals Highland Hospital

    Get learning

    Each public school district in Monroe County has contact information (listed below) where you can get more detailed information about individual schools. To get an overall picture, for some general research, or to just get involved, here are some resources:

    A little culture never hurt anyone

    For a city our size, we've got plenty of culture. There's enough for every taste and energy level, but not too much to overwhelm.

    What's the alternative?

    Although Rochester has a number of respectable art museums and galleries, rarely will these venues show anything outside the mainstream. For an art space to do something daring, quite often it has to rely on the vision and resources of an individual or a small group of people.

    A little place outside the city

    Monroe County has 19 towns and nine incorporated villages. Aided by short commutes, particularly between Rochester and its inner-ring of suburbs, many of these are bedroom communities.

    The gold of the silver screens

    I'm only about 5-foot-3-inches, but I totally towered over Isabella Rossellini. Now, you may be wondering what sorts of circles a humble hometown girl like myself would run in that would enable me to reach that conclusion.

    High class

    Colgate Rochester Divinity School Can boast of a dedication for diversity, teaching students in over 20 Christian denominations.

    We'd rather be out in the open

    The areas in and around Rochester are rich with green space --- diverse, convenient, and beautiful places to walk the dog, take out a canoe, find a zoo, or smell the lilacs. From the beautiful Seneca and Highland Parks, both designed by 19th-century landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted, to Durand-Eastman Park, where you can feel the immensity of that Great Lake --- here is just a partial list of some of our favorite parks in the Monroe County (256-4950, www.monroecounty.gov) and City of Rochester (400 Dewey Avenue, 428-6767 or 428-6755, www.cityofrochester.gov) systems.

    Block partying

    Go ahead, give us a reason to celebrate. I dare you.

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