Salt was once the city of Syracuse's claim to fame. Native Americans mined the mineral before white settlers arrived in the area. Later, this city 150 mi/241 km east of Buffalo was one of the biggest suppliers of salt in the U.S. Find out more about the city at the Museum of Science and Technology, and stop at the museum's IMAX Omnitheater on your way out for some relaxing entertainment off your feet.

The Erie Canal Museum delves into the story of the waterway, an outstanding feat of civil engineering (and manual labor) that formed an important transportation link between the Hudson River and the Great Lakes. After you see the museum, take a cruise on a portion of the canal system. The Mid-Lakes Navigation Company offers daytime and dinner cruises.

Plenty of high culture can also be found in the city. The Syracuse Opera and Symphony Syracuse both offer performances, and the I.M. Pei-designed Everson Museum of Art has a solid collection of 19th- and 20th-century American painting, photography and ceramics. In addition to being a bastion of learning, Syracuse University has a number of top-ranked college sports teams (notably basketball and football) that play at the Carrier Dome.

About 30 mi/45 km southwest of Syracuse is Auburn, where visitors will find the preserved home of Harriet Tubman. A heroine of the Underground Railroad, Tubman helped smuggle as many as 300 escaped slaves out of the South and into Canada.

The countryside east of Syracuse also has some interesting sights, including Chittenango, the birthplace of The Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum. Today, there's a yellow-brick road-inspired yellow sidewalk through the center of town although it will not, unfortunately, take you to the Emerald City of Oz.

Nearby Canastota is home to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Farther east is a gaming casino, Turning Stone Resort, operating at Verona (35 mi/56 km east of Syracuse). Run by the Oneida Indian nation, the casino has table games such as blackjack, roulette and craps, as well as several superb golf courses.

A little farther east of that, in Rome, is the Fort Stanwix National Monument. This fortress was originally built during the French and Indian Wars and then restored and garrisoned by Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Today, its exhibits, films and costumed interpreters will keep you happily occupied for a few hours. Erie Canal Village, a re-creation of a waterway town, marks the place where the first shovelfuls of dirt were turned for the canal. While at the village, you can take a ride on a diesel train along the famous canal.

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