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A Day At: Sylvan Beach (Oneida County, NY)
Looking for a relaxing beach or a thrilling amusement park ride? How about a live band, a glass of beer or a fish sandwich? SylvanBeach has something for everyone and it’s not far from the eastern suburbs of Syracuse either.
SylvanBeach was central New York’s answer to the Coney Island resort area. Developed in the late 1800’s, visitors were treated to all the same fun attractions that it’s bigger cousin provided, but is just a stones throw from most of CNY’s big cities.
Set on the shore of Oneida Lake, this picturesque community boasts a number of decent restaurants, an amusement park with nearly two dozen rides including a roller coaster, arcade games, a beach, a mini golf course and much more.
The amusement park started out as a collection of unaffiliated rides over the years. Eventually, they were banded together into one big amusement playland. There are about a dozen adult rides and a dozen kiddie rides.
The rides include the Galaxi Coaster which was originally located in the Fun Forest in Seattle, Washington. It was moved here in the 1990s and is one of the only coasters of this type to feature two-car trains. It’s a standard figure eight coaster with double helixes at either end. This coaster type is most often found in traveling carnivals and fairs. It stands 45 feet tall and has a top speed of about 35 miles per hour. It’s no super coaster, but it’s still a lot of fun to ride on a summer afternoon.
Other rides include bumper boats, a rotor, a carousel, a tilt-a-whirl, a himalaya and LaffLand, one of the only dark rides in upstate New York. LaffLand was built inside what was once Sylvan Beach’s bath house.
The rides all take coupons which can either be purchased individually for $1 each or you can buy a ride-all-day wrist band for under $20. Rides take differing numbers of coupons so check before you ride to make sure you have enough.
There are about a half dozen assorted arcades located in or near the amusement park proper. Many of the games award tickets which you save up and cash in for toys, candy and other prizes. If you save enough tickets, you can even win a large TV or stereo.
Wandering along the main drag of the park, there’s an old-time shooting arcade where you can try your luck hitting targets that will ring bells, player pianos, hooting birds, clanking pots and pans and other old west type effects.
An 18 hole miniature golf course sits next to Kiddieland. It’s a standard par 2 bumper golf course filled with obstacles. An average player can still score under 30 with enough concentration and practice. It’s a great way to spend an hour, though, with the family.
Restaurants in the village offer a variety of choices from steaks and hamburgers to chicken and, as you might expect, fish. You can also help yourself to fresh salads, appetizers and wash everything down with a cold beer or chemically inoffensive beverage, if that’s your preference.
Recently, Yesterday’s Royal, one of the restaurants in town was featured on Ghost Hunters where the hosts discovered a variety of paranormal indicators. On some days, you might get lucky enough to spot a ghost yourself.
The community swells during the summer months, but once Labor Day passes, SylvanBeach quickly reverts to its normal population level of under 1000 residents. But that doesn’t mean that Sylvan Beach rolls up the sidewalks. The amusement park remains active during weekends through September and plays host to Holloweekends throughout the late October season.
The only real set back is that free parking is no longer offered. You have pay stations throughout the village that offer one hour for one dollar, or you can stay all day for $7. Holidays are more expensive.
To get to Sylvan Beach, either take the Thruway to exit 34 or Route 31 to Route 13 and head north. You won’t be able to miss the summer resort community.