25 Best Things to Do in Syracuse, NY
The central NY city of Syracuse is home to a vibrant history, a beautiful lake, and some of the highest snowfall rates in the country. But, the cold aside, Syracuse has a lot else to offer visitors. There’s the original Dinosaur BBQ, a restaurant which has taken Upstate New York by storm with its delicious food and fun atmosphere, and Freedom of Espresso, a coffee shop that uses locally roasted bean and which local Syracusans swear by. Historically, Syracuse is home to the Erie Canal Museum, which commemorates the story of the statewide waterway, and the Skanonh Great Law of Peace Center, which brings alive the traditions and culture of the Native Americans from the region. Photo: jiawangkun/Fotolia
»Erie Canal Museum
The Erie Canal, the historic waterway that stretches from Albany, NY, to Buffalo, NY, was first completed in 1825, and stretches 363 miles across the state. When it was built, it was an integral waterway for the transportation of goods between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes Region. The locks and waterways of the canal, and all the lateral canals that sprung from it, are present throughout New York State, and the storied history of this scenic canal is told through the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. Visitors to the museum can learn about its past and its present impact on trade, New York State, and more. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10am until 5pm and on Sundays from 10am until 3pm.
Contact: 318 Erie Blvd E, Syracuse, NY 13202, Phone: 315-471-0593
Photo: Erie Canal Museum
»Everson Museum of Art
This contemporary building in downtown Syracuse holds within its walls an impressive collection of American art. It was the first museum to devote itself solely to American art and artists, and its collection of sculptures, paintings, video, ceramics, graphics, and photographs contains over 11,000 unique works on permanent display. There are also a wide variety of seasonal and temporary exhibitions which the museum hosts, and which rotate on a seasonal basis. The museum, which is open Wednesday through Sunday, offers pay-as-you-wish admission every Wednesday, free admission on the third Thursday of every month, and several other free and family days throughout the year.
Contact: 401 Harrison St, Syracuse, NY 13202, Phone: 315-474-6064
Photo: Everson Museum of Art
The Stickley Furniture Company was founded by the five Stickley brothers over a century ago in Binghamton, New York. In the early 20th century, their Mission Oak designs, excellent construction, and high-quality woods became very popular, especially because their furniture was made for being used, not as a decoration in a stuffy parlor. The Stickley Museum, located in Fayetteville, honors the work and the legacy of the Stickley brothers, with historical furniture on display along with information about its significance. The Stickley Museum is open on Tuesdays from 11:30am until 5pm, and Saturdays from 10am until 5pm.
Contact: 300 Orchard St, Fayetteville, NY 13066, Phone: 315-637-2278
Photo: Stickley Museum
»Rosamond Gifford Zoo
This 43-acre zoo is a perfect destination for families and animal lovers, and within its bounds are animals from all over the world, including elephants, penguins, exotic birds, and lions. There are more than 700 animals at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and visitors can see them in a number of educational environments. From the nocturnal animals in the Adaptation exhibits to the reptiles, fish, and amphibians in USS Antiquities, the zoo has plenty to keep everyone busy. Outside, the scenic Wildlife Trail will lead visitors past gray wolves, tigers, snow leopards, and more.
Contact: 1 Conservation Pl, Syracuse, NY 13204, Phone: 315-435-8511
The first instances of salty, briny springs being reported in Syracuse came from Jesuit missionaries in 1654, and soon after, the city of Syracuse was founded. Salt production in the region grew fast, and Syracuse supplied most of the salt used in the entire United States for most of the 19th century. Even today, Syracuse is sometimes referred to as the Salt City, and the Salt Museum in the neighboring town of Liverpool is in the business of explaining why. Visitors to the Salt Museum can view exhibits and artifacts from the salt industry while learning about its history and impact on the region.
Contact: 106 Lake Dr, Liverpool, NY 13088, Phone: 315-453-6715
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is a staple in Central and Western New York State, known for the best BBQ north of the Mason-Dixon line and, as some would claim, in the entire country. The restaurant has expanded all over the region, but this location in Syracuse is the original and has been serving delicious food to the community since 1988. Originally a biker bar, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is now a thriving restaurant that boasts fresh, homemade, delicious ingredients and great drinks, and even hosts a music venue that offers live blues music to round out the full dining experience.
Contact: 246 W Willow St, Syracuse, NY 13202, Phone: 315-476-4937
»Empire Brewing Co
This award-winning brewery has a farm in the nearby town of Cazenovia, NY, and a fully operational brewery and brewpub in the city of Syracuse. The casual, laidback atmosphere of the brewpub, with its brick interior, comfortable seating, and the presence of the massive copper tanks where the beer is brewed, is a great place to sit back and hang out while enjoying a Slo Mo IPA, Skinny Atlas Light, or East Coast Amber Ale. The brewpub also serves a wide variety of delicious food, much of which is locally sourced from the brewery’s farm and other local producers.
Contact: Brewpub: 120 Walton Street, Syracuse NY 13210, Farm Brewery: 33 Rippleton Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035
Photo: Empire Brewing Co
»Museum of Intrigue
The Museum of Intrigue is more than just a museum – it’s an entirely immersive experience for guests of all ages. First, guests choose a story, like Murder at the Museum or The Treasure of Captain Williams. With the help of actors, clues, and interactive exhibits, visitors will then roam the museum, keeping their eyes peeled at every turn. Whether it’s planning a heist to steal valuable artifacts from the museum’s collections or solving the mystery of a mysterious tomb that is terrorizing the museum staff, guests and groups of all ages and sizes will love what the Museum of Intrigue has to offer.
Contact: 306 Hiawatha Boulevard M302, Syracuse, NY 13290, Phone: 855-653-7227
Photo: Museum of Intrigue
»Museum of Science & Technology
At the Milton J Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, visitors of all ages can explore interactive exhibits to learn about geology, outer space, technology, paleontology, and much more. In the Link Flight Trainer, visitors can learn about the history of aviation and the science behind basic flight, while in the Rothschild Apothecary Shop, they’ll see a realistic reproduction of a 1900s pharmacy. There is also a planetarium for stargazing and an IMAX theater, which screens a number of educational and fascinating documentaries and programs related to the fields of science and technology.
Contact: 500 S Franklin St, Syracuse, NY 13202, Phone: 315-425-9068
Photo: Museum of Science & Technology
»Onondaga Historical Association
The history of Onondaga County is on display at the Onondaga Historical Association, where visitors can wander the exhibits to learn about the region throughout the ages. From industry in the Syracuse region to fashion during the early 20th century to life in Onondaga County during World War II, the Historical Association contains a wide array of both temporary and permanent exhibits for people to enjoy. The museum, located downtown, is free to the public and open Wednesday to Friday from 10am until 4pm, and on weekends from 11am until 4pm. There are also a number of exhibits from the OHA on display within the city of Syracuse, and a wander through the city might reveal some fascinating history.
Contact: 321 Montgomery St, Syracuse, NY 13202, Phone: 315-428-1864
Photo: Onondaga Historical Association
»Onondaga Lake Park
Onondaga Lake Park is a lovely green space that extends for about 7.5 miles along the shores of the lake, just west of the Syracuse city limits. There are four beautiful trails in the park, which are great for taking a stroll, a bike ride, or a walk with the dog. At the Griffon Visitor Center in the park, visitors will find volleyball, bocce, and shuffleboard courts as well as an equipment rental center where people can rent a bicycle for use. From the fishing pier, would-be fishermen can try their luck at landing one of the pike, bass, or catfish within the waters of Onondaga Lake, and at the picnic shelters, families or groups of friends can enjoy a barbecue or party.
Contact: 106 Lake Dr, Liverpool, NY 13088, Phone: 315-453-6712
»Niagara Mohawk Building
The Niagara Mohawk Building, which was built in 1932, is an art deco-style building that exemplifies that period of architecture in a truly exquisite way. Built to be the main headquarters of the Niagara Hudson Electric Company, the Niagara Mohawk Building has many light features incorporated into its structure, and at night the building lights up in a variety of styles and colors, especially along its tall main spire, fully encompassing the role its creators had envisioned for it: as a “cathedral of light”. The three-story building is not as tall as some of the more famous buildings built in its style, such as the Chrysler Building in New York City, but its smaller size means that spectators can take in the entire building from across the street for a full, illuminated vision.
Contact: 300 Erie Boulevard West, Syracuse, New York
»Central New York Regional Market
The Central New York Regional Market is a huge farmers market that has been operating at the same location since 1942. During its peak summer season, the market is host to more than 400 vendors, who sell fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and more, straight from the local farms where they were grown, as well as other items like fresh-baked goods, handmade crafts, and local wines and alcohol. There are also several restaurants on the premises, where visitors can try some local fare and whet their appetites while shopping. The market is open all year round on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am until 2pm, and from May until November on Thursdays from 7am until 2pm.
Contact: 2100 Park St, Syracuse, NY 13208, Phone: 315-422-8647
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»City Market Syracuse
Each year, from May through October, the Syracuse City Market sets up shop outside the Everson Museum of Art on the second Sunday of each month. The outdoor market is a fixture in downtown Syracuse, and visitors to the city can find handmade goods like jewelry, clothing, accessories, and ceramics as well as vintage items like clothes, housewares, and furniture. On the day of the event, the City Market Syracuse opens at 10am and closes at around 4pm, and has proven itself over the years to be a perfect place to find unique gifts, quirky accessories, and fun goods for the home.
Contact: 401 Harrison St, Syracuse, NY 13202
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»Clark Reservation State Park
At the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, there was a massive glacial waterfall at the site of Clark Reservation State Park. Today, Glacier Lake is a large body of water located in the basin where the waterfall once fell. Visitors to Clark Reservation State Park will find the rocky cliff, lake, and gorge carved from the ancient waterfall as well as a number of other rocky formations and ravines. The area is also home to the largest population in the country of American hart’s tongue, a rare species of fern that is federally recognized as a threatened species.
Contact: 6105 East Seneca Turnpike Jamesville, NY 13078, Phone: 315-492-1590
Photo: Michael Gill/Fotolia
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»Freedom of Espresso
For a truly delicious cup of coffee, head to Freedom of Espresso, a Syracuse-based coffee shop with four locations in the city. The highly trained baristas at Freedom of Espresso will offer not just a delicious beverage, but a work of art, complete with unique designs in the foam of a latte. All coffee beans at this cafe are locally roasted, which ensures that customers are receiving the best quality and freshness in their drinks. A wide selection of drinks combined with a cozy, hip atmosphere makes this cafe a perfect spot to read a book, catch up with friends, or get some work done with the free Wi-Fi.
Contact: Phone: 315-461-8151
Photo: Freedom of Espresso
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At Lakeland Winery, visitors can taste a wide variety of wines made by this producer, or even try their hand at making their own. Wine tasting appointments can be booked online or by phone, and visitors will be able to try some of Lakeland’s best and most diverse vintages. By booking an appointment to make your own wine, Lakeland offers a full experience, from sampling wine to choosing a variety to even making it. Customers will receive up to 30 bottles of their homemade wine, which will be ready for pickup and consumption several months after the winemaking event.
Contact: 877 State Fair Blvd, Syracuse, NY 13209, Phone: 315-277-2675
Photo: Lakeland Winery
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»Sampling Syracuse Food Tours
On a food tour with Sampling Syracuse, guests will be treated to a guided walking tour of the city while also sampling some of the best food that Syracuse and its restaurants have to offer. Tours generally last about 3 hours and include about 2 miles of walking, so guests should be prepared to be on their feet and moving for a significant period of time. The food tours will take guests to five award-winning restaurants and cafes that Syracuse locals swear by, and while walking in between these destinations, guides will offer fun facts and historical commentary on the buildings, streets, and parts of the city that you see along the way.
Contact: Phone: 315-371-3050
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»Sknnonh Great Law of Peace Center
This cultural museum tells the history and heritage of the Haudenosaunee people, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy, a Native American collective that included five nations: the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora people. The museum focuses especially on the stories of the Onondaga Nation, which is native to the Syracuse region. The exhibits, which feature multimedia displays, paintings by Haudenosaunee people, and artifacts from history, will teach visitors about the origins, lifestyles, and cultures of the Onondaga people. The Skä•noñh Center is open Wednesday to Friday from 10am until 4pm, and on weekends from 11am until 4pm.
Contact: 6680 Onondaga Lake Pkwy, Liverpool, NY 13088, Phone: 315-453-6767
Photo: Sknnonh Great Law of Peace Center
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Skytop Quarry was once a rock quarry, but has fallen into disuse after its abandonment. Today, it is a great place to explore, and one that is often used by cyclists. Visitors to Skytop Quarry may note some unique details like the abandoned, burned husks of old cars, strange and eerie art exhibits like lines of dolls’ heads placed carefully on the edges of logs, and empty firepits where parties once took place. It’s a cool spot for photographers or lovers of spooky places, and has a number of trails for cyclists and explorers, although much of the bottom of the quarry’s pit is not easily accessible.
Contact: Jamesville, NY 13078
Photo: Olena Ilienko/Fotolia
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»Syracuse Chiefs Minor League Baseball
There’s nothing like a day at the ball game. Greasy ballpark food, a beer in an oversized plastic cup, peanuts, and giant soft pretzels are just some of the classic snacks that fans can enjoy while watching the Syracuse Chiefs, a minor league Triple A team, play a game. The Chiefs play each year from April until September at NBT Bank Stadium, a giant baseball field that seats over 11,000 fans. Guests can choose to sit in the stands or in a luxury suite during the game, and there is a wide variety of food, drinks, and merchandise available inside the ballpark for those watching the game.
Contact: 1 Tex Simone Dr, Syracuse, NY 13208, Phone: 315-474-7833
Photo: R. Roth/Fotolia
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»Syracuse Crunch Hockey
Sports fans will love watching the Syracuse Crunch play a game at the Oncenter War Memorial Arena. This arena, which can seat over 8,000 people, is home to the Crunch, an American Hockey League team that operates as a farm league for the NHL team the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hockey season generally starts in October and continues through until April. Fans watching a Crunch game will enjoy food, drinks, merchandise, and more while watching an exciting game of hockey and, as always while watching this thrilling and chilling sport, they should remember to dress warm.
Contact: 515 Montgomery St, Syracuse, NY 13202
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»Syracuse Pedal Tours
With Syracuse Pedal Tours, groups of friends, coworkers, or family can see Syracuse from an entirely unique perspective: a pedal-powered trolley that can be operated by up to 13 people. Syracuse Pedal Tours offers three ways to see the city: a brewery tour, where guests will ride from brewery to brewery and enjoy a pedal-powered pub crawl, a food tour, where they will stop at some delicious restaurants for snacks and food, and an architecture tour, where guests can sit back and learn about the city as they pedal through the streets. All tours are led by a knowledgeable guide, who will provide recommendations, information, and fun facts along the way.
Contact: 220 Herald Pl, Syracuse, NY 13202, Phone: 315-420-9640
Photo: Syracuse Pedal Tours
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»Tree of 40 Fruits
On the campus of Syracuse University, amidst the students relaxing on the quad and hurrying to their next class, there is a tree that is like no other. The Tree of 40 Fruits is an experiment in both art and science, a Frankenstein’s monster-esque plant which, during the spring and summer, grows over three dozen unique types of fruit. Cherries, plums, peaches, and almonds are just some of the perfectly edible fruits that grow on this tree. It was created by Sam Van Aken by grafting the buds of 40 species of tree onto a single plant, and was planted at Syracuse University in 2008.
Photo: Pictures news/Fotolia
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At WonderWorks, families, friends, and people of all ages and interests will find something to entertain them for hours. This amusement park focuses on edutainment through more than 100 interactive exhibits, where guests can learn and let their creativity run wild. Besides the exhibits, WonderWorks also is home to a black-lit laser tag maze arena, a ropes course, and a 4D movie theater. WonderWorks is open 7 days a week, and tickets are available for all exhibits packaged together, or separately for some attractions like laser tag or the ropes course.
Contact: 9090 Destiny USA Dr., Syracuse, NY 13204, Phone: 315-466-7700
Photo: WonderWorks Destiny
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25 Best Things to Do in Syracuse, NY
- Erie Canal Museum, Photo: Erie Canal Museum
- Everson Museum of Art, Photo: Everson Museum of Art
- Stickley Museum, Photo: Stickley Museum
- Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of tcphotography315 - Fotolia.com
- Salt Museum, Photo: Courtesy of alexa_adrian2001 - Fotolia.com
- Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Photo: Courtesy of rabbitti - Fotolia.com
- Empire Brewing Co, Photo: Empire Brewing Co
- Museum of Intrigue, Photo: Museum of Intrigue
- Museum of Science & Technology, Photo: Museum of Science & Technology
- Onondaga Historical Association, Photo: Onondaga Historical Association
- Onondaga Lake Park, Photo: Courtesy of mohitsingh1691 - Fotolia.com
- Niagara Mohawk Building, Photo: Courtesy of guppys - Fotolia.com
- Central New York Regional Market, Photo: Courtesy of adibella6370 - Fotolia.com
- City Market Syracuse, Photo: Courtesy of nito - Fotolia.com
- Clark Reservation State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Michael Gill - Fotolia.com
- Freedom of Espresso, Photo: Freedom of Espresso
- Lakeland Winery, Photo: Lakeland Winery
- Sampling Syracuse Food Tours, Photo: Courtesy of kab-vision - Fotolia.com
- Sknnonh Great Law of Peace Center, Photo: Sknnonh Great Law of Peace Center
- Skytop Quarry, Photo: Courtesy of Olena Ilienko - Fotolia.com
- Syracuse Chiefs Minor League Baseball, Photo: Courtesy of R. Roth - Fotolia.com
- Syracuse Crunch Hockey, Photo: Courtesy of johnalexandr - Fotolia.com
- Syracuse Pedal Tours, Photo: Syracuse Pedal Tours
- Tree of 40 Fruits, Photo: Courtesy of Pictures news - Fotolia.com
- WonderWorks Destiny, Photo: WonderWorks Destiny
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
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