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Sculptures, butterflies, and giants,oh my!



Anyone who complains about the traffic in Rochester has never driven in Boston or New York or Cleveland or Pittsburgh. Granted, more traffic means more population and more opportunities for diversion within those metropolises. The positive corollary is that leaving Rochester is a relatively painless experience. I know, I know, you just got here. But I'm talking about a daytrip, not migrating to a warmer climate. Let's face it --- the Bronx is a daytrip in New York City, so we are truly blessed. The compass rose presents four big choices for daytrips out of Rochester, but only three will work well.


GriffisSculpturePark is the primary destination. Take the Thruway to Exit 55 (Route 219 South) and then follow the directions that you found at www.griffispark.org before you departed. Plan on being in the car for longer than an hour and a half.Griffis is 425 acres of outdoor art, 250 sculptures surrounded by beautiful gardens.

In 1966, Larry Griffis purchased 100 acres of Ashford Hollow in the Southern Tier of Western New York and placed some of his own gigantic steel pieces on a hillside. Since then, more and more pieces have appeared. A fee box requests admission from visitors, $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students (children under 12 get in free). After exhausting yourself at the park, continue south on 219 to Ellicottville and turn left on Monroe Street, which should put you in the perfect place for a great meal at Ellicottville Brewing Company.


"Did you know they have a butterfly place over there?" our mailman said, referring to the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory. Head for the Lewiston-QueenstonBridge and follow the directions at www.niagaraparks.com/nature/butterfly.php. Plan to be in the car about an hour and a half. Admission is $11 for adults, $6.50 for ages 6 to 12 --- that's in Canadian dollars --- and free for 5 and under. While you're there, plan to visit a variety of attractions lined up like dominoes along the falls, which are worth a look-see also.

You could try the Aero-Car, the Maid of the Mist, or the walk behind the falls. Public transportation has been set up all along the route and can save the agony of parking on warm summer days. After you've been overwhelmed by nature's beauty, head down to Clifton Hill near the Rainbow Bridge and overload on pop culture with more wax museums and name-brand restaurants than could possibly be healthy.


Get on the Thruway and head for the city of your choosing. Canandaigua offers lake swimming and a goofy boardwalk ambiance. Junk food is easily available and the beach is delightful. Geneva offers the Seneca Lake Whale Watch in August, which is worth attending if only so you can tell distant relatives where you're going. Syracuse is home to the original Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Not too far away on James Street, the Palace Theatre is a grand repertory cinema, which is being manhandled into the modern era. Across the street is the Books End, always worth a peek.

If you're an early riser, you could make Cooperstown in a daytrip, but I don't envy you. In addition to the Baseball Hall of Fame (along with a baseball-heavy downtown), the Farmers' Museum is pretty cool. And at least once in every life, the Cardiff Giant should lie at your feet.


Face the facts: A lake is due north. It's really big. Don't drive into it. And if you have a boat, then just go out on the water. That should be enough of a daytrip.

In This Guide...

  • Take a closer look

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  • Where's the party?

    Lakeside Winter Celebration Date: February

  • Not above name dropping

    Rochester can boast a fair number of interesting citizens who continue to walk among us, but many that have shuffled off this mortal coil remain the subject of endless fascination. These former Rochesterians may not be as well known as groundbreaking giants like abolitionist Frederick Douglass, activist Susan B. Anthony, and inventor George Eastman, but their place in history is nonetheless guaranteed.

  • The way the political land lays

    Just like anyplace else, politics in Rochester are a complicated affair that, when you get right down to it, aren't really all that complicated after all. Take a bunch of ambitious, outgoing men and women, add the lust for power, sprinkle generously with cash, and voila... you've got a crazy, quirky kind of world only an American-style democracy could produce.

  • Are you there yet?

    Got kids? You've come to the right place!

  • The best parts are often hidden

    City neighborhoods
    "Cool" in Rochester is the youth-oriented Park Avenuearea, or the East End-Alexander area on a summer night, with crowds from clubs and bars spilling out onto the sidewalks. But there's lots to experience in the city.

  • Your Rochester to-do list

    Try to see what's on TV on the ceiling of the Bug Jar. Board the Mary Jemison or the Sam Patch from Corn Hill Landing.

  • Park it

    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 (428-6767 or 428-6755, www.cityofrochester.gov) systems. Cobbs Hill Park Culver Road and Norris Drive

  • From getting lost to finding your Irish

    Wanna work off a few pounds? Gotta burn off some work-related frustration?

  • Live and active culture

    They say you shouldn't talk religion or politics at the dinner table. Sound advice.

  • Welcome to the 'burbs

    Rochester owes much of its development and prosperity to the GeneseeRiver, which cuts a path right down the center of the city. In the early days, many of the neighborhoods in the city, as well as suburban villages, began as small settlements that depended on the river to receive and sell goods.

  • A town in the know

    One of Rochester's most important assets is its academic community. There are over a dozen centers devoted to advanced education within the Rochester-Finger Lakes-Genesee Valley Region, and they add vibrancy to the area's employment, culture, and quality of life.

  • Sporting goods

    Last year, Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal named Rochester the number one minor-league sports market in the country. The city boasts pro sports franchises that are both storied and cutting-edge, some steeped in tradition, others still growing out of their infancy.

  • Eight days a week

    You've only got seven, but there's something to do eight days a week. Monday.

  • As American as pasta e fagiole

    You can eat apple pie and hamburgers for only so long. If you're seeking ingredients to build meals in honor of your (or someone else's) culture, here's a list of some independent ethnic grocery stores.