The Flower City! The Kodak City! The World’s Image Center! Rachacha! I’m a fiercely loyal Rochester, New York native and I adore this city, despite its flaws *cough*lack of public transportation*cough*. But if you can get around Rochester, I highly suggest you do. As a part of WiseBread’s group writing project, here’s a list of things you can do in Rochester, for five dollars or less:
Mendon Ponds Park: trails, water activities, and sledding in the winter! Also a great place for Geocaching (see below).
Urban Exploration: check out all the weird and wonderful parts of the city – I highly suggest a trip to the Legal Wall if you’ve never been (but wear good shoes, because there tends to be a lot of broken glass).
Geocaching: “The High Tech Easter Egg Hunt” is a ton of fun! A hiking GPS is most useful, but you can get by with one of those talking car ones, if you’ve got it. Don’t have either? Do what we did when I was a broke freshman – look at the satellite image of where the cache is on Google Maps, and use that as your best guess of the location. Harder, but fun, and free!
Festivals: Rochester is a festival town, so there seems to be one every weekend. Each festival is different, so don’t knock them all if you visit one and don’t like it. Might I suggest Park Ave Fest for college students? (It tends to be a bit more, uh, inebriated.)
Rochester Public Art: A guide to all the public art in and around Rochester. If you’re looking for more of a tour-like experience, check out ARTWalk.
Mount Hope Cemetery: Free historic walking tours on weekends from May – October. Twilight tours and other interesting tours are only $4/person.
Self-Guided walking tours: formerly $4.95 for a day’s access, now FREE! Just load them up in Google Maps on your phone or print them out and get moving!
Bike Ride Along the Canal: Assuming you have a bike, that is. You could also walk!
$5 or Less
Ice Skating at the Ritter Ice Arena at RIT: $5 for most public skate times, but only $3 for noon-time weekday sessions. Skate rentals are $3, if you need them.
The “Dollar Theater” – Second run movies at cheap prices. Called the “Dollar Theater” because all movies on Tuesdays are only $1. The highest price you’ll pay is only $2.25, so it’s still a steal, and a great way to catch films you thought you missed in the theater!
Abbott’s Frozen Custard: As much a Rochester staple as Wegmans and Kodak!
Buffalo Wild Wings (BDubs): Discount Wings on Tuesday, Legs on Wednesday, and Boneless Wings on Thursday!
Bowl-A-Roll: Lots of specials, including College Night (Sunday & Monday after 9pm, $1 bowling and $1 shoe rental) and FREE bowling if you visit one of a long list of merchants!
Black Button Distillery tours and tastings: For the adults! Right down the street from Rochester’s public market (another great budget-friendly place to visit!), you can see how Black Button Distilling makes their craft spirits, and then try some! Tours and tastings are only $5 per person, and you can book a tour online.
$5 or Less with a Student ID
Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion: Pretty much the coolest gardens I’ve ever been to. Trust me, they used to take us there as a field trip every year when I was in elementary school,Â and I still never tire of going!
The Little Theater: Art house films for only $5 for students, children, and seniors.
George Eastman House: One of those “must see” things in Rochester.
Susan B. Anthony House: Women’s suffrage for the win! $3 admission for students.
Just over $5
Seneca Park Zoo: The prices drop closer to $5 during the winter!
Red Wings Baseball: Reserved seating is just $6!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some suggestions! This list was originally posted in August of 2008 – I’ll try to keep it updated, but I can’t guarantee the long-lasting-ness of this list. Some more places to check for cheap or free things to do in Rochester:
City of Rochester list of Festivals, Parades, Concerts and More
RochesterDowntown.com Entertainment Guide
Photo by _yoshi_
There are so many things do to here, especially in the summer. Great list!
I haven’t checked out Sonnenburg Gardens yet, but it’s definitely on the horizon.
L@spillingbuckets’s last blog post..Consumerism, Entitlements, Debt – Cancer or Indigestion?
There are many fun places to run/jog such as the around Cobbs Hill Resevoir (my favorite place to run). The Little Theater is perfect if you want to see great indi films, the ones the major theaters ignore!
The best man at my wedding was himself married this summer in Rochester, and I got to participate. Rochester is beautiful, and the parks offer good walking and a pleasant view. As it happens, I was at the Cobbs Hill Reservoir, too 🙂
J’s last blog post..The Silent Gondoliers
The coolest place ever in Rochester is Maple wood Park. It is a huge rose garden with over 1000 types of roses and if you want to walk a bit there is an awesome path down to a view with waterfalls. Check it out
Left-Coast Dave says
Don’t forget the Eastman School of Music! They have many free events, and others are dirt cheap for students. Irony of many of the free ones is that, because they are free, people seem to assume they aren’t any good, so you can often park right next to the concert hall at the last moment, and get a primo seat for fantastic music. I saw John Adams, Trevor Pinnock, and a number of other folks for free, whereas normally you would be paying at least $45 in major venues.
And Dinosaur BBQ often has great music (most often blues and jazz) for free.
Yes, Eastman is an excellent suggestion. I was thinking the same thing. There is just a TON of free music available in Rochester NY. People don’t realize how much there is compared to other cities. You should take advantage of it.
Great guide. The art scene is a must see!
Just walking around and seeing the sites costs absolutely nothing. You just need those few dollars for a bite to eat and a cup of coffee.
REBECCA HUBER says
My favorite two outdoor things in Rochester are both Free and happen in the summer.
1)Shakespeare in the Highland Park bowl. Shows are amazing!
2) Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra Ny incredible!
Both of these shows are excellent and outdoors rain or shine. I have lived in Rochester for 6 years and haven’t missed a year both these shows are free and outstanding!
We are so fortunate to be the Eastman School of music. They offer free concerts and other events at least 1 time a month that I am sure of. Check out their website. A great way to spend an afternoon or evening.
This is an old article and everything has gone up in price. Activities like the zoo have a $10 admission price during peak times. And I don’t think there is a dollar theater in the City.
Hi Jean! Sorry that the article is a little old – I have since moved out of the Rochester area and don’t have the first-hand experience anymore to maintain it. BUT the good news is that Movies 10 (the “Dollar Theater”) is still there! http://www.cinemark.com/theatre-detail.aspx?node_id=1502 I’ll fix the link in the article, as well. I’m not sure what the prices are nowadays, but since it’s still a second-run theater, I’d bet my left foot it’s under $5.
Sorry to hear the zoo prices have gone up, though. If you know of anything else that could be added to the list, please feel free to reply with a link!
Theresa Bentivegna says
Yes there is in Henrietta on west Henrietta Rd movies 10
I wouldn’t include Abbotts in a cheap, for-poor, or discounted venues website! For two cones & a turtle it cost me over $11!
Don’t forget to look in the back of the Rochester Area Phone Book for discount coupons for Abbotts at Bill Grays. BOGO. Also, did you know Tom Wahls will take all coupons even if expired from Bill Grays?
I’m glad I found this post. I recently moved here from NYC, so it’s great to see there are so many low cost activities, especially when my extended family comes to visit.
We are a non-profit organization http://www.homeforanthony.com We are building a residential group home for young adult males with developmental disabilities in Rochester. We are holding a Craft/Vendors fair on Sunday, February 12th at the Italian American Sports Club at 1250 Buffalo Rd, 14624 from 12-5 pm. Its free for everyone, music, coffee and chocolate will be available, as well as a cash bar. Come have some fun!
Disk Golf – once you have the disks – its free! and there are at least 8 courses or more….
Rochester is such an under-rated city!
Rochester Flavor says
Yes, there is so much to do here with Rochester being rich in culture and history. The art scene is fantastic and there are festivals every weekend in the summer. Also, we have a great public transportation system.