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A Day in the South Wedge for $40

By Linh Phillips (aka Sir Rocha) | Guest Contributor — sirrochasays.com

At Citizens Bank, helping you find ways to save money is a passion of ours. We know travel can be expensive — especially when you’re exploring a city for the first time and you’re not sure where the best deals are. In our Daycation series, we asked local experts from various cities to share their recommendations for exploring their hometown on a $40 (or less!) budget.

What if you had the day off and $40 to spend in the city of Rochester, NY?

This was the exact question Citizens Bank challenged me with. We decided to partner together on this blog post to give people the answers.

Initially, this was a tough question to consider. Think about it … a daycation in Rochester with $40: the options are endless. I was looking to mix it up with both familiar and new spots, which would feel essentially like a mini-vacay. Rochester is comprised of several diverse and unique neighborhoods (East End, Park Ave, North Winton Village, Neighborhood of the Arts — the list could go on). All of them are worth spending the day and you can’t really go wrong exploring them. However, since I’m here to make your life easier, I decided to pick for you.

Verdict: the South Wedge.

This neighborhood is hands down one of my favorites. The South Wedge is a bustling, vibrant, and eclectic community filled with many gems. While it’s one of the oldest and longstanding areas, it has evolved over time and has many up-and-coming spots. I love how easy it is to access and walk everywhere. You could fit it all into one afternoon: good eats, local artwork, and imbibing delicious drinks. And that, my friends, is just what we’re going to do.

We began the tour at the Sunoco on South Clinton Avenue, withdrawing $40 from the Citizens Bank ATM.*

McCann’s Local Meats is the place to grab eats

Amount spent: $23 (Lunch for two: two sandwiches & one order of fries)

I’ve had a love affair with McCann’s Local Meats ever since they opened their doors in 2015 in the “Edge of the Wedge.” As you can likely tell, this place is for meat lovers. Kevin McCann and his wife Mo are bringing the best locally sourced and pasture-raised meats to us via their deli and café, ranging from breakfast and lunch sandwiches to Saturday brunches.

I knew that I was going to spend a good chunk of the money here, since I brought my husband Chad along and we be HUNGRY. We ended up ordering two sandwiches — the Reuben and the BBQ Brisket — and an order of beef fat fries. It was worth every single bite. I didn’t get it this time, but the Bulgogi Sammy is also unreal. If you need more convincing to go, I’ve included Exhibit A above.

I rest my case.

McCann's Local Meats is located at 739 Clinton Ave S., Rochester, NY (585-EAT-MEAT).

St. Monci & Justyn Iannucci "Rexy" Mural, 700 South Avenue, Rochester, NY

The best kind of therapy is Wall Therapy

Amount spent: $0 (It’s FREE)

Within a short walking distance from McCann’s Local Meats, you’ll stumble upon beautiful murals at the corner of Gregory St. and South Avenue. Wall Therapy is more than just murals though — it’s a vehicle for local inspiration; a means to transform our urban landscapes and build community. The best part of all is that they’re free for everyone to see and appreciate. The mural featured above is a collaboration created by local artists St. Monci & Justyn Iannucci called the “Rexy.” Architectural, colorful geometric shapes adorn this wall and it truly is a sight to admire.

Sitting adjacent to this artwork is another gorgeous mural by Case, a German graffiti artist. His artwork typically includes people or the human body and will take your breath away. If you keep walking down South Avenue, you’ll find a cozy community garden called Star Alley Park. There you’ll find more local art inspiration with the words “You’re a shining star, no matter who you are,” by our very own Shawn Dunwoody. Shawn has used his art and voice to help elevate our community, bringing hope and positivity with his inspirational art pieces across the city of Rochester.

Now you understand why the best kind of therapy is Wall Therapy.

Murals are located at 700 South Ave & 662 South Ave.

Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream is a must on any given day 

Amount spent: $7 (Large ice cream in a waffle cone)

Hedonist houses both an ice cream shop and chocolate shop right next door to each other. The owner Jennifer Posey has a “small batch” mentality and leans on using fresh, local, and natural ingredients. On a warm day like this, I told my husband he’d better get me ice cream (happy wife = happy life).

All of their waffle cones, toppings, and sauces are made in-house. Hedonist offers 8+ ice cream flavors with 4 on rotation for the week. You’ll find a mix of traditional and unique flavors like Bacon Caramel Chocolate. Hubba hubba. That day, the matcha-flavored ice cream, which is green tea ice cream, was on special and I jumped right on it. There are various sizes and I went for the big kahuna, the large size. If you’re feeling indulgent, then mix it up with your scoops. Try the Salted Caramel ice cream paired with the Chocolate sorbet, a candy bar-esque combo that you can thank me for later.

Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream is located at 672 South Ave, Rochester (585-461-2815).

Backyard vibes at the Rochester Beer Park

Amount spent: $10 (one beer & one prosecco)

Imagine this: an indoor/outdoor space that houses a variety of craft beer and wine, lawn games, and live music. Add on top of that a trailer-themed food truck/RV that you can order casual eats from. Enter: the Rochester Beer Park, newly built in summer 2018.

The food is reminiscent of what you would find if you were going over to a backyard BBQ. My preference is to visit when it’s less crowded and if you’ve got the day off, so you’ve got the whole space to yo’self. If you’re into drinking local beer, the ROC beer park has our local breweries on tap (Young Lion, 3 Heads Brewing, Lost Borough, and more).

Other locals bring their kids or ride in on their motorcycles, and are there to straight up CHILL. If I had the day off, I’d kick back with a Genesee Ruby Red Kolsch and school my husband in a game of cornhole. (Sorry, not sorry Chad.)  Don’t like beer? They have prosecco, sparkling rosé, hard cider, and other options for my wine-loving friends.

The Rochester Beer Park is located at the corner of S. Clinton Ave. & Averill Ave., 375 Averill Ave., Rochester, NY (585-685-8212)

A HUGE shout out to my friend Paul Wright (featured above) who helped capture my day through his lens & created the dopest video, and to my husband Chad for helping take photographs.

There you have it, folks! The $40 has been spent in the South Wedge neighborhood in Rochester, NY. To summarize, we grabbed lunch at McCann’s Local Meats ($23), toured through the local art & Wall Therapy (free), shared an ice cream cone from Hedonist Ice Cream ($7), and imbibed at the Rochester Beer Park with two drinks ($10). All in all, it was a day well spent, and now I’m thinking about extending this daycation.

The beauty of this challenge is that you can create your own daycation. There are so many fantastic spots worth visiting in the South Wedge that you don’t have to limit yourself to the three above. Check out the list below for more inspiration. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and keep on exploring and enjoying Rochester to the fullest!

Check out the video below, if you want the quick version to enjoy:

Thanks for reading, folks, and I highly encourage you to visit Rochester, NY!

Other South Wedge spots you should check out:

Linh Phillips is the founder & author behind Sir Rocha Says (sirrochasays.com), a local food & drink blog dedicated to helping the local community discover new experiences. Her core mission is to help others fall in love with Rochester, NY. Linh teaches others that food doesn’t have to be pretentious or limited to fine dining; it can be an approachable experience for everyone and extend across many cultures. She loves meeting new people, hearing their stories, immersing herself in new places and shining a positive light on Rochester. Since the blog’s launch, the blog has grown exponentially to 20,000+ followers on Instagram and has served as a fun way to celebrate the awesomeness of local food. She has been featured in several news publications, led food tours & social media workshops, served as a public speaker for events such as TedxTalk, and donated her time and efforts for nonprofits. Follow her food adventures on her website & social media @sirrochasays to keep up on the latest happenings in Rochester!  

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