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, New York for families and found lots of great activities to choose from. We spent a weekend exploring Syracuse and enjoying a weekend getaway for our family.
We picked up our rental car Thursday night so that we were ready to leave for Syracuse after work on Friday. The drive to Syracuse is under an hour and a half and we wanted to arrive for dinner and to have a bit of time to enjoy the evening. Scroll to the end of the post for a list of everything we did during our Syracuse family weekend.
I love planning day trips and weekend getaways because they can be last minute and meet our family travel goals of connecting together while having life adventures. I partnered with Expedia’s Add-On Advantage program to book our Syracuse weekend and shared my experience in my post on 11 family weekend getaways from Rochester. It was easy to use the Add-On Advantage program and it saved us money on our stay.
Things to Do in Syracuse for a Family Weekend Getaway from Rochester, New York
Day 1: Genesee Grande Hotel, Pizza, and an Evening Walk Around Syracuse University
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!
Day 2: The Wild Animal Park, A Bit of Oz, Green Lake State Park, and Destiny USA
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.
Next we headed to All Things Oz museum. I love adding surprises to our day trips and we learned about this place on Friday night. 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.
Day 3: Doughnuts, Onondaga Lake Park, and Some Shopping
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 I knew our family weekend would be awesome. It was just what we needed to reconnect and enjoy some family time.
Our Syracuse Family Weekend Getaway Itinerary:
- 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.
More New York State Family Activities:
- Magical Fairy Trails: A Hidden Gem in Rochester, New York
- Road Trip Adventure: Rochester to Myrtle Beach
- A Safari Ride Outside of Rochester…Hidden Valley Animal Adventure Park