15 Best Things to Do in Onondaga County, NY - Travel Lens (2024)

Onondaga County, New York, is on the northern tip of the state, just a few miles from the United States and Canada border.

The county spans over 2,088 square kilometers and is home to over 473,000 residents.

Onondaga County was founded in 1794 as a group of townships, with Syracuse and Skaneateles as the biggest among them.

I appreciate this county’s quaint and countryside appeal, which drew me to explore some of its most beautiful spots.

I experienced its peaceful and cozy ambiance that completely contrasts with the state’s highly-urbanized southern tip.

I enjoyed its picturesque countryside landscapes, unspoiled terrains, charming small towns, and gorgeous lakes.

Amidst its countryside feels, Onondaga County is also home to a progressive City in Syracuse, which treated me to leisure and recreational opportunities.

There are plenty of exciting things to do in Onondaga County, New York, that I want everyone to read in this post.

**About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it’s important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Be in Awe by the Beauty of Pratt’s Falls Park

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Elizabeth C. Zurek / Shutterstock.com

A trip with nature was one of the best ways to start my Onondaga County travel adventure.

The best place to start this is to visit Pratt’s Falls Park in Manlius.

This park may lack size, but it’s gifted with gorgeous scenery.

Its focal point is its 137-foot-high waterfall which towers over the 300-acre park.

The waterfall offers everyone gorgeous scenery they can see up close through its outlook.

I got up close and personal with this waterfall which offered me a grand view after descending to its base.

Historically, the waterfall was transformed from the eroding mountains, which were remnants of the ancient inland sea back in the day in New York.

Today, it’s one of Onondaga County’s most popular outdoor destinations, where I enjoyed sightseeing, hiking, and birdwatching during my visit there.

So, head to Pratt’s Falls Park for a worthwhile outdoor experience with nature.

Watch Concerts at Kegs Canalside

Kegs Canalside is the premier concert venue in Jordan, which I also visited to catch some live performances.

This outdoor concert venue is popular among music lovers in Onondaga County.

It regularly hosts musical concerts from regional and local artists.

My visit was timely during summer when I watched a series of live concerts as part of its ‘summer months concert.’

Besides concerts, I discovered this venue hosts comedy shows and live stage performances.

After looking for food and drinks, I wasn’t disappointed since it has a concession area with vendors for a more convenient experience.

So, check out Kegs Canalside’s upcoming events to experience what locals rave about.

Taste Flavorful Craft Beer at the Local 315 Brewing Company

The Local 315 Brewing Company in Camillus is a charming local brewery known for its wide array of craft beers.

They take pride in brewing their signature craft beers and ales using their hop varieties straight from their farm and fellow farmers in New York.

I visited its taproom in Camillus and enjoyed sampling some of its signature craft beers.

Those in a hurry can grab its four-pack beer to enjoy at home.

However, nothing compares to the experience of chugging a bottle or a pint of Local 315 Brewing Company’s beer right straight at its brewery along with locals.

Traverse the Labrador Hollow Boardwalk

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Antepenultimate, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Labrador Hollow Boardwalk is another worthwhile outdoor attraction I didn’t miss visiting.

This boardwalk in Syracuse allowed me to immerse in nature more conveniently.

The boardwalk is in the middle of a lush 1,500-acre greenery highlighting Syracuse’s local flora and fauna.

Many visitors like me traversed the boardwalk and enjoyed nature’s scenery and peaceful ambiance.

The Labrador Hollow boardwalk led me to various natural areas such as woods, marshes, and meadows teeming with native and rare plant species.

Those who want to explore the area further can head to Finger Lake.

Learn Valuable Things at the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation-Museum and Dialogue Center

The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation-Museum and Dialogue Center is situated in Fayetteville.

It’s a fascinating and worthwhile place to visit, especially for those who want to learn more about women’s rights and Matilda Joslyn Gage’s movement.

While visiting the museum, I discovered how it details the women’s movement, displaying integrity and courage from known women in the region.

Besides relevant history, the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation-Museum and Dialogue Center also offer relevant programs for everyone.

Some of the most notable sections of the museum I checked out include the Women’s Rights Room, the Religious Freedom Room, Underground Railroad, The Oz Family Parlor Room, and the Haudenosaunee Room.

Celebrate History and Arts at the Everson Museum of Art

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debra millet / Shutterstock.com

The Everson Museum of Art is a significant American art museum in Central New York.

I found this amazing place in downtown Syracuse.

Visiting this museum was a splendid experience, even if I’m not a huge art lover.

As I wandered inside this art museum, I discovered that it focuses on featuring American Art and history.

I browsed through its exhibits and saw up close its incredible collection.

I spent an hour or two browsing the art museum’s galleries.

It houses over 10,000 artworks highlighting magnificent American artworks such as paintings, drawings, sculptures, graphics, and other visual arts.

Also, the Everson Museum of Art hosts various art-related events, adding excitement to my visit there.

Catch the Latest Movies at the Historical Manlius Art Cinema

The Manlius Art Cinema isn’t just another typical movie theater.

This movie theater is one of Onondaga County’s oldest theaters.

I’ve learned that it’s been entertaining locals since 1918 and is one of the few remaining old theatres in the area.

It originally opened as the Strand Theatre back when the admission was three-quarters.

It features a shotgun style of theatre which is very rare these days.

However, the theatre was gutted by fire in the 1940s but was immediately repaired to restore its former glory.

It was eventually purchased by a new owner in 1948 and was renamed Colonial Theatre.

Fast forward to 1960, it was renamed Billings Theatre and F-M Theatre twice.

Today, its new management and owner renamed it Manlius Art Cinema.

Despite its age, I was in awe of its original furnishings and humble design.

While inside, I was amazed it showed digital films featuring the latest Hollywood movies I gamely watched during my visit there.

Shred Some Snow at the Four Seasons Golf & Ski Center

The is one of the oldest ski resorts in Onondaga County.

This ski resort in Fayetteville has been operating since 1958 and remains popular today.

It’s been known by many as a top-notch place for Central New York’s premier youth ski and golf center.

True to its name, the Four Seasons Golf & Ski Center is open year-round regardless of the season.

As a newbie in skiing, I spent time with fellow visitors to learn some of its basics, one of the best offerings at this ski resort.

Besides skiing, snowboarding, and golf, I also enjoyed other outdoor activities like sightseeing, hiking, and camping.

Wander Inside the Massive Destiny USA

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Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Destiny USA is a massive mall in the heart of Syracuse.

This mall features six stories home to over 250 shops, restaurants, and business establishments.

It spans over 2.4 million square feet and has been operating since 1990.

I discovered plenty of reasons to spend time at this massive mall, one of which is its enormous size, making it the nation’s ninth-largest mall.

I enjoyed window shopping and other fun things I discovered at Destiny USA.

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Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

I also enjoyed riding its antique carousel and taking pictures of the mall’s other attractions.

I ended my mall tour with a delicious treat at the Cheesecake Factory for decadent pastries.

Still, before that, I had dinner at the Texas de Brazil.

Tee Up at the Pompey Club

Pompey Club is a gorgeous golf course in Butternut Creek Valley.

It’s situated 10 miles south of Syracuse.

This 18-hole Par-72 golf course is known for its picturesque landscape overlooking the Butternut Creek Valley.

This golf course has been operating since 1962 and remains one of the premier golf courses in Onondaga County today.

The golf course covers over 6,600 yards and features gentle rolling contours, ideal for newbie golfers.

During my golf experience there, I was treated to an excellent sunset view which is part of its signature appeal.

Also, drop by Pompey Club’s pro shop, restaurant, and clubhouse to complete my experience there.

Meet and Greet the Animals of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Mahmoud Suhail / Shutterstock.com

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is extensive in Syracuse.

This zoo houses over a thousand animals from a wide array of species.

It includes tigers, elephants, monkeys, apes, and Komodo dragons.

I was searching for a wholesome attraction in Syracuse.

Fortunately, I came across this zoo.

During my visit, I noticed the zoo features an indoor and outdoor animal enclosure.

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Mahmoud Suhail / Shutterstock.com

For a more up-close experience, I headed to its petting zoo.

I joined kids cuddling and feeding cubs and other baby animals, which was a fun experience.

In addition, I also checked out its huge aquarium, home to over a hundred fish species.

Amazingly, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo has been operating since 1914 and remains one of the top family attractions today.

So, I highly recommend including this zoo for those who want a wholesome time with their family alongside animals.

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Kuehner / Shutterstock.com

Upgrade Your Card Collection at the Unplugged Gaming

Unplugged Gaming in Manlius is a cool place for hobbyists.

It’s one of the premier trading card and hobby stores in Onondaga County.

It’s a hobbyist store to help everyone in their niche score rare collectible cards and games.

As a hobbyist myself, I had a fun time browsing through its massive collection.

While browsing, I was amazed to see its rare and awesome collection of Magic, Pokemon, and Yugi-Oh cards.

It was a unique experience I came across while exploring Onondaga County.

For my fellow hobbyist, I recommend heading to Unplugged Gaming.

Hike through the Empire State Trail

The Empire State Trail is a long and winding trail connecting the Canadian Border from New York City.

It happens that this trail cuts through the northern portion of Onondaga County.

With that in mind, I spent my whole day hiking through this trail to explore more of the country’s natural beauty.

The trail spans over 750 miles, but I skipped that grueling hike since Onondaga County has many access points.

I started hiking this trail in Jordan, northeast of Onondaga County.

Along the way, I passed through small, charming towns, nature preserves, lakes, and other natural areas, making my experience more awesome.

So, always include the Empire State Trail for a wonderful outdoor activity when visiting this county.

Go Kayaking at Oneida Lake

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Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com

Oneida Lake is the most extensive body of water in New York State.

It spans over 79.8 square miles and is situated just north of Syracuse.

This massive lake feeds the Oneida River, which connects Lake Ontario in Canada.

Since itching for more outdoor adventure, I headed to this for boating and sightseeing.

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Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com

At the same time, I visited Sylvan Beach Amusem*nt Park on the lake’s shores.

It has various fun rides and activities, like what our typical amusem*nt park looks and feels like.

Those looking for a more relaxing activity at Oneida Lake can bring their foldable chair to the shore, enjoy the scenery, and let the time pass.

Explore Skaneateles Lake on a Boat

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Joey Mendolia / Shutterstock.com

Last on my list was a fun-filled boat ride on Skaneateles Lake.

This lake in Syracuse is one of the go-to places for locals for various water and outdoor activities.

One of them is a boat tour through this massive lake spanning over 25.8 kilometers in length and 2.4km wide.

The lake is one of New York’s Finger Lakes, which are equally massive as the others.

However, this lake is commonly referred to as the “Roof Garden” of the Finger Lakes because of its higher altitude than the others.

I hopped on one of the many boat tours Syracuse offers.

Most of the boat rides offer various packages for everyone.

The boat ride brought me to some of Skaneateles Lake’s most gorgeous spots, which was another excellent experience.

Final Thoughts

Onondaga County, New York, is full of fascinating places to visit and exciting things to do.

I had a blast visiting its outdoor attractions, historical spots, and popular places.

From hiking, boating, and sightseeing to leisure activities, I didn’t run out of fun things to do in Onondaga County, New York.

15 Best Things to Do in Onondaga County, NY - Travel Lens (2024)
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