If you're coming in for the wedding early or staying late, you might have some time to hang around Rochester. Here are some suggestions, grouped by proximity to hotels.
The Strathallan Hotel: This hotel is in Rochester's "Neighborhood of the Arts" (NOTA), very closed to the Park Avenue neighborhood.
To explore NOTA: Head north on Strathallan (take a moment to check out #26, Rachel's old apartment) you'll hit the Memorial Art Gallery. Turn right at the end of the street and you'll find Starry Nights Cafe, a great place for a glass of wine in the evening, and Edibles, a slightly fancier dinner spot. Further down University Avenue is Chocolate and Vines, a wine and chocolate shop/restaurant. Craft Company No. 6 is just a little further down - that's a good spot to pick up a souvenir made by an independent artist. This area also has some galleries and antique shops, and is great for a wander. Our very favorite place for vintage and reinvented cocktails (and great dinners) is Good Luck ($$$). Lento ($$$) does wonderful regional food with only locally sourced ingredients. Both are on North Goodman, within walking distance from the hotel.
To explore Park Avenue: Head south from the hotel - Strathallan turns into Arnold Park. Once you hit Park Avenue you can go right or left, but there are more shops and restaurants to the left. If you're looking for dinner, Hogan's Hideaway (American), right at the end of Arnold Park, is a favorite. To the left, about a half a mile is Magnolia (American), then further up is Jines (best for brunch on the sidewalk) and Pirahna (Japanese/South American fusion). Sinbad's has a great outdoor patio for Greek and Lebanese food. You pretty much can't go wrong walking up and down Park.
The Staybridge Suites: This hotel is right by the University of Rochester, in the city's 19th Ward. The area is less optimal for exploring on foot, but there are some good spots.
For coffee, food or entertainment head to Boulder Coffee (right on Genesee out of the hotel). This is a local chain that's a big supporter of Rochester artists (include Steve's band!).
You can explore the University of Rochester campus by crossing the footbridge right by the hotel - if you walk along the river path next to campus you'll ultimately come to Genesee Valley Park. It's more of a drive than a walk, but the park has two golf courses, and a pool (for a small fee).
You can also visit the Susan B. Anthony House (directions), open from 11 until 5 every day except Monday. Exhibits focus on suffrage and Anthony's relationship with Rochester's other civil rights pioneer, Frederick Douglass.
Rochester's South Wedge neighborhood is also a quick drive from the Staybridge. This is a great neighborhood for cheap ethnic food. We love Beale Street Cafe for cajun food, John's Tex Mex for burritos and vegan food, Tap and Mallet for the best beer selection in town, Highland Park Diner, India House, and Ming's for awesome noodles. The Cinema shows a double feature for $5 every night and the bar Lux has a variety of special events like PB&J sandwiches paired with PBR.
Hampton Inn: This is on Ridge Road, a crappy commercial district in our town, Irondequoit. Skip Ridge, unless you're really into Rite Aids or car dealerships.
But there's one exception - Monte Alban is our favorite Mexican place and it does happen to be on Ridge. Turn left out of the hotel - it's on the left side of the street. Friday nights there's a band and their margaritas are ENORMOUS and cheap. The food is awesome (and again, cheap!) as well.
The best part of Irondequoit is its proximity to the lake. You can play miniature golf at the nation's first golf course, go swimming at Durand Eastman Park, stroll on the board walk at Charlotte (pronounced shar-LOT) and have an Abbott's custard, or drink some beer on the beach or at the marina.
Other restaurant recommendations in Irondequoit include Mr. Dominic's ($$) a total red sauce Italian place, Churi's ($), our favorite Thai place in the world, and modern lakeside dining and cocktails at Pier 45 ($$$ - but remember, three dollar signs in Rochester still isn't all that much). All three are by the lake, all three are good choices.
If you have any questions, drop us a line - we hope you enjoy Rochester!