By A. Townie & Isaac LevineA
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a Binghamton University student and by extension you’re most likely from Suffolk, Nassau, or Rockland County and aren’t incredibly familiar with the area. When you’re done showing your parents the Lost Dog Cafe for their visit during family weekend, (or The Colonial if you’re feeling particularly adventurous) you might wonder what else Binghamton has to offer. Don’t worry, I’m not here to hector you for not being an expert on a town you’ve barely seen, but you should at least be sure to see more than The Rathskeller before decrying the entire town as “small with nothing in it.”
Skylark Diner: Nothing bewilders a local more than when someone from out of town suggests going to Denny’s. Almost every diner in the area is an absolute knock-out, but if there’s one that stands above all others, it has to be Skylark. Conveniently located on the Vestal Parkway, Skylark Diner captures a feeling and experience that sticks with you for weeks. The waitresses are great, the food is incredible, and the prices are outstanding. Nothing beats a trip to Skylark. *
Pizza: The most pervasive lie of the modern era is that NYC has good pizza. The people who believe these falsehoods are always the ones who go to thirty different club GIMs at the beginning of every semester, get sick of Nirchi’s, and assume that’s what all the local pizza is like. Luckily, Binghamton University is within driving distance of Endicott, the premier Italian enclave of Upstate New York. Many of the pizza shops in the town of Union were started by Italian immigrants and they brought their brick ovens and classic recipes with them. If you ever find yourself in dire need of quality pizza, you should really consider Joey’s Pizza and Italian Ice on Oak Hill, Nick’s Pizza & Restaurant on East Main Street, or Consol’s Family Kitchen on Oak Hill. Alternatively if you absolutely refuse to travel outside of the Binghamton city limits there’s always Oakdale Pizza on Court Street. Admittedly Oakdale Pizza gets completely BTFO by every actual pizza shop in Endicott, but if you’re downtown and really want a slice then it’s about as good as it gets.
Sound Go Round: Sound Go Round is the de facto hub of all music, movies, comics, video games, table top games, and card games in Broome County. It’s really easy to kill several hours here. The DVD and Blu-ray selection is ripe with Coen Brothers classics. The video game selection ranges from classic retro games from any console to the latest releases. The back room is where they host the card game events with weekly tournaments for Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh. Conveniently located on the Vestal Parkway, this is easily the best place to go for entertainment in Broome county.
Bars: College bars are the worst. They’re loud. The music blows. It’s too hot. No one actually likes them. The only reason to go to one is if the only alternative is a frat house. Either way you’ll be stuck listening to some dude you just met complain about how no girl wanted to dance with him. He’s wearing what you can safely assume is his only collared shirt. He seemed upset but he insisted that it’s fine because he actually wanted to spend his Saturday night with with his mysteriously absent guy friends. “Saturdays are for the boys” he would insist as you’d silently hope he leaves you alone, but you’re a bit too unnerved to say anything because you can’t tell how much this dude has had to drink. You try to divert him because you just want to get back to your room and sleep at this point. Where was I? Oh yeah. Binghamton has some excellent bars. 205 Dry is styled after the classic 1920s speakeasies of the prohibition era. The doorknob is in the bookcase. I just saved you the minute it’d take you to figure it out on your own. You’re welcome. The atmosphere is fantastic and the music is top notch. Also if you order a cocktail at the bar, the bartenders will actually know how to make it. The best Negroni I’ve ever had was courtesy of 205 Dry. Galaxy Brewing Company is another great bar which has some of the best seasonal beers around. If you get the chance you should really try one of their stouts. If you really want to check out some of the great local bands, you definitely have to check out Callahan’s Sportsman Club on Main Street. Callahan’s is a great bar on its own but they also frequently have karaoke and open mic stand-up nights. But if sports bars aren’t really your thing, there’s always The Shop on Washington Ave, which has one of the best coffee and mixed drink selections of any spot in Binghamton. Speaking of caffeine…
Coffee: There’s a variety of coffee shops in Binghamton and almost all of them have some section of exposed brick wall. The quintessential one for college students has to be City Light Coffee. Operated by volunteers, City Light offers free coffee to college students and 100% of their profits go to helping global mission projects against human trafficking and ending extreme poverty. It’s a fantastic place to hang-out with friends, study for midterms, or even just surf the web with their free Wi-Fi. It’s a convenient gem in the city for college students to unwind with a quick game of chess or even get a bagel. Other great locations include Laveggio Roasteria on State Street (which many claim to have the best lattes in New York State) or Strange Brew, a hip local chain with two convenient locations for you to take the tinder date you actually care about.
Recreation: Wintertime activities are limited, but let’s be honest, you should probably be focusing on your schoolwork. If you want to appropriate Buffalo culture there are plenty of hills to go drunk sledding down, however Greek Peak is a popular ski destination not too far from Binghamton and would probably look better on your Instagram story. Binghamton is an infinitely more active place when it is above 65 degrees. Chenango Valley State Park, the IBM Glen, and The Nature Preserve are all great places to find townies tripping on acid. If you like to golf then you’re also in luck. The En-Joie golf course is widely considered the nicest golf course in the Southern Tier. There’s also a wide and expansive range of thrift stores in the Binghamton area and the prices are always fantastic. Don’t pass up a chance to visit the Thrifty Shopper on Upper Front Street, the Nearly New Shop on Main Street, or the Goodwill on the Vestal Parkway.
Liquidization of Items: This section is a tad niche but it might be useful to some of you. There’s two main Pawn shops in the area, the Triple City Buy Sell Trade on Main Street in Binghamton and the All Star Pawn Shop on East Main Street in Endicott. If you ever find yourself in dire need of some cash in a very short amount of time, you can always try to sell or pawn some valuables there. In addition to pawn shops, the Neighborhood Redemption Center on Badger Ave in Endicott offers six cents for each NYS bottle and can. If you ever find yourself in possession of a massive amount of bottles and cans from some campus event, then this is the place to take them. There’s also the scrap yard Gary’s U-Pull It on Colesville road which has a shockingly wide array of spare car parts if you ever need something cheap for a car repair. Finally, there’s the Mapes Auctioneers and Appraisers which holds weekly auctions every Tuesday afternoon.
There’s plenty of other places to go and things to see in Binghamton that I failed to mention in this article. I’ve lived here my entire life but honestly, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. I could talk about how cool it feels to walk by the Chenango River in downtown Bing on a radiant sunlit morning or the feeling of taking long exposure shots of the I-81, but those are things you have to experience for yourselves. If you’ve already got the idea in your head that you hate this place, then this article probably won’t change your mind (in fact the section about pawn shops and bottle redemption centers probably convinced you further) but, if you’re willing to get out of your dorm room a few nights a week and give the town a chance I promise you’ll make a least one memory that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.