Growing up in the Finger Lakes of NY I didn't appreciate how absolutely drop dead gorgeous it was! I had a wonderful childhood of being outdoors camping, skiing, hiking, and boating on Canandaigua lake surrounded by nature and down to earth people. We were married on this lake over brunch on a Sunday morning––so many good memories here!
After living there for 20 years, here is my top hits list on what to do and where to eat on Canandaigua Lake and in Rochester, NY.
Where to stay
Canandaigua Lake couldn't be any more beautiful with the rolling hills, crystal clear water, and the biggest fluffiest clouds in the sky.
I LOVE this lake so much and would spend most of my summer days here on friends' boats growing up in high school. Since then The Lake House on Canandaigua has been remodeled and I had the pleasure of staying there this winter for a family ski getaway. Wow it is amazing!
Situated right on the lake with stunning interiors, beautifully designed hotel rooms, a fantastic spa with barrel saunas you can rent for the hour, and delicious food–– what more could one need. My friend Jade's husband, Steven Eakins, is the executive chef of the Rose Tavern at The Lake House and his food is DELICIOUS. There is also the Sand Bar where you can pull your boat in or grab great cocktails (the local drink is the Blue Whale–– IYKYK).
In the winter there is great skiing about 20 minutes away from the lake in Bristol, New York, called Bristol Mountain. I grew up skiing on this mountain, and if you go you MUST stop next door to Lock Stock and Barrel and get the chicken wings. Best wings in the world and a great beer menu, nothing better after a day on the slopes.
I personally much prefer a brewery in NY to a winery but check out this link for a list of all the wineries around the Finger Lakes:
Restaurants worth going to if you like to cook like us.
Written by my sister Caroline, who lives in Rochester, NY:
Goodluck- Village Gate, Rochester NY – I always recommend sitting at the bar and immersing yourself into one of the best restaurants in Rochester. Bring a friend or two ––everything is served family style ––my favorite kind of eating.
'In 2008, we set out to do something familiar but forever unique. Discovering a setting that couldn’t be beat, Good Luck opened in a former industrial enclave with a dedication to serving boldly seasonal cuisine, inspired cocktails, and a wine list that challenged norms. Our menu showcases comfort while inviting the courageous, while our bar invites both the spirited aficionado and the late night reveler.'
Velvet Belly- Public Market, Rochester NY – great cocktails and food is to die for, especially if you like fresh seafood.
'At Velvet Belly, Chef Jeremy Nucelli prepares dishes inspired by coastal cuisine from around the world. We also serve up whimsical and fun-loving cocktails in a lively bar atmosphere. We’re proud to be part of the thriving food and beverage community within Rochester’s Public Market.'
Rella- Monroe Ave, Rochester NY - better book a reservation. There’s only a bar top with about 10 seats and you feel like a VIP guest every time you go. Word of mouth from this place says it has crazy good food and they are right, it’s damn good.
181 Monroe Ave, Rochester, NY 14607
'Opened in November 2018, Old Pueblo Grill is the embodiment of Chef Joe Zolnierowski's love affair with Tucson's Mexican street food culture. In a nod to his roots, OPG is named after Tucson's most famous nickname; Old Pueblo. While OPG is just a little taco shop, it's food personifies the bold colors and flavors of Tucson and the street food scene it represents.'
55 Russell Street, Rochester, NY 14607
A few more worth mentioning...
Dinosaur BBQ Great BBQ!!!! The BBQ of my childhood situated on the Genesee River.
99 Court St, Rochester, NY 14604
GARBAGE PLATES at Nick Tahou's: Cheese burger patties on top of mac salad, home fries, tossed with meat hot sauce and condiments. Best drunk food ever but really looks like garbage.
"Nick Tahou Hots is a Rochester, NY landmark restaurant famous for its Garbage Plate. The restaurant was founded by its namesake, Nick Tahou, who died in 1997 after running the establishment for over 50 years. Despite many regional variants all based on the same theme, Nick's is widely regarded as the original Garbage Plate."
320 W. Main St. Rochester, NY 14608
Breweries in Rochester NY:
New breweries are popping up in Rochester, NY all the time these days, it's amazing!
Other Half Brewery – Bloomfield NY- great open space with a beautiful view and a beautiful brewery. Bunch of seating space, usually have food trucks there as well. Great Beers, too!!
StrangeBird Brewery- Monroe Ave, Rochester NY – newish brewery with a great vibe and fantastic beer “Bird is the word” and the beer is good! Totally kid friendly as well with great food.
Mortalis Brewery- Avon NY – little bit of a drive but well worth it if you are a beer snob like myself.
Cocktails/ Night life:
Cheshire Cocktail bar- South wedge, Rochester NY – Shhh please don’t tell a lot of people. It’s a speakeasy above a wine bar in the South Wedge and they don’t play when it comes to cocktails.
Lux, South wedge, Rochester NY- The ultimate dive bar. Looking to get lost and never be found? Look no further. All are welcome and they sure do welcome all.
Park Avenue Bars and Restaurants
Swillburger – South wedge, Rochester NY– Into classic arcade games and don’t want to hang out with 2-year olds to play them? Great bar with tons of arcade games.
Things to do with kids:
Roseland Waterpark, Canandaigua NY – great time to kill a few hrs. with the kids, super clean and fun water park for all ages.
Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester NY – perfect place to bring the kids!
Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester NY- Another great place to kill a few hours and your kids will thank you as well!
Radio Social, Rochester NY- Bowling alley meets cocktail bar and truly a great place to have fun!
Erie Canal in Pittsford, NY, Pittsford has an adorable downtown, with great restaurants along the Erie Canal. I love Richardson's Canal house, Pittsford Pub, Jo Jo's, Simply Crepes, and the Coal tower. Great place to take a walk with kids and eat.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments, I hope you have a wonderful time in Rochester, NY!