If you ever find yourself in a new city, looking for something to do (especially for free), make sure you check out the nearest college/university campus. College campuses are full of great finds! The buildings are usually historical and just beautiful, even better when they are covered with ivy. The gardens and walkways are always well-maintained, there’s sure to be a fantastic library to visit, and campuses are full of great artwork.
This week I was lucky enough to be in Rochester for work, so I had the chance to explore the University of Rochester river campus. Let me tell you that the campus is beautiful. It was such a joy to walk around, not knowing what was around the next corner. I came across a set of statues, originally set at a campus building that later burned down. Those statues, representing industry, geography, astronomy, navigation, and commerce, have been rehomed in a garden on campus, but they are not all together. Four of them are, but the fifth is placed separately – it’s a fun treasure hunt for you to find it! Another great place to visit for free is a library, and U of R has a beautiful library housed in an old ornate building. I wandered a bit inside Rush Rhees Library, but admittedly got a bit lost on the upper floors. I’ve heard that they occasionally offer trips up into the tower to get the best aerial views of campus. If only I could have done that!
The rest of campus was just as beautiful of a walk. Even their Greek housing was classic, unlike the beaten down houses you see on other college campuses. I even encountered some raccoons and groundhogs wandering around campus too! If you are looking for a snack, there are a couple of spots on campus, including a Starbucks and The Buzz café. Grab a cup of coffee and relax.
Just a mile or two from River Campus is historical Mt. Hope Cemetery, one of the first municipal rural cemeteries in the country. The nearly 200-acre cemetery is the final resting place for many notable people from history and even contains remains of an old catacombs system. Even with no destination in mind, the cemetery is absolutely gorgeous to walk through; it’s like it takes you back in time. If you’re into history, be sure to visit and honor the gravesites of Susan B. Anthony, the heroic woman’s rights activist, and Frederick Douglass, a prominent leader of the abolitionist movement, both of whom also have homes nearby open to visitors.. Since the place is so incredibly big, you’ll definitely need a map of the grounds to find your way around. Luckily there is one located at the north entrance and another online here.
Mt. Hope is, of course, free to meander on your own, but if you’re interested in learning a bit more, they offer regular guided tours on Sundays at 2pm for only $5 (spring through fall, plus on federal holidays). If you have a particular interest, there are also themed guided tours for $7 offered throughout the year, including torch-lit tours in October.
Remember our trip to the Lilac Festival? Highland Park, where the festival is held every year, is located right next to the cemetery if you’re looking for more places to walk around. Finally, a drink at Three Heads Brewing is a nice way to end the day. If you’re lucky, they may even have a food truck on site to grab a bite to eat or a live band playing music for you to enjoy.