Need to Get Away? Five Places to Visit While at Syracuse University

By: Katie Merken

With a semester lasting four months long, it can seem to never end. During these months, it is easy to start to feel restless, especially if you have an itch to travel.

Even though Syracuse may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere, there are so many great places nearby that are easy to travel to. Even if you only have time for a quick weekend getaway and don’t have a car. To make your college experience more enjoyable, here’s a list of five fun and interesting destinations that are easy on your wallet.

Buffalo, NY

Famous for delicious chicken wings and the Buffalo Bills, this upstate city is only two and a half hours away from Syracuse. It is easily accessible by car, bus, or train. Greyhound buses, equipped with leg room and free Wi-Fi, take around three hours with tickets as low as $23. If you’d rather take the train, Amtrak takes around the same amount of time, with tickets ranging anywhere from $30-$100 depending on the time of purchase.

The next step is finding a place to stay. If you’re feeling adventurous and ready to save some money, download the Airbnb app. This app lists apartments and homes for short rental periods in different areas. The owners of the spaces are always friendly and reliable. Most importantly, prices are affordable. But if Airbnb isn’t your cup of tea, hotel rooms are always an option.

According to Travelocity, the Millenium Airport Hotel Buffalo is close to the train station and adjacent to shopping and entertainment at Walden Galleria. For only $95/night, guests can enjoy a beautiful indoor pool area, a fitness center, and saunas. If you choose to drive, parking is offered for free. The hotel features a restaurant overlooking an indoor courtyard with tropical foliage. If you’re looking to eat out instead, try Lucia’s on the Lake. This seafood and Italian restaurant is an incredible spot to watch the sunset on a rooftop patio overlooking the lake. The food is decadent and reasonably priced; all entrees are under $30. The heart of Buffalo is located only 30 minutes from the U.S. side of Niagara Falls, one of the many must-see sights. Buffalo can offer a weekend full of adventure and new experiences.

Albany, NY

The state’s capital city is located only two and a half hours away from Syracuse by car. Greyhound buses take slightly longer, but a $30 ticket can get you to Albany in three short hours. If you’re seeking to take the bus, Amtrak tickets are between $36 and $100, depending on the quality fare you choose. The train can also add about two hours on to your trip due to frequent stops.
If you’re looking to stay right in the heart of Albany, suggests the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Albany Downtown. By staying here, you can save money on an expensive brunch and enjoy the free hot buffet provided by the hotel instead. And if you need to cancel your trip at the last minute, the Fairfield Inn offers free cancellation.

If you’re a fan of the south, Albany is the home to The Cuckoo’s Nest, a restaurant serving American inspired Southern Cuisine. The restaurant offers a unique menu featuring items such as Smoked Barbeque Chicken Wings, Buttermilk Fried Oysters, and other fried chicken options.

The capital city also has a number of exciting attractions, including the New York State Museum, the Capitol building, and Washington Park. A trip to Albany is the perfect weekend trip during the long spring semester at Syracuse.

New York City, NY

The Big Apple – a popular and fun destination. If you’ve never been to New York City, now is the time to go. Even though four hours by car, getting there isn’t hard. Several different bus companies offer routes with tickets priced between $20 and $40. Greyhound buses will take five to six hours, while Megabus may take longer. Megabus offers Wi-Fi on board, power outlets, and entertainment.

Prices for staying overnight in New York City may be daunting, but Life Hotel was recently rated by TripAdvisor as the #1 budget hotel in the city. For $189 per night, the hotel provides breakfast, high-speed internet, and laundry services. Life Hotel is based in the heart of Midtown, just minutes away from Penn Station, Times Square, Rockefeller Center. If you’re not the typical NYC tourist, other spots include The SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park, The Lexington Candy Shop, Babycastles, and Joanne Trattoria.

The SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park resides in a glass-paneled nautical shell that sits above the original New York Aquarium. The carousel features 30 fiberglass fish spotlighting 12 different species, and riders feel like they are swimming through the ocean as fish spin around and LED lights flash. The Lexington Candy Shop, located on the corner of Lexington Ave and 83rd Street, transports visitors back to the 1940s with old-fashioned coffee urns, homemade malt milkshakes, and walls covered in vintage memorabilia. The neighborhood shop offers the same menu that it has since the 30s and 40s. Babycastles is a nonprofit, DIY art gallery, music venue, and lecture hall dedicated to video game culture and custom-made art games. Visitors are encouraged to not just touch but play with the exhibits on display. The venue also puts on poetry readings, music, and live theater. Babycastles is located at 145 W 14th Street in Manhattan. After exploring the city, make sure to stop by Joanne Trattoria, a homestyle Italian restaurant owned by Lady Gaga’s parents on the upper west side of the city. The restaurant offers countless pasta dishes. NYC has endless destinations to be explored.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ever wanted to take a trip up to the Great White North? Now is your chance. Toronto is only a four and a half hour car ride away from Syracuse. Buses and trains to Canada are slightly more expensive and longer than you might expect – Toronto is around seven hours, with tickets ranging from $70-$100.

Airbnb’s are always an option. One even overlooking the CN Tower for only $60 per person per night, but if you’re looking to stay in a hotel, TripAdvisor recommends the Bond Place Hotel in downtown Toronto. The hotel is steps away from the Toronto Theatre District and close to the University of Toronto for only $85/night if you decide to book through Expedia. A great place to eat may be Mahjong Bar at 1276 Dundas St West. This restaurant offers small, affordable Chinese dishes and a huge variety of house cocktails. The bar is open from 6 pm-2 am (remember – the drinking age in Ontario is only 19!) The restaurant features whimsical interior design including glowing lights, tall ceilings, and a 36-foot custom mural.

During the daytime, check out the Allan Gardens Park and Conservatory. This indoor, heated garden consists of several rooms filled with beautiful flowers and foliage. Entry is free and will transport you from the cold Toronto air into the tropics. If you’re looking to spend some money, the CN Tower offers ticketed tours for $38. The Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. You might recognize it from the cover of Drake’s album “Views.” One more thing – don’t forget to pack your passport!

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Last but not least, the largest city in Canada’s Québec province, the French colonial city, Montréal. The drive to Montréal is only four and a half hours, but double the length by bus, and almost triple by train. Both Greyhound buses and Amtrak train tickets are around $80.

This city has a unique European flair that includes lodging. When staying in Montréal, look into a hostel called M Montréal. The hostel is only $60 per night and is set up similarly to a dormitory. M Montréal is only a minute walk from Sainte Catherine Street, home of many great restaurants and bars, and a five-minute walk from the metro station. It includes continental breakfast and cable TV.

Montréal is known for French cuisine, but poutine in particular. Pierrette Patates is known for having some of the best poutine in Montréal. Almost everything on the menu is under $10 including trios of hot dogs, poutine, and a beverage. When visiting Montréal, make sure to take a walk in Parc du Mont-Royal, a 761-foot high park that offers breathtaking views of the city. Montreal is a must-see destination, you will feel as if you’re in a small European town.