So last week, I put together a fun column to help welcome my Syracuse friends to the ACC titled, “Top 10 Things To Look Forward To As Syracuse Joins The ACC“. It seemed to be one of the most popular posts and was meant to simply help show a fun way to make us all learn about new experiences. I caught some flack for some points and found some to be be fair, valid points. Keep in mind, I was simply pointing out differences I see as someone who was raised in Syracuse and still visits as often as I can but now lives in North Carolina.
So with that said, I think it is only fair that I take my ACC fans on a journey of ten things I think they should know when visiting Syracuse. Obviously, as someone who lives in North Carolina and blogs about Syracuse, I could probably do a top 100 list and still leave things off. For instance, I left out things like visiting the Erie Canal, trying local beers like Empire Brewery, finding one of the numerous awesome pizza/wing places throughout the area (too many to narrow down honestly as I think the area has many), or checking out the local orchards in the fall that I assure you will be enjoyable. However, to keep this post at a somewhat reasonable length, I went with ten items that I thought should be addressed based on my last column as well as couple of my favorite things I enjoy when I get to visit Syracuse.
With that in mind, let’s get to my top ten list. If you think I left something off, feel free to use the comment section and share with others something you find truly enjoyable about the Syracuse/Central New York area. Keep in mind also, these are not really in any particular order but more just a way to give every point.
10) Northern Hospitality. As noted, this could easily be #1 but I am getting to this first simply to discuss since this was the most pointed out area in my last post. Let’s make one thing VERY clear, people in Syracuse are just as polite as others in any other state. You have your jerks everywhere but you also have those who believe in being polite and chivalrous.
I did not move to escape those rude people in Syracuse; I moved for family/work reasons. I know MANY in Syracuse who would do anything to help you out just as I do here in North Carolina and I also know some who will slam the door in your face in both areas. Please do not walk into Syracuse thinking they are all “rude New Yorkers” because I assure you, that is not the case. There are many in Syracuse who enjoy country music, live in rural area and were raised to believe you can get further in life with manners than you can by being rude so don’t go there with preconceived notions.
9) Salt Potatoes. For those new to Syracuse, it is otherwise known as the Salt City. One of the ways local people embrace this name is by using small potatoes they cook with some salt that are very delicious. It may seem simple but trust me, it is very good when they are made correctly. You can usually find them in any local grocery store.
I had a post on this last month so if you would like to learn more about this Syracuse recipe, you can check that out here.
8) Half Moon Cookies. Oh sure, you have your cobbler and your pecan pies in the south and they are delicious but trust me, half moons cookies are a cure for the sweet tooth that will put a smile on your face. There are several places but it seems most would tell you to check out this Syracuse delicacy here Harrison Bakery while in town.
And yes, I did a post on these as well which you can read about here.
7) Haddock Dinners. If you like fish dinners, you will love finding a place for a great haddock dinner. Now where to go will depend on where you in the area you are staying and who you ask as everyone seems to have their favorite. I do know one popular place if you are near Cortland or Skaneateles is Doug’s Fish Fry.
6) Hofmann’s Franks. When I moved to North Carolina in 1996, one of the first things I learned was that when you order a hot dog all the way, that means you will get it with chili and slaw on it. Though very tasty, I assure you that you have not had a hot dog until you have tried a Hofmann Frank. There are the coneys/snappers and the franks/reds. Depending on your taste, both are different but both are worth a try. The coneys tend to have a more spicier taste to them while the franks are more like you would imagine your regular hot dog but with flavor normally reserved for a sausage.
There are several places in town you can find one including the grocery stores, Hofmann’s Hot Haus, and Heid’s, which was featured on Man v. Food a while back.
5) Marshall Street/Armory Square. Looking for some fun either after the game or on an off day, these are the top two destinations for a good time. If you are searching for fun with mostly college students, Marshall Street is right off campus and easy to find. It has everything from your average college bars (Chuck’s and Faegans) to the best choice for Orange swag (Manny’s) to a variety of food options (like Varsity, Pita Pit, and Chipotle).
Armory Square is where many of the festivals are held and also has some great bars and restaurants that are a bit more upscale but fun for you and even your family to enjoy. There is the Saltine Warrior Sports Pub, bc Restaurant, Pastabilities, and Al’s Wine and Whiskey, and the previously mentioned Empire Brewery. If you have the time, I also recommend setting up an appointment with Armory Massage while you are in the area as well.
4) Wegmans. You may be used to just going to your local grocery store but if you have never experienced Wegman’s, you are just grocery shopping. Wegman’s is an experience and is generally rated not only as the top grocery chain but one of the best businesses and work places in the country. It is based out of nearby Rochester and those who live in the area will tell you just how great it is.
The only other grocery store in the area worth checking out is the Top’s Market near the south side of the campus. They did the whole store layout with a Syracuse theme and I love shopping there. Not only is the frozen section designed like a basketball court but the bakery has several items Syracuse themed and this picture will greet you as you go through the checkout line:
3) Snow. Now unless Syracuse is in the national championship game, the best chance you have to see Syracuse on your national news is due to the heavy amount of snowfall the region has endured. In Syracuse, they do not close down all the stores when there is a bit of snow in the forecast. In fact, it is a right of privilege living in the area and knowing how to get around in it. Some great fun in the winter includes riding sleds and snowmobiles around town (though please stay off the frozen lakes as sometimes they are not as frozen as you think). Ask residents and Syracuse University alumni and they will be more than happy to tell you how when they were there, they walked up hill (possibly both ways) in the biggest blizzard in US history in shorts because class was never cancelled and they never complained. I will credit the city for how they respond to snow and tell you that the roads tend to be very well taken care of during these storms but that rust under your car over a long period of time if you do not treat it is not fun. So please, plan accordingly if you are planning a winter trip to Syracuse as there could be delays whether you drive or fly.
2) Tully’s/Dino Bar-B-Que. Every area has restaurants that people recognize as their own and Tully’s and Dino are two of the top names you will hear from people. If you want burgers or the best darn chicken tenders ever made (with free popcorn at every table and huge drinks), Tully’s is the choice for you. If you want ribs or BBQ and compare it to the BBQ down south, swing on in to Dino. Please keep in mind as I warned others in my last point, don’t be that person who points out how you do it better where you come from. Many people enjoy their food and do not wish to be told you can do it better.
1) Syracuse University Traditions! If you are going to attend a Syracuse game, you should know there are certain traditions to keep in mind. First off, you should know that #44 means a lot to Syracuse fans. The number was worn by many greats and we love it.
Next, for basketball games, SU fans stand and clap until Syracuse scores their first basket. If you tell them to sit down, be prepared to be told something you may not want to hear.
For football games, the marching band and color guard perform the Alma Mater and fight song before they begin their march to the dome. After football wins, the team and band will go down to Varsity and flip the banner with pride.
Our mascot is Otto the Orangeman and mocking him could get you in trouble, especially if I hear it because he is my BFF and short of mocking my family or friends, I take nothing more personal than mocking him.
Otto’s Army is also a student tradition and I assure you are some of our most passionate fans so messing with them may not go over very well.
We will also make t-shirts and videos for just about any reason or no reason at all so be prepared. You may have your logo shirts but trust me, Syracuse marks every occasion by making a t-shirt out of it (one of my favorites other than my Otto face tee is the marathon tee).
I will leave you with some of the recent Syracuse videos starting with my favorite cover of Call Me Maybe EVER!
And we even had the creator of West Wing, Newsroom and Sports Night, who is also a Syracuse graduate as the commencement speaker this past spring: