Editor’s Note: Heading up to Syracuse and the Onondaga Nation for WILC 2015? If you’re anything like the majority of the LaxAllStars.com crew, it’s your first time in the area too!
Don’t worry, Ryan Conwell is what we call a local and he’s dropping knowledge on the must-see spots of Syracuse and other awesome options for enjoying yourself in the backyard of lacrosse!
Welcome to Central New York, make sure to keep your WILC 2015 Visitor’s Guide handy!
Lacrosse Hot Spots
Onondaga Community College: If you like seeing trophies, the Lazers are hands-down the world’s greatest junior college lacrosse
program dynasty. This past spring the claimed their 7th consecutive NJCAA title, 9th in 10 years. Check out David W. Murphy Field, where the lacrosse teams plays.
Carrier Dome: If you’re heading to the bronze and gold medal finals, you’re going to be right in the heart of history. This gorgeous arena is one of college football’s most iconic indoor facilities and is also the home of the world-famous Syracuse Orange Men’s Lacrosse program.
If you can’t make the finals, stop by the Carrier Dome and snap a selfie where lacrosse history is made.
Camillus: This is more of a stop for lacrosse purposes as it is the home of the West Genesee Wildcats. This high school has long been a talent pipeline for the sport, producing the likes of John Desko, Jeff Tambroni, John Galloway, Joe Fletcher, John Zulberti, and seemingly countless other names.
Stop by Shove Park to see where coach Mike Messere started their legendary off-season program. While in town, check out the high school field recently named for Messere as well as the nearby Sport Outfit. This lacrosse store not only has all the new gear you would expect to see, but you can also grab an old STX Turbo, Brine Shotgun, or a pair of Brine L25s if you’re in the mood. Also near here is Westcott Reservoir, which is a daunting hill that the Wildcats use for running either as punishment on the way home from a bad road game, or for celebrating a state championship win.
Tsha’ Thoñ’nhes: The brand spanking new, $6.5 million lacrosse pavilion was built just in time for the WILC 2015. In fact, the very first teams to play in the arena were Australia, Turkey and the Iroquois Nationals along with the future inhabitants of the facility, the Onondaga Redhawks Sr. B squad. The biggest plus side? All games are free during the WILC 2015 at the new facility.
Food & Drink
Armory Square: This is the center of the night life in Syracuse. If you are looking for bars at night, this is definitely your place. That is not to say that this is the only option here. Armory Square is also loaded with great restaurants which you should check out no matter the time of day.
Destiny USA: You can’t go too far in Syracuse without noticing the massive mall at the north end of the city. It has been expanding in recent years to include shopping for just about anybody. For anyone visiting from another country, the prices are probably going to make you happy. Destiny is also home to many places to eat, many of which are familiar to frequent travelers.
Marshall Street: Located directly next to Syracuse University is Marshall street. This area contains several restaurants catering to the college crowd, and you can find some fantastic food here. A go-to for many locals on a Syracuse game day is Varsity Pizza.
Danzer’s/Delmonico’s: Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino once joked that while working for Syracuse Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim that Jim’s idea of a good dinner out was a stop by Danzer’s. One stop by here and you will get the joke. It’s a little German place not far from the Syracuse campus it has been a small local favorite for years. While you may not see Boeheim there, your chances are higher at Delmonico’s across town where he has his own parking spot.
Erie Boulevard: Erie Boulevard has plenty of wonderful options and is another busy area as it connects the city to the suburbs and is right next to DII LeMoyne’s campus. If you’re in the mood for some really good steak, stop by the Scotch ‘N Sirloin here. It’s a classic steakhouse that rarely disappoints.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: This place is in no way a secret. Considered a go-to place for anyone from out of town, this is has been awarded as some of the best barbeque in the country due to their unique meat smoking process. It usually is packed at night, but is worth it.
Tipperary Hill: One of the oddities that you’ll see on Tip Hill is the “upside down” traffic light (the green light is on top). This is a nod towards Syracuse’s large Irish population. Right down the road is Coleman’s Irish Pub, which is always worth a stop.
This is nowhere near an exhaustive list. Syracuse is full of plenty of great, local places to enjoy a meal. If you are in town for the games, make sure to check out as much as you can!
Beak and Skiff: Fall in upstate New York means apple picking, and this is one of the best places to go. Located in LaFayette, just down Route 81S from the Onondaga Nation Arena, you can roam the Orchard and pick your own apples. There is also plenty to do at the orchard and you can pick up some fresh cider. Lacrosse fan bonus: LaFayette is also the High School that has seen a huge amount of lacrosse talent go through its doors. Names like Bucktooth and Thompson may ring a bell.
Abbott Farms: Located in Baldwinsville, you can also pick your own apples in their orchard, or get lost in the corn maze for a while. This is only about 15 minutes from downtown, so it is not a bad trip at all.
Erie Canal Museum: This museum was built to preserve the little that was left in the city of the old Erie Canal. The Canal was made to easily move goods across all of New York State by barge and it went right through Syracuse. If you like canals or history, this is a good stop.
Onondaga Lake Park: This is a place you must visit if you are in town for the games. The shores of Onondaga are a central part of Iroquois history. After Syracuse became industrialized, the lake became a dumping ground for waste of all kinds. At one point, it was considered one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country, if not the world. There has been a large effort to clean up the lake in the past few years to the point where it is even considered swimmable in most parts. This is still a point of contention for many, especially within the Onondaga Nation itself, but walking on those shores puts you in a very special place in lacrosse’s history.
Salt Museum: Want to know why Syracuse became the city that it is? Because of salt! The Museum is only open on weekends, but it’s right down the road in Liverpool in Onondaga Lake Park, so if you are already in the city, it is just minutes away.
Green Lakes: A state park in Manlius, you won’t be able to take advantage of the beaches, but the trails, camping areas, golf, and green spaces are still open during daylight hours.
Beaver Lake: Outside of Baldwinsville, this is a Nature Center which has miles of walking trails and can be a great place to relax in the woods. Admission is by the car full, so load up a bunch of friends and take a ride out.
If you are in town for most of the tournament and want to get out of Syracuse for a bit, there are some other good options for you. All of these are less than 3 hours each way, which makes for a good day trip distance.
North: If you head to northern New York, you can check out to birthplace of the Powell brothers in Carthage, NY. While up there, head a little further north to Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. On your way back, stop by the small town of Sackets Harbor, which sits on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario.
South: If you drive an hour south and a little west, you can find your way to Ithaca. Here is where Cornell (Schoellkopf Field, anyone?), Ithaca College, Cayuga lake, multiple state parks, and plenty of waterfalls are found. Some of the waterfalls usually allow swimming in them as well, but it may be a little late in the year for that.
If you go on a Saturday or Sunday morning, stop by the Ithaca Farmer’s market where you can eat and drink your way through the multiple vendors serving things that are only allowed if they are made on site. Wandering through the area and parks, you’ll see why there are shirts and stickers everywhere saying “Ithaca is Gorges”.
East: Especially if you love the outdoors, head east to see the Adirondacks. This whole region can be a hiker’s paradise and is also where you can find towns like Saranac Lake, Lake Placid (of Winter Olympic and summer lacrosse tournament fame), and Saratoga.
West: Driving west on the Thruway will bring you to Buffalo, home of Niagara Falls, chicken wings, beef on weck, and the Buffalo Bandits. On your way there, you’ll pass Rochester (Knighthawks, Rattlers, RIT, Kodak, and much more), and the finger lakes, which is home to some fantastic wineries.