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The Short Version: Syracuse is a vibrant city smack dab in the middle of New York. Its historical sites and gothic architecture stand in stark contrast to its modern attractions and college-town vibe. Couples can enjoy traditional dinner-and-a-movie dates here, or they can take a walk on the wild side and explore the hills, lakes, and surrounding greenery. There’s always something going on in Syracuse, and couples can spend quality time in this budget-friendly date destination.
Syracuse is the fifth most populous city in New York with over 145,000 people calling it home. After years of population decline, there is some evidence that this cultural and economic hub is on the rise once again.
The downtown area is particularly thriving. According to census data, Syracuse’s downtown has seen a 47% population increase over the last decade.
Thanks in part to Syracuse University, Syracuse attracts thousands of 20-somethings who shape the culture of the city. The median age is just over 30, and many trendy spots accommodate this youthful crowd. Downtown’s Armory Square has over 30 restaurants, 20 bars, and 50 retail stores to satisfy locals and visitors.
This urban renaissance has made Syracuse a population destination for couples going on a weekend getaway or a special date.
Syracuse offers an array of attractions for daters seeking entertainment. Whether you’re picking apples at a local orchard or cheering on the Syracuse Crunch hockey team together, you can create great memories in the heart of New York.
“The people of Syracuse are very welcoming, warm, and friendly,” said Mary Kate Harrigan, spokesperson for Visit Syracuse. “We have a lot of people within our community with creative and innovative ideas that are the heart of the businesses, restaurants, and events here.”
Syracuse gives New Yorkers a chance to escape the crowds and find a metropolis tucked away in the heart of the state. If you’re looking for a unique date night, Syracuse has a lot of great options available. You could wine and dine someone in the downtown area, or you could have an adventure in the great outdoors.
Green Lakes State Park has hiking, boating, swimming, paddleboating, golfing, and snowmobiling, depending on the season. Many couples enjoy taking in the natural beauty of the area from the water, and its glass-bottom boats are particularly popular options for first-time visitors.
Couples can give themselves a treat by picking apples and sampling hard cider at Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards, or they can turn their evenings into a winter fairy tale by enjoying a sleigh ride through Highland Forest when it’s snowy out. These rides are available from December through February, weather permitting.
Not a big fan of the outdoors? Then skip the ski slopes and head to the downtown area. Syracuse is full of museums, bars, restaurants, and theaters where couples can unwind.
You can spend many joyful evenings exploring the local food scene. Many locally owned eateries have embraced the farm-to-table movement and offer fresh, healthy, and original dishes worth savoring.
A Mano Kitchen & Bar is perfect for celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. Some dinner guests have even gotten on one knee here. Its white-tablecloth atmosphere and made-from-scratch Italian dishes satisfy couples seeking something special.
Located on Fay Road, the Cider Mill is known for its low-key vibe and elevated menu, which features smoked gouda mac and cheese, pan-fried crab cakes, and a spicy Eddie Murphy burger.
After dinner, you can continue your date night by having drinks at a local bar. As a 1920s-style speakeasy, The Fitz offers an intimate setting to enjoy craft cocktails. The bar is hidden under the Oh My Darling restaurant, and its old-world charm seduces patrons.
Syracuse has a long history dating back to the 1600s, but local officials say the city’s best days are still ahead of it. The Inner Harbor neighborhood is currently expanding to add new restaurants, breweries, hotels, and stores, and the downtown area has seen local businesses attract new residents.
“Syracuse is only growing in options for places to take your date night,” Mary Kate said. “Our downtown is expanding, and we continue to embrace our roots and rich history while introducing new places to play, stay, and connect.”
From skiing in the winter to kayaking in the summer, Syracuse has something fun and exciting going on all year round. Couples can take advantage of recreational programs and events during their date nights.
Clinton Square in Downtown Syracuse is the city’s festival ground in the summer and ice-skating rink in the winter. Crowds of people flock here for everything from food truck rallies to holiday tree lightings.
The Syracuse bar scene is another popular haunt for couples. Visit Syracuse has partnered with local breweries to offer the Sip on Syracuse Beverage Trail. This challenges people to explore the town one bar-hopping night at a time and sample drinks at 13 breweries, five wineries, two distilleries, eight pubs, and a cidery.
Couples can download the Stamped Syracuse App and check in at the appointed watering holes to earn stamps on your drinking passport. As you visit the participating locations, you’ll sample signature brews and earn prizes along the way.
Mary Kate told us recent improvements and incoming businesses have brought new life to the city and energized people going about town.
“It’s the perfect place to discover, explore, and have unique experiences since a lot of our attractions and businesses are unique to the city,” Mary Kate said. “Syracuse definitely has character and local flair, one that wants you to come experience it.”
Couples don’t have to look very hard to find date-worthy events in Syracuse. You can check the city’s event calendar to find out about city-wide events, but it may also be worth asking local bars when they’re planning trivia nights or hosting live music. Or, if you’re a sports fan, you can visit the University of Syracuse to watch college teams play.
These holiday date ideas are perfect for couples who want to snuggle up in the winter and make the most of this magical time of year.
Many couples have sought relaxation and romance in Syracuse, and they haven’t been disappointed. This budget-friendly destination has many cozy places where couples can feel right at home.
In a TripAdvisor review, one couple said they stayed at Mary’s Meadow Bed & Breakfast for Valentine’s Day and felt pampered from the moment they arrived. “The on-again, off-again snowfall was an added beauty to our quiet and restful time away,” according to the review. “We look forward to returning for yet another stay.”
“We had dinner at an outdoor terrace at Apizza Regionale then headed to a Syracuse Mets game afterwards,” said Danielle Luppa, who went on a fantastic first date in Syracuse. “It was easy to find options for both a great meal and local entertainment close together.”
“I am absolutely loving it here!” posted Missjennylifts on Instagram. “The snow is beautiful, and I feel like I’m living in a fair.”
Visitors have raved about the romantic atmosphere of Finger Lakes and the delicious dining options available downtown. Syracuse meets the needs of active couples who enjoy breaking a sweat on their vacations, and it can also accommodate more laid-back couples who just want to spend time together in a new, lively place.
The Visit Syracuse team enjoy hearing positive feedback from individuals, couples, and families who have taken advantage of everything Syracuse has to offer.
“It means a lot to us that our destination creates experiences that bring people closer together,” Mary Kate said. “We’re proud to know that Syracuse offers a diverse selection of activities for couples to enjoy, so they can create new memories together that will always have local ties.”
In the last few years, Syracuse has developed a bustling downtown scene where people of all ages and backgrounds feel welcome. Local officials have invested in the future of the city by supporting the development and growth of Downtown Syracuse.
Despite its modern feel, you don’t have to spend a lot of cash to enjoy yourself in Syracuse. Couples can save money on their dates by attending a public festival, strolling through a museum, or taking a hike through wooded trails. There’s so much to do here, and that creates endless opportunities for romance.
“Syracuse is a vibrant community full of people who always want to improve the city and surrounding areas,” Mary Kate said. “It’s a place where people take pride in their hometown and want to see it succeed.”
Photos courtesy of Visit Syracuse-Wainwright Photography