Syracuse is the winner of the Golden Snow Globe, celebrating the American city (population over 100,000) with the greatest snow fall. It gets over 300 centimetres of snow each winter, which qualifies it as a true winter destination.
There are more than 50 state, county and city parks and several nature centres in and around Syracuse. Many offer winter activities for families.
Highland Forest (www.onondagacountyparks.com/highland-forest) features sleigh rides, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more. Beaver Lake Nature Centre, west of Syracuse, is home to over 16 kilometres of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.
You can ice skate in Clinton Square (www.clintonsquare.com) in the downtown.
You may also wish to visit the Rosamond Gifford Zoo (www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org) at Burnet Park, home to over 1,000 animals. Visiting a zoo in winter lets you observe completely different animal behaviour.
Lights on the Lake (www.lightsonthelake.com) is a three-kilometre drive-through holiday lights spectacular celebrating its 25th year. With themed sections and life-size displays, the show wraps up with a grand finale at Onondaga Lake Park; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. nightly until Jan. 4. Monday to Thursday, $10/car; Friday to Sunday, $15/car.
Syracuse Winterfest (www.SyracuseWinterfest.com) runs from Feb. 12-22. Enjoy fireworks, skating, snowboarding, sledding, skiing, human dog-sledding, a kids zone, and more.
Looking for something a little unusual? Consider taking a self-guided tour of the Haunted History Trail of NY State (www.hauntedHistoryTrail.com). There are maps and audio tours online, with seven stops in the Syracuse area and another dozen a little further out. Discover bone-chilling history and meet ghosts from the past.
One of the stops is the Erie Canal Museum (www.eriecanalmuseum.org). The museum is committed to preserving the only weighlock building in the U.S., as well as conserving and collecting canal historical material and promoting the canal’s transformative effects through time.
Museums and Galleries
If it gets chilly, you can head indoors and visit one of the area’s 40 museums and galleries, including the widely recognized Everson Museum of Art designed by I.M. Pei
(www.Everson.org) and the Museum of Science and Technology (www.MOST.org). The Everson Museum offers an Art Zone, located on the lower level, where kids can create pottery and other works of art. Check the schedule for special family programming on weekends. Also at the MOST, you can enjoy an IMAX movie and over 200 hands-on exhibits and displays.
Destiny USA (www.DestinyUSA.com) is a large shopping centre and indoor entertainment complex, featuring Wonder Works, Canyon Climb, Pole Position Raceway, Dave & Busters (a restaurant and video arcade), and much more.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your Syracuse family getaway today.