40 Things You’ll Appreciate While Visiting or Living in Syracuse

On my Facebook feed last night, two people shared a link to a Real-Estate-Made-Easy website that posted an article that claims and especially boasts in its title:

30 Things You Need To Know About Syracuse Before You Move There

Before and after you read the article, please keep in mind a few things:  some of the pictures are not Syracuse-related, we do have an awesome Polish Festival and we have a copious amount of other festivals that celebrate other cultures as well, and you definitely need a car to get around.  Our mall is the last thing on the list, because it contains all the chain restaurants and expensive stores that you’ve heard of or experienced already.  This article is similar to a form letter; it’s fit so anyone can cut-and-paste how they please; hence, the mistakes.

One of the people who posted this article disagreed with the article, and the other poster kissed the article’s metaphorical feet.  The foot kisser challenged me to write something better.  At first, this challenge was declined, but my aggravation allowed me to write out this quick post.

Let it be known that I’ve believed in Syracuse since birth, almost 31 years now, and I’m still going to believe in Syracuse when I move.  An entity cannot tell me how or when I will believe in Syracuse; believing is up to you, and it has to be from the heart.  Also, this entity had it’s one-year anniversary at an establishment that was not started in this beloved city. (Here is a hint–Detroit is the first word.)

It’s the truth that employment opportunities are being researched out of the area.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing to eventually develop high expectations for yourself and have the desire to dapple in bigger markets.  Syracuse is and will forever be my home.  I’m going to get a tattoo before my leaving, and the tattoo will be a 315.

 This post is not going to have several pictures, because those living here know exactly what I’ll be mentioning.  Secondly, those who don’t live here will develop such a curiosity that they will want to visit.  One can only hope.

Placing a number such as “30” does not do Syracuse or Central New York justice.  There is SO MUCH MORE than 30.  Look at blogs like 365 Things Syracuse or Syracuse Guru.  These are two of many blogs, entertainment websites that keep the residents and visitors informed about the activities of Syracuse.

So, here is my list.  Some of the aspects are personal, but they can be related to.   There is no particular order.

Syracuse, the Home of the 24-Second Shot Clock

40 Things You’ll Appreciate While Visiting or Moving in Syracuse

(A List of Excitement By Christopher S. Malone)

01.  Half Moon Cookies from Harrison Bakery.

02.  Giving high-fives to strangers at the Carrier Dome, those fellow patrons–like you–wearing bright orange.  Winning or losing, we’re all in this together, and we have to show our love.

03.  Sitting on a bench, staring out and across Skaneateles Lake.

04.  Syracuse University, LeMoyne College, SUNY ESF, SUNY Upstate, Onondaga Community College:  four five major colleges each in their own right.  They attract students of all ages and personalities from across the city, county, state, country, and globe.  These colleges bring people here.

05.  A roast beef sandwich that is topped with all the fixings from Clark’s Ale House.

06.  The Great New York State Fair.  Period.

07.  Hearing and seeing Ronnie Leigh, Carolyn Kelly, Joe Whiting, or any of the other several Syracuse musical greats.

08.  Snow for all the December holidays.

09.  The original delicious smell of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que while walking around the streets of the city, and you can practically smell it anywhere.

10.  Syracuse Chiefs and/or Auburn Doubledays baseball on a hot summer night.

Source:  NoExcuses Facebook Images
Clinton Square — Source: NoExcuses Facebook Images

11.  The location of geographic location of Syracuse:  about three hours from Niagara Falls, give or take an hour and a half to Rochester, two hours from Old Forge, four hours from Lake Placid, two hours from Albany and Cooperstown, and just about five hours from New York City.

12.  Finger Lakes wineries and their Rieslings in particular.

13.  The fall nights get cool enough for everyone to burn wood in their fireplaces.

14.  Stopping your car at an upside-down traffic light, because it’s the only one in the world.

15.  Finding that CD you’ve always wanted at The Sound Garden, finding it used and for only $3.99, and it’s in perfect condition.

16.  Fourth of July fireworks at the Fairgrounds

17.  The Taste of Syracuse kicks of the summer and all of the festivals.  The festivals cover nationalities, fundraisers, religions, etc., and there is a festival or two (or, yes, three) going on every weekend.   The Great New York State Fair is the grand finale of our summer celebrations.

18.  Hanging out with local coffee providers, including:  Cafe Kubal, Freedom of Espresso, Recess Coffee, Smith Houseware & Restaurant Supply, Creekside Books and Coffee, Paul de Lima.

19.  Picnics at Clark’s Reservation, Highland Forest, Pratt’s Falls, Beaver Lake, Baltimore Woods… oh, and more.

20.  Enjoying shows of all kinds, including basketball games, at The Palace Theater and The Landmark Theatre.


21.  Syracuse’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

22.  Witnessing the overall community involvement when it comes to raising money for awareness and fundraisers, i.e. St. Baldricks, Light the Night, etc.

23.  Heid’s:  where a Mixed Double (hot dog and coney in one bun) and fries go best with…

24.  Byrne Dairy Chocolate Milk

25.  Dipping into Pastabilities hot tomato oil with the restaurant’s own stretch bread.

26.  Do you like to run?  Syracuse has races galore.

27.  Hands-on science fun at the M.O.S.T., viewing art at the Everson, revisiting our history at the Erie Canal Museum and the Onondaga Historical Association, traveling back in time at The Salt Museum and St. Marie Among the Iroquois, playing along at the International Mask and Puppet Museum…

28.  The Syracuse Poster Project products that decorate Warren Street–another bind between Syracuse University and the city.

29.  Buying cheese and other imported goods from Lombardi’s.  

30.  The Candlelight Series, Pops in the Park, or any music event with symphony members.

Beak & Skiff

31.  Eva’s European Sweets, their pirogis. 

32.  Witnessing the painting of a shamrock beneath the upside-down traffic light, at midnight on St. Patrick’s Day.

33.  The photogenic nature of Franklin Square.

34.  Any night is trivia night.

35.  Fall foliage.

36.  The aesthetic value and fun of the Onondaga Creekwalk.

37.  Syracuse Dining Week(s).  

38.  Your weekly Syracuse New Times, a tangible informational guide that helps plan your weekend.

39.  Enjoying Westcott Street any time of the year.

40.  Empire Brewing Company, Middle Ages, and Double Barrel Brewing will provide your crafts for you.

***   ***   ***

baltimore woods
Baltimore Woods

There is so much left that was not mentioned, but I don’t need to write any more words.  Thanks for everything in all these years.  Ignore the haters, the coattail riders.

Let it be known:

Syracuse, I love you.

[Cue: mic drop.]

91 thoughts on “40 Things You’ll Appreciate While Visiting or Living in Syracuse

  1. I enjoyed your post! I’ve never lived there, but every time I’ve visited Syracuse I’ve felt it has a certain sense of place that’s not easy to find just anywhere – and the people I’ve met are really friendly. The area kind of reminds me of Wisconsin, where I spent a lot of time as a kid, but is prettier (and people talk similarly). The thought has crossed my mind to move there from Denver, which some might consider insane (people here in Colorado just go on and on about the big mountains, sunshine in the winter…but this is not paradise.) Anyway, thanks for sharing your insights about your hometown.

    1. Betsy –

      Thanks for stopping by, reading, enjoying, and commenting. I love feedback and stories that have been shared in the comment section.

      Syracuse is a lovely hometown to grow up in, and it’s close in proximity to “big things” — rural and urban.

      We are definitely friendly up here. Do we sound the same as Wisconsinites? I’ll have to ask a fellow improviser, he just moved there. And people, friends of mine especially, rave about Colorado. It’s definitely a place I have yet to experience. Wisconsin, too. This country — I want to see it all.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

      – Chris

      1. Yes, so many lovely places. And yes, in Wisconsin through your part of NY people talk about the same – plus in Chicago (my original home). Thanks for your comments – your blog is really interesting.

      2. Thank you so much.
        I live in Colorado but looking for want of moving back east.
        I am sensing Syacuse is going to be my next home….

    2. Betsy, what part of Wisconsin are you referring to? I’m just curious because I’ve spent all of my life in WI and am moving to Syracuse for grad school this year.

      1. I spent summers in Minocqua and have been many times to southern Wisconsin – skiing in winter; hiking, etc. around Kettle Moraine in summer; and hanging around Lake Geneva and Lake Como in the summertime and fall. I’ve also spent a bit of time in Madison. I was referring mainly to the culture of lakes…boating, fishing, swimming, and drinking beer on a dock. Not so much to the city life itself, as I haven’t spent enough time in Wisconsin cities or in Syracuse. People have a similar accent, which helps with the comparison. All the best in your move!

  2. Great stuff Chris ! Most of my family was born in Hawaii but grew up in Syracuse . Traveled all 50 states and lived in Hawaii , California , Colorado , and Alaska for extended periods of time in my life but am a HUGE fan of CNY and those that know me are well aware of this ! :>) I get how the winters can grate on your nerves but until one considers the “big picture” it’s way too easy to rag on the area though admittedly we could use a lot more job opportunities . They say “never say never” (when it comes to leaving CNY) but i feel pretty good about riding it out in the hill country south of Syracuse !

    1. Brad,

      Thank you for stopping by, reading, and commenting. I definitely appreciate your taking the time to do so, sir.

      I’m jealous that you’ve been able to travel in and visit all 50 states. That is amazing, and it’s on my list of things to accomplish in my life. I have a long way to go, unfortunately.

      Definitely ride it out! I grew up on Onondaga Hill, and I still live there. The hill country is a beautiful area (but aren’t they all?). There is plenty of things to do to beat the winter blues.

      Thanks again!

      Warm regards,


  3. 82 years in this wonderful city and you have done a wonderful job of discribing all of the great attributes. I must add that the education system is outstanding whether in the city or the suburbs, our teachers are the most hard working people,and I am not a teacher but a parent and grandparent. Thanks Cris.

    1. Patricia –

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you took the time to read through the post.

      I have to agree with you about the education systems, all the districts, city and suburbs. New York State education, schools and colleges, is recognized throughout the nation. My parents worked in the education system as assistants, many of my close friends are teachers, and I actually studied education at SUNY Oneonta; I dropped the major and graduated with an English degree.

      Teachers are undervalued for overextending themselves to educate.

      Thank you, again, Patricia.

      Warm regards,


  4. Your list is SO much better than that bland list published the other day. You delve into the niche places that make Syracuse so special, as opposed to the usual spots that anyone can find with a simple internet search. I have only lived in Syracuse about 6 years. Your list has given me a wonderful base to explore the city more!

    1. Ann –

      Thank you so much for commenting! I definitely appreciate the feedback.

      Well, welcome to Syracuse. Your tenure has been met, so I promise we won’t kick you out. (Kidding. We wouldn’t kick you out, regardless.)

      Keep exploring and keep enjoying.

      Thanks again.


  5. So while I’ve yet to even step foot in the state in which you reside, I am now making sure that Syracuse is on the top of my list when I do make it! I want to see the tattoo once the ink is dry and where are you looking to move? Inquiring minds!

    1. Oh, you have to step foot here. You’ll have a wonderful time, and you can talk to just about anyone for insight.

      The next steps are deciding what studio to get it done at. I was actually thinking of trying to hit several of them up, so I can give business to as many as I can.

      Looking to move… I wish I could move everywhere. Chicago, Seattle, Portland… they are at the top of the list. I need to do some Temp Agency shopping, however.

      1. I will step foot there someday – and I’m really looking forward to it!

        Giving studios business is a fab thing to do. Will you do your own artwork?

        It’s fun having choices to make, while seemingly daunting at the same time. You’re sure to end up in the right spot. Let me know if your moves takes you through Music City!

      2. A friend of mine is considering moving to Nashville, it is either there or back to Upstate New York. I told her Nashville would be a fun place to settle. Moving to a city with a great music scene would be clutch.

        I’ve always wanted to go there and to Memphis.

        This guy can barely draw a stick figure character to save his life, so letting someone else do the design would be appropriate. 🙂

      3. Well, I can’t wait to see the finished tattoo!

        I can’t speak about Upstate New York but I sure love Nashville. As for Memphis, it was fun to visit but once was enough for me. Of course I had to go to Graceland!

      4. Your article is great. My blood is orange so donating blood is something that I do not do. The window above Freedom of Expresso was my Dad’s office for 32 years. I will forever love Syracuse. My Bride and I moved closer to family last year and now call Doylestown , Ohio home. We lived in Chicago for fifteen years and would not go back there except to visit friends and attend church at Willow Creek Community Church. Chicago is not a place for a guy who obviously has a big heart like you seem to be. Good luck finding a new home. Best wishes!

      5. Steve –

        Thank you for commenting, sir. At least now I know someone to call if I need a blood transfusion. I’ve always known there was someone else out there with actual orange blood.

        It’s a mental torture when trying to figure out where to go, but the job market is difficult here. I hope to land somewhere “comparable.” However, it’s comforting to know Syracuse will always welcome anyone to and back from a journey.

        The next time I go to Twin Trees, I’ll eat a few slices on your behalf. You can’t eat just one… or two for that matter.

        Thanks again for stopping by and enjoying, sir.

        Best regards,


  6. Chris, this was great. I love upstate NY. Grew up going to football games at old Archbold Stadium and Manley….. Now living in South Carolina, I miss all of that except the weather. I’ll tell you, my biggest miss on your list is ALL the diversity of heritage from Irish and Polish (west end) to Italian (northside) and my overall favorite…. TWIN TREES TOO 🙂

    1. Kelly –

      Thank you for stopping by, commenting, and for sharing a story about your memories of Syracuse and Central New York. There is so much heritage, and we are lucky to have as many festivals as we do to celebrate.

      The abundance of snow can be beaten, but it can get overwhelming.

      Thanks again!



      1. Nice! Went out there the other day for a change of scenery. I grew up in the Onondaga Hill area, and I’m still in that area today.

        I was a West Genesee grad (don’t hold it against me). Haha.

  7. Great list! I have up and moved away to the midwest which pales in comparison. No half moon cookies, no lakes, no hardcore anything and NO WEGMANS!!! I miss CNY :*(

    STAND Celebrity FAN CLUB Parties before the concerts and their concert ticket give-aways! Have their chicken wings along with one of their zillion beers! They have fantastic LIVE BANDS every night! Absolutely the best on the fairgrounds!

  9. Great list! It’s hard to list everything seeing as it would go on forever! I just wanted to add The Lost Horizon to the list!

    1. Keith –

      The Lost Horizon would definitely be added. So many great shows there, and a crucial part of the Syracuse hardcore/metal scene.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.



  10. My friends in Philly do not understand my attachment to CNY. To them, a city has to have an NFL franchise to count.
    Syracuse has the best food, weather, and (obviously) basketball. Every trip back to my mom’s includes a stop at Wegman’s for Gianelli, coneys, and salt potatoes.

    1. Matt –

      You cannot go wrong with Hinerwadel’s salt potatoes. The food is definitely on the top of everyone’s lists, because the majority of the comments are food-related. Syracuse is a delicious city.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.



  11. Great list. Born and raised in Liverpool, one block from the lake.
    One thing you left out that I miss from my childhood: the hydroplanes racing and the regatta.
    I moved away 7 years ago (Liverpool -> DC -> Knoxville -> Houston), and the only thing about ‘Cuse I don’t miss is the snow. I’d seriously give anything for a trip to Heid’s and Dino (and a Wegmans).

    1. Dan –

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. This list definitely could be extended, and comments like yours–you have been the only one to mention the hydroplanes racing as of yet–adds to the authenticity of Syracuse.

      We’re lucky to have been raised in such an area.

      Thank you for your thoughts!



      1. Re: Hydroplane racing, One summer my uncle was an official for the power boat racing, we (family) were at Onondaga Lake when Sir Malcolm Campbell ran his Jet powered Hydroplane there, it was awesome ! His speed was way over 100mph. The rooster tail (wake) stretched for 1/4 mile..I was a teenager, Awesome!I’m

      2. Wayne –

        Thank you for stopping by, reading, and posting this anecdote.

        I wish I knew more about hydroplane racing, because this conversation could expand. If I’m ever in need of thoughts, I’ll light up a beacon.

        Thanks again!



  12. Columbus Bakery, Beak and Skiff, Webster’s Pond, Gannon’s, Brooklyn Pickle….the list goes on and I know you said you couldn’t name them all.

    Thank you for writing this. I have often found myself loving where I live but wondering if NY is my forever home and considered moving out of state. You have just made me realize how much I would be missing if I left here.

    1. Tammy –

      Thank you for stopping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

      Syracuse is a perfect place to stay, but if you should leave, you’re always welcomed back. Plus, Syracuse never really leaves your heart.

      Thanks again!



  13. I LOVE seeing Harrison Bakery halfmoons on the list!!! Always a stop when I go ‘home’. Don’t forget Columbus bakery bread – especially their pull-aparts fresh out of the oven. It never made it home as it was devoured in the car!

    1. Kim –

      Columbus Bakery bread is definitely a Syracuse staple. My mother has installed it in her kid’s heads that when you go to Columbus Bakery you have to buy two loaves for that reason: one is definitely not going to make it home.

      Thank you for stopping by, commenting, and sharing a favorite Syracuse aspect.



      1. Is your mom my mom? Flat loaf for the car, stretch loaf for dinner.

        Great follow up to that other list!

      2. Rhea –

        It definitely one of those necessities that you can learn by word of mouth or first hand. Picking at any loaf from Columbus Bakery seems to be an irresistible thing

        Thank you for stopping by, reading, and enjoying.



  14. Oh how I miss all of Syracuse.
    I live in boca raton now. No comparison!! Love love love
    Syracuse New York. Lived there for 44 years

  15. Love the list lived here all my life as well !! And have done or visited quite a lot if things on you list !! Don’t forget the Christmas tree lighting or the Rosemond Gifford Zoo both wonderful events and places as well !!

    1. Elaine –

      Thanks so much for stopping by and enjoying.

      The Christmas Tree lighting and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo are absolutely priceless. All the small things add up. As stated in previous comments, I could have easily hit 100, but that would have been a lot to read.

      And people say there is “nothing to do in Syracuse…” Tsk Tsk…

      Thanks again, Elaine!



    1. Bryan –

      Wegmans would make that list if it were to be extended. The Rochester-based grocery franchise has been great asset to New York State, and there is great anticipation for a long lasting future.

      I only wrote 40, and it was difficult to stop there. For writing and reading purposes, you don’t want to make it too long.

      Bryan, thank you for stopping by and commenting.


  16. This was perfect, thank you. I was born, raised, and continue to live in Syracuse. I live not far from Clinton Square, and there is nothing better than being able to walk to and from on a warm summer night, walking by the Clinton Square fountain.
    Each stage of my life shows me a new way to love this city. I’m glad someone else feels the same way.

    1. Sarah,

      Thank you for stopping by, reading, and commenting. I’m definitely appreciating you and the rest who are writing up anecdotes and reasons to love Syracuse.

      The Clinton Street fountain during a summer night is such a beautiful, calming walk. It’s a favorite spot to go and sit by before work, half coffee and read/write, and have breakfast on the steps of the statue. (By the way Today’s Special in the State Tower Building makes a dynamic breakfast sammy.)

      Thanks for again for commenting. As they say: new year, new chapter.

      Enjoy Syracuse!


      1. Chris,

        Hopefully Clark’s will make its grand return at the Wise Guys location so that newcomers can find out your #5 for themselves!

  17. LaFayette Apple Fest. Sleigh rides at Highland Forest.. Picking apples fresh off the tree. Wild black raspberries. Labrador, Song, & Toggenburg. Winterfest. Ice skating in Clinton Square just like they did in the times of the Erie Canal. Gianelli sausage. Hematology Oncology Associates (i work there, its an amazing place, trust me). Building igloos in the snowbanks from the copious snowfalls. The Spaghetti Warehouse. The classic downtown architecture. Armory Square. Franklin Square. The view from 81 coming into Cuse from the south. Otto the Orange! Strawberry and blueberry picking. My ❤ belongs in Cuse. 🙂

    1. Corinne –

      Thank you for reading, commenting, and naming reasons 50 to 60+. Including definitely taking your word that the Hematology Oncology Associates is a great place to work. 🙂

      CNY is definitely a home of homes, and it’s reassuring to hear positive comments from strangers, but fellow Syracusans.

      Thank you, again, for taking time out of your schedule to read and comment on this.



  18. I moved here from the west coast in 2006, and never looked back. In that time have experienced most of the things you wrote about. It’s a beautiful place with wonderful people. You really captured the feeling.

    1. Mickie –

      Thank you for sharing your story, for stopping by the blog and reading.

      There is so much to love about Syracuse/Central New York, and we’re glad that you’re enjoying life here in the Northeast.



  19. You nailed it. I’ve lived here for 31 years, and appreciate the spoils of a major city with the homeyness of a (mostly) congestion free region; 315 would look good on you, Chris.

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