All around Rochester exploring the world of play, art and George Eastman, is one of my favorite experiences since starting my travel writing. Don’t get me wrong, San Diego, and New York City, are my favorite cities for obvious reasons. However, Rochester has become a place I never expected to fall so deeply in love with. I’d always wanted to visit. It’s filled with rich history for women, and photographers (thanks to George Eastman.) It’s filled with an artistic vibe like no other place I’ve been to, and how can anyone resist an actual waterfall in the middle of the city?
All around Rochester exploring the world of play, art and George Eastman
When you grow up so close to New York City, it’s hard to find a reason to travel to other cities, for culture, history and the arts. Many of us living in New York aren’t aware of the depths of history found in the City of Rochester. Heck, most people who live downstate call everything North of NYC “upstate,” not realizing Rochester’s in Western New York. However, that was never me. Though I love the pace of my treasured New York City, I also look to the rest of New York State for my nature fix, and surprisingly, the slower pace. Well, a slower pace for just a little bit of time.
My love of Rochester started when I was a bit younger. I learned about Susan B. Anthony in school. As a kid, I hid a yearning to visit the city she called home. However, I did spend a lot of time learning all the history around the Rochester area. Slowly, my fascination led me to discover the natural beauty of the area, along with the dedication to history, the arts, and most importantly, the quality of life people have in this “mini” Manhattan, as I call it. Kids have so much to explore, as do all of us adults!
The Strong Museum
I’ve told all of you many times how much of a pack rat my mom is. As I walked through The Strong Museum, not only was I pointing out toys I had played with as a child, but also, the toys my mother kept in the attic. Mom kept them in such great shape, my own children play with many of my old toys, and games, from my childhood. Every one of those toys is on display in The Strong Museum. I kid you not.
As I was led around this amazing space, I felt like I was walking through my childhood. I saw my sister, and I, playing with our original Simon game, at our kitchen table. Our Lincoln Logs spread out across our living room rug, while our parents watched television and randomly asked one of us to change the channel on the tv. The Strong is not just for kids to explore, and learn about play. It’s a place where we, the adults, are thrust back into our childhood through memories of playing with every toy from “way back when.”
Getting a photo taken on the Sesame Street steps was a trip, but seeing a miniature version of the Wegmans store broadened my understanding of how important Wegmans is to those from Rochester. It’s a way of life, and the little ones adore shopping, and working, in that miniature store! Pure joy.
Memorial Art Gallery
I grew up surrounded by art. Mom was, and still is, an artist. She painted, drew, inked, illustrated, and more. I never got the bug to do all of those things, my creativity shows more in my writing, and photography. However, I always loved art. Monet, Matisse, and my favorite, O’Keeffe. At the MAG, there’s 12,000 works spanning 50 centuries, with a fantastic Centennial Sculpture Park right outside the museum.
My favorite part of the museum, beyond the Georgia O’Keeffe work of art that shows how she used not just the front of a canvas, but also the back of a canvas? It’s The Creative Workshop that offers year-round art, as well as art history classes, for adults, teens and children. Rochester is so invested in the arts, and it shows in every facet of their community. Visiting Rochester has shown me why people who grew up there, and leave, eventually return to live a full, rich life. There’s no lack of culture in the City of Rochester!
When you’re traveling to Rochester, make sure to head to the MAG for MAGthursdays! Half price admission, live music, and the chance to enjoy food, beer and wine (for purchase) from 5pm until 8pm. Definitely worth being there on a Thursday!
George Eastman Museum
George Eastman is the man behind Kodak. The George Eastman Museum focuses not just on photography, but also delves into who George Eastman was. His Rochester home was transformed into a museum showing how Eastman lived, worked, and appreciated the finer things in life. What sticks out in my mind about my visit to the George Eastman Museum is how he had his home “extended” in order for his organ to sound better in a rectangular room, rather than the original square room he had it installed in. WHAT? Yes, that’s right. He was so dedicated to getting the best quality sound, he had his home extended! Now that’s commitment to the arts.
As for the photography displays…. you won’t find any museum that adores photography, as well as photographers, like the George Eastman Museum. Even movies, too. The technology, plus the history, and The Dryden Theatre where you can see 35mm nitrate prints from the cinema world. However, make no mistake, photography is their passion at George Eastman Museum.
It comprises more than 400,000 photographic objects, and has key works by Andy Warhol, David Levinthal, and many more. It’s no joke, and the collections are spectacular. On my trip, I was in awe of the Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road collection, which showcases amazing images of Elizabeth Taylor’s home right before she passed, and a little bit after her passing. I realized Ms. Taylor was a photo junky, just like my mother, and I are!
The Arts in Rochester
I never expected to fall so in love with the City of Rochester. I went up there knowing very little about the vibrant art, and music culture. It’s a phenomenal place to raise children in, if you can handle the snow, ice, and cold weather during the winter months! Visiting is more my thing, and my family will definitely be heading up to Rochester over the warmer months to experience all I have experienced, and more!