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A Tiger's Guide to Syracuse, NY

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So you've decided to follow the Tigers up north to play Syracuse this week and you want to know what to do and see. I might be the only Syracuse native and LSU alum alive right now, so I guess it is my civic duty to give all of the Tiger fans a mini-guide to the Salt City and Syracuse University.

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EDIT: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to ATVS Actioncuse, the man who got this blog through the doldrums of the Trent Johnson Era.

As someone who once again lives in Syracuse, I'm going to just throw a lot of my ideas and my favorite places out there for the traveling fans.  The first thing that most fans will need to know is how to get around.  Luckily, Syracuse is pretty easy to navigate.  The three highways in the area (81, 481, and 690) make it quite easy to get anywhere you need to go.  You could essentially make a lap around the city in about 20 minutes using the highways and most things worth visiting would be accessible by them.

I imagine most fans will likely be staying in areas that are already in the downtown Syracuse area or likely the East Syracuse area where there are many hotels.  If you're downtown, you might as well take a cab up, find a hotel shuttle, or even walk to the university area.  If you're in East Syracuse, you simply take 690 west into the city and get off at the Townsend St. exit.  A couple of quick lefts and a turn onto University Ave and you're basically there.  Simple enough.  Parking in the area really depends on what time you arrive and if you are willing to pay.  If you can walk, park in the side of a street.  If not there are some garages and houses that you can pay at that are a bit closer.

Gameday itself will likely be quite different from what LSU fans are used to.  Syracuse and LSU are essentially equal and opposite in terms of their football and basketball programs and the fan interest in them.  Unfortunately, Syracuse football just isn't what it once was, and the tailgating in the area will seem fragmented and smaller than anything LSU fans will be used to.  Syracuse is also situated in an urban environment without a ton of space to tailgate in the ways LSU does.  You'll find some tailgates, but they are more likely to be confined to parking lots instead of big, grassy spaces normally found in Baton Rouge.

The good thing, in my opinion, is that the Carrier Dome always has and still does serve alcohol.  You'll find a lot of the normal light beers, but they also do have some areas with craft beers available as well.  It is normally served up until the beginning of the 3rd quarter.  The Carrier Dome itself is a bit small, but you'll find that there isn't really a bad seat for football games.  Even the worst seats in the third level would be comparable to the back corner of the lower bowl at Tiger Stadium.  The food inside the Carrier Dome is nothing special, though having Hoffman's hog dogs and Gianelli sausage  is a bit better than most any stadium will have.

The trade off with Syracuse's set up is that around campus there are plenty of bars and restaurants for before and after the game.  My favorite place to eat happens to be Varsity Pizza, which is hard to miss right at the beginning of Marshall Street (the main Syracuse University shopping area).  It is usually going to be quite crowded, but they are used to it on game days and will get through the lines quickly for both food and drinks.

Chuck's is also a popular bar to hang out before and after games.  It is definitely in the category of a college bar/dive bar but worth checking out.  Faegan's, DJ's, Harry's, and Lucy's would be the other bars in the area.  When I go to games, I tend to eat at Varsity and drink at the bars so I can't necessarily comment on the food at the bars.  Funk N Waffles might be a better suggestion since this is essentially a morning game.  They serve tons of different waffles as the name would suggest and it is one of the most popular restaurants on the SU hill.

After the game, most fans may want to start to head towards the downtown section of bars and restaurants.  There are many more options and they are all within walking distance of one another.  Empire Brewing Company is definitely worth checking out.  Lots of local beer all brewed there and in tons of different styles.  Blue Tusk also carries a lot of local beers as well, though they aren't a brewery themselves.  Middle Ages beers are from another brewery in downtown Syracuse and worth checking out as well.  Dinosaur BBQ is always on "must see" lists for people visiting Syracuse and it wouldn't be a bad place to eat after the game either, but my opinion is that the LSU fans should try some of the foods that are just known to be better in NY.

The other option for bars after the game would be in the Tipperary Hill area(Tipp Hill).  It's the old Irish part of town with lots of Irish pubs/restaurants.  I enjoy mostly all of them for both the drinks and the food so it's tough to make a bad choice with them.  Blarney Stone, Coleman's, Rosie's, and Nibsy's are all quite popular.

Although Syracuse itself doesn't have the strongest culinary legacy like Louisiana has, the city is situated in an area that makes it easy to get good food that was started in cities in the area, such as Buffalo, NYC, and even Utica.  Any LSU fan coming up should be getting at least one order of Buffalo wings and one order of NY style pizza.  I usually don't get sick of eating that kind of food, but Syracuse also has a history of good Italian food.  Chicken Riggies are a pasta dish from Utica that might be worth trying(pasta with vodka sauce, hot peppers, and chicken).  There are plenty of places to try some other authentic Italian foods though.  Angotti's is our family's favorite and would be worth checking out.  Twin Tree's is a local restaurant chain as well that is quite popular with multiple spots around the city.  Francesca's is a popular place as well, but I haven't been there yet to truthfully comment on it.  The last suggestion would be to try some haddock as well.  It's a popular fish for the area from being eaten on Fridays during Lent but it has become a normal special on menus for any Friday.

For things to do to occupy time, my main suggestions for fans coming in might be the casinos or the mall.  Turning Stone is a nearby resort style casino that I imagine some fans will likely stay at.  There's enough there that it is more comparable to Harrah's in New Orleans rather than the riverboat style casino's, though it is bigger than Harrah's.  Destiny USA mall is near Onondaga Lake area north of the city.  It is quite large with tons of places to shop, eat, drink, and even places for the kids to kill time.  I'd say it is worth checking out since the new section has a really good mix of stuff to do.

If any fans are staying longer, other suggestions for day trips might include other areas such as Cooperstown, Alexandria Bay, or the Finger Lakes wine trail.  Cooperstown is a small village with the baseball Hall of Fame.  It's definitely worth visiting at least once.  Alexandria Bay is to the north near the St. Lawrence river/Canadian border.  It's another small town with sight seeing tours, a couple of bars, and shopping.  The Finger Lakes are a series of lakes with a bunch of wineries dotted along them.  That suggestion would obviously be for the adult groups where the first two would be more for the families.

Other tidbits:

As a lifelong resident I never even knew there really was a debate, but the city is pronounced Seer-a-cuse.

You'll want to dress lighter than you think for the game if you are attending.  It's a running joke that there isn't A/C in the Carrier Dome but it is true.  It's usually pretty warm inside even during the middle of the winter.  I don't know how true it is, but I always heard the reason is for the air pressure to keep the dome up.

Speaking of that, you'll want to exit the dome through the push open doors.  It's a fun way to pretend you're in a wind tunnel for a few seconds.

For those that intend to tailgate, you'll want to get supplies from Wegman's.  It's a popular supermarket chain in Upstate New York known for having big craft beer selections but also a bunch of other stuff.  However, I might suggest that LSU fans try Liehs and Steigerwald's for the meat.  It's a local butcher shop(I think they have 3 locations now) that has tons of different types of meat but a majority seems to be brats and sausage.

At the same time, LSU fans should be advised that only beer is available at grocery stores and gas stations.  Liquor stores will carry liquor and wine.

I'm sure I missed something, so if anyone has any other questions feel free to ask!