Day trip: Syracuse

day trip syracuse composite

By Julie Madsen

When you think Syracuse your thoughts probably shift towards collegiate sports, or the image of a snowbound post-industrial city.

But Syracuse is reinventing itself and has a lot to offer. The drive from Albany is a little more than two hours on I-90, so why don't you see what's going on there for yourself?

Here are a few ideas to get you started...



Funk 'N Waffles
307-313 S Clinton St., Syracuse, NY 13202
Funk 'N Waffles opened in a basement space near the Syracuse University campus in 2007, mixing waffles with live music. The menu includes sweet and savory waffles with names like "Everyday People" (a buttermilk waffle with syrup), "Kind of Blue" (a buckwheat waffle with blueberries), "James Brownie" (brownie waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce), the "Bootsy Brunch" (bacon-stuffed waffle with eggs and cheddar), and the "Falafel Waffle" (topped with Israeli salad and tahini). You might have seen the Diners Drive-Ins and Dives episode in which Guy Fieri tried out the "Jive Turkey" -- stuffing, smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy on a waffle.

Funk 'N Waffles opened a second location downtown last year (313 S Clinton St, Syracuse, NY 13202). If you hit up the original, you can take a short walk over to check out the SU campus. The downtown location will have you in a prime spot for what's next...

Check out a park


Onondaga Creekwalk
310 W Jefferson St. Syracuse, NY
Armory Square is a trendy downtown neighborhood bustling with shops, restaurants, and things to do. It's a great place to walk around on foot and explore. A structured way of exploring the city is to take the Onondaga Creekwalk. The path begins right in Armory Square and ends 2.5 miles later at Onondaga Lake. During the walk you will traverse different neighborhoods, see unique street art and architecture, and read informative panels about the history of Syracuse. The trail follows the scenic Onondaga Creek for a good duration, hence the name. It is an easy path to follow, a painted yellow line runs through the city and there are many signs to guide you along. Just remember, if you walk 2.5 miles out, you'll have another 2.5 miles back to where you started!

Onondaga Lake Park
6790 Onondaga Lake Pkwy, Liverpool, NY 13088
Onondaga Lake extends from the northwest corner of the city of Syracuse and is more than four miles long. Dubbed the "Central Park of Central New York," Onondaga Lake Park is a scenic spot to take in some lakeshore views. The park has different trails for walkers and bikers, a skate park, shuffleboard, and a multitude of other outdoor options.

The park also contains the Salt Museum if you want to delve deeper into the city's history, which for a long time included salt production along in the area around Onondaga Lake. (Syracuse's nickname is "The Salt City," and one of the regional food specialities is salt potatoes.)


day trip syracuse heids flickr greg morgan cc
photo: Flickr user Greg Morgan (CC BY 2.0)

305 Oswego St Liverpool, NY 13088
Open since 1917 Heid's drive-in is an institution in Central New York. The menu is simple, and they're known best for their hotdogs. It's located right across the street from Onondaga Lake Park, a great place to get a bite before or after visiting the park.

The Arts


Loch West Monster
West Fayette and Walton streets, Syracuse
If you take the Onondaga Creekwalk you're bound to run into this beast, but if not be sure to drive by and check out this neat art installation anyway!


Lipe Art Park
W Fayette St, Syracuse, NY 13204 Between S Geddes St & Seneca St
The Lipe Art Park was once an abandoned train yard. It won't take you long to see all of the sculptures in park, but it's worth a visit to see the unique colorful sight in this industrial neighborhood.

The Everson Museum of Art
401 Harrison St, Syracuse, NY 13202
The Everson Museum of Art includes a range of pieces from American artists in a building designed by I.M. Pei. (The architect also designed the original Newhouse School building on the Syracuse University campus.) One of the things that's a bit different about the Everson: It has one of the largest collections of ceramics in the nation.

A bit of History

If you haven't had your fix with the information about the city on the Onondaga Creek Walk and the Salt Museum, don't fear! There's more where that came from.

Erie Canal Museum
318 Erie Boulevard East Syracuse, NY 13202
The Erie Canal played a large role in the growth of Syracuse's economy -- it once ran right through the city's downtown. The Erie Canal Museum examines the history of this inland waterway transportation system from its prime through its decline.


Here are two ideas for dinner before you head back home...

day trip syracuse evas flickr rachaelvoorhees cc
photo: Flickr user rachaelvoorhees (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Eva's European Sweets
1305 Milton Ave, Syracuse, NY 13204
Delicious Polish cuisine where everything is handmade and served up in a cozy atmosphere. The pierogi are a must, but there are other interesting traditional options as well. The Placki Hungarian Style meal was a memorable one: potato pancakes topped with ground beef-tomato sauce, peppers, onions, and sour cream. Try a beer with your meal in the Polish fashion by adding a bit of raspberry syrup -- they have a great selection to choose from. Don't skip dessert, there's a reason this restaurant is called Eva European Sweets!

311 S. Franklin St., Syracuse, NY 13202
Pastabilities is a longtime Syracuse area favorite, and a staple of the Armory Square neighborhood. Try the signature Spicy Hot Tomato Oil with the homemade pasta. The restaurant also has a bakery across the street (open during the day) that sells bread and other baked goods, as well at that tomato oil.

Julie has got the travel-bug. Whether it's day trips, weekend getaways, or wandering around the world -- she's always up to something. Read more about her adventures at


Wow Julie looks like a good time in Syracuse. Maybe that turkey with mashed potatoes on a waffle, lol.

Wow Julie that mashed potatoes and turkey with all the trimmings on a waffle at Funk n Waffles and all the great places to visit in Syracuse look like a day of fun.

You went to Syracuse and didn't go to Tully's or Dinosaur BBQ!? Anyways, take a day trip to Utica one day too. Shorter drive than Syracuse, with some INCREDIBLE food and also an Upstate city trying to revitalize itself!

Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville (outside Syracuse) is really worth exploring. While traveling through Syracuse, I always make a point of stopping there. Both lakes in the park create a very serene and other-worldly experience. There are a lot of great hiking trails, too.

@ Jay: Utica, huh? I'm interested in hearing what there is to do and see in Utica. I've heard the tour of the brewery is quite cool...

@ Grandmastergus: Ya, I grew up in Utica so I'm slightly biased. There is just really good food in the area, a pretty nice (and always getting better) zoo, you can shoot out to Turning Stone easily. I guess now that I think about it, other than Saranac Thursdays and other events throughout the year, there isn't really many things to do per se, but I have a lot of friends in the area still so it's fun to just hang out with them and go to various restaurants and bars.

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