The average annual snowfall in Syracuse, New York, is 10 feet. So it’s essential for residents and visitors to have plenty of indoor options for things to do. Syracuse University basketball games in the Carrier Dome are popular but so is a trip to Destiny USA.
Originally opened in 1990, Destiny USA is the 6th largest mall in America with over 2.4 million square feet of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, including a Regal Cinema with 19 standard and IMAX theaters. I’m not a mall person by nature, but Destiny USA has so many fun things to do, I’m glad I checked it out during a weekend getaway in Syracuse. If only Destiny USA had been open when I was in college, maybe we wouldn’t have tried cow tipping!
Destiny USA Hours of Operation
Destiny USA is open 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sundays. However, most of the restaurants and entertainment venues are open much later. The mall website is the best place to check for specific operating hours.
Once you’re inside, the mall can feel overwhelming. Find one of the touchscreen directories to help orient yourself. Once you do a couple of laps, you get a feel for the layout.
Beyond Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: Destiny USA Restaurants and Bars
If you meet someone and Syracuse comes up in the conversation, you’ll probably end up talking about Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. The wildly popular restaurant opened its doors in 1988. I’m a huge fan of their Big Ass Pork Plate and fried green tomatoes, so I was thrilled when they opened restaurants in Harlem and Brooklyn – much closer than the 3-hour drive to Syracuse.
But there’s more to dining in Syracuse besides ‘cue and you can find many places to eat and drink at Destiny USA, including full-service restaurants like P.F. Chang’s and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.
Destiny USA also has a large food court, featuring popular fast food restaurants like Boston Market and Arby’s. The food court presents promotional information about the New York State Department of Health’s iChoose600 program. Using calorie counts posted on menus, diners can choose meals that are 600 calories or less to help with weight management.
Another way Destiny USA encourages healthy habits is by hosting an indoor mall walking program with regional health insurer Excellus. Walkers are welcome to enter the mall as early as 6 a.m.. Follow the floor markers to log a 3-mile path.
Things to Do at Destiny USA
Once you’ve shopped your way through the mall and enjoyed something to eat, it’s time to explore other fun things to do at Destiny USA. There’s a ropes course, bowling alley, escape rooms, movies and IMAX, go-cart track, and an arcade. And that’s just for starters. The mall’s constantly adding attractions; a new entertainment complex is scheduled to open in late 2018.
I’m a sucker for classic entertainment, so, after challenging hubby to a Space Invaders competition in the arcade, we headed for the antique carousel in the food court. Built in 1909 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the carousel was rescued and restored by the mall’s parent company. Rides are $2 and worth every penny.
Promotions and Discounts at Destiny USA
If you’re planning a visit to Destiny USA, be sure to check out the mall website to see available discount packages. During my visit, the mall was offering a $35 Shop and Dine package that included a tote bag, discount coupons, complimentary carousel ride and $25 gift card for Margaritaville.
Where to Stay in Syracuse, NY
Although I went to college in central New York, I’d forgotten how many fun things there are to do in the area. Fortunately, I was reminded about many of them by the colorful, interactive I Love NY display in Destiny USA. We were so inspired, we headed to the nearby Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown during our weekend getaway.
If you need a place to overnight in Syracuse, check out the Doubletree by Hilton. The hotel recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation of the guest rooms and public spaces, so it looks and feels like a posh, modern resort, not a budget hotel. One of my favorite things about the Doubletree brand is their famous cookie. Presented at check-in, the warm chocolate chip cookie makes you feel instantly at home.
Staying at the Doubletree by Hilton in Syracuse
We stayed in one of the massive hotel suites with a dining table, sleeper sofa and rustic chic sliding barn doors separating the living space from the bedroom. The bathroom was large and the lavender-scented Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries were an unexpected touch of luxury.
I love a good hotel lobby; the Doubletree has a great one. It’s divided into different spaces; there’s a fireplace perfect for enjoying a cocktail from the lobby bar. Or you can gather in front of the large screen tv. During our visit, things got pretty heated between Red Sox and Yankees fans watching a game! The Doubletree has an outdoor pool with luxe cabana seating and an indoor pool, hot tub and fitness center.
Seasons Tavern, the hotel restaurant, is located in the lobby too. Staffed by friendly servers, the restaurant features a casual, comfort food menu. We paired the buffalo chicken nacho appetizer with a beef brisket prepared with Dinosaur’s legendary barbecue sauce. The brisket was accompanied by Syracuse salt potatoes. Haven’t had them? You’re missing out – they’re boiled baby potatoes swimming in salted butter. Heart-stopping, but delicious.
Getting to Destiny USA
Visitors arriving by car will find plenty of parking in outdoor lots. Since the weather can be challenging, you may want to consider utilizing the valet parking service for $10.
Another great feature of the Doubletree hotel is their free shuttle service. It operates within a 10-mile radius of the hotel which includes the airport, downtown and Destiny USA.
We were fortunate. During our visit to Syracuse, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was a balmy 85 degrees. But that’s not usually the case. Whether the weather’s good, bad or undetermined in Syracuse, NY, make plans to check out the fun things to do at Destiny USA.
If You Go to Destiny USA
Destiny USA is located at 9090 Destiny USA Drive, just off of Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, New York.
The Doubletree by Hilton is located in the Carrier Circle, off of Route 298, approximately 8 miles from Destiny USA.
You can find more exciting things to do in Syracuse in this post on TravelingMom.
Disclosure: I was hosted by the folks at Doubletree by Hilton. However, all opinions (and photos!) are my own.