The Lakefront area of Syracuse is home to several unique neighborhoods, many within walking distance of each other and each showcasing restaurants, bars, breweries, hotels, trails and shops. Easily accessible from Downtown and major interstates, the up and coming Inner Harbor district is a sidewalk community within the former Barge Canal terminal and industrial quarter of the city.
Embracing its waterfront history, the city's winding Creekwalk weaves through Lakefront, connecting Downtown to Onondaga Lake. Explore Franklin Square, a picturesque neighborhood covered in brick buildings, walkways and streets. The square is the perfect backdrop for year-round photos, and quaint cafes, bistros and coffee shops make it the perfect place to stop and spend some time.
At the east shore of Onondaga Lake sits Destiny USA, the largest shopping and entertainment complex in Upstate New York. This over all quieter section of Syracuse allows visitors to take a break and enjoy a serene afternoon touring the old and new Syracuse in Lakefront.
Best breakfasts + brunch spots
- Beers and Eggs Benedict for brunch, anyone? Take a step back in time at The Gem Diner, a local hot spot for hot cakes, comfort food and catching up with friends.
- Grab an old fashioned American breakfast at Stella's Diner, another local fave known for its massive portions and super friendly staff.
Best place for bites + beverages
- So many sandwiches, so little time. Get a seriously tasty sammy at Boulangerie in Franklin Square, home to over 30 grinder and wrap menu options.
- Grab a cup of your afternoon pick-me-up across the street at Freedom of Espresso, a spacious coffee house serving up locally roasted beans and dozens of lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and more.
Best place for pizza + pints
- Enjoy a slice, salads, sides, apps and more at The Preserve at 405 restaurant and bar in the Inner Harbor.
- Considered Downtown but close enough to Franklin Square and the Inner Harbor, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is a right of passage when visiting Syracuse. Load up on the best Southern BBQ and sample their savory sides like mac n' cheese, fancy fried green tomatoes or black beans and rice.
- And right next door is Apizza Regionale, a top-rated restaurant specializing in the freshest seasonal pies this side of the Mississippi.
Shop unique home goods, housewares, jewelry, gifts and more at Metro Home Style, an award-winning gift shop near Franklin Square. Bonus points if you bring Fido because pets are welcome.
Do as the locals do and experience the CNY Regional Market — a massive year-round farmer's market where you can get your fresh produce, meats, baked goods, plants, household items, gifts and more all while supporting local farmers, vendors and the community. The market is open every Saturday and Sunday year-round from 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., and also Thursdays from May through November.
Open seven days a week, the Syracuse Antiques Exchange features four floors and 20,000 square feet of antique lighting, furniture, small items, estate jewelry and decorative arts from over 60 dealers.
Best shopping center
Lakefront is one of Syracuse's best shopping districts, with upstate New York's largest shopping and entertainment complex on the eastern shore of Onondaga Lake. Destiny USA is home to hundreds of places to shop, dine and play. Enjoy retail and outlet brands Apple, Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Nordstrom Rack and much more.
Best way to get outdoors
- In the warmer months, plan to dock your boat or hop in your kayak on Onondaga Creek at the Inner Harbor. Known for its excellent trout and carp fishing, this is an ideal spot to navigate this urban tributary with a fishing pole in hand.
- Join family and friends at the annual Inner Harbor Wing Fest, a perfect way to kick off the summer season in Syracuse.
- Trek it creekside year-round on the Onondaga Creekwalk, where you can take in beautiful views of Downtown, Franklin Square and Onondaga Lake at the northern end of the trail.
Best places for family fun
- Take the kiddos out to the ballgame and enjoy Minor League Baseball at NBT Bank Stadium with the Syracuse Mets.
- A 25,000 square foot indoor play park, Billy Beez at Destiny USA is another kid-friendly favorite in Syracuse.
- The Speach Family Candy Shoppe is a great place to swing by and pick up a sweet treat for your friends (or yourself).
- Grab dinner with the family at Spaghetti Warehouse, a popular Italian restaurant with a fun ambiance for the kids.
Best places for a pint
- Excellent farmhouse ales and sour beers galore at Buried Acorn Brewing Company, conveniently located near Routes 81 and 690 and welcoming of your favorite four-legged friends.
- Make a stop at Destiny USA for a couple rounds at World of Beer or Bullfinch Brewery.