A great day trip from Syracuse is a visit to nearby Rochester. Many people would agree that the best time to go is in May, during their Lilac Festival. The FREE festival lasts for ten days each May in Highland Park and consists of so much more than lilacs! There is something there for everyone – arts & crafts, food trucks, rides, craft beer & wine, music, exhibits, and lots of gardens of course! Parking can be a bit tough, and usually costs, so plan to get there early and be prepared to walk!
Once you’ve explored all you can at the festival, I highly recommend a visit to Black Button Distilling. Black Button is only a few years old, but has quickly become a favorite with our friends. The craft spirits that they make are excellent and have been known to catch the attention of people who don’t typically choose to drink gin or whiskey. A tour of the distillery is only $5; a tasting is another $5. They have three different tasting ‘flights’ you can choose from. If you’re unsure which to try, go with the classic! It never disappoints. The bar also sells cocktails made from their products and beer from Rohrbach Brewing, which shares the building with Black Button (visit the beer hall too if you have the time). If you’re lucky enough to be there during the lilac festival, be sure to try Black Button’s lilac gin. It is a seasonal special and is delicious! On our last tour the guide told us that for the past few years they have repeatedly doubled the production of the lilac gin, and each year they sell out just as quickly as the year before. If you can get your hands on a bottle, grab it!
Another Rochester find that I enjoy is a small cocktail lounge called Nox. I can only imagine that the name comes from the Harry Potter spell of the same name (evidence is also in the bathroom with the lumos/nox light switch), and inspiration for the menu seems to have come from a wide variety of science fiction and fantasy movies. The atmosphere of Nox is very cozy, with eclectic furnishings and sci-fi movies shown on tvs behind the bar in black and white. The menu contains comfort foods, all with clever names. It’s a great spot to stop in with some friends!