Cultural Xplorer

How To Explore Syracuse in a Weekend

During a recent weekend trip to Syracuse with Visit Syracuse, I had the opportunity to see the city and experience some of what it had to offer.

Home to the famous Syracuse University, the city  is much more than just a college town; it has nightlife, beautiful parks, shopping, wineries, and a lot of great food.

If you happen to find yourself in or around the city of Syracuse, make sure to check out some of these things below; trust me, you won’t regret it!


Learn about Syracuse

Onondaga Historical Association, 321 Montgomery Street, Syracuse

The first stop you should make when you arrive in Syracuse is to the Onondaga Historical Association Museum.

This two-story museum provides visitors with a history of Syracuse and includes permanent exhibitions on the indigenous people of the Onondaga Nation, Syracuse’s relationship with the Underground Railroad, and a display of Syracuse China.

I found the museum to be very interesting, particularly the sections about items that were created in Syracuse as well as the large section about Syracuse’s history with slavery and the part it played in the Underground Railroad.

COST: Free (but donations are gladly accepted)


Visit Destiny, USA

Destiny USA, 9090 Destiny USA Dr, Syracuse, NY

Destiny USA is a massive shopping, dining, and entertainment center located near downtown Syracuse. The center, which boasts over 20 million visitors annually, has over 200 retailers spread out over 4 levels and is currently planning to expand!

Due to its large size, it is very possible for visitors to spend an entire weekend checking out all of the offerings that the facility has. During my trip to Syracuse, I only visited for a couple of hours, but during my short time there, I had an amazing time!


Go Explore the Parks

One of my favorite things to do when traveling to a city is to spend a couple of hours ‘escaping’ the city and connecting with nature.

In New York City, one of my favorite places to go from time to time is Central Park, a man-made oasis located in the center of Manhattan that allows me to step out of the hectic city life and dive into nature’s arms for a couple of hours.

Surrounding the city of Syracuse, you can find a number of natural parks such as the Clark Reservation State Park, Onondaga Lake Park, and Green Lakes State Park, where you can escape the city life for a few hours and become one with the world.

Clark Reservation State Park

Clark Reservation State Park, 6105 East Seneca Turnpike, Jamesville, NY

Clark Reservation State Park is often referred to as ‘a geologic wonder and a botanist’s paradise’. Named after former New York State governor Myron H. Clark, this 377 acre park located 15 minutes outside of the city of Syracuse features unique rock formations outlined by deep crevices, has diverse and rare fern species, and also has a glacial plunge pool lake that was formed from the top of a melting glacier.

One important thing to note about the rocks at this park: they very slippery so make sure you were durable shoes with non-slip bottoms, such as sneakers.

Onondaga Lake Park

Onondaga Lake Park, 6790 Onondaga Lake Pkwy, Liverpool, NY

Onondaga Lake Park is referred to as the ‘Central Park of Central New York’. Located just outside of the city of Syracuse, Onondaga Lake Park is a 7.5 mile park surrounding the scenic Onondaga Lake.

The park has four great trails which are perfect for jogging, biking, and walking. In addition to trails, the park is home to The Salt Museum, and also has picnic areas, dog parks, and a large skatepark.

During my trip to the park, I rented a 4-person surrey bike and pedaled my way down a scenic trail overlooking the lake.

Green Lakes State Park

Green Lakes State Park, 7900 Green Lakes Rd, Fayetteville, NY

Located 20 minutes outside of Syracuse is Green Lakes State Park, which is home to two of the most beautiful natural glacial lakes that I have seen in my life: Green Lake and Round Lake. The water in both of the lakes appears to have a greenish-blue hue that is caused by light rays reflecting in the clear water at a great depth and reflecting back into the human eye as a green-blue.

In addition to the two lakes, the park is also well-known for being home to the Green Lakes State Park golf course, the first golf course designed by famed gold course architect Robert Trent Jones.


What To Eat & Drink

Syracuse has a large selection of things to eat and drink. Check out my guide on What To Eat & Drink in Syracuse!


Where To Sleep: Hotel Skyler

Syracuse’s Hotel Skyler has a unique and interesting history. Repurposed not just one, but two times, the hotel first served as a Jewish synagogue and later went on to become a theater.

Today, the Platinum LEED certified hotel, which has a very serious commitment to sustainability, pays homage to its past with a beautiful floor-to-ceiling stained glass panel behind the front desk, and small stained glass panels on each of the check in desks.

In addition to loving Hotel Skyler’s commitment to going green, I really loved the bed in my room and found it hard to pull myself out of it and get dressed in the morning. I also loved that the temperature controls went to 80ºF, because I cannot stand being in cold hotel rooms.

Rooms at Hotel Skyler start at $169/night. 


FTC Disclosure: Visit Syracuse hosted me during my trip to the Syracuse, New York area. I was not financially compensated for this post and all opinions expressed in this article are my own.

Have you ever spent a weekend in Syracuse? I’d love to hear about it!