Syracuse is a city full of culture, history, and natural beauty. There is always something to do around Onondaga County and plenty of free activities and attractions! Whether you’re a local or visiting Syracuse and don’t want to break the bank, keep reading to learn more about exploring Syracuse for free.

Onondaga Lake Park

Known as the “Central Park of Central New York,” Onondaga Lake Park features more than 8 miles of linear greenway with four trails. It also includes picnic areas, Wegmans Playground, Pickleball Court Complex, Onondaga Lake Skatepark, Wegmans Good Dog Park, and more. Don’t miss the free Salt Museum and Butterfly Garden of Hope. This park is ideal for outdoor recreation and family-friendly activities.

Syracuse City Parks

There are over 1,000 acres of parks within the city of Syracuse! Some popular ones include Burnet Park, Thornden Park, Franklin Square Park, Sunnycrest Park, and Upper Onondaga Park. These parks offer hiking trails, playgrounds, pools, and more. Did you know that the Onondaga Creekwalk is a 4.8-mile accessible pathway from Syracuse to Onondaga Lake? It’s the perfect spot for birding and a stroll.

Webster Pond

One of “nature’s best-kept secrets” is Webster Pond, located in the Valley neighborhood of Syracuse. The Anglers Association of Onondaga has managed the area since 1890, protecting the local fish, game, birds, fields, and forests. This pond, surrounded by wildlife, private nature trails, and handicapped-accessible bridges, offers a retreat for nature lovers and families.

Shakespeare in the Park

Enjoy free outdoor performances of Shakespeare's plays in Thornden Park’s amphitheater throughout two weekends in June. Now in their 22nd season, they’re offering performances of Hamlet on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the weekends of June 7-9 and 14-16. While tickets are free, $10 donations and premium tickets are also available.

Jazz in the City

Experience live music and a vibrant community atmosphere on Thursdays from June 13 – August 15. These free jazz concerts, in partnership with Syracuse Community Health, offer health information while bringing people together through the arts. Enjoy performances by national and local bands, along with food, arts, and crafts vendors, and a healthcare village.

Cultural and Music Festivals

Syracuse offers a variety of cultural and music festivals throughout the year that are free to attend. In June, you can enjoy St. Sophia's Greek Fest, Polish Festival, Juneteenth Festival, New York State Blues Festival, CNY Pride Parade and Festival, and Syracuse Jazz Fest. Later in the year, look forward to the Middle Eastern Festival, Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival, Irish Festival, and more.

Self-Guided Walking Tours

The Onondaga Historical Association offers self-guided walking tours for Downtown Syracuse, Onondaga Creekwalk, Syracuse Freedom Trail, and the Underground Railroad. Guides are available online, or you can download an app to turn your phone into a personal tour guide. Explore iconic Syracuse landmarks and learn about the rich history of Central New York.

Onondaga County Public Libraries

One of the greatest resources of any city is its public library. Numerous branches offer books, events, and community programs for free. Whether you’re a local or visiting Syracuse, you can access free resources, attend events, and enjoy a quiet place to read or study. Library cardholders can also borrow Onondaga County Park and New York State Park passes for free admission to those parks. Bonus: check out little free libraries across the county too!


There is something for every outdoors enthusiast, arts & cultural lover, or history buff on a budget while visiting Syracuse. Plan your itinerary with some of the places listed above and experience all Onondaga County has to offer. Share their experiences with us on social media using #VisitSYR.

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