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12 Fun Things to Do in Syracuse, New York This Summer

From shopping and sailing to fireworks and festivals, summer is a fantastic season to visit Syracuse, New York, located just an hour and a half south of the US border. Of course all families are unique and define a great family getaway differently, so here are a variety of ways that may inspire you to begin your countdown to fun in the Syracuse sun this summer. You will find below 12 fun things to do in Syracuse, New York!

Canyon Climb ropes climbing at Destiny USAPin

Fun things to do in Syracuse, New York

1. Shop ‘till You Drop

Cool off inside Destiny USA, New York’s largest retail centre (and the sixth largest in the United States) with over 250 stores, including a variety of brand-new outlets! In addition to stellar shopping, Destiny USA offers unique family-friendly attractions such as OptiGolfPole Position RacewayWonderWorks, the world’s largest indoor ropes course and so much more. Check out DestinyUSA for the most up-to-date directory. 

 Pole Position Raceway SyracusePin

2. Spend the day in Skaneateles

Need a quiet moment to soak up the summer sun? Take the 20 minute drive southwest of Syracuse to the quaint, relaxing and picturesque village of Skaneateles. Pack a picnic or grab some ice cream and enjoy the scenery of Skaneateles Lake, the eastern most Finger Lake. Kids of all ages will enjoy a Mid-Lakes Navigation sightseeing cruise on Skaneateles Lake, one of the cleanest bodies of water in the world. 

After the sightseeing cruise, kids will be raring for some action, and skateboarding at Skaneateles’ lakeside park surely fits the bill. While the adults enjoy the lovely scenery, the kids can have fun on their boards, improving their balance if they’re newbies or performing some cool tricks if they’re ‘experts.’ However, beginners should master the basics first and not attempt even the easiest tricks as it could lead to injury. Signing up for skateboard lessons for kids is always the safer choice.

3. Go Golfing

It’s a lifelong sport that can be played by young or old, novice or professional and it’s a great family activity. Choose from over 40 affordable golf courses throughout the Greater Syracuse area including several designed by both Robert Trent Jones and Jack Nicklaus. There’s nothing like some friendly competition to get the whole family laughing and having a great day out.

4. Get Historic! 

School may be closed for summer, but that doesn’t mean the kids have to stop learning. Did you know that Syracuse played an essential role in the Underground Railroad and women’s suffrage movement? Get close and personal with history at the Matilda Joslyn Gage Home in Fayetteville or the Onondaga Historical Association Museum in downtown Syracuse.

Downtown Syracuse New YorkPin

5. Hangout in Armory Square

One of the places to visit in Syracuse is the heart of downtown Syracuse! It truly comes alive during the summer.  Downtown dining, boutique shopping, and families exploring the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) keep Armory Square buzzing throughout the day, while live music and nightlife take over the square at sunset. 

6. Catch the Excitement

Find some deals on kids baseball gloves and bring a glove and some sunglasses for a baseball game at NBT Bank Stadium. Nothing says summer like cheering on the Syracuse Mets, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals with a hotdog and cold beverage in hand. Baseball has always been the all-American, fan-favourite, fun family activity for all to enjoy, so take the kids and join in on the action.

7. Get Festive

There are so many cool things to do in Syracuse! You name it, they have it. From Brew Fest and the Arts & Crafts Festival to Balloon Fest, and the Great New York State Fair, you can count on a fun-filled festival just about every weekend throughout the Greater Syracuse area during the summer. Go to Visit Syracuse a complete summer events calendar to begin planning. Gather a few friends and make it a road trip for a weekend, attending all the festivals as you go along.

8. Feel the Beat

Imagine this: a star-lit sky on a warm summer night paired with live music. It doesn’t get much better. Be sure to experience some of Syracuse’s music festivals including Jazz Fest, the largest free jazz festival in the Northeast, or the Skaneateles Festival; just to name a few. Of course you can find live entertainment on a nightly basis at many local restaurants, bars and pubs. It makes for the perfect mellow evening to talk about everything and nothing with the good company around, so find a comfy lounge to hang out at and appreciate the lovely jazz notes.

9. Go to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park is open year-round, but the animals love to come out in the summer sun as much as we do. Penguins dip and dive while Elephants reach their trunk out to say hello. The zoo is home to more than 900 animals of all shapes and sizes. Going to the zoo is nothing short of the perfect field trip for kids to learn more about the different animals of the world.

Syracuse Rosamond Gifford ZooPin

10. Get fast-food; the old-fashioned way 

Get in line at Heid’s of Liverpool and prepare for the best hot dog (or coney) of your life!  This vintage fast-food joint has been around since 1917 and is a central New York landmark.  Feeling full?  Take a stroll at Onondaga Lake Park, just across the street, and tantalize your taste buds with some of the best food around.

11. Get movin’

Speaking of Onondaga Lake Park – that’s where your family can cruise along mile after mile of paved parkway aboard a very unique piece of cycling equipment ranging from rollerblades and skateboards to a quadricycle (bike built for four!), conference bike (up to eight passengers!) or a tandem bicycle.  You’ll quickly understand why the park has earned the reputation as the “Central Park” of Central New York. 

12. Dive in

Don’t forget to pack bathing suits because with so many waterways throughout the Greater Syracuse area – it’s easy to make a splash with the family.  Popular waterholes include Oneida Shores in Brewerton, Jamesville Beach Park, Green Lakes State Park, and Skaneateles Lake.

If you are looking for things to do this weekend in Syracuse, be sure to go to VisitSyracuse.org for event listing, attractions, special savings, and hotel packages just for Canadians when planning your family adventure in Syracuse, New York this summer!

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  1. Skaneateles Festival Since 1980, the Skaneateles Festival has brought world-class musicians to this charming lakeside community for five weeks of chamber music, chamber orchestra and children’s concerts in the late summer. The informal setting, innovative programming and community involvement make this an especially nurturing spot for performers who are eager to return again and again, and who are warmly embraced (and fed and housed) by the Festival audience. And the listeners, in turn, are richly rewarded by breathtaking, one-time-only performances by ensembles which have just been formed this week in this magical place. Week night chamber music concerts are held at the intimate St. James Episcopal Church, in the center of the village on the lake front, where at intermission the audience can stroll through the adjacent park and purchase lemonade and cookies from children’s sidewalk stands. On Saturday evenings, the audience totes picnics and spreads blankets on the lawn at Brook Farm, a private estate, to enjoy orchestra concerts under the starry sky.

  2. LOVE Syracuse! We go every year. It’s one of our favorite places to go. I wrote a series of blog posts about it in the Fall.
    Winning a trip there would be fantastic for anyone!

    Thank you for linking up to Travel Tuesday.

  3. I love Syracuse! My girlfriend and I use to go all the time in University! It was the perfect girls weekend away place! GREAT SHOPPING! 🙂

  4. Love Syracuse and the newly renamed Mall Destiny USA is great I was there on a weekend getaway with one of my friends in June and they are expanding like crazy! We go to Syracuse twice a year. Leave the kids and Hubbies behind.


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