Syracuse, NY is a great destination for families looking for museums, activities, and outdoor fun. Today we are sharing fun things to do in Syracuse, NY with kids plus a sample Syracuse NY weekend itinerary to plan your getaway.
Planning a family weekend getaway is a great way to reconnect as a family and take a break from the distractions at home. I started researching things to do in Syracuse, NY with kids and found lots of great activities to choose from.
The best parts about Syracuse is it has a small city feel with lots of big city fun. The variety of outdoor adventures, awesome museums, and unique attractions make Syracuse a great place to visit with kids.
Best Things to Do in Syracuse NY with Kids
Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology
The MOST is an amazing science museum offering hands-on exhibits as well as nationally traveling exhibits. Kids of all ages will find something to do at this interactive learning museum.
The Erie Canal Museum
Learn about the history and story of why the Erie Canal became so important to New York State history. Guests can explore a life size canal boat and walk along the Erie Canal as well.
APEX Entertainment is an entertainment area at Destiny USA. This place is great for older kids and has a variety of activities. Some of the activities are Axe throwing, Virtual Reality, Bowling, laser tag, and an arcade. They also have dining options available.
Rosamond Gifford Zoo
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is situated at Burnet Park. Guests can all different animals and walk this moderately sized zoo. The Red Pandas are always my favorite.
If you are looking for something to do in Syracuse NY with kids for your thrill seekers take a drive to Thunder Island waterpark. Here you will find water slides, go-karts, and mini-golf that are fun for all ages.
Funk N’ Waffles
As seen on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives you want to include Funk N’ Waffles on top of your list for visiting Syracuse. They offer breakfast and lunch options making this a perfect stop for the entire family.
Song Mountain Resort
If you are visiting during the winter months consider a day on the mountain at Song Mountain resort. Song Mountain offers ski lessons and has an on-site restaurant.
Watch a Syracuse Crunch Game
During hockey season be sure to check out a Syracuse Crunch game to cheer on the team. Season starts in October and ends in April.
WonderWorks is located at Destiny USA as well as other locations nationally. WonderWorks is an interactive indoor amusement park with an educational theme. Most activities are focused around the sciences with a fun twist.
If you don’t mind taking a short (under 40 minute) drive to the beach be sure to include Sylvan Beach to your trip. With amazing beaches and the Sylvan Beach Amusement park this is a great addition to your Syracuse trip.
If you have more time consider a few nights at The Cove at Sylvan Beach to compliment your time in Syracuse.
Sports fans can check out a Syracuse game or spend the afternoon walking around the campus. We were surprised how much fun we had just exploring and letting the kids run around a bit on our evening in Syracuse.
Love shopping? Destiny USA is a one stop shop for all types of shoppers. Be sure to include a few of the great activities and dining options for your day.
Museum of Intrigue
Located at Destiny USA the Museum of Intrigue is a mystery that is fun for all ages. Each mystery is unique and this is best suited for older kids.
You can’t visit Syracuse and not visit the famous Dinosaur BBQ. Syracuse is home to the original Dinosaur BBQ location and worth the visit. They offer large portions and kids meals.
All Things Oz Museum
Although this is outside of Syracuse it is worth including in your day. The All Things Oz museum is a tribute to The Wizard of Oz. It is a small museum but a unique place to visit that we all enjoyed. Their collection has a lot of memorabilia from the film.
Everson Museum of Art
This art museum is located in downtown Syracuse and has unique pieces. Be sure to check out the newest permanent exhibit by Derek Porter that plays with the concept of light as art.
Onondaga Lake Park
Onondaga Lake Park has bike and walking trails along Onondaga Lake. There is also a great playground for small children. I suggest planning a picnic breakfast or lunch and enjoying the views.
Green Lake State Park
Green Lake State Park is absolutely beautiful. In the summer months expect it to get busy, arrive early to get a spot on the sand. There is also kayak rentals, trails, and playgrounds.
Wild Animal Park
The Wild Animal Park has many animals to see. Guests can feed the giraffes and visit the petting zoon. There is also a large bounce house area to let the kids run off some energy.
If you would like to explore by water check out Mid-Lakes Navigation to get a different view of what Syracuse, NY has to offer.
Chittenango Falls State Park
If you plan on visiting The All Things Oz Museum be sure to include a hike at Chittenango Falls State Park. The highlight of the park is the 167 foot waterfall. Guests can walk the trail to see the top of the falls and then walk down to the foot bridge.
3 Day Syracuse Family Weekend Itinerary
We left after work on a Friday to start our weekend in Syracuse. The drive to Syracuse is under an hour and a half from Rochester, and we wanted to arrive for dinner and to have a bit of time to enjoy the evening.
- Where We Stayed: Genesee Grande Hotel & Suites
- Dinner: DiLauro’s Bakery
- Activitiy: Walked around downtown Syracuse. Explored Syracuse University.
- Breakfast: Dunkin Donuts
- Activity: The Wild Animal Park, Chittenango, New York
- Activity: All Things Oz Museum, Chittenango, New York
- Lunch: Picked up picnic at Tops (Local Grocery Store), Picnic at Green Lake
- Activity: Green Lake State Park- Swimming, Playground
- Activity: Destiny USA-Shopping, WonderWorks
- Dinner: Spaghetti Warehouse
- Evening: Back to Hotel for the Night
- Breakfast: Doughnuts at Harrison Bakery
- Activity: Breakfast on the Lake at Onondaga Park, Playground and picnic tables.
Syracuse, NY Weekend Day 1
We booked a room at the Genesee Grande Hotel. It was nice and included parking downtown. Typically we like to stay at a hotel that offers breakfast in the morning but we had plans to stop at a few doughnut shops during the weekend.
The hotel room we had was the Road Warrior suite. It had a king bed and pull-out sofa. The room was spacious for our family. For the weekend the sleeping arrangements were good, but for a longer stay you may want more space.
Our first stop of the night was dinner. My husband did a lot of food research for this trip and he planned out where we would eat for most of the weekend. We ordered pizza and Dilunas from DiLauro’s Bakery.
Not only did we order Dilunas (like a mini-calzones with sausage, spinach, pepperoni) we also picked up a cinnamon raisin loaf for breakfast in the morning. The bakery was delicious and I wanted to try everything.
We returned to the room for dinner and then decided to walk around Syracuse University. Syracuse University was a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel. I had never visited the school and I was really happy we did for two reasons.
- The kids needed to burn off some energy. It was a beautiful night and it felt good to walk off dinner and explore the campus.
- Syracuse University is really nice. There are old buildings and the kids really liked checking it out.
After the walk we went back to the hotel for the night. We had a full day planned for Saturday!
Syracuse, NY Weekend Day 2
With weekend getaways I always try to pack in a lot of activities. There are so many things to do in Syracuse and we had a big day planned. We even added some surprise stops in along the way.
Our first stop was The Wild Animal Park in Chittenango, New York. It is about a 30 minute drive from downtown Syracuse and is a fun place to visit for families. We arrived at opening and I am glad we did, there was a line forming to enter and when we left a few hours later it was busy.
When you purchase tickets you have the option to add-on bounce house passes as well as purchase feed for the animals. We added the bounce house passes and food for the giraffe feeding. The other food we purchased inside the park.
As you enter there are places to feed the goats, but we quickly walked passed it to start with the giraffe feedings. I am so happy we did. We were the only family on the platform feeding them. This made it so much easier and made for great pictures!
After the giraffes we followed the path around the park and visited the other animals and spend some time in the bounce house area. Overall we spent about 2 hours exploring.
We were close to the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, and knew this would be a great stop for us. We walked the yellow brick road sidewalk to the museum and took the quick tour of the museum artifacts from the classic story.
At this point we were ready for lunch. We picked up a picnic from the local grocery store(Tops) and then made our way to Green Lake State Park.
I have been wanting to visit Green Lake State Park because I had heard how beautiful it was. It did not disappoint. The lake is lined with a sandy shore, picnic areas, and a playground. We spent the afternoon there and it was a great way to relax and get ready for our busy evening.
The kids really wanted to visit Destiny USA, a giant mall-entertainment complex in Syracuse. I was hesitant because it can get really busy on the weekends and I thought it might be crazy by the time we arrived. It ended up being a slow afternoon and we had so much fun.
We visited the Disney Store(of course!) and then headed over to WonderWorks. WonderWorks is an indoor attraction that is best described as half hands-on science museum and half indoor amusement. We experienced a hurricane, experienced a bed of nails, played with bubbles, and experienced a 3D show.
All of the attractions are included in the admission price. I highly suggest checking out Groupon for deals on tickets. We saved a lot of money by purchasing our tickets before we arrived. Our tickets also included the ropes course and laser tag.
There are lots of restaurants at Destiny USA but we decided to visit the Spaghetti Warehouse. I used to visit one on my birthday every year and it was fun to take the kids. At this point we were pretty tired and went back to the room for the night.
Syracuse, NY Weekend Day 3
On our last day we didn’t want to rush home so we decided to pick up some fresh doughnuts at Harrison Bakery, and take them to Onondaga Lake Park for breakfast by the lake.
This was the perfect place to spend the morning. There are picnic tables, a walking path, and the Wegman’s Playground. It was really nice to not rush to get home and enjoy the morning at a slower pace.
Finally we packed up and our drive back to Rochester. We made a quick stop at the Outlet Mall for some shopping and were home by early afternoon.
With so many things to do in Syracuse, NY with kids I knew our family weekend would be awesome. It was just what we needed to reconnect and enjoy some family time.