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Nightlife in Rochester, New York

author image Zora Hughes
Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.
Nightlife in Rochester, New York
Night-time skyline view of Rochester New York. Photo Credit photoquest7/iStock/Getty Images

Rochester is a major center of culture and entertainment in western New York. The third largest city in the state, Rochester is a gateway to Lake Ontario, attracting visitors who want both big-city thrills and easy access to one of the five Great Lakes. Attractions such as the Seneca Park Zoo, and the Rochester Museum & Science Center keep visitors busy during the day, but the city really shines in its nightlife offerings, including a plethora of live music venues, hip yet laid-back bars, and impressive theater and art offerings.

Dance and Live Music

For those who want to dance the night away, check out the One Nightclub and Ultra Lounge downtown. This multilevel club includes two dance floors, and features a rotating stream of local and national DJs spinning house, hip-hop and electronic. The club also features three bars, a heated deck and a separate upscale lounge area. If you want to hear some local live bands, The Skylark Lounge is a casual restaurant and bar known for the wide variety of local bands that perform almost nightly on its stage. It features a simple dining menu consisting of meatballs and sides. Water Street Music Hall is Rochester's premier live music venue, known to bring in a mix of local bands and national acts on the rise. The 7,000-square-foot venue features an 80-foot bar and a smaller club space for more intimate performances.

Bars with Games

For a night of fun and friendly competition, Lux Lounge offers an eclectic bar experience complete with a variety of board games, a pool table and a spacious outdoor area with a fire pit. The bar also has a different themed event nightly, including dance contests, trivia nights, and even an arts and craft night. Another laid-back bar known for games, Marshall Street Bar offers corn hole, a pool table and a pinball machine. It also features giant projection screens to watch sports. Also check out Scotland Yard Pub, a British-style pub that hosts a weekly pub quiz on Wednesdays and karaoke on Friday nights.

Laid-Back Entertainment

Head to Rochester's only independent movie theater, the Little Theater, to see independent films as well as foreign movies. It also regularly hosts art events and displays artwork from area artists. A small cafe features nightly live bands. For a good laugh, visit The Comedy Club, a venue that brings in the top national comics from across the country. The stand-up comedy club includes a bar with a mechanical bull and regular karaoke events. Go bowling in a cool environment at L&M Lanes, which features two bowling alleys, one on top of the other, each with six vintage real wood lanes. The bowling alley's bar area is also known for its hot wings and Buffalo garlic sauce.

Arts and Culture

For an upscale evening out, get dressed up and head to the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre to hear the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra perform. The orchestra performs both classical masterpieces and popular, contemporary music. See a musical performance at the historic Rochester Opera House, which features Broadway musicals, local theater productions and local dance troupes. The Rochester City Ballet has performances nearly year-round, performing primarily at the Nazareth College Arts Center. If you will be in town on the first Friday of the month, Rochester's art galleries have a monthly First Friday Gallery Night where all the galleries are open late, offering light cocktails and debuting new work.

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