Like it or not, we live in a social media age. People are always vying to get the best photos to share on their Instagram profiles hoping for more likes. Being a lover of photography, I’m no stranger to this phenomenon. So I’m sharing with you some of my favorite local spots to get the best photos – both for food and nature.
There are so many amazing restaurants that have been popping up in Syracuse! There’s a new trend to make things more flashy and creative – and I love it! Bright colors, neon signs, and beautiful artwork add to the experience at each of these eateries. Plus, the food looks so good that you’re afraid to eat it! Just don’t forget that ‘the camera eats first’. Check out these restaurants and cafés that offer you some eye candy while you eat!
Funk ‘n Waffles
Yes, Syracuse has a restaurant devoted to waffles – and I couldn’t be any happier about it. (I have a thing for waffles. It’s pretty well known in my friend circle.) Funk ‘n Waffles has an entire menu of both sweet and savory waffles. Make sure you take your time to see all your options! Don’t be like the guy I saw who walked up to the counter and said “Can I get a waffle?” To which the cashier paused, and then politely responded “… Which one?” My go-to is definitely the ‘All Shook Up’, an homage to Elvis that is topped with peanut butter, honey, and bananas. My husband prefers the ‘Jive Turkey’, which is basically Thanksgiving dinner on a waffle. No matter what, you can’t go wrong. They even cater to the vegan and gluten-free customers!
Okay, so what about the ‘funk’? Well, Funk ‘n Waffles is also a music venue! Half of the restaurant downtown is also a stage and hosts a long list of local and traveling bands. Be sure to check it out some Friday or Saturday night. Waffles and music? It doesn’t get much better than that!
The newest addition to Syracuse, XO Taco is a hit! With their clever decor (hello grass wall with neon lips!), and top-notch food, it’s quickly become a new favorite. My husband and I first visited on National Taco Day and the place was insanely busy. But, we managed to grab two seats at the bar and got served way sooner than expected! And the tacos are good. I mean, really good. Consider this: while I was setting up the picture below, the guy sitting next to me asked if he could also snap a photo for his own Insta. Why? Because he and his girlfriend were so excited to eat the food that he scarfed it down before remembering to get his photo. My suggestion? Get the macho fries. Just do it.
From the moment that Modern Malt opened, I knew I was going to love it. Why? Because I love diners. It’s decor is teal (and orange) with a retro feel. The food is picture perfect and the atmosphere is cool, yet inviting. And the menu is all traditional dishes with contemporary flair! Like General Tso’s chicken & waffles. Or the Barney Rubble (French toast coated with fruity pebbles). Call me crazy, but Modern Malt also has the best roasted brussel sprouts I’ve ever had. And yes, sometimes I order them with my breakfast.
Brunch on the weekends are the busiest time! Plan accordingly.
Sunday brunches mean bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. (See why they’re popular?)
Glazed & Confused
For the longest time, Syracuse was missing a really good donut shop. But don’t worry, the Valenti family has fixed that! Glazed & Confused is now THE spot to get donuts in town. From the original flavors, to daily specials and holiday dozens, Glazed knows what they’re doing. Their names are clever, the staff is awesome, they collaborate with local businesses, and the donunts can be delivered through GrubHub.
Oh, did I mention that the donuts are also DELICIOUS?! Because they are. The local favorite tends to be the Dizzy Pig (topped with maple bacon), but I struggle between Pardon My French Toast and Elvis Strikes Back. (Seems I have a thing for Elvis-inspired food! Or maybe it’s just that I’m peanut butter obsessed.) Head on over to Clinton Street now and choose your favorite!
Rise N Shine Diner
Surprise, surprise, another diner! But for good reason. Honestly, the way I found out about Rise N Shine was on Instagram. Seriously. They create such beautifully crafted dishes, I knew I had to check it out. And it is AMAZING! The restaurant, located in East Syracuse, is pretty tiny but has developed quite the following. So be prepared to wait! Weekdays you can call ahead and put your name on the waiting list, but not on weekends. At least they let you check in and then they’ll text you when your table is ready.
But does the food taste good? Oh. My. Goodness… YES. Their homefries come all perfectly browned and seasoned in little cast iron skillets. They have an extensive list of pancake flavors. And they are most famous for their ‘Big Daddy Pancake Wrap.’ It’s all so yummy! Especially the fancy iced coffees and hot chocolates, which are over-the-top in the best way possible.
Just to be clear, Syracuse is beautiful both inside and out! So it’s time to venture outside and enjoy some of the beautiful nature. From man-made parks to natural wonders, the scenery is one of the reasons I love living in central New York.
Probably the most popular spot for wedding photos in Syracuse, Franklin Square is just beautiful. All year long. From the lush gardens in the summer to the twinkling Christmas lights in the winter, Franklin Square is so quaint. It’s also where I almost won $2,000 from the Post Standard’s medallion hunt. (Really. My niece and I were looking around the park when another little girl found the medallion.)
Even better? Freedom of Espresso has one of its locations right there. Wake up on a Saturday morning, grab a latte and a croissant from Freedom, and enjoy the view. You’re welcome.
My new favorite addition to downtown Syracuse! Wildflowers Armory is a local artist co-op where creators can sell their handcrafted goods. The items rotate in and out, and Wildflowers hosts the most clever events out on ‘the platform’! Like an umbrella installation, outdoor movie screenings, and the recent Christmas tree lot.
Syracuse University Campus
The heart of Syracuse, the ‘city on the hill’, and my home away from home – the SU campus. I have to say, I love where I work (and went to school). The campus is gorgeous all the time – from the ivy-covered buildings to the modern architecture. And if you’re looking for things to do at the university, check out this bucket list!
Thornden Park Rose Garden
If you’re ever looking for me at lunchtime on a summer day (and I’m not too busy at work!), this is the place I’ll be! Located next to the Syracuse University campus, Thornden Park is really a sight to see when the roses are in bloom! It also doesn’t hurt that it’s free to visit.
Chittenango Falls is one of those hidden-in-plain-sight wonders. Just east of the city, you can follow the creek along the road until you get to the park that houses these waterfalls. Well worth the hike to the bottom to get the perfect photo! While you’re in town, check out what else Chittenango has to offer!
Green Lakes State Park
Ahhhh, Green Lakes. One of my favorite places to visit in Syracuse. Year-round! Every season has its charm there, but autumn has to be my favorite. The blue-green water against the backdrop of colorful trees is really a sight to behold. Learn some tips about the best times to visit! Side note: aren’t my pups adorable?!
I hope you enjoyed my list of Instagram worthy places in Syracuse! The foodie and photographer in me had a lot of fun putting this together. Do you have any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments!