5 Reasons To Visit Rochester, New York – Episode 86

Top reasons to visit Rochester New York
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

When most people think of New York state, they think of New York City. While New York City is iconic, I want us to broaden our horizon and consider the many other cities and regions that make up The Empire State. In this episode, we explore Rochester, New York. In addition to sharing some fun historical facts, I’ll also share five reasons why you should visit Rochester. A special thank you to Visit Rochester and Living Roots Wine & Co. for the warm welcome and introduction.

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Danielle Desir: When most people think of new york state, they think of new york city while new york city is iconic, I want us to broaden our horizon a bit and consider the many other cities and regions that make up the empire state. In this episode we're going to explore Rochester new york. In addition to sharing historical facts. I'll also share five reasons why you should visit Rochester. A very special. Thank you to visit Rochester for the warm welcome and introduction and another special. Thank you to Colleen and Sebastian from living roots for joining me on the podcast. Welcome to the thought card, a podcast about traveling money. We're planning saving and creativity leads to hoarding, travel, building wealth and paying off debt. We are the financial savvy travelers. All right. All right so let's get started with some fun facts about Rochester. So Rochester is the third largest city in new york state. It's right after new york city which is number one and buffalo, which is number two. Rochester is also a mid sized city. So personally I found that it wasn't too overwhelming but it has all the characteristics of metropolis. Rochester is in western new york and is considered the front door or the gateway to the finger lakes region. One of the best wine regions in the country had a chance to visit finger lakes a couple years ago while attending T backs which is a travel blogging conference.

Rochester is also nicknamed the flower city due to the world renowned flower F. L. O. U. R. That was produced there in the 18 hundreds at one time, Rochester was the largest manufacturer of baking flour in the world. Now, when the Erie canal was built, Rochester was coined. America's first boom town transporting goods like flour, grain, salt and clothing, furniture as well as lumber. The Erie Canal connected the great lakes with the atlantic ocean via the Hudson River. Today the Erie canal is mostly used for sightseeing and tourism. Now during my time at Rochester I did have a chance to go on a cruise to check out some of the locks over in the area canal and it was so cool to learn about this region's history. In 2000, the U. S. Congress recognized Erie canal significance by establishing the Erie canal as a national heritage corridor to preserve the history and heritage of the communities around the water race.

Some historical figures that have roots in Rochester include abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who spent 25 of his most productive years in Rochester. Douglas was an escaped slave who published the abolitionist newspaper, the North Star. He assisted Harriet tubman in the dangerous work of helping slaves escape via the underground railroad. Another historical figure is Susan b Anthony who worked tirelessly for education reform, abolition of slavery, labour reform and women's rights. Her home in Rochester was the base for operations for the women's rights movement. When you visit Rochester, you can now visit her home, which is now a national landmark called the national Susan b Anthony museum and house If you enjoy spending time at museums while you're in for a treat because Rochester is full of museums that appeal a wide range of interest including art, photography, history and science. In the show notes, I will link to an article that has a list of all the museums that you can check out when you're visiting Rochester. So as you may know, I am originally from the Bronx, New York which is a borough in new york city and I spent the majority of my life exploring new york city. I went to college in new york city and I was like many people pretty obsessed with the city life. However, as I've gotten older I've definitely branched out to visit more regions in new york including Hunter as well as Rochester.

Now the reason that Rochester really grabbed my attention is because I was really looking for a destination that we can drive to. So me and my best friend Daphne, I hadn't seen her for a long time due to the pandemic. So we were looking for somewhere that we can drive to together. It would be a long enough drive where we felt like we were literally like leaving our area and we could explore somewhere new. We also wanted to go to a city that was walkable but also we could take our car everywhere as well. So we wanted to kind of have both both options to make sure that we can be mobile. I love and Daphne also loves to eat and drink, so we are bona fide foodies, we love drinking wine, we love drinking beer and every time we link up it's all about the vibes and relaxing and socializing. So we really wanted to go to a city that could accommodate all of our interests and we wanted lots of places to hang out, lots of places to relax and socialize again since we hadn't spent, so we spent so long that we hadn't been with each other. Also, what I really liked about Rochester's that there were outdoor components, there is a nearby beach, there's lots of kayaking opportunities for example, like I mentioned at the Erie canal um and we really wanted to have at least a little bit of time to spend outdoors while we were gallivanting and exploring the town as well. So overall Rochester was the perfect destination for all of those interests. It had the good food and places to socialize and relax. It had plenty of spaces to explore the outdoors and it could, you know, it's drivable. We could drive everywhere if we had our car and also we can kind of walk or take a run in the mornings or things like that if we wanted to as well. So Rochester checked all of our check boxes and it was a 5.5 hour road trip from Connecticut, so that felt good enough for us where it's like we were on our legit road trip but not too overwhelming when we had to take stops and sleep at a hotel and things like that. So it was like the perfect, perfect, perfect destination for all the things that we were looking for.

So I'm going to share with you the five reasons why Rochester is a must visit and you should definitely add it to your list of places to check out. I loved that. Rochester was a mix of old and new. Like I mentioned in the fun facts section of this episode, Rochester was an industrial industrial town. There were lots of flour mills and over time there are lots of factories and things like that. So you will see in Rochester a lot of the old bones that have been renewed and refurbished one of the restaurants slash bowling alleys. We checked out when we're visiting Rochester and it's literally a refurbished um warehouse or older structure and it was just so cool to see how these older structures are. Old brick structures are being revitalized and appreciated in modern times. Also when we went to living roots, which is an urban winery which you'll hear about in a few minutes or it was also uh inside if an old warehouse as well and they were able to decorate it beautifully. Um so I love the preservation of Rochester's old architecture when we were walking downtown and heading to a coffee shop. I also noticed that there were lots of new constructions happening around. So I really do love visiting cities that have old and new there. So charming and I really did appreciate how folks in Rochester are using all of the old architecture in new and creative ways. So that's number one, love the architecture, the new and old mix. The second reason why I think you should definitely check out Rochester is because there's plenty of street art and wall mirrors all around the city. I am a wall mural fan in Enthusiast whenever I'm visiting a city, I love checking out the wall murals. I love literally going on a D. I. Y. Wall mural street art tour, which I had a chance to do a mini version when I was in Rochester and I loved that displays of art. One of my favorite wall murals was a huge mural of Captain America and Captain America was America was sitting down and taking a pebble out of his shoe. So it's very odd to see Captain America being superhuman but I loved it. Okay, I'll make sure in the show notes that I have a real that I created on instagram, I'll be able to share it with you so you can kind of take a look at that. But it was just a captivating scene and there were other really cool scenes that I really, really enjoyed. Also while we're walking downtown. I did notice that some of the benches on the sidewalks were painted were hand painted by different artists. So I thought that was really, really cool. One of them I think was painted was sponsored by like a bank. So in front of the bank there was a seat and there was a hand painted mural on the seat. So I love cities that are, you know, embrace art and they're not afraid to have outside displays of art as wall murals or actual structures right next to our hotel. There were quite a few large structures, art structures that we could actually walk to. So really, really do appreciate that about Rochester. Now Rochester has an incredible food scene, an incredible beer, craft, beer and wine scene that should not be missed. Making it perfect for a girls weekend getaway or a couples trip or even a mother daughter trip or a family trip. There's just so much incredible food to try and there's historical breweries there, like I mentioned, there's an urban winery called living roots there as well and I had a chance to check out and it did not disappoint, definitely recommend Rochester. Further incredible food scene. I had Middle Eastern food, I had mexican food, I had artisanal donuts, I had ice cream. It was just again, so, so, so, so good. And as a foodie, this is what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a city that has lots of options, lots of places to eat, lots of places to drink And as I mentioned me being with Daphne, it was perfect. We could socialize and eat and hang out and it was just perfect now in addition to having an incredible food and drink seen Rochester had affordable prices as financially savvy travelers. I know it's important for us to think about our budget where budget conscious and we're looking at price to see okay, like the value of the value that we're going to actually get when we arrived to a destination and I found that the value was really great. Another article I wrote is how much is a trip cost to Rochester? So you'll find the link to that article in the show notes and here's a hint for a weekend trip. I thought it was super affordable for two people including everything like our hotel and our gas and all of our food expenses and the food was, was a really good price And this is coming from someone who is in Connecticut where things are pretty expensive. So it was really nice. Sick to go to Rochester and see affordable prices for drinks and food and not have to break the bank even though I was having such a great, great, great, great time and not skimping out on anything. Now the last thing I want to say about Rochester is that I loved that this is one of the unique cities that I've been to where I can enjoy a waterfall and a city view at the same time. So when you visit High Falls, it's 100 ft waterfall right in the city center, you could literally walk up to a bridge and you could check out this beautiful waterfall and in the backdrop you'll see the city buildings, you'll see some ruins. So I just loved that there was just again, this dynamic because usually waterfalls are in nature, but the high falls is right in the city center, so it was definitely a sight to see and somewhere that I think you can take great pictures and have a wonderful experience while you're there. So as a quick recap, the five reasons why you should definitely check out Rochester new york. There's a cool mix of old and new architecture, there's plenty of street art and murals around town, lots of outdoor displays that you can appreciate incredible food, beer and wine scene, affordable prices. So you can really have a great time without breaking the bank and this amazing waterfall, High Falls, that is right in the middle of the city where you can embrace a waterfall and also the city views. So these are all the reasons. Um, and more as to why I would recommend planning a trip to Rochester. Now, I do have a blog post that covers all the food and all of the incredible drinks that we had while we were in town.

But I wanted to shout out and to introduce you to the founders of living roots wide and co so living roots is an urban winery in the finger Lakes region of upstate new york. Colleen's hometown and a not so urban winery in the Adelaide hills region of South Australia. Sebastian's hometown, living roots wein and Co was founded in 2016. And what's beautiful about Colleen and Sebastian story, they're a husband wife again, Colleen is from Rochester and Sebastian is from Adelaide. Sebastian is 1/6 generation winemaker. Sebastian's great, great, great grandfather in 18 50 at the age of 20 immigrated to Australia and jump started 150 years legacy of family winemaking on the other side of the world, Colleen grew up in Rochester new york, spending lots of time in the finger Lakes region. She studied marketing and worked in corporate America and headed to Adelaide Australia In 2014 to work in a vintage winery to start a new adventure. So I'm not going to give it all the way. I'll let Sebastian and Colleen continue to tell their story.

Colleen: I'm Colleen, this is my husband Sebastian and so we started living roots I guess now 5/5 years ago, almost like 5.5 years ago. Um, but this space we opened, you know, with wine, it takes a while to sort of get started make the wines age them. Um, and so it's just been a few years that we've been here in this space in Rochester, but we love it, we're so glad you could stop by and see us. So what inspired you to get started. I know there's some family roots history there, so we'd love to hear the back story about that.

Sebastian: Um so my family has been making wine in Adelaide south Australia for now, six generations and uh so since 18 53. Um and uh yeah, I mean it's gone through a bunch of different uh changes I guess uh with sort of through the generations. But I really grew up with my uh on my family's vineyard in the Adelaide hills and sort of grew up around sort of the business that my dad started. Um and then uh I worked with step for a while, but then started uh met Colleen which I guess she could talk more about. Um And then uh yeah, every sort of uh I wanted to start our own thing, spend a bit more time here in Rochester, so you can feel it, yeah, so yeah, I mean obviously got the long legacy of winemaking and you know, that's what he went to uni for and has worked all over europe in different places, but when we met I was just getting into the industry, so it was my first vintage um I ended up in South Australia for my first harvest and um so yeah, we met over there and and that definitely expedited my my learning about wine and winemaking um quite a bit. And so yeah, we worked, you know in different aspects of the industry, my backgrounds more so marketing. Um um you know, obviously did a harvest enjoy the seller side of things, but not my area of expertise and then, you know, it saves done a bit of sales for his family and um, but focus more on the viticulture and winemaking. So you know, it's really sort of well rounded skill sets and we just realized we work really well together. So yeah, we decided, you know, we were ready to start our own thing and rather than have to choose his hometown of Adelaide or my hometown of Rochester, we just loved the idea of sort of making the most of them being in opposite hemispheres and and making line in both. So that's, that's kind of how living roots I guess started in the concept and then it was processed from there to make it actually happen. But um, yeah, so now that's, that's what we do. We, we spend about four months of the year in Australia and then the rest of the year here in upstate new york um until we're making, you know, finger lakes sparkling and whites and you know, some lighter reds and then um focusing more on sort of medium bodied, vibrant, some fuller bodied reds and even fortified in Australia. So the complimentary sort of climates and styles that we can make in each place allows us to to kind of offer the full range.

Danielle Desir: So what's been the reaction like of Rochester residents to living roots. I know as a visitor, it was like great, oh my gosh! Like I get to taste South Australia as well as you know, local flavors. So I was really excited about that. But what was the reaction when you first started locally?

Colleen: I think people were really excited. There was a big learning curve I think just for people to grasp like what we do here because the vibe as you would have seen last night, it feels like a wine bar. And so at first people would say, oh do you have any european wines were like, no, no, like all the wines you're tasting we made and it's not even like we contract somebody else to make it for us. Like we are literally there for harvest blending bottling in each country. And so that was a bit of a learning curve to get people to kind of yes, as a winery especially because we are in a city where an urban winery as opposed to a, a winery at the vineyard. But another, I think cool thing about being where we are here in Rochester is that we have people come in regularly. So we have a pretty good sized wine club considering how young we are and people, you know come in pretty frequently, some people, you know every week or whatever it is. And so it's fun that between the two countries that were making wine in, we can really offer new things pretty pretty frequently. And yeah, we love, we love the sense of community people coming in as I say, like on a regular basis and kind of getting to know um our club members and just, you know, regular guests and, and so we have a lot of fun being here and we just like living in the city. So you know, people see this and they don't see vineyards and they think, how can you be a winery? But like I've said, it's very common for people to sort of source the grapes from other sites and bring the grapes in. So that's, that's more what we do and you know down the track will probably do something in the finger lakes on my family's vineyard, that's a bit more permanent. But for now that's a great little extra location that people can visit. So yeah, that pop up is a seasonal thing just for more of an outdoor, uh beautiful view, More typical experience I guess, but still not typical because it's under a tent and we have no electricity or running water.

Danielle Desir: So awesome. Alright, so I just wanted to say, I see the passion in your eyes and the love, it's so warm. So I'm really excited for you. All. Last question I have for you is what can folks folks expect? Like I'm sitting here, it's beautiful, open airy, lots of greenery, but we'd love to hear from you, what was your inspiration for designing the space and what was it previously?

Sebastian: Well, to begin with, when, when we first sort of chose this location, it was an old warehouse that had gone through different eras and had been neglected a lot. So originally it was part of the sort of big manufacturing sort of industry that was in this sort of area of the States. Um, and then um, it moved to through some of the different stages of broadcasters history, like uh, part of the um, what was a seed packing area and this is sort of known uh uh, the flower city different, there were different sort of uses of, or interpretations of the spelling of flour, but in this case the fact that there was a booming uh sort of flower seed company or companies and yeah, so that went through that stage and then, and then through the downturn of manufacturing and then was converted more into office space and with drop ceilings and then it sort of chris pretty neglected as I say. So yeah, we went through this big process of uh, with the landlord and builders to tear down all the walls and open it right up and strip it back and have a historic restoration to the space and this location was important because, but I'm wondering you need uh, an area of concrete ID area with good drainage with in built drainage for all of the wet work that we do back there and um and access via with a forklift to offload all the grapes and um, and a lot of specific things that you don't, I wouldn't need if this was just a wine bar, but then, so that's out of the back where we tore up the old pitted floors and and relayed concrete with the drainage and built out a winery, but at the front here where you've got street view and the wooden, old wooden floors, old scale built into the floor there. Um and yeah, so this is, we saw really good for natural light and just a beautiful foundation with the old beams and what not where we could sort of have this kind of worn, you know, uh quite rustic, but yeah, definitely worn sort of lived in vibe and bring that in, but with a minimalist modern edge. Um and like you say, the greenery we love so, and again we wanted to make it premium but inviting for for everyone. Um So yeah, that's sort of how we put it all together and we, we sort of did most of it ourselves with a little bit of final touches from a local friend and interior designer.

Colleen: Yeah, so, you know, when we were coming up with the concept and we love the idea of people being able to sit and enjoy and sort of, yeah, drink the wines at their own pace. So it's nice because we can offer a few different options depending on what people want. So it's not your typical tasting experience. We have some curated tasting flights that normally we have four different flights of four different lines each you can choose from if you want to taste, you know, a spectrum of lines. Otherwise all of our wines are available by, you know, the half glass glass bottle. Um And so it really depends like some people want to come in and they want to hear about the wines and maybe they'll stand up at the bar and, you know, ask our staff and we always happy to give bonus tastes if there's something outside of the flight that you really wanted to try. Um and then other people come in and they want to grab a cheese board or some charcuterie um in like the autumn and winter. We also do some Aussie style uh meat pies. Well we also veggie pies which are my favorite, but it's, you know, something you don't see around here is often, so yeah, we kind of mix it up but keep it pretty simple. So we've we've got obviously our wines, we've got some local beers, um some non alcoholic options and it's really just a space to kind of sit enjoy. Um you know, we love to educate about the wine, so we hope you're keen to hear about them, but also you can catch up with friends and just enjoy the environment and the wines as well. Awesome.

Danielle Desir: Okay, last last question, where can we find you on the internet also? Do you bottle like can you get it delivered to your home? Um and find your social handles at all?

Colleen: Yes. And I should have said with what people can expect. We also obviously sell bottles of wine. So the hope is that people come, they try the wine to enjoy this space and then they leave with some bottles. So you know, we're still winery, so that's that's the end goal. Um but we we do offer our wines online. Um some retailers that sort of thing, We are still new and just expanding. So we're not, we don't ship to too many states. Unfortunately Connecticut, someone that we don't yet. I know, I know my family in Connecticut is like itching to get their hands on it, but right now we can ship within new york and then to massachusetts, Illinois, California, D. C florida, I think that's about it. Um and then in Minnesota um and then otherwise you can find us online and follow along and then we'll update you when, you know, we expand to other states. So our website is living roots wine dot com which were actually redoing at the moment. So that will change pretty well. It'll be the same address, but the website itself will be revamped very soon and then we're very active on instagram. So I'd say fine is there for any updates along the way And our handle is just at living roots wine before too long we'll have a distribution hopefully in a number of states, especially on the eastern seaboard and what not.

Sebastian: So yes soon we'll be sort of, you know, in more and more sort of bottle shops and, and restaurants and what not, but definitely for the moment there's a lot of local Rochester sort of, you know, bottle shops and restaurants that we work with good supporters for us. So yeah, our winds are definitely out and about, not just in this location.

Danielle Desir: Alright. Financial savvy travelers. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the thought hard podcast. It was truly an incredible experience to be here. You'll find all the links and also all of the photos that I took here at the winery as well. That's all I have for you and I'll see you in the next one. Bye. I hope you enjoyed this episode. But don't forget there's way more where that came from when you become a supporter of the show, you'll get bonus episodes, additional tips on affording travel, real time updates as well as strategies for building wealth and creating multiple income strings. Head over to thought car dot com forged. Lashed, join to support. Also be sure to follow me on instagram. I'm at the Danielle Dozier slide in my DmS and share with me your thoughts about this episode. What did you enjoy? What stood out to you? Let me know. I'd absolutely love to connect with you outside of the podcast. See you in the next one.

Fun Facts About Rochester

Rochester is the third largest city in New York State, after New York City (#1) and Buffalo (#2).

It’s a mid-sized city (so not overwhelming) in western New York considered the front door or gateway to the Finger Lakes, one of the best wine regions in the country.

Rochester is nicknamed “The Flour City” due to the world renowned flour that was produced there in the 1800s. At one time, Rochester was the largest manufacturer of baking flour in the world. 

When the Erie Canal was built, Rochester was coined “America’s first Boom Town” transporting goods like flour, grain, salt, clothing, furniture, and lumber. The Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River. Today it’s mostly used for sightseeing and tourism. In 2000, the U.S. Congress recognized the Erie Canal’s significance by establishing the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to preserve the history and heritage of the waterways.

Reasons To Visit Rochester

  1. Mix of old and newly restored architecture.
  2. Plenty of street art and wall murals around town.
  3. Incredible food and drink scene – read about the best places to eat in Rochester here.
  4. Affordable prices.
  5. Waterfall and city views at High Falls.

About Living Roots Wine & Co.: Rochester’s Only Urban Winery

Living Roots Winery with founders Colleen with Sebastian
Mainroom at Living Roots winery.

Living Roots is an urban winery in Rochester that features wines from the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York (Colleen’s hometown) and wine from Adelaide Hills region from South Australia (Sebastian’s hometown). When you visit the winery, choose from four curated flights, cheese boards, Aussie-style meat pies, or purchase bottles of wine.

We recommend trying the following wines:

  • 2017 Finger Lakes Chardonnay
  • 2018 Adelaide Hills Shiraz
  • 2019 Finger Lakes Pinot Gris
  • 2020 Adelaide Hills Sparkling Red
Rochester Things To Do
Founder Colleen and Sebastian

Living Roots currently ships bottles of wine to New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Florida, and Minnesota.

Living Roots Address

1255 University Avenue, Rochester, New York

Instagram: @livingrootswine

Facebook: @livingrootswine

Resources Mentioned

How Much Does A Trip To Rochester Cost? (blog post)

New York History Happened Here (blog post)

Rochester Museums (blog post)

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Explore the Adirondacks and Get Closer to Nature at The Wild Center – Episode 109

Welcome to Cape Cod: Live From Bad Martha Brewery – Episode 75

Our China Trip Recap + How To Plan A Trip To China – Episode 48

Walt Disney World vs. Universal Studios: Which Park Is Better? – Episode 37

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