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STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE '09: Rochester Tours

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Whether you're a Rochester native or came in from overseas there is always something interesting and new to learn about Rochester. Rochester is full of history, both local and national, and there are some really interesting ways to learn about this brand new city you're in. Even students who have been in the area for years are often shocked to learn that they can go see where Frederick Douglass is buried, or ride a boat along our waterways to see the seasons while enjoying a beer. When you're sick of homework and want to keep your nose out of a book for the afternoon, why not head out on the town and take one of the many tours in Rochester? You'll learn a lot and see some really neat things that are often hidden out of sight.

Tour the historic George Eastman House, once home to the founder of Kodak, a local entrepreneur who had a beautiful mansion, garden and gallery exhibit. These tours are especially of interest to film or photo majors, but anyone who loves a little art, technology, and historical dirt will enjoy these tours. Learn about Eastman himself, a loner in the world with some dark sides to his life. Visit his mansion, complete with an elephant head and other early 20th century hunted creatures, or play with some hands-on film exhibits. Tour the EastmanGarden, where immaculate blossoms are cared for and grown, a sure place to relax in any season. Most of all you will witness the history of film unfold within these walls and view some interesting exhibits, from the first cameras ever to famous photographs. There are daily tours of the house, garden and galleries; and admission is only $6 for students.

Rochester was born shortly after the independence of the United States, and was home to dozens of significant advances in our history, especially the civil rights movement starting in the late 1800's. Most of the buildings we use and see each day are hundreds of years old, and many have been occupied by some interesting folks throughout time. This may sound boring at first but when you get there you really start to appreciate the beauty of the city, or learn about haunted cites in Rochester while exploring them in the night. See historic sites in Rochester, like the original inner city home to RIT and U of R, learn about architecture, and see some gorgeous houses, parks, and properties. The Landmark Society of Western New York maintains and preserves nearly all of these buildings, as well as the river and canal. The group organizes dozens of guided tours, self guided tours, and driving tours.Seasonal and holiday tours are a special treat, but check landmarksociety.org for specific tour themes and for a listing of self guided tours.

When was the last time you took a ride on a boat? Take a ride on either Sam Patch or Mary Jemison to tour the GeneseeRiver and the Erie Canal. Here you will learn about their historic and current significances, as well as hundreds of interesting facts about waterways in this region. But don't worry, it's not just a tour where you sit on a boat and get bored, these tours can be entertaining, educational, romantic, or just plain fun if you go with friends. Not to mention there is a fully licensed bar on each boat. So sit back, have a few beers and a few laughs while you take a gander at the world from the water. Tours are daily and only $10 for students. The bar is open on all public tours, meals, snacks, and other beverages are available on each cruise.

What isn't cool about cemeteries that are old as dirt? Some neat tombstones and statues, plus they are fun to explore in the night. In addition to all of the normal cemetery fare, Mt. Hope Cemetery is the resting place for many historic and famous figures such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or Frederick Douglass and is one of the oldest cemeteries in the country. There are free tours, tours of popular sites, stories of lore and murder, the gardens of the cemetery, or learn about burial and mourning in the 19th century. Tours range in topics from the revolutionary war and even ice cream tours. Some of the best tours are the Mischief, Murder & Mayhem tour, learn about cemetery residents who broke the law or had something gruesome happen to end their mortal lives. General tours are free and special tours are $4 per person, visitfomh.org for tour dates and times.

If you're looking for something more colorful, wiggly, and silly then you and your friends might want to go out to Le Roy's Jell-o Gallery and Museum (Main St. in Le Roy). It's a 30 minute drive from Rochester, but if you're out of ideas for the day it's an interesting stop in the area, and has a fun gift shop. Plus, after the museum tour you can educate all of your friends about their Jell-o shots and where they really came from. Jell-o isn't meant to be serious business, so have some fun with the colorful American dessert that had an interesting impact on our pop culture. The gallery and museum is open weekdays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $4

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