Syracuse or Rochester? Weekend suggestions at the end of November
November 7, 2022 4:20 PM   Subscribe

We are sober vegan Canadians; on paper, the least fun people on earth. But in practice, we're a hoot! We like art galleries, funky cafés, bookstores, outdoor walks, creepy ol' buildings, cats, records, and a lot of other things. With a weekend to spend in upstate New York in late November, where would you recommend we stay and poke around?

We'll be coming down from Kingston, Ontario. We've never been to either place; Syracuse is the easier haul, Rochester a bit more challenging. We're not Albany fans after a stay there about a decade ago (sorry, Albany).
posted by Shepherd to Travel & Transportation around New York (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Just a quick note in case you're not aware or you're trying to determine which weekend to choose, the US Thanksgiving is on November 24th, so that weekend may be a bit more crowded in terms of shopping and/or possibly hotels.
posted by hydra77 at 5:45 PM on November 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Syracuse will probably have ice skating downtown in Clinton square that weekend if it’s cold enough. You can grab lunch at a pub or restaurant downtown and then enjoy a fairly idyllic afternoon ice skating. The rink is right next to the big city Xmas tree, which will be lit on the Friday.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:47 PM on November 7, 2022

Best answer: I'd recommend Rochester over Syracuse for the food options alone - Rochester has a bounty of delicious vegan restaurants, along with many other things on your list, including bookstores and cafes.

However, if you're willing to drive beyond Syracuse, do consider Ithaca (if you haven't been). A trip to Ithaca will be just about the same driving time as getting to Rochester, but the drive is much more picturesque, and it'll be easier to wander around on foot and discover the much tinier Ithaca in a weekend. Ithaca's outdoor walks are plentiful, stunning, and easy to access.
posted by Hellgirl at 7:58 PM on November 7, 2022 [8 favorites]

Best answer: A family member lives in a suburb of Rochester. She recommended Memorial Art Gallery, Artisan Works, The Owl House, The Red Fern, and Voulas, and walking around Park Ave and Letchworth. Enjoy!
posted by kat518 at 8:54 PM on November 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Is Ithaca an option?
posted by eviemath at 3:52 AM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't know Syracuse but Rochester has a ton of stuff you might like. In addition to Park Ave, consider Mt Hope cemetery and Cobbs Hill with the conservatory on top. Check if you haven't yet, far a local guide. I'm not sure if you can still access the abandoned subway described there, but holy creepy old buildings, batman.

On your way, between Rochester and Syracuse, stop in at Skaneatles or Canandaigua just off the thruway for a stroll, some cute galleries, a glimpse of the Finger Lakes.
posted by evilmomlady at 3:54 AM on November 8, 2022

You might find this question of mine from last year interesting. In the broad area I can recommend the Ganondagan State Historic Site (Victor), the Corning Glass Museum (Elmira), and the Fenimore Art Museum (Cooperstown). The latter two are a longer drive, though.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:12 AM on November 8, 2022

Ithaca is a little over three hours from you (depending on how long the border crossing takes) and has everything you're looking for, unless you are really hoping for a more urban experience. It has amazing waterfalls, parks, trails. Funky bookstores. Lots of old buildings.
posted by mareli at 4:41 AM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Hi there! The other half of the couple chiming into to say: I totally forgot about American Thanksgiving that weekend despite being American. The reason why that weekend was chosen because it is also my birthday, and I should remember that everything was always closed back home during that time.
posted by Kitteh at 7:56 AM on November 8, 2022

Response by poster: Is Ithaca an option?

Ith could be!
posted by Shepherd at 10:27 AM on November 8, 2022

If you don't already have it, I highly recommend the Happy Cow app for finding restaurants/cafes with vegan options.
posted by FencingGal at 12:01 PM on November 8, 2022

The Museum of Play in Rochester is an interesting place with lots to see. I took a visiting nephew there a few years ago - once he found the arcade game section (all games playable) he settled in for the rest of the afternoon.

The games were playable with tokens rather than quarters - and since you could get (at the time at least) 5 tokens for $1, cheaper to play than they had been originally. I played a few rounds of Asteroids.

There was an arcade game "Wreck it Ralph". I thought this might have been an obscure arcade game from which rights were acquired for the movie. It turned out some number were built (in aged cabinets to make them look authentic) as a promo for the movie - the museum acquired one for their collection.
posted by rochrobbb at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

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