• Samantha Linnett

My Guide to Winter in Syracuse

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

I live in the snow capital of the United States! Syracuse gets an average of 123.8 inches of snow every year (that's over 10 ft, or over 3 meters for you metric systemers). We are the proud holder of the Golden Snowball trophy (yes, this is a thing). So, what winter activities can we do in all of this snow?

Not everyone likes the snow and cold, and you'll often even hear Syracusans complaining about it. The cold can really wear away at you. I'm guilty of it, too. But today, I want to help us celebrate our snowy climate! We all know we can use some positivity in the middle of our winter blues (and as several feet of snow sit on the ground). So below are some of my favorite winter things to do in Syracuse:

1. Ice Skating in Clinton Square

Clinton Square Ice Skating Rink, Syracuse, NY

Historic Clinton Square is where a portion of the Erie Canal passed through Downtown Syracuse. And in the winter, its giant fountain turns into an idyllic ice skating rink, framed by the City's signature Christmas tree. Ice skate rentals (and hot chocolate!) are available in a neighboring building, and starting in mid-January, Wednesday night skating is free! The rink goes up just after Thanksgiving and remains up through much of March, weather permitting (which it usually is).

2. Snowshoeing/winter hiking

Goodnow Mountain in the Snow, Adirondacks

Adults can play in the snow too! I've never been big on skiing/snowboarding (I can't stop), but I've recently started winter hiking and snowshoeing with some friends. It's so much fun! Snowshoeing paths are available all around Syracuse, from Sunnycrest City Park, to Highland Forest and Onondaga Lake County Parks, to Green Lakes State Park and all over the Adirondacks.

Pro Tip: If you're going winter hiking/snowshoeing, do so safely! Climbing mountains in the snow can end very badly if you're not careful. Make sure you have the right equipment (microspikes or snowshoes) and dress warm and in layers. Pack extra clothes and items in case of an emergency. Do your research - some areas of the Adirondacks require you to have snowshoes if there is over 4 inches of snow on the ground. AND LEAVE NO TRACE. Check here to learn more and prep for an amazing ADK winter hiking trip!

3. Snow Leopard Days at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Now, some of you might ask, why would you go to the zoo in the winter? Why, to watch baby red pandas play in the snow of course!

But not just red pandas; the elephants and otters and (of course) penguins and snow leopards all love the snow! During the winter season the zoo has reduced ticket prices for "Snow Leopard Days," running from January 1 to February 28. Plan your visit here!

4. Recess Hot Chocolate

Recess Coffee Hot Chocolate

Okay, so you've reached the point where not even baby red pandas playing in the snow can help you ignore the cold. Warm up at one of my favorite Syracuse cafés: Recess Coffee! The hot chocolate is as rich as you could ever want, and the marshmallows are homemade! You can also get a Candy Latte or Tea if that's more your style. Stop into their Westcott location to cozy up on a couch and let the delicous and hot liquid (as well as the friendly staff) warm your soul.

5. Pho at New Century Vietnamese Restaurant

Pho from New Century Vietnamese Restaurant, Syracuse, NY

Still not warm enough? This might call for some hot noodle soup, the perfect winter meal. New Century Vietnamese Restaurant on Syracuse's Northside has some of the most amazing Pho in the city. With dozens of options for this delicious soup (including vegan!) and the ability to make it as spicy (or not spicy, I guess) as you'd like, it's my go-to spot for a meal to warm me up on a cold winter day.

6. Syracuse Orange Basketball & Syracuse Crunch

Syracuse University Basketball Game in the Carrier Dome

Winter is truly the best season for Syracuse sports (sorry Coach Babers). To get the true Syracuse experience, you have to attend a Syracuse University basketball game in the Carrier Dome. The energy of the place is electric - just follow the student section's lead (Disclaimer: I am an SU alum. I bleed orange).

Not quite ready to fully separate from the icy outdoors? Attend a Syracuse Crunch hockey game at the OnCenter downtown instead!

7. Carol Watson Greenhouse

Indoor tables at the Carol Watson Greenhouse, Lafayette, NY

Actually need a full escape from the frigid and white winter landscape? We've got that, too! Head over to the Carol Watson Greenhouse, just a short drive down I-81 in Lafayette. The place is simply magical, and the contrast with the snowy exterior is exactly what you need. Walk in and be caressed by the scent of a hundred flowers and lost in a sea of green. Take a seat at one of the garden tables while you enjoy some fresh coffee and cookies that they keep hot for guests. Maybe even buy some plants to help bring the warm happiness back into your home. A few minutes in this wonderful place and you'll completely forget about the frozen outdoors.

If you're looking for more winter fun in Syracuse, check out Visit Syracuse! You can also follow along with Syracusan's favorite places on Instagram @Experiencesyrproject.

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