Spend a Weekend in Binghamton and Explore Southern New York
September 18, 2020
Of course, a weekend in Binghamton is not enough time to explore all of the awesome activities in the area. But it’s a start! Located a little over an hour south of Syracuse and 4 hours east of Manhattan, Binghamton contains several of the things that make New York state such a great place. Outdoor adventures, animal encounters, street art, great food, plus better beer all add up to a fun-filled weekend in Binghamton.
Start your weekend with a kayak trip down the river
At the heart of Binghamton, the Chenango River meets the Susquehanna. So it’s no surprise that kayaking is a popular thing to do for outdoor adventurers in the area!
Binghamton Canoe & Kayak Tours is run by Brian Haas, engineer by day, tour guide on the weekends. He decided to take his passion for exploring the rivers to build his own business, sharing his love for adventure with others.
Brian offers a variety of tours, through both rivers, ranging from 5 miles to 10. No matter the length, be prepared for an arm workout! One of the best parts of the tours is that they are designed for kayakers of all levels – from newbie to pro. Binghamton Canoe & Kayak Tours also provides all the equipment you need, so just bring a smile and a willingness to explore.
The trip I did was the Southern Tier Safari, a 6.5-mile trip down the Susquehanna. Along the way, Brian provided lots of advice (and assistance!) as we made our way along the course. And we saw lots of wildlife! Jumping fish, great blue herons, egrets, and even deer on the shorelines.
Lunchtime! Check out a local eatery
No matter the distance you choose for your kayaking tour, you’re bound to be hungry by the end. My recommendation? Garage Taco Bar in downtown Binghamton.
A few years back, an old mechanic’s garage went up for sale and owner Daniel Sharp saw the perfect opportunity to create a unique restaurant. It was a risk he was willing to take because if it didn’t work out, his passion for cars would have new home at the garage!
Needless to say, Garage Taco Bar was a smashing success. There’s an awesome vibe both indoor and out with the garage style and decor making such a cool atmosphere.
But don’t worry, it’s more than just a cool place to hang out. The food is phenomenal! The dishes offer unique flavors and are made with the freshest ingredients. Can’t decide which taco to choose? Order them a la carte and try out a few! Plus, there are vegetarian and vegan options too.
My advice? Get the Mexican street corn! It. Is. Incredible!
Spend the afternoon with the animals
One of the most famous attractions near Binghamton is Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville. The park became popular in early 2017 when they were live-streaming the pregnancy of April the giraffe. They started streaming in January, and viewers waited THREE MONTHS for her to finally give birth in April! Their YouTube channel now has over half a million followers who check in on the live streams of both giraffe pens.
Animal Adventure Park was opened by Jordan Patch in 2012, and has been growing ever since. Now they are home to over 100 species and 300 animals, including some unique residents like the Timbavati white lion! And even thought the park is privately owned, they are licensed by both the USDA and NYS DEC. Most of the animals in residence are rescues or surrenders – they all have their own stories!
Interactive Animal Encounters
One of the best parts of Animal Adventure Park is how interactive it is. Besides the typical interaction with the farm animals, you can also purchase feed for most of the animals around the park. I loved the fact that the feed buckets include a variety of food for different animals – carrots, lettuce, and pellets. Plus, you can take home the pail, which is perfectfor kids to use at the beach or for storage at home.
To be extra safe, every bucket has a list of which animals can get fed which foods. Plus, many of the exhibits themselves tell you what food you can offer to the animals. Some of my favorites to feed were the kangaroos, tortoises and camels. Besides the giraffes, of course!
The craft beer industry is booming in New York, and if you’re spending a weekend in Binghamton, you have to check out one of the breweries – or two or three!
Beer Tree Brew Co.
When my husband and I first visited Beer Tree, they had just opened and hadn’t reached the popularity that they have today. So it was a pleasure to go back to see how much they’ve grown! The brewery itself is a beautiful timber structure, and the new addition is an extension of the that.
When you’re visiting, you can enjoy your drinks at the bar, cozy up next to the fire, or enjoy music and cornhole outdoors. They brew a variety of beer styles, but I can attest to the fact that they make some solid IPAs! Clickbait was so good, I had it twice.
Curious where the name beer tree came from? When the owners first started growing hops, a friend referred to them as “beer trees” and the name stuck!
Galaxy Brewing Company
Galaxy Brewing Company is a staple of every trip I take to Binghamton. Not only do they have great beer, but the restaurant has some tasty food too! Founded by a father and son team in 2011, the brewpub officially opened in 2013.
One of the things I really love about Galaxy is their quirky style! Besides the cosmic mural on the wall, they have the most creative bathroom signs I’ve ever seen. Plus, in the women’s room, there are pictures of famous women throughout history and the stories behind them.
Water Street Brewing Co.
Water Street Brewing Co. was established in 2011 by owners who were trained in brewing and had a love for German-style beers. It was sold in 2019 to a long-time staff member and a fellow patron. The brewery continues to serve great German beers (the hefeweizen is great!) along with other styles for other palates.w
Water Street offers a mug club membership and also has a fantastic game collection to keep you entertained while you’re drinking.
If you know me, you know I love a good cup of coffee! Discovering Strange Brew was like finding my happy place. Delish coffee, a wide selection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches, and coffee-themed artwork on the walls? A coffee lover’s heaven!
Learn about Binghamton’s history
As a young girl scout, I remember visiting so many different places – museums, theaters, campsites, parks… But one thing always stuck out to me. I remember visiting a planetarium that had a mansion attached to it. For years I couldn’t remember what the place was, and the longer it got, the less likely it was that I’d remember.
Fast forward to last year when my husband and I spent a day in Binghamton and we visited the Roberson Museum and Science Center. Bingo! That was it!
Inside the Roberson Museum, you’ll find an eclectic mix of exhibits – both permanent and rotating. Some of the everlasting ones include an homage to the native Haudenosaunee people, a model train replica of downtown Binghamton, and a NatureTrek trail with native plants and animals on display. Rotating exhibits include local artists, nature photography, and women’s suffrage memorabilia.
The Roberson Mansion was donated by Alonzo Roberson in his will to be used as an education center. The early 1900s home was designed with a mixture of history and modernity. Even though it was done in Italian Renaissance Revival style, it featured modern features – like a wrought iron elevator that still works to this day!
Today, visitors to the connecting museum can access the mansion and walk through the century-old rooms and hallways. The architecture is stunning. The mansion can also be rented out for private events – and even hosts haunted tours in the fall.
Channel your inner nerd with a game
Being huge board game nerds, my hubby and I always like to look for the best locally-owned game stores. In Binghamton, that’s Jupiter Games! Home to a collection of board and and role-playing games, they also host game nights inside the shop. Fans of miniatures can also find figures and painting supplies there.
Search for local street art
As with every urban vacation, be sure to always be on the lookout for local street art! It’s fun and it’s FREE. Two of my favorites were the Muhammad Ali mural and the bird next to Garage Taco. Let me know if you find others that you love!
Ready to spend a weekend in Binghamton?
With so many great activities to choose from, you’re bound to fall in love with Binghamton, New York. What are you looking forward to most?