If you’re ever sitting at home with your S.O. wondering how to get out of your date-night rut, or if you’re looking for a great first date location for the guy or girl you met in your astronomy lecture, you’ve found the right article. Many of these places are right on campus, and with a quick car or bus ride, they’re all close by. If you want to find out my top 15 wallet-friendly date ideas near Syracuse, just keep reading!
1. Strong Hearts on the Hill
A super small but insanely well-known vegan spot situated right on Marshall Street may seem like a strange date idea, but here’s why it’s on the list: even meat eaters will tell you they’ve got some of the best sandwiches and smoothies this side of NYC. The tempeh bacon BLT is a fan favorite, as well as the peanut butter smoothie. Strong Hearts is open for breakfast and lunch Monday- Friday and is a two-minute walk from campus. No better way to enjoy time with your sweetie than over a delicious smoothie.
2. People’s Place
Speaking of delicious, People’s Place takes the cake for pastries on campus. The student run coffee spot in the basement of Hendricks’ Chapel is a wonderful place to share a coffee and talk about life. Their bakery-delivered croissants and sandwiches come daily and are always perfectly fresh. They only take cash, so don’t forget to bring a few bucks for you and your date.
3. Trailhead at ESF
Right next door to Syracuse University is SUNY ESF. Any ‘Cuse student will be familiar with their multitude of grassy knolls meant for stargazing and studying, but their version of the Schine Student Center dining center is the big winner. Trailhead is filled with grass-fed meats, yummy soups and salads, and free refills of drinks. Their food is perfect for ordering to go and sitting out on the Lawrinson benches to fall in love over some french fries.
I would be a fool not to include probably the most important first date restaurant in Syracuse, Pastabilities. This cozy, classy, but always busy restaurant is downtown near Armory Square, and is famous for its signature dishes (pasta, and more pasta). This is probably the higher end of budget-friendly, but if you’re looking to impress somebody, throw on your best outfit and take them to one of two Syracuse restaurants to be featured on Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives. The fettuccine alfredo is widely recommended amongst all those who have visited, but try whatever speaks to you, everything is delicious. Just remember that unless you want to wait outside for an hour and a half, always make a reservation.
5. Blue Monkey
My personal favorite, and one of the most convenient hidden gems on campus is Blue Monkey on Marshall Street. With a mix of Asian cuisines, you can get anything from sushi to soup to spicy chicken. The menu’s most intriguing item is their bento box, available all day, which includes sushi, rice, a meat of choice, salad, and spring rolls all for under $10. The atmosphere is perfect for a first date or an anniversary, so give it a try!
6. Phoebe’s Restaurant
Right across the street from the Syracuse Stage, VPA majors are probably all familiar with Phoebe’s Restaurant. One of the cutest and most unique spots to eat in Syracuse, Phoebe’s has some beautiful and different menu items to choose from all year round. They offer a special Valentine’s Day dinner, and if you plan in advance a little bit, you might just get one of the most delicious dinners of your life. They’re closed on Monday, so keep that in mind if you want to give it a go, but you won’t be sorry if you take your date here.
7. Funk n’ Waffles
Syracuse’s second Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dive’s guest, Funk n’ Waffles, sits underground behind Marshall Street down possibly one of the creepiest graffiti’d staircases around campus, but don’t worry, once you walk inside you’ll be hit with a wave of jazz music and sweet smells. The restaurant has a full menu of different kinds of waffles, ranging from the usual Belgian to chicken and waffles. There’s nothing you could think up of that they haven’t already, and each and every one is mind-blowingly good. So if you’re in for a date where you get super full and have to waddle back to your rooms, this is the place to go.
8. Tennity Ice Rink
Now for an option for those couples who prefer to cook for each other and spend their money elsewhere: Tennity! If you’re a Syracuse or ESF student, the rink has free entry with your school ID, and you can rent some skates and get on the ice. If there isn’t a hockey or broomball game in the slot, it’s usually free skate, but make sure to check the schedule first. There’s no doubt that ice skating is one of the best date ideas out there, so lucky for us we have a rink right on campus.
9. AMF Strike ‘n Spare Lanes
Another date idea that never gets old is bowling, and if you want to head over to the AMF Lanes, you’ll get a game for round about $4 and can even get some pizza and beer to go with it (if you’re legal, of course). The lanes can be good for solo dates or double dates, the more the merrier, just don’t forget to wear socks!
10. Salsa Survival Class
Maybe the most unusual date idea on the list is the Salsa Survival Class. This Friday night class definitely won’t be for everyone, but for those couples who are looking to do something totally new instead of heading back over to Chipotle for the 100th time, this class is a blast. It doesn’t matter if you can’t dance, just put on some comfy shoes and open your mind. You may look like a total idiot, but I promise your partner will too (unless they’re a dance major). It’s a good way to get out of your comfort zone, and dancing is a good way to set the mood ;).
11. Rosamund Gifford Zoo
For little kids and adults alike, the Zoo is always a go. College students may not like to admit it, but they’re still kids at heart in many ways, and going to the zoo and swooning over baby monkeys is likely something they’ll still want to do. Speaking from personal experience, this zoo was one of the best dates I’ve ever been on, and I got a super cute red panda stuffed animal as a souvenir. Boys, just take your girlfriends, you won’t be sorry.
12. The MOST
The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology is one of the only museums that Syracuse has to offer. As the campus doesn’t have any museums of it’s own, if you have any interest in one, the MOST is the place to go. Tickets are $12, and there’s also an IMAX theater you can take advantage of for a few more dollars. Maybe you’re an engineer, or maybe you just enjoy playing with cool inventions, but it’s always a fun date when you can have fun together, and you definitely will here.
13. Syracuse Stage
One of the most obvious date ideas that sometimes gets forgotten is the theater. Most of us in this generation will go to the movie theater, and even when that’s available, we’re likely to watch Netflix at home instead. The Syracuse University performing arts students are always putting on amazing shows down at the stage and it also hosts professional productions throughout the year. Tickets are reasonably priced, and if your date is a theater fan, they’ll love a trip to the stage.
14. Armory Square
This date could cost no money at all and still be a blast, which is why it’s on the list. Just walking around Armory Square can be romantic, and seeing as it is one of the only places to go in the city of Syracuse where you can hold hands, chat, and actually hear each other, it’s pretty sought after. In the warmer weather, it’s nice to sit outside and catch up somewhere a little off campus, and you can always pop into the many restaurants in the square for a bite to eat. It’s a five minute car ride away and less than fifteen minutes by bus. It’s something different, and the historic buildings are definitely worth checking out.
15. New York State Fair
Last but not least comes maybe the most obvious date that Syracuse has to offer, the New York State Fair. This date is only available to you August 23rd- September 4th, so make sure to head over before it ends! Fairs have been a killer date idea since our parents were kids, and for good reason! Good concerts, yummy street food, and scary rides all make for a perfect day to spend together. It’s the place to go if you want to experience Upstate New York at it’s finest with your honey by your side.
Whether you fancy a meal or just a fun time together, all of these places make for great date nights. You can mix and match them if you like, but if you’re living in ‘Cuse you should really try to get your S.O. (or soon to be S.O.) out to a few of these places before you graduate. Happy dating, girls and boys!