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Syracuse Gay Travel

The Syracuse gay travel experience is full of inclusivity. Check out wolfyy’s tips for hotels, gay bars, things to do, unique restaurants & the local gay scene. 

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The Gay Travel Experience: Syracuse, New York

Gay life in Syracuse is truly diverse. While visiting the City of Syracuse, I discovered spaces where people of varying gender identities, sexual orientations and ages melded together gracefully. You’ve got to agree…it’s a bit uncommon to find gays, lesbians and those with fluid/non-binary genders comingling in one space!
Syracuse gay traveler
A feeling of “no judgement” is how I would describe it. Everyone was simply interested in having a good time at the gay clubs and queer bars. Being yourself was paramount.To say the least, it was refreshing.

From my perspective, gay guys in Syracuse seem to have a relaxed attitude and they certainly aren’t shy. Maybe Syracuse gay travel should be higher on your list! I’d definitely agree.
gay traveler enjoying mimosa
Syracuse gay traveler
visiting SU campus

I attended Syracuse University from 2010 to 2014, so I naturally have a fondness for this manufacturing-era city. I decided to take a long weekend back five years after graduation with my best friend Taylor and my boyfriend Michael.

It was great to reconnect with the city and see what has changed. Michael happily and adorably sported a professorial look all weekend.

Syracuse Sports

Much of the Syracuse metropolitan area does not have the bustling feel of a first-tier city like Los Angeles or Miami. However, the things Syracuse lacks in grandeur are made up for with a unique and booming local culture.

visiting SU campus

Fun restaurants and establishments with a ton of history make Syracuse unique and surely worth visiting for the gay traveler. Syracuse is a fantastic destination in so many aspects from local breweries to gay clubs! Even if you’re driving from Montréal or Buffalo toward New York City, you must make a stop in Syracuse!

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Gay Syracuse: Hotels & Where to Stay

Where is the best place to stay while visiting Syracuse? Well, this depends whether your activities will be near the Syracuse University campus or if your agenda will be primarily based on events or attractions in Downtown Syracuse.

Carnegie Library

Below, I’ll suggest the best hotels near the SU campus, the best location to stay in downtown Syracuse and provide a few more tips on Syracuse accommodations.

Where to Stay Close to Syracuse University

The closest hotel to Syracuse University is the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center. The building is located on University Avenue, only a minute away from the storybook-like architecture of SU. It’s by far the most convenient.

snowy road

The Sheraton is a solid choice, a standard hotel with all the basics. It is also close to the famous Marshall Street, a strip of local restaurants held dearly to the hearts of students.

Carnegie Library
snowy road

Syracuse Hotel Skyler is a charming boutique hotel, perfect for those who enjoy a little history. The building used to be a synagogue! Hotel Skyler is a LEED Platinum rated building, meaning it operates at the highest level of environmental sustainability.

Armory Square

Hotel Skyler is a specialty Hilton property, so those with Hilton rewards status may enjoy special benefits. It doesn’t come as robust of amenities as the larger Syracuse hotels, but it surely is a beautiful place to lay your head for a few days!

A third option is the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located a bit farther away from the university. The Syracuse Crowne Plaza offers stunning views of the city on its upper floors.

The building is cylindrical in shape, iconic to the Syracuse skyline. I stayed at the Syracuse Crowne Plaza a few years ago and absolutely loved it.

Where to Stay in Downtown Syracuse

Downtown Syracuse is full of art, unforgettable restaurants and tons of nightlife. If you want to stay in Downtown Syracuse, look for accommodations close to Armory Square. This is where the nights come alive!

Armory Square
Downtown Syracuse Hotels
Downtown Syracuse Hotels

Marriott tends to dominate the rest of the Syracuse hotel market. There is not too much variety in terms of local hotels, so I suggest staying in the Armory Square Residence Inn by Marriott. The downtown location is superb. The SU campus is a short drive away and you will have access to the Syracuse gay bars and best restaurants in the city.

Where is the Syracuse Student Neighborhood?

If students are not living in university-owned dorms, then they tend to cluster into an area just east of the main campus.

The large majority of off-campus housing in Syracuse is bound by four streets. They are Clarendon Street to the north, Westcott Street to the east, Berkeley Drive to the south and Comstock Avenue to the west. This is the main Syracuse student neighborhood.

Carnegie Library interior
Syracuse gay travel
Carnegie Library interior

Many students, especially some at the graduate-level can be found residing in the Westcott neighborhood. Westcott is full of artsy-type individuals and fun local restaurants.

There are also several newly built apartment complexes in different areas surrounding the campus that many students opt for if they prefer more modern accommodations.

If you have a friend that is a student and are able to stay in this area, I highly recommend it. It would be a blast to live in the shoes of a student and get a feel for the true SU college life.

Syracuse Gay Travel Experiences

The nicest part of Downtown Syracuse is the charming Armory Square area. Armory Square is a beautifully quaint, historical area of the downtown. Many of the best Syracuse restaurants and breweries are located in Armory Square.

Crouse hall

Take a stroll around Armory Square in the evening, grab a beer at a local pub and then head to dinner! Make sure to read the restaurant recommendations below.

Crouse hall
Syracuse fashion

Looking for a place to relax? Chill out at Recess Coffee near Westcott Street. Recess has delicious baked goods, stellar coffee and a sort of “hipster” vibe. I would always escape the frigid winter temperatures here sipping on a sweet hot chocolate.

Syracuse fashion

The Museum of Science and Technology is great if you’re bringing any teenagers, youngsters or if you just love science! There are a bunch of interactive exhibits and even an IMAX theatre. The museum is located adjacent to Armory Square.

Things to Do in Syracuse: Explore the SU Campus

The most obvious thing to do, in my opinion? Tour the Syracuse University campus! The ominous building from “The Adam’s Family” is based on the iconic Hall of Languages. Crouse College is the “Hogwarts”-looking building, where the music school is located, another of Syracuse’s most memorable buildings.
Syracuse University Quad

Walk through the quad and then stop by at Carnegie Library and Hendricks Chapel. If you’re still craving more Syracuse college life tourism after that, walk down Comstock Avenue or Walnut Place to see all the big fraternities and sororities. 

Syracuse has a huge presence of Greek life. You’ll see the large Greek letters on the facades of each house.

Syracuse School of Music
Syracuse School of Music
Syracuse University Quad

It is possible to arrange a guided tour of the SU campus. Many tours are focused on prospective students, so they may not be best-suited for a tourist. I would give the university a call and inquire if there is a special tour you can take.

Personally, I think it’s best to wander the campus and read a bit of history on your phone for the beautiful buildings you like the most.

Syracuse Restaurants

Breakfast at Funk ‘n Waffles is an absolute must. Funk ‘n Waffles is a jazz lounge restaurant with live music shows. They serve both savory and sweet waffle dishes all day long. You can visit for any meal of the day. Anyone who has enjoyed a meal at Funk ‘n Waffles will say you can’t leave Syracuse without a visit!

Funk 'n Waffles restaurant

I love Kitty Hoyne’s Irish Pub both for a quick beer or a hearty Irish dinner. Kitty Hoyne’s has been open since 1999, but brings true Irish heritage from a much earlier time. The restaurant is a mainstay of downtown Syracuse.

In this Irish pub and restaurant, you certainly won’t find any low-quality bar snacks. Every dish is thoughtful, original and authentically Irish!

Funk 'n Waffles restaurant
breakfast restaurant
breakfast restaurant

Dinner at Lemongrass Restaurant will surely please everyone. Their specialty is Thai food, but they also prepare dishes from other cuisines. Their menu includes curry dishes, classic Thai, American grill favorites as well as vegetarian options. Make sure to book a reservation with them.

Pastabilities is a favorite Italian restaurant in Syracuse. They serve and sell their own proprietary spicy sauce, which is unbelievably tasty. I used to buy jars of this stuff all the time. Definitely make a reservation for Pastabilities to avoid long lines, especially on weekends. The restaurant is very popular.

Restaurants Near SU Campus

If you want a typical, hearty, all-American breakfast, then you have to pay a visit to Mom’s Diner. They are located on Westcott Street very close to the SU student neighborhood. Mom’s Diner has everything a typical diner would have, including all that delicious soul food.

Right across the street on Westcott is Alto Cinco, if you’re down for some mouth-watering Mexican food. If you’re looking for a midday margarita, this is your spot. They also have brunch!

Syracuse gay travel
gay traveler enjoying mimosa
Syracuse pubs

I’ve eaten many times at Blue Monkey on Marshall Street, a mainstay sushi restaurant near the SU campus. The interior may not be the prettiest you’ve ever seen, but they definitely know their sushi.

Faegan's Cafe & Pub

Faegan’s Café & Pub is great to grab a few beers near the Syracuse campus. Every Wednesday is “Flip Night” at Faegan’s, starting at 9PM. For every beer you order, the bartender will flip a coin. You call heads or tails, and if you are correct, you get a free beer.

Syracuse pubs

Flip Night at Faegan’s is a load of fun. It’s definitely a bit of a thrill! If you’re a huge beer fan, check out the Faegan’s World Beer Tour. They have an awesome hall of fame section on the restaurants back wall.

Syracuse Gay Bars

Syracuse has several gay bars, both new and traditional! They all have a slightly different vibe, but are equally as fun. The best thing about Syracuse gay bars is that there’s a true mix of all types of LGBT+ people. You’ll find more than a bunch of gay dudes; there are queer people, lesbians and allies to befriend.

Nightlife

Rain Lounge is my favorite Syracuse gay bar. It has a ton of space to dance, an outdoor area and fun drag queens. In the summertime, they open up a beach-sand volleyball court in the rear yard. Everyone has an absolute blast! The floorplan of the bar is fun. The floorplan is very open and it’s very easy to move around and socialize.

Nightlife
Trexx gay club
Trexx gay club

Trexx Nightclub is a straight club that has specific gay nights. Back when I was attending Syracuse University, gay nights at Trexx would be on Thursdays. This may change depending on the time of year or based on other factors, so be sure to check the Trexx Nightclub Facebook page.

Wunderbar: Syracuse’s Queer Bar

One of Syracuse’s newest gay bars is Wunderbar. Wunderbar is paving the way for the next generation of LGBTQ nightclub spaces. It is all kinds of amazing!

gay bar

The bar’s front room is an upscale lounge space with stunning décor and lighting. This is one of the best areas for solo gay travelers to meet locals. Everyone is very friendly. The crowd at Wunderbar tends to be on the younger side, however I encountered people of all ages!

Syracuse gay clubs
gay bar
Syracuse gay clubs

In the rear of the club there is a traditional club space where weekend dance parties are held. Be sure to check the event list on the Wunderbar Website! This is a spot any gay traveler will not want to miss!

Syracuse Gay-Friendly Bars

One of my favorite cocktail bars in Syracuse is Al’s Wine & Whiskey Bar. Think dimly-lit interior with a cozy old-timey feel. Al’s Wine & Whiskey is a true whiskey bar that has an entire wall of available liquors, plus bar games and food to order.

Rain Lounge Syracuse gay bar
Rain Lounge Syracuse gay bar
art on wall of bar

Syracuse Gay Travel Tips

Toward the end of your night out, keep in mind that there are only so many Uber and Lyft drivers around. If you wait until after your favorite gay bar closes before ordering your ride, you may run into difficulty.

Queer & lesbian bar

You may end up paying an inflated price or even waiting more than 15 minutes for a car to reach you. I suggest leaving 10 minutes before closing time and snagging the first available car.

Syracuse gay travel
gay bars Syracuse NY

If you’re headed to Syracuse between November and February, make sure to bring your best snow boots. Syracuse is one of the snowiest cities in the United States. Lake-effect snow pummels Central New York until the late winter months, when the lakes freeze over. Check the weather and plan accordingly.

Syracuse gay travel

Syracuse is a very event-driven city. The bustle of crowded restaurants and traffic happens when an event is taking place like a convention or a SU sports game. Keep this in mind when booking a hotel in Syracuse. If you choose to visit on a weekend when a huge basketball or football game is scheduled, prices may be higher than normal.

Is Syracuse Gay Travel Safe?

While I love the city of Syracuse and I highly recommend you visit, I will warn you that it is not always safe to wander streets alone after dark in areas too far from the University campus.

Crime is less frequent in areas directly around the SU campus. However, as you stray into dimly-lit residential areas away from the campus, things can be a bit dodgy. Always avoid walking through parks after dusk.
Syracuse safety
Queer & lesbian bar
Syracuse safety
Both Marshall Street and Armory Square, as well as their immediate vicinities, are quite safe. Go with your gut and simply do not wander away from the groups of people. If you are alone, you may be a target for theft.

Be cautious, especially if you’ve been out late drinking at a pub. When in doubt, call a ride.

The Best Time to Visit Syracuse

Syracuse, along with the rest of Central New York, has frigid winters and hot summers. Frequent bouts of heavy snow in winter and spring can beautify the city’s landscape. It can certainly be treacherous to travel, though! If you’re traveling in the winter, try to make plans somewhat flexible.

when to visit Syracuse

Summers are equally as beautiful with weeks of constant sunshine. I lived in Syracuse between my junior and senior years at university. What’s not to like about enjoying the countryside in Central New York?

when to visit Syracuse
Syracuse Sports

Even considering all this beauty, late autumn is definitely the best time to visit Syracuse in my opinion. Between the bustle of the fall semester, high energy of the SU campus during football season, picturesque fall foliage and more, autumn is my pick!

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Don’t forget to share this Syracuse gay travel guide with a friend.

Next, read about the Canadian neighbor to the north, Montréal. Or, explore wolfyy’s full list of gay travel destinations.

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