Innovation has been a Syracuse hallmark since 1825, when the new city on the Erie Canal became a “Cradle of Industry” behind its mighty salt works. Juiced still by entrepreneurial spirit, Syracuse, a green tech leader and home to orange-branded Syracuse University, invites visitors to “Do Your Thing,” its image brand introduced in February 2015.

“In a destination where visitors and residents are encouraged to celebrate their passions, Do Your Thing is a bold, open-ended, action-based challenge to the over-used, under-effective ‘Something for Everyone’ tourism slogan,” said Visit Syracuse President David Holder. “It’s Central New York’s version of ‘Just Do It,’ leaving visitors to define what their thing is.”

With increasing industry focus on reimagining the meetings experience, Syracuse’s underlying message of “rally your passion” is ahead of trend. “Conferees leave refreshed because they were able to engage in their own unique interests while here,” Holder said.

Attracting business from the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, including education, agriculture, science and technology, environmental, military, religious, sports and hobby groups, major facilities include the Oncenter Complex, New York State Fairgrounds and SRC Arena and Events Center.

Following a $76 million makeover, legendary Hotel Syracuse, dating to 1924, reopened in August as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Steps from the Oncenter, the luxurious headquarters hotel offers 248 rooms, 13 suites and 41,000-plus square feet of flexible space, including an IACC-approved conference center. Opened in September 2015, the 17,500-seat Lakeview Amphitheater is an inviting new outdoor music venue on Onondaga Lake.

With plentiful other cross-category options, hospitality is another Syracuse standard.

“The community celebrates events that come here,” Holder said. “We jump onboard to make our guests feel extra special and welcomed.” 

5 Fantastic Off-Sites

Armory Square
Billed as the “gourmet capital of Central New York,” this historic gathering place offers a planner’s feast of group-ready restaurants, breweries and attractions, including the 2,922-seat Landmark Theater and MOST (Museum of Science & Technology), housed in the square’s namesake former armory.

Destiny USA 
With its own zip code, this 2.4 million-square-foot visitor magnet is the nation’s sixth-largest entertainment, dining and shopping center and world’s largest LEED Gold-certified retail building. Indoor go-cart racing, 250 luxury outlets and 33 dining concepts are among the many group options.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
In 1983, John Stage and partners established a mobile barbecue stand at Harley Rendezvous, a motorcycle gathering outside Albany, N.Y. After five years of serving motorcycle events throughout the Northeast, Stage opened this nationally renowned joint in downtown Syracuse. For live music, outdoor pig roasts, catering and private events in two rooms accommodating 125 and 40 people, plus a private terrace, Dinosaur roars with fun.

Everson Museum of Art
Housed in a career-launching 1968 structure from world-renowned architect I.M. Pei, this internationally recognized collection of some 11,000 works, including pioneering art video and one of the nation’s largest holdings of American ceramics, sets an inspiring stage for tours and events.

Salt Museum
From 1797 until 1904, 12 million-plus tons of salt were produced in the salt yards surrounding Onondaga Lake. Constructed from actual salt warehouse timbers, this rustic museum, located within Onondaga State Park on the lake’s northern shore, showcases the industry that launched Syracuse.

Visit Syracuse