Syracuse, located in Upstate New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes Region is one of the most beautifully preserved cities. It is home to many historic sites and restored buildings.
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There are many things to do in Syracuse, including shopping, eating, visiting museums, sightseeing, enjoying nature in parks and seeing a game.
While many of the major attractions can be found downtown, Destiny USA is just a short distance away. It is the fifth-largest shopping center in the United States. You can drive thirty minutes from Syracuse to reach the charming village of Skaneateles. This is a popular summer getaway for the wealthy and famous.
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1. Explore Downtown Syracuse
There are many beautiful, old Neoclassical and Gothic buildings in downtown Syracuse. Many of these have been beautifully restored. Take a walk among these architectural wonders and think about what it would have been like 100 years ago when there was no asphalt.
It may seem difficult to believe, but the Erie Canal once ran through downtown along Canal Street. The Erie Canal Museum is a free museum that teaches you more about the history of the city. There are photos of the area during canal days.
The city’s center is home to some of the most popular restaurants, shops, hotels, and bars. This area is compact and easy to navigate, with nice public squares. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon exploring the sights and taking in some of the local attractions.
Parking downtown is simple and affordable at the multi-level Warren Parking Garage located at 345 South Warren Street. Parking on the street is also possible.
2. The Erie Canal Museum is open to the public
This fascinating museum is one of Syracuse’s free attractions. It traces the development of the canal, which runs from Buffalo to Albany. The canal, which dates back to 1825, was one of the first major projects in America. It cost more than seven million dollars (roughly 115 million today).
Engaging exhibits explain how the canal was constructed over eight years. Historical photos show Syracuse with canals. Today, you’ll find paved streets. The museum’s most notable feature is its 1850 weighlock, which you can tour. It also has a replica canal boat.
A portion of the museum building was built on the remains of the original canal. Another section contains memorabilia, as well as original items that date back to the construction and operation of the canal. There are also exhibits about Syracuse’s history and an interesting exhibit about Elizabeth Cotton, who is best known for her American folk songs, such as Freight Train.
Address: 318 Erie Boulevard East, Syracuse, New York
Official site: https://eriecanalmuseum.org
3. Museum of Science and Technology (MOST).
The Museum of Science and Technology is located in downtown and is housed within a historic building. There are many exciting exhibits and activities at the facility. There are many permanent exhibits that appeal to both children and adults. These include the Science Playhouse, Earth Science Discovery Cave and Lockheed Martin Flight & Space.
Toothpick World is located on the second floor. It has two Guinness World Records including the largest and tallest toothpick structures. Toothpicks were used to create the tallest buildings around the globe at a ratio of 1:164.
It also has impressive temporary exhibits that keep things interesting. The museum is also home to a planetarium, an IMAX theater and the most recent widescreen features.
Address: 500 S. Franklin Street, Syracuse, New York
Official site: www.most.org
4. Syracuse is a great place to eat
There are many great restaurants in downtown Syracuse that cater to all tastes. For a different take on breakfast, try Funk & Waffles. Or indulge your sweet tooth with a donut from Glazed & Confused.
Modern Malt is a fun option for lunch with a mid-century modern flair. It offers a variety of delicious meals and milkshakes, all served with the traditional metal cup.
Pastabilities is a vibrant Italian restaurant that offers a night out and a taste for history. It’s located in a 19th-century restored building. You’ll find the best fresh pasta in the city here.
5. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has animals
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo, located in Burnet Park, is a 43-acre facility that has both indoor and outdoor exhibits. With plenty of views from behind glass walls, the indoor exhibits make it a great choice for rainy or cold days. As you enter the main lobby, the indoor exhibits will be to your left. They include meerkats and lions as well as any other special attractions that the zoo might have.
A trail runs outside, past outdoor enclosures. You’ll find penguins splashing in large, above-water pools if you follow the trail past Primate Park.
The trail also features wolves, buffalos, camels and mountain goats as well as tigers (including one that might surprise you), elephants and bears, giant Steller’s Sea Eagles and many other interesting animals.
The zoo houses tigers as well as elephants. You can view them in either indoor or outdoor spaces. The petting zoo with domesticated animals such as sheep and goats is also very popular.
Address: One Conservation Places, Syracuse, New York
Official site: www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org
6. Shop at Destiny USA
Destiny USA, a huge shopping and entertainment complex is located in the Inner Harbor. This mall is the fifth largest in America and attracts more than 25 million people annually. Destiny USA is the perfect place to have fun with your family or shop for serious merchandise.
There are three sections to the facility: a traditional mall, with upmarket and mid-priced stores; an outlet mall featuring famous brands; an entertainment area with restaurants and a comedy club; and an adventure area, complete with an indoor go kart race track and ropewalk suspended high above lower floors.
Address: 9090 Destiny USA Drive Syracuse, New York
Official site: www.destinyusa.com
7. Green Lakes State Park
Green Lakes State Park is a short drive from Syracuse, and it’s another great outdoor treasure. Two spectacular glacial lakes are featured in this large park, which is known for its unique blue-green color. Round Lake is a designated National Natural Landmark. On hot days, large crowds flock to the beaches. You can rent a boat or canoe in the park. However, outside watercraft are not permitted on the lakes.
Green Lake and Round Lake are surrounded by rolling hills that have old growth forests. A 10-mile trail runs along the shores and through forest. Wildlife spotting is common. Robert Trent Jones designed the 18-hole course. The historic Erie Canal trail, which runs for miles, can be found across the street.
A number of lovely picnic areas are located on a ridge with views to the water. A campground offers seven cabins and 142 campsites for a longer stay.
Address: 7900 Green Lakes Road Fayetteville (New York)
8. A day trip to Skaneateles
The unique town of Skaneateles, which is only 30 minutes from Syracuse’s downtown, is located on Skaneateles Lake. It has a long history as the summer home of the wealthy and famous. The shoreline is lined with imposing mansions that command stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the water.
You will find small shops and restaurants located in historic buildings from the 18th century in the charming downtown. Take a stroll down the main street, then head out to the pier. It is possible to spot a movie star, or an athlete.
9. Stroll around Clinton Square
Clinton Square, located in downtown Syracuse, is a beautiful public park that’s known for its fountains and ice-skating rinks. DeWitt Clinton was the one who named the square. The canal actually ran through the middle of town, and then through the square until 1925.
Clinton Square is backed up by several impressive 19th-century structures, including the Gridley Building, the Clinton Exchange and the Syracuse Savings Bank. The Soldiers’ and Sailors Monument is also located in Clinton Square. Each year, the city transforms a huge Norway Spruce tree into its Christmas tree after Thanksgiving.
10. Landmark Theatre presents a show
Since 1928, this iconic old gem has been the heartbeat of Syracuse’s performance arts. The theater’s intricate and elegant design retains its classic, but somewhat faded, elegance. Famous performers have graced the theater’s stage over the years, including Jerry Seinfeld and the most recent Broadway shows.
The theater has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is about to enter its next phase. In 2022, a new replica of the original marquee is being built. The new marquee will feature brighter lights as well as high-resolution video monitors. The wonderful old seats inside will be replaced by new, modern versions that retain the historic look and feel.