Syracuse, NY is home to many distinguished colleges and universities. In May, students from Le Moyne College, SUNY Upstate Medical University, SUNY ESF, and Syracuse University will all be tossing their caps into the air and celebrating a wonderful milestone with family and friends.
As thousands of travelers from all over the world head to Syracuse for commencement celebrations, a thought that may cross their mind is, “What else can I do in Syracuse, NY?”
Well…we have the answers! Check out our tips and ideas to make the most of graduation weekend in Syracuse, NY.
Explore Syracuse Outside
Between sitting for long commencement speeches, followed by formal dinners and long farewell events, it’s easy to forget about being active. With over 50 parks in Onondaga County, you can get your fill of waterfalls, trails, and playgrounds many of which are located conveniently near hotels you’ve booked, and the college you’re visiting.
Just 20 minutes outside of the city, you and your graduation party can check out Chittenango falls, Syracuse’s tallest waterfall. The falls can be viewed from multiple levels and only requires a short walk, accommodating people of all ages and accessibilities to enjoy.
Take some downtime and visit Burnet Park in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood. If you’re coming into town with youngsters, the Burnet Park playground is a great place to have them run around and have some fun. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is conveniently located next to the park and houses over 600 diverse habitats—an activity the whole group can enjoy. If you’re without the kids, maybe a round of golf is more your speed. Burnet Park golf course is stunning and if you’re lucky you can hear elephants and other animals while playing.
Discover Syracuse Shops + Gifts
Spend some time shopping for that last salt-city souvenir before you head back home. Find something that will always remind you or your graduate of the time that was spent here. Discover what makes Syracuse special at a couple of local shops.
Wildflowers Armory located in Downtown Syracuse offers a variety of vendors that sell artisan gifts and goodies. The perfect place to grab a last-minute gift for your grad or an opportunity to find a Syracuse themed piece of art or apparel to bring home.
The Marketplace on James is another multi-vendor storefront to check out. Ranging from antiques to hand-painted art to homemade jewelry. The marketplace offers coffee and treats so you can sip and snack while you shop for your treasured gifts. In the back of the marketplace you’ll find, Eat the Cooks Way restaurant serving up breakfast and lunch specials too!
Cheers to Four Years
Everyone knows that the proper way to celebrate any major life event is with a cheers. If dinner or a fancy meal isn’t how your grad wants to celebrate, we suggest grabbing a drink (or a few) at one of the many breweries Central New York has to offer. From Clay to Cazenovia, Syracuse is full of craft beer, ciders, hard seltzers, and local wines.
Here’s a list to get you started, however the options are almost endless!
Beer in CNY
Middle Ages Brewing: Known as Syracuse's oldest brewery, stop in for a delicious and locally made brew with your family and friends. this brewery is located conveniently downtown.
Heritage Hill: About 20 minutes outside of Syracuse you'll find Heritage Hill Brewhouse in Pompey, NY. This farm brewery sits on acres of property, offers not only indoor and outdoor seating but the best sunsets in Onondaga County. This place is perfect if you're celebrating with a large party.
Hard Cider & Hard Seltzer in CNY
Critz Farms: Right on the county boarder sits Critz Farms and Critz Farms Brewing & Cider Co. Family run and operated, with locally sources ingredients, sit outside play games and try flights of homemade cider including blueberry, raspberry and other natural fruit flavors.
1911 Tasting Room: Known for their amazing U-pick apple orchards and summer concert series, 1911 tasting room and Beak & Skiff just might be the perfect place to relax with the family after a long day of graduation. Be sure to check their events schedule!
Willow Rock: For the beer and hard seltzer lovers alike, Willow Rock will be the perfect place to stop in for a pint. Another farm brewery, located in Syracuse, NY that brews beer and creates their own line of seltzer called Leaf. A must check out when you're in town for your grad!
Finger Lakes Fine Wine
Strigo Vineyards: In Baldwinsville, NY spread across 70 acres, Strigo has a stunning tasting room with a 32 bottle self-pouring wine wall, farm to table cuisine, a completely renovated 19th century farmhouse, and intimate venues to host events like celebrating your accomplished new graduate. Bring your family. Bring your friends. And celebrate our community with a glass of world-class wine.
Anyela’s Vineyards: Overlooking the beautiful Skaneateles lake and nestled on a serene Finger Lakes hillside, Anyela’s Vineyard is an idyllic year-round venue to enjoy estate-crafted wines, spirits and warm hospitality. Visit for a celebration to include world-class wine, delicious bites, live music and entertainment.
How ever you decide to spend your time, make sure your grad feels special. It is, after all, their weekend. Congratulations to the class of 2023!