An Orange Bucket List – Things to Do on the Syracuse University Campus
April 16, 2017
Last updated on September 9, 2019.
Okay, we’ve gone long enough without talking about the heart of Syracuse, and that is the Syracuse University campus. As an alumna, former employee, and Syracuse sports fan, the “city on the hill” holds an important spot in my heart. SU’s campus is a great place to wander around, particularly on a nice summer evening or autumn afternoon. Everyone seems to have their favorite spot on campus – whether as a place to study, spot to relax, or café to meet up with friends. So, I’ve brainstormed a ‘bucket list’ of things to do on the Syracuse University campus.
Things to Do Outside at Syracuse University
1. Walk up the stairs that lead to the Hall of Languages
The Hall of Languages is the center and the origin of the SU campus. It’s a beautiful ivy-covered building that is as old as the university itself. Pass by the tulips planted in memorial to the students we lost on Pan Am flight 103; pay your respects.
Legend has it that if you kiss on the kissing bench, you and your partner will eventually get married. It worked for my husband and I! Though our dog kissed both of us and has yet to get married…
3. Visit the Abraham Lincoln statue
Located between Maxwell and Eggers Halls, it’s not as large as the monument in DC, but how can you pass up a visit to Honest Abe? It’s a pretty cool part of campus.
4. See the Ernie Davis statue on the quad
If you don’t know who Ernie Davis is, watch The Express. It’s a fantastic movie based on the true story of the first black man to win the Heisman Trophy. Spoiler alert: He played SU football. He might as well be the god of Syracuse University. You’re not allowed to think otherwise.
Setnor is located in Crouse College, or as it is commonly referred to, Hogwarts. Every student knows what you mean when you talk about the ‘Hogwarts castle’ on campus! Hint: Stand at the bottom of the stairs that lead to Crouse at dusk. That is my favorite view of campus. Most of the concerts and events that take place in Setnor are FREE.
6. Visit the Heroy Geology Building
Heroy is located near the Dome, so it’s a perfect spot if you’re attending a game or event there. You can’t miss it because there are multi-level glass windows that peek into one of my favorite spots on campus – the giant globe. Take a peek inside Heroy’s foyer area and you’ll be able to see the globe for yourself. It’s beautiful, especially when it is lit up in the evening. Don’t miss it!
Another one of the first buildings on campus, the observatory was closed for several years, but has recently reopened. You can contact the Physics department or check their Facebook page to see when the next time the observatory is open to the public. Even better, it’s free to visit!
8. Look for the campus hawks
Check in on the hawks who have built their nests on campus. They’ve been embraced by the SU community and even had their own twitter account to track the progress of their eggs. The Twitter is no longer active, but you’ll still find the hawks flying around campus. The best places to look are the top of Slocum Hall (from College Place) and the trees between the Hall of Languages and Smith Hall.
Unfortunately the days of Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Jim Brown, and the legend of 44 are over. Yea, our football team isn’t as good as they once were, but they are rebuilding with Coach Dino Babers. This means you can usually get tickets for cheap! And there is usually a lot of fun stuff happening at the quad before the games – cookouts and bounce houses!
11. Attend a Syracuse basketball game
Syracusians live and breathe Syracuse basketball (at least most of the people I know do!) We bleed orange. We worship Jim Boeheim and his 1000+ wins. No, we don’t care that the NCAA tried to take some away from us. Yes, we are still celebrating our 2003 national championship (Carmelo, why did you leave us?!).
But for real, nothing beats the energy that Syracuse brings to a basketball game in the dome; we like to get loud and we like to break attendance records. Don’t miss a chance to be a part of that. Particularly if we are playing Duke. A word of advice: the bigger and more popular the opponent, the more expensive the tickets are. Decide what you’re willing to spend.
12. Attend Orange Madness
Before the season officially kicks off each fall, the basketball team holds Orange Madness to pump up the fans. Both current and former players attend and play an exhibition game to get everyone in the basketball season. It’s a lot of fun and a great chance to see your former basketball favorites.
13. Tailgate on the Quad
The quad is always crowded and full of things to do before football games: bounce houses for the kids, performances by the Syracuse University marching band, food carts, and more!
14. Support the other sports
Our women’s basketball team and men’s lacrosse team are both pretty fantastic. Support them. Tickets are also much cheaper (sometimes free!) for these games.
15. Do the Carrier Dome Stomp
While you’re at the dome, don’t miss your chance to do the Carrier Dome Stomp. Rumor has it that one of the sound designers from Star Wars used this sound (among others on campus) to make some of the sounds for the movies; you can read about Ben Burtt and his work here. No matter how true this is, it’s still a pretty cool experience. Stand between two of the pillars on the exterior of the dome and stomp your foot; check out this (very dated) YouTube video to see how it’s done. My dog wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m sure you will be.
16. Take a photo with Otto
Who’s Otto? Syracuse’s beloved orange mascot. Yes, he’s an orange. Yes, he’s awesome. You can find him at every sporting event and usually wandering around campus during other events. Otto is in the running to be voted the most popular college mascot every year. Fun-fact: Otto is always played by a current SU student, but the student has to keep it a secret!
You’ve got to check out the little café in the basement of Hendricks Chapel. Not only is the student-run shop quirky and friendly, it’s dirt cheap. A cup of tea is under a dollar; a pastry just a little more. Go there. Go now. It’s also the only place on campus where you can find Coca-Cola products and Brooklyn Pickle sandwiches.
Yes, it may be crowded, but it’s a Syracuse classic – don’t miss it! It’s at the end of Marshall Street and it’s a perfect quick, cheap – but delicious – lunch.
19. Indulge yourself at Insomnia Cookies
I mean, what’s a college campus without an Insomnia Cookies? As their name suggests, they are open late – and they deliver! While you’re walking down Marshall Street, be sure to pop in and get yourself some giant cookies fresh out of the oven.
Despite the name, everyone is welcome to visit for lunch. The food is the best you’ll find on campus, and they are known for catering university events. Since the building is often used for events, it’s only open to the public on weekdays from 11:30 to 2:30.
Things to Do near the Syracuse University Campus
21. Walk along Marshall Street and shop at Manny’s
If you’re looking for any Syracuse memorabilia, and I mean ANY, you will probably find it at Manny’s. Once I bought a dog toy and an SU Mickey Mouse blanket. Check out what their current selection is! You’ll be able to find something no matter what your budget. And if you’re going to your first game on campus, this is where you can get your first SU shirt for cheap.
22. Visit the SUNY ESF campus
Walk past the dome and you’ll end up on the SUNY ESF campus; it’s worth a visit. Being the college of Environmental Science & Forestry, they sure know how to landscape. They have a beautiful quad and you can catch a glimpse of their rooftop greenhouses.
Sitrus is located in the Sheraton. Trivia is held every Thursday night when school is in session. While you’re there, order the smoked gouda mac and cheese… with bacon. Well, I guess you can order whatever you want, but the mac and cheese is goooood. But so is everything else. Trivia is free to play and lots of fun! You might even win a gift certificate to come back.
Experience the rose garden in June. Have a picnic next to the lily pond. See a FREE performance of Shakespeare in the Park at the amphitheater in the summer. Take your dog for a walk to the top of the hill and see the amazing views of the city. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret it. Thornden has lots to offer and is best visited during a summer day.
Westcott is the “hip” neighborhood where most upperclass students live. Westcott Street is full of gems. You can check out the yearly festival in September, attend a concert at The Westcott Theater, or eat all the food! There are several great food options including Recess Coffee, Alto Cinco, and the new Rise ‘n Shine Diner.
A few important tips for visiting the Syracuse University campus:
PAY ATTENTION TO PARKING SIGNS. The local police like to give tickets; make sure you read the signs. The best free parking is available along Walnut Park.
The campus has a completely different vibe in the summer than in the academic year; try to visit at different times in the year to get the most out of the university.