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STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE '11: Cheap fun in Rochester

Little dough, big show: Fun stuff to do in Rochester for $10 or less

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Congratulations, you are now a college student! But that also probably means you're a broke college student. You just cleaned out your bank account to pay for all of that stuff for your dorm room, you just bought those insanely expensive textbooks, and you probably coughed up about $50 for a college hoodie. You really don't want to ask your parents for money, but those summer job savings are dwindling fast. Don't worry: we've all been there, and it's part of the growing-up experience.

            Just because you have to spend wisely doesn't mean you can't have fun. You need to be able to relax after all that studying (or, more likely, between those bouts of procrastination). Lucky for you, the City Newspaper staff is just as cheap as you are. Stick to this list of inexpensive things to do in Rochester and you'll have something to do every weekend of the semester.

Free: the best price of all

First Fridays: This monthly gallery night facilitated by RochesterContemporaryArtsCenter (rochestercontemporary.org) takes place all around the city on the first Friday of every month 6-9 p.m., and sometimes later. You can see anything from modern art to sculptures, poetry readings, designer toy displays, and anything else you can call art. The entire community comes together to celebrate local artists, from the up-and-comers to the established professionals. Visit firstfridayrochester.org for a listing of each month's participating venues and more information.

Free concerts: There is almost always free music in Rochester if you know where to look. If you like jazz or classical music, there are free performances regularly at the Eastman School of Music (esm.rochester.edu). Eastman is one of the best music schools in the country and many of its student ensembles play recitals that are not only free, but really good. Many of Rochester's local bars and restaurants also offer free live music every week. Check out our events calendar at rochestercitynewspaper.com/events for a full list of free music.

Parks: The Greater Rochester area has many great parks that are worth visiting in any season. During the spring you can hike the trails at EllisonPark, visit the famous lilacs at Highland Park (off Highland Avenue in the city), or walk around the reservoir at CobbsHillPark. GeneseeValleyPark and SenecaPark are also a short drive away. Walking along the famous Erie Canal is another option. It is beautiful both in the summer and the winter. For more information on the various parks in MonroeCounty visit monroecounty.gov.

Mt.HopeCemetery: Spending time in a cemetery may seem morbid, but Mt.HopeCemetery is both beautiful and historic. Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas are both buried there, and many of the tombstones are old and beautiful. It is located at 1133 Mount Hope Ave. This is especially good for University of Rochester students because it is only a short walk from campus. The Friends of Mt. Hope offer a variety of tours (there is often a modest fee attached). For more information visit fomh.org.

Geocaching: Geocaching combines the fun of a treasure hunt with a bit of helpful technology and the great outdoors. Geocachers hide cool little treasures all over the place and then post GPS coordinates so others can find them. Go to geocaching.com, type in an area code, and you will be given the coordinates for a plethora of locations. Hike with your friends or just walk around the smaller area parks to find the caches. There is also a website just for Rochestergeocachers (georoc.org) where you can trade coordinates, pictures, and experiences.

Under $5: Bang for your buck

Bowling: The best thing about bowling is that pretty much anyone can play, no matter your natural athletic ability. It is also a good way to get moving a bit during the long winter months. Many of Rochester's bowling alleys offer good deals for college students. Bowl-a-Roll on Jefferson Road, Clover Lanes on Monroe Avenue, and AMF Bowling on Ridgeway Avenue all have discounted college nights worth checking out.

Cinema Theater: This is a good place to catch recently released movies inexpensively, and is also one of the oldest theaters in Rochester. The Cinema (97 S. Clinton Ave.) offers students $3 matinees and $3 double features in the evening. Both prices require a student ID, and make sure to bring cash because the theater doesn't take debit or credit. The theater also has really cheap snacks, and is even home to a cat that wanders around the rows. Visit cinemarochester.com for movie times and information.

Coffee shops:Rochester has more coffee shops and cafes than you can count, and many of them have board games on hand for patron use, or offer free events like live music and open-mic comedy. All you have to do is buy a cup of coffee or a cookie and you can stay for the show. You can find a list of Rochester's coffee shops and their events at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

Highland Park Conservatory: This conservatory has five rooms, each representing a different landscape. There is a desert room, tropical rainforest room, houseplant room, exotic-plant room, and a room for seasonal displays. This indoor oasis can offer some much-needed nature during the winter months. Admission is $3 for ages 19-61 and $2 for ages 6-18. The park is on Highland Avenue. Visit monroecounty.gov/parks-highland for more information.

The Little: Rochester's independent and art-house cinema has $5 student admission Sundays-Thursdays, and even a full-price evening ticket is just $8. The theater's café has free live music most nights as well as rotating art shows, plus affordable drinks and food, and is routinely voted one of the best places for a date by City Newspaper readers. The Little is located at 240 East Ave. For more information and a schedule of the films showing at its five theaters visit thelittle.org.

Movies 10: Also called "the dollar theater," Movies 10 shows second-run movies for a low price. Movie tickets are $1 on Tuesdays and $2-$2.50 other days. If you can wait a couple of weeks to see a new movie, it's worth it. The theater is located at 2609 W. Henrietta Road. Visit cinemark.com/theatre-201 for movie times and ticket information.

$5-$10: Mind your budget

Dance classes: College gyms can be crowded, or worse, expensive. Dance classes can be fun, a good form of exercise, and a way to meet new people. In the Rochester area you can find classes for anything: jazz, African, Irish, Latin, ballroom, swing - there are even pole-dancing classes. You can find free classes, but most of them run around $10 per session, maybe a bit more. Check the "Dance Participation" section of City Newspaper's online events calendar (rochestercitynewspaper.com/events) to find a list of dozens of dance classes every month.

George Eastman House: This historic landmark can be a fun distraction from class, as well as a place to take visiting parents. Rochester is famous for its history in photography, a lot of which has been preserved at this museum. The George Eastman House has 400,000 photographs and negatives dating back to the invention of photography, a motion-picture collection, and permanent and rotating art-photography exhibits. The museum's Dryden Theatre also screens archival and specialty films and often brings in visiting filmmakers. The museum is located at 900 East Ave. Admission is $5 with a student ID. Visit eastmanhouse.org for more information.

Memorial Art Gallery: Also called the MAG, this museum offers an eye-pleasing escape from campus (although it is actually part of the University of Rochester). Tickets are only $5 with a student ID, and the museum offers unique exhibits like the "Extreme Materials 2" exhibit that will run October 23- January 15. Look for extended hours on Thursday nights, with live music, cheap plates of tapas-style food, and reduced admission. (Great date option.) The gallery is located at 500 University Ave. Visit mag.rochester.edu for more information.

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra: Rochester's main orchestra offers $10 tickets for college students, which can be great for a classy night out. In addition to classical music, the RPO also has a pops series that dips into blues, jazz, movie music, and more. The ladies aren't always impressed with a date to the dining hall, so put on a clean button-down and step up your game with an inexpensive but sophisticated date. Most of the concerts take place downtown at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (Gibbs Street), which means there are plenty of coffee shops and cafes next door to visit after the show. Visit rpo.org for shows and times.

Seneca Park Zoo: Elephants, tigers, polar bears, and even gila monsters inhabit the Seneca Park Zoo. Escape campus for a day to visit the animals, grab a snack or go to the gift shop. The zoo, located at 2222 St. Paul Street, costs $8-$10, depending on the time of year. Visit senecaparkzoo.org for more information.

Theater: More than 30 local theater groups call Rochester home, and many of them put on reasonably priced shows. You can see musicals, improv comedy, plays, and comedies all for a pretty good price. Geva Theatre (gevatheatre.org) is one of the bigger theaters, and offers special $10 pricing for students 15 minutes before a show starts (bring a school ID). TheatreROCS (theattrerocs.org) is a conglomeration of many area theater groups and is a good place to start. Check out City Newspaper's local theater guide at rochestercitynewspaper.com for a list of every local theater.

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