Syracuse Tailgate/Visitors' Guide

Syracuse Tailgate/Visitors' Guide

Clinton Square (Downtown)

Columbus Circle (Downtown)

Syracuse University Campus

This is one of a series of tailgating guides for Big East football schools written by Syracuse fan and tailgate aficionado TexanMark. If you have any feedback or additional information you think belongs in this guide, please drop an email message to Mark by clicking here.


NOTE:  I have populated a map found here with most of the places talked about here.  This wonderful website has informational maps on most major colleges.  Check it out


First Things First: Getting There:


Syracuse is the northernmost school in the Big East (Football schools). It is a relatively short trip from Rutgers and UConn (each about 4 hours). Other schools within a reasonable drive for a weekend game are 6-7 hours away (Pitt and WVU). Cincinnati and Louisville are too far to drive to unless you have 3 days or love spending the weekend in a car.


Flying into Syracuse is fairly easy. It is a decent sized airport but beware that some of the airfares can be artificially high. Jet Blue and US Air generally have the lowest airfares and have helped a lot to lower airfares into Syracuse. USAir is supposedly evolving into a low airfare carrier which will help. USAir is the dominant carrier into Syracuse.


The airport is about 5 miles north of the downtown/university areas, many local motels will pick you up in their courtesy shuttles if you want to avoid renting a car. The great thing about Syracuse is 500,000 people live there but you are never more than 10-15 minutes from anything. If you are going to rent a car you might want to check into Albany, Buffalo and Rochester (all are within 2 hours of  Syracuse) for lower airfares. Southwest serves Albany and Buffalo while Air Tran serves Rochester. Obviously, if you have an extra day or two you might want to check out Niagara Falls, Turning Stone Casino, Cooperstown, Thousand Islands or the Finger Lakes wineries (all are within 2 ½ hours of Syracuse). Note: World Class Salmon fishing is just 40 minutes north in Pulaski



Turning Stone Casino

Salmon Fishing in Pulaski

Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown


The train station is located about a mile north of downtown and it is a short walk to the huge Carousel (DestiNY USA) Shopping Mall. You can catch a bus or cab from the train station to the university.


Game Day Parking/Tailgating:


Finding the Carrier Dome is fairly easy.  It sits just east of downtown and is perched on top of a hill overlooking the city.  However, the University provides a nice overview  and has a general map you can use. 


The Syracuse tailgating scene is one of lots of small tailgates spread throughout the campus. This is due to the Carrier Dome being built in the middle of a cramped campus with little close by parking. If you are a visiting fan you can find tailgating/parking options in the University area but it will be by private vendors. Best advice is to arrive 3-4 hours before kickoff and scout around for a spot.


Parking Map


Suggested areas to look:


Check the fraternities/sororities on Walnut, parking garages (Sheraton Hotel, a few others can be found around Crouse and Irving Avenues a few blocks north of the Dome), and private residences.  Expect to pay about $5-20 to park.  BTW, I found a $5 lot near Adams St near the Crouse Irving Hospital which sold out about three hours prior to kickoff.  If you are lucky enough to have a connection there are several nice lots near the Dome for parking/tailgating but require a permit (based on donation level).


Tailgating on campus is much different than a lot of other universities due to the lack of parking. As stated above, most of it takes place in small parking lots and parking garages. If you park at a parking garage obviously take a spot on the roof. One note you can not cook with open fire in garages--something about this gets the owners and Fire Department upset. ;-) You are smart to send a scout out early to claim a spot. For 12:00 kickoffs you should be able to find a decent spot as late as 9:00am. For later afternoon kickoffs you shouldn't delay much past 10:30am. For evening games you should be able to find decent spots until early/mid afternoon. I expect in the future if you are trying to tailgate prior to a weekday game you’ll be out of luck on campus (Skytop will probably be your best option). No weekday games are planned in Syracuse for 2005. Syracuse has avoided playing at home even on Thursday nights due to the disruption it would bring to the campus.

The University recommends visitors without passes to park at Skytop, this map will give you a good overview of where it is in relation to the main campus. It is located about ½ mile south  on Comstock from the main campus just past Manley Field House. Shuttle buses are available. Out of town RV’ers should expect to park here.  I have been told RV's can park at Skytop the night before the game.  You should call parking services to check though.  Tailgating out at Skytop is good. Many fans prefer to tailgate there and take the shuttle to the game. Expect to pay $10 to park at Skytop. Bottom line: if in doubt before game day call the parking services department  on campus for more info.  




I'd like to give both 'Cuse and visiting fans another option:  Armory Square.  Armory Square is a fabulous area of entertainment choices about one mile away in Downtown Syracuse. It literally was a decaying old warehouse area that was rejuvenated in last 10-15 years. What makes Armory Square so appealing for tailgating is free parking and "The Orange Express".

Syracuse has local train service on game day between Carousel Mall, Armory Square and the Carrier Dome. The trains start running 1-½ hours before game time and the last train leaves the Carrier Dome 30 minutes after the game ends. About a ten minute ride you end at a train platform near the Carrier Dome located a couple blocks west of the Dome near I-81 (walk up the hill on E. Raynor Ave.).


The thing I like is I don't have to worry about traffic and parking near the Dome. I arrive a few hours before the game and setup a tailgate in the Trolley Parking Lot. This lot has free parking on weekends and is located behind the train tracks next to the ONTrack train station. You get to it by driving under the track overpass through a tunnel to the right of the main ONTrack station. This tunnel is tall enough for RV’s but if in doubt there is an entrance from S. Clinton Street for RVs. About 90 minutes before just walk over to the train station and buy your roundtrip ticket and catch a train whenever you feel like to get up to the Dome. The roundtrip costs this year will $4.00 per person from Armory Square and $5.00 from Carousel Mall (aka DestiNY USA).


On Track Local Train Service stopped at the Armory Square Station

On Track Service Map


Note: Do not expect the environment to be like your own campus because it isn’t located next to the university. Expect an older crowd tailgating here with extended generations of family being common. The times I have tailgated here the huge trolley lot never filled up but still several hundred Cuse and visiting fans were peacefully coexisting. If you are in your 20s the areas near the "quad’ on campus or the parking garages and lots near Marshall/Crouse Streets will be best if you want to assure yourself of a younger crowd. Rest assured though if you park at the Trolley Lot the Armory Square Entertainment area is alive and kicking with plenty of college students, 20 something’s and up, before and after the game if you find the Trolley Lot too tame.


After watching the game just follow the crowd down the hill (easiest exit is Gate B) and catch a return train. Remember don't dilly-dally since the last train leaves about 30 minutes after the game ends. When you arrive back, a multitude of choices in the Armory Square area await you.  


Visitors should check out: Syracuse Suds Factory and world famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, the Blue Tusk (a funky meeting place with an awesome selection of beer on tap), and Clark's Ale House. Clark's in my opinion has the best roast beef sandwich I have ever tasted. Dinosaur has the best BBQ in the North and the most eclectic atmosphere of any place in CNY.


Dinosaur BBQ

Roast Beef Sandwich at Clark's Ale House

Blue Task



The City of Syracuse has a good website for visitors that is also worth checking out.


LODGING (Close):


Note: The local Syracuse Visitor’s website  a good place to help you find addresses and phone numbers for businesses. Another good resource is at

If you have waited until summer or fall for football weekends the rates around the Dome will be high. Bottom line, if you have a car and want to save money you should look to the suburbs or outlying towns (Clay,
Auburn, Cortland, Tully, Oneida, etc...).  Note:  If you are in dire straits for lodging try this website for some "Mom and Pop" motels.  I like the convenience of being near the Dome and usually stay Downtown or near the campus. If you are flying or taking the train in for the game most of these hotels listed below will pick you up at the Airport/Train Terminal via Courtesy Shuttle. Note: If you book a motel room out near North Syracuse or Liverpool you can drive to Carousel Mall, park and take OnTrack to the game.

I've compiled a list a few places below that all have proximity to the Dome, you can walk to them all or take OnTrack (This is the train/trolley that takes you within two blocks of the Dome from Armory Square/Carousel Mall). The service is available on game day.



Econolodge (1 to 2 star quality) on James Street:

Obviously, the benefit is you can get a room (they are clean) usually for around $60 with a breakfast (cereal, milk, fruit and pastry) and TV/Fridge/Microwave. It is about a mile walk to the Dome and about a half mile to
Armory Square. They do provide courtesy shuttle to the airport and other locales. The downside is the distance to the Dome and it is near St Joseph’s Hospital. You'll hear the ambulances and the neighborhood is a bit edgy. Be advised there are some winos in the neighborhood but the area is as safe as you can expect for an urban downtown environment. The Parking Lot is secure and well lit and the owners live on site. This is a great place to go with a bunch of guys--probably not the family. I have stayed here numerous times and have never had a problem.


Next Cheapest:


Parkview Hotel (3 star quality):


A new boutique hotel just opened May 2005. It is related to the GeneseeGrande property a few blocks away. This new hotel is owned by the GeneseeGrande people. Bottomline: it is reasonable and close. All rooms feature custom fabrics, bright living spaces and flat-screen LCD TV; extended-stay suites also have kitchenettes. The Parkview also provides voice mail, speaker phone, high-speed Internet access and a 24-hour on-site business center with administrative support. Local phone number is #315-701-2600 and they do provide a courtesy shuttle.

Closest and Upscale to Armory Square/Bars:


Hawthorn Suites at Armory Square

This is my favorite place but that is the problem, it is also with others and is usually booked. The Hotel is across the street from OnTrack and within staggering distance of all the bars at
Armory Square. It is amazing what they did to the old Hotel Jefferson, a one-time "flea bag" hotel. If you get lucky with reservations expect to pay $130+ a night. A hot breakfast buffet is included. Free parking is outdoors in a contracted lot, valet/concierge services available.

Closest and Upscale:


Sheraton at the University

This is the place to stay if you want to soak up the college experience. It is literally steps from the Dome. I always run into somebody famous there during stays. The downside is it is expensive (approx $200 a night) and most football weekends will probably already be booked. If money isn't a concern this is the place. On game day it has a lot of people mingling and the Hotel sets up a tailgate (fee to get food/drinks) outside for guests and visitors alike.


Sheraton at the University

Hawthorn Suites




Marx Hotel (used to be the old Holiday Inn)

Located about 5/8 mile from the Dome. Nice onsite restaurant. The place is very cleanRooms are around $125.  I have heard Redfield's is a great restaurant and located in the hotel. A very nice point is the free covered parking lot.

SU fan, "Bayside" said, "Almost too nice a place considering that you still had to cab to the Hill / Armory and were rarely there anyway. But, really nice rooms, big, sweeping views, cool overhead showers, and upscale bar/lounge off the lobby. Breakfast buffet at least on Sunday was offered." Note: If you ask, you can get complimentary shuttles.


Genesee Grande Inn

They recently did a major renovation--it is just beautiful. It is about 1/2 mile walk to the Dome on the north edge of campus. The pricing varies from the low 100s and up (Suites). Valet parking is available. The restaurant has received good reviews. This place sounds real good if you are bringing your wife. Be advised the neighborhood turns kind of dicey about five blocks east or north.


LODGING (5-15 minutes away)


There are quite a few motels in the Carrier Circle area. This area is about 3 miles northeast of the university near the Thruway (I-90, exit 35) interchange by the same name.  Note:  You can click on this link and get the Yahoo interactive guide for the area. You can click under the "Smartview" toolbar to find restaurants, etc…


Another area is around the intersection of I-81 and I-90.  The 7th North area also has several options.


If you want a romantic getaway town, I recommend either Skaneateles (pronounced "skinny- atlas") or Cazenovia (pronounced "Caz -a-no-via"). Each village is charming and possesses excellent hotels, B and B’s and restaurants. One of the best lodges in the country is located in Skaneateles. Both villages are about a 30 minute drive to the University.


 SHOPPING (Nonfootball Watching Spouse Option)


If you bring your spouse to Syracuse and they don’t want go to the game you have a wonderful compromise. You can park at Carousel Mall.  The OnTrack station is located on the North side of the mall (Lakeside) "kinda" near the Best Buy and BonTon. It is outside the mall and located about 200 yards north of the building near the access road circling the mall. Just look for something that looks like a fancy bus stop near a set of railroad tracks. Be advised the mall will be undergoing major, major changes over the next 5-10 years. It is soon to be renamed DestiNY USAIt is planned to be a multi billion dollar destination place.


Carousel Mall

Carousel Mall On Track Station


Two other shopping options: Shoppingtown Mall has been an institution in Syracuse for nearly 50 years.  It is located near the hotels around Carrier Circle.


The COR Center has a nice mix of stores in a warm village atmosphere typically found in upper income areas, check out the Fayetteville or Clay locations. It is located on the east side about three miles further east from Shoppingtown.  Note: There is a nice YMCA located at the development.



I already mentioned above several excellent places to eat in the Armory Square area. If you want the college experience you need go no farther than the Marshall Street area (this is the main retail area for Syracuse University just a few blocks from the Dome).


Another option is the funky neighborhood on Westcott Street (between Genesee and Euclid) about ½ mile away.


Places that come highly recommended in the Marshall Street area are Faegan’s Café and Pub (famous beer and food joint for meeting friends), Varsity Pizza (local institution where all SU’s opponents pennants are on the wall. If SU wins a SU player gets the honor to turn the losing team’s pennant upside down) of course has good, cheap NY style pizza, Acropolis Pizza and Cosmo Pizza (two another great pizza places) and King David (Middle Eastern and Greek food).


If you are in the mood for great, old country German food, head to Weber's Restaurant on the north side of the city. Their sauerbraten is a house specialty.

A few other unique places (you’ll need a car) to try:  Heid’s of Liverpool is located about four miles north of downtown in the quaint village of Liverpool. The art deco styled restaurant has been an institution for generations of Syracuse residents. You need to try the coney "co-nee" (a white hot).


Heid's of Liverpool

Hoffman "Coneys", Made in Syracuse and  Served at Heids


Another unique place is Coleman’s Irish Pub  in the Irish neighborhood of Tipperary Hill. Tipperary Hill is famous for having the only green over red traffic light in the USA. The restaurant can be difficult to find so I suggest you print out a good map. The food is excellent and the atmosphere can’t be beat.


Coleman's Pub

Traffic Light w/ Green Light on Top


If you are coming from the South or Midwest you should try the Clam Bar for excellent seafood. I love their haddock fish sandwich. It is huge!  It is located near W. Taft Rd and Brewerton Road ( US 11) also known as "Sweetheart Corner" in North Syracuse. It is about five miles north of Downtown. Parking is located in the rear off South Bay Road.


Another famous seafood restaurant in Syracuse is Doug's Fish Fry.  There are several locations throughout Central New York.  It is well worth the drive.


Another excellent restaurant on the north side is Zebb's in Mattydale.  Zebb's is located right next to the northbound Interstate 81 exit 26, in the Mattydale Plaza, opposite the parking lot from the K-Mart, about 4 miles north of downtown.  Zebb's offers a varied menu with great burgers, BBQ, salads, etc.


If you are looking for good times and good food in a sports bar offering ESPN Gameplan, you need to drive to one of the four Tully's locations in the Syracuse/Liverpool area.


If you crave Italian Food you should wander around Syracuse’s "Little Italy".  It is located just north of downtown.  Two of the best restaurants there are Antonio's (a fairly expensive linen napkin type place that specializes in veal and seafood and is a favorite haunt for a certain local HOF basketball coach) and Angotti's (a little less expensive and more children friendly).  Both have great Italian food.


One more excellent restaurant is Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, located on Erie Blvd East near Thompson Road, not far from Carrier Circle or the SU campus.  It has become a great meeting spot for people who enjoy huge steaks and great Italian Food. You’ll have to try the 24 ounce steak and pasta for under $15.00!  One last excellent Italian Restaurant is Casa di Copani, located about two miles northeast of downtown on Burnet Ave, near Thompson Road, also not far from Carrier Circle. 




Central New York is blessed with a wide variety of affordable public golf courses.  If you are a golfer and have time to get in a round, bring your clubs and check out one of the local tracts.  You should be able to play golf in CNY at least through the end of October.  Here is a quick rundown of some of the best choices the area has to offer:


Green Lakes


Green Lakes is a state course designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr in 1935.  Built on a series of drumlins about 10 miles east of Syracuse, the course is very hilly.  Flat lies are rare.  Not very long...5920 from the white tees and 6212 from the blues.  The greens feature the massive undulations that became a trademark of the young RTJ.  Some look like potato chips.  Very pretty area.  You can see Oneida Lake and the foothills of the Adirondacks from the high points of the course.  Closes just after Thanksgiving each year.

The course is not well maintained.  Bunkers are rarely raked and some have almost no sand in them.  There is no irrigation system and the fairways tend to become very hard in the summer.  An irrigation system was installed during the summer and fall of 2005 that should help greatly to address this situation.

Yardage: reds: 5481, whites: 5920, blues: 6212.
Weekend cost:  $24 to walk, $36 to ride.




Radisson Greens Golf Club is a semi private, 18 hole layout.  It is located northwest of the city of Syracuse, about 20 minutes from downtown. The design features large, bent grass greens, tight tree-lined fairways, large bunkers guarding all greens, with fairway bunkers on all but 5 holes. Lakes provide water in play on 6 holes and add to a challenging round for the most skilled player, packaged in a beautiful, scenic layout. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the course opened in 1978.

The course features a number of striking and impressive holes and is arguably the most challenging layout for a public course in Onondaga County (the Turning Stone courses are not in Onondaga County).  It is unfortunately not well maintained.  Bunkers are rarely raked and the fairways are troubled in some areas.

Yardage: reds: 5543, whites: 6360, blues: 7010.

Weekend cost: varies.....see the web site.



Links at Erie Village


The Links at Erie Village is a relatively new (built about 1996) course located a few miles east of the city of Syracuse, next to the original Erie Canal (which incidentally still exists as a public park used for walking, jogging and bike riding). Water comes into play on 14 of the 18 holes. Dog legs and water force golfers to use a variety of clubs off the tee. Good scoring requires sound course management and consistent accurate placement of your woods and irons.

The course is well maintained but because it was built on a wetland, tends to recover slowly after heavy rains.

Yardage: reds: 5107, whites: 5966, greens: 6290, blues: 6659.
Weekend cost: approximately $30 walking, $40 riding.

The 15th tee at Links at
Erie Village (par 3 over water)


Links at Sunset Ridge


The Links at Sunset Ridge is a relatively new course in Marcellus, about 20 minutes west of the SU campus. Built on rolling hills, the course features some great views of the surrounding countryside and farms.  It is consistently well maintained. 

The course is fairly wide open and has little danger....water and sand come into play on only a handful of holes. Despite having 6 par 5s, it is fairly short. The greens are hard to read and fairly quick.  The carts are outfitted with GPS devices.

Yardage: reds: 5298, whites: 6123, blues: 6700
Weekend cost: $25 walking, $36 riding.


The 16th hole at Links at Sunset Ridge requires a precise approach shot over a large ridge to a green cut into the side of a large hill.




Foxfire is a challenging course located just off route 690. about 15 minutes northwest of the city of Syracuse.  The well manicured layout meanders through various townhouses, patio homes and private residences.  The fairways are fairly tight and most of the greens are protected by several fairway and greenside bunkers. 

The course is generally well maintained.

Yardage: reds: 5401, whites: 6372, blues: 6856

Weekend cost: $30 walking, $40 riding.


Green at the par 5 18th hole at Foxfire


Turning Stone 


The Oneida Nation Turning Stone golf facility has emerged as the premiere golf destination in New York State.  It features 3 outstanding premium priced 18 hole courses:  Atunyote, Kaluyat and Shenendoah.  All three are spectacular designs, especially Atunyote, which hosts an annual PGA event the 3rd week of September.  All have been built in the past 5 years. All are extremely well maintained.  If you have the money and the game, this is the place to go.  Note that Turning Stone is a 35 minute drive from downtown Syracuse.  It is worth the drive.


Atunyote   reds: 5102, gold: 6069, whites: 6561, blues: 6998
Weekend cost: varies....see web site (but $150-$200)


Kaluhyat   reds: 5293, gold: 5690, whites: 6183, blues: 6724
Weekend cost: varies....see web site (but $70-$125)


Shenendoah   reds: 5185, gold: 5839, whites: 6328, blues: 6685
Weekend cost: varies....see web site (but $70-$125)






If you are golf challenged and/or budget challenged, consider playing at the Drumlins West Course. Drumlins is owned by Syracuse University and is located very near the SU South Campus.  The West Course is open to the public, features short holes and open fairways and great rates ($17 to walk the course).


Hope this helps! TexanMark


The opinions expressed in this guide are those of TexanMark.  While every effort has been made to ensure all the information presented is accurate and current, it would be wise to verify things when possible.  Please note that this guide is not endorsed by, its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.


Special thanks to David Metraux, who granted us permission to use several of his photos of Syracuse landmarks on this page. For more excellent photos by David, check out his fine web site.


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