Houseboating the Erie Canal – Day 6

We were up early and ready to get on our way to Rochester for our sixth day houseboating the Erie Canal.  Not only were we excited to have a little change of scenery with a quick jaunt off the Erie Canal and up the Genesee River, but it was also our third wedding anniversary and we were ready to do some celebrating!

Since Brockport has a roaming operator for their two lift bridges, the visitor center requests that you don’t depart the dock until you’ve radioed the bridge operator and are given permission to depart.  Once we were given the all clear, Mike got us off the dock, and I made us breakfast sandwiches while underway.  And before we knew it, we were making a 90-degree turn to the left and heading north on the Genesee River!

We didn’t find there to be much current on the Genesee River, which is actually fairly wide.  However, there is a channel you must travel within (marked with buoys) that is quite narrow in comparison to the river itself and there are a lot of twists and turns, so you’ll want to pay attention as you work your way up the river.  Also, just outside of the channel (and very close to it in some cases) there were all these old, dead trees that looked like they could be several hundred years old (which I’m sure they’re not, but they were really dead and dried out–almost like what you’d expect to see in a petrified forest).  I suspect that if you ventured too far outside the marked channel you may find yourself getting stuck on one of these trees lurking beneath the water! So definitely don’t do that.  

We were heading to Cornhill Landing near downtown Rochester, which is only about three miles from the Erie Canal, so it’s a short trip up the river.  It was a beautiful trip, though, because you pass by several pretty little parks, a university rowing center, and soon you start to see the city’s skyline. It was suggested in the book Mid-Lakes sent to us that we call Cornhill Landing in advance to ensure there would be space for us to dock.  We had called the night before and were assured it would be no problem as no one was currently staying there. We were also delighted to learn that there is no fee if you’re staying for less than 24 hours!  

As you approach Cornhill Landing, you’ll see a floating orange boundary across the river, and you’ll definitely want to stay behind that (unless you have a different kind of adventure in mind) because on the other side of the boundary is a dam!  If your trip is like ours, you’ll come into Cornhill Landing with your choice of where to tie up.  We picked what looked to be a low-traffic area (more on that later), got settled in, and got ready to hit the town.

Canalboat Canadice Tied Up in Rochester, NY
Canadice, tied up in Rochester, NY

Cornhill Landing is on the west side of the river and most of what we planned to do was on the east side, so we decided to walk up the west side to the High Falls and then cross the bridge up there to do our exploring.  The High Falls are only about a twenty-minute walk from Cornhill Landing, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover how beautiful  Rochester is! Honestly, I didn’t really know anything about the city or what to expect, and I don’t know anything about architecture, but I DO know that there are some fantastic, beautiful old buildings in this city. I’d love to be able to go back sometime when we have extra time and can learn more about the city’s history.

But for today, we were too tired from our week on the water for history lessons, and we were ready for some fun!  We started to walk across the bridge to get a view of the High Falls and came across a bunch of people setting up for an event on the bridge.  It was called Dinner on the Bridge, a fundraising event for an organization called Greentopia. They had all these beautiful wooden tables with cute centerpieces and fresh flowers set out.  It looked like it was going to be a lovely event in a super unique setting, and it was quite a treat to catch them doing their setup.

Dinner on the Bridge table with High Falls in the background.
Dinner on the Bridge table with High Falls in the background.

After crossing the bridge, we found ourselves, conveniently, right outside the Genesee Brewery.  The place is huge! We headed to the taproom in the back of the first floor and bought a couple flights of their craft beers.  Neither of us had ever really seen any other Genesee beers other than their cream ale, so it was fun to get to try some of their small-batch stuff that you’re not going to find elsewhere.  Everything was pretty good, though I lean to stouts and porters and they didn’t have anything along those lines, which was a bummer. As it turns out, they also do a free tour, so we stuck around for that. (Pro tip: You need to be wearing closed-toed shoes if you want to go onto the floor with the tanks).  The tour is only of their craft-brewing facility, but while you’re in the taproom, you can actually watch closed-circuit tv of their large-scale brewery, which is in the building next door. There’s also a brewpub upstairs with outdoor seating if you want to settle in for a while and have some lunch.

Genesee Brewery t-shirts and hats
Genesee swag anyone?

When we had our fill of Genesee’s beers, we decided to move on to another brewery and sample theirs!  We stopped into a place called Fifth Frame Brewery, which was only about a 5-10 minute walk from Genesee.  It’s also a coffee shop that serves breakfast sandwiches and burgers if you need a snack. They don’t do flights, but they do have small glasses for a couple bucks if you want to make your own flight, which is what we did. We laughed while we were there because some of their beers have very clever names, which seems to be a thing in the craft beer world.  We wondered if it’s possible to be successful as a craft brewery if you don’t have catchy beer names?

We watched one of the employees beating some homemade bread dough into submission in the open kitchen, and when we smelled and saw the fresh rolls we started to get very hungry.  But we weren’t eating here because we had plans for dinner already at none other than Dinosaur BBQ!  And that’s where we headed next.

Dinosaur isn’t new to us since we have a couple in NYC, but we both love it anyway.  They have happy hour until seven, with discounted drinks and appetizers, so we made sure to get there in time for that.  As always, everything was delicious! Their deviled eggs are some of the best I’ve ever had, as is their macaroni and cheese–both of which have a bit of cayenne on top to give them a touch of heat.  Mike loves the wings, which are grilled and have a hint of smoke to them. I always get their tres ninos platter, which is a sampler of pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. YUM. And since we didn’t yet hate ourselves quite enough, we decided to add dessert on top of everything.  Their peanut butter pie is sooooo good.

After dinner, we strolled across the bridge and back over to Cornhill Landing to buy some ice and head back to the boat.  As we approached our boat, we noticed a bunch of people sitting on the bow. Drinking wine! We were ready to go over and yell at them to get off…only to discover…it wasn’t our boat!  We had thought we were further south on the wall, but nope. Not our boat! All the Mid-Lakes boats do look alike, so it’s probably a good idea to double-check the name of the boat before getting on board.  Or yelling at strangers.  Fortunately, we figured it out before embarrassing ourselves and got onto our own boat to settle in for the evening.  

The Court Street Dam in Rochester, NY
The Court Street Dam in Rochester, NY

We enjoyed sitting on the screened-in bow and watching night fall on Rochester.  It was beautiful! Several of the buildings had lights that changed colors and we could hear live music from off in the distance.  We weren’t sure if the music was coming from Dinosaur or from further away where the Dinner on the Bridge was taking place.  Eventually, tired from another excellent day in our houseboating journey, (this time NOT on the Erie Canal!) we said goodnight to Day 6.

Wait, no, we didn’t!  So, we thought we had picked a good spot along the wall in Cornhill Landing that wouldn’t have a lot of people hanging out and walking by, but as it turns out, we were right next to a bench where a group of people sat and talked.  Very loudly. For a couple hours. They did finally go away and we were able to fall asleep, but choose your spot wisely if you stay at Cornhill Landing and try to keep away from areas where folks may want to congregate.

We did need to rest up, too, because the next day we were heading to Fairport, NY for our last full day on the Erie Canal!

Nighttime in Rochester, NY
The view of downtown Rochester from where our boat was docked in Cornhill Landing.

For more in the Erie Canal Houseboating series:


Thursday – Day 6

8:00 am Showers and Breakfast

9:00 am Head northeast towards Rochester (4-5 hours)

    • Pass through/by:
      • Brockport – Park Ave Lift Bridge (mile 278.76) – call the bridge operator before you leave the dock in Brockport, as there is a single operator for both Brockport lift bridges
      • Washington Street Lift Bridge (mile 274.21) – single operator for this and the Union St. lift bridge in Spencerport
      • Adams Basin – free dock east of the lift bridge on the south wall (mile 273.3)
      • Spencerport – Union St. Lift Bridge (mile 271.28)
      • Greece Canal Park (mile 267.95)
      • Henpeck Park  (mile 267.59) – no services but there is a free dock on the north bank

12:30 pm Turn left an head north on the Genesee River (mile 260.55)

1:00 pm Tie up in Rochester at Cornhill Landing (3 miles north of mile 260.55)

  • Cornhill Landing has shore power and water, and there is no fee for docking less than 24 hours. It is recommended that you call in advance to inquire about space: 585-325-7116. We didn’t have any issues finding somewhere to tie up, but we were told that they were completely full on the 4th of July so if there are other big events in Rochester when you’re in town, space could become an issue.

2:00 pm Explore town

  • *High Falls: About a 25-minute walk from Cornhill Landing. There is a museum and visitor center, and you get a lovely view of the falls from a pedestrian bridge.
  • *Genesee Brewery: Right across the river from the High Falls visitor center.  Restaurant and taproom with flights of their craft beer. Free tour available!
  • *Fifth Frame Brewery: Craft beer, coffee, and breakfast sandwiches/burgers
  • Scotland Yard Pub: On the same block as Fifth Frame; has a pool table!

6:30 pm Happy hour and dinner 

  • *Dinosaur BBQ:  BBQ restaurant with live music. Just across the bridge from Corn Hill Landing; happy hour goes until 7 pm

Mileage – Brockport 278.85 to Rochester 260.55 (+3N) = 21.3 miles, 3 lift bridges, 0 locks

*Denotes places we actually went to ourselves.

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