Most Rochester Jazz Fest performances begin in the early-evening, so you’ll have plenty of time during the day to explore the Rochester area. We’ve picked some of our favorite things to do within two miles of Eastman Theater, many of which you can walk to or grab an Uber or Lift.
There are free shows every night on “Jazz Street” and at outdoor stages around East Ave. For 2019, here are a few of the Jazz Fest headliners for the FREE concerts:
Fri, Jun 21 – Downchild Blues Band featuring Dan Aykroyd
Sat, Jun 22 – Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
Sun, Jun 23 – The Honey Smugglers
Mon, Jun 24 – Aquaducks
Tue, Jun 25 – Bill Tiberio Band
Wed, Jun 26 – Music Educators’ Jazz Ensemble
Thu, Jun 27 – Soul Stew
Fri, Jun 28 – Jimmie Highsmith Jr.
Sat, Jun 29 – Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
1. High Falls
High Falls is both the name of the waterfall and the district in the city where it can be found. There’s plenty of parking on both sides of the river.
2. Rochester Public Market
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday the Public Market is the place to grab the freshest local and wholesale fruit, veggies, seafood, beef, cheese, bread, flowers and spices.
There are also notable restaurants in the area offering everything from coffee and donuts to vegan burgers, empenadas, and farm-to-table meals.
3. Highland Park
Highland Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to be enjoyed year-round. Every pathway, every tree, every vista & every relationship between the land & water is intentional.
4. Landmark Society Walking Tours of Rochester
If you are a fan of history and architecture, you will enjoy these self-guided Landmark Society walking tours of center city Rochester. The Liberty Pole East City Loop Tour and the East End & Cultural District Tour are closest to the Jazz Fest performance venues.
5. Cobbs Hill + Washington Grove
The view from Cobbs Hill, the quiet, the breeze, the friendly nature of people walking and taking it all in—there’s nothing quite like it in Rochester.
The Washington Grove trail takes you by the graffiti-tagged water towers and winds through a quiet grove of ancient oaks.
6. Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope is America’s first municipal Victorian Cemetery. There are more people dead in Mount Hope Cemetery than living in the City of Rochester!
Formed by glaciers, the landscape features high hills and deep valleys, winding eskers and deep kettles, with roadways meandering throughout.
7. George Eastman Museum
The George Eastman Museum is a beautiful tribute to his life & legacy, and is the world’s oldest photography museum with one of the oldest film archives.
8. National Susan B Anthony Museum & House
It is difficult to summarize the life of Susan B Anthony, her passion for the rights of all Americans, and specifically how tirelessly she worked as a suffragist for women’s right to vote.
Therefore, we encourage you to visit her home in Rochester, historic landmarks in Seneca Falls, and her final resting place in Mount Hope Cemetery to dive deeper into her remarkable life.
9. Strong National Museum of Play
The Strong National Museum of Play has a wealth of interaction for toddlers, school-aged children and adults, including play-shopping at Wegmans!
The Strong houses the world’s largest collection of historical materials related to play and is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, and the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
I’ve heard ARTISANworks described as a walk-through kaleidoscope, a bombardment on the senses, a 360° canvas, a space that defies all boundaries, a place that can’t be described but must be seen, surprising, inspiring, and in some instances shocking.
11. Rochester Museum & Science Center
Between the star shows, laser shows, interactive exhibits, and Singing Tesla Coils, the Rochester Museum and Science Center will entertain you for hours!
12. Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery has an extensive permanent collection, an incredible variety of traveling exhibitions, & a well-rounded calendar of events.
13. Maplewood Rose Garden & Lower Falls
Maplewood Park is a linear park that follows the river from Driving Park and the Lower Falls to just north of Route 104, ending at the pedestrian bridge over the Genesee.
The fall and the rose garden, with over 3,000+ rose bushes, are the star attractions.
14. Catch a movie at a historic theater
There is something about a 100-year-old small movie theater that enhances your experience and transcends you through space and time.
There are three in the city of Rochester: Little Theatre, Dryden Theater, and Cinema Theater. Some are even venues for various Jazz Fest performances.
Map of Places Around Jazz Fest
This map above highlights both the venues used during Rochester International Jazz Festival and places worth exploring within a 2-mile radius of “Jazz Street”.
Jazz Fest Venues
The nine-day festival is held at 20 diverse venues throughout downtown Rochester New York’s East End cultural and entertainment district, including Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music, Hatch Recital Hall, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Christ Church, the Rochester Regional Health Big Tent, Max of Eastman Place, Montage Music Hall, Xerox Auditorium, Wilder Room, The Little Theatre, and multiple outdoor free stages and venues – all within walking distance and many on “Jazz Street” (otherwise known as Gibbs Street during the rest of the year), which is closed off for the festival’s nine days.
More than 90 free concerts and events are presented on outdoor stages and other free venues. [source]
Food & beverage around Jazz Fest
There are plenty of food options available right on the street during Jazz Fest. Food trucks and food tents can be found on Main Street, in the Big Tent, and at East Ave/Chestnut. Here are a few more options for when you’re out exploring Rochester during the daytime.
Some of these food destinations are well-established, while others are quickly becoming favorites as Rochester’s culinary scene explodes.
Tonight, you can dine at restaurants that Zimmern, Bourdain, Fieri and other Food Network and Travel Channel hosts have enjoyed. Bon Appétit!
Explore more of the Rochester area
If you are staying in Rochester for Jazz Fest, and have a vehicle you can use to explore the region during the daytime, these are a few places you should check out!
What are your favorite spots around Jazz Fest?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!