Binghamton, New York- the “Parlor City” (nicknamed this for its Victorian architecture) – is the carousel (and pierogi!) capital of the world, but is also the birthplace of Rod Serling and Johnson Shoe factory. What differentiates Binghamton from any other upstate stop-over? In one word: community.
From the Triple Cities Airport to the Triple Cities Runners’ Club, Binghamtonians know that in order to thrive, they must work with their community. For them, this includes the nearby towns of Endicott and Johnson City, as well as Vestal and Endwell. Each of these towns or villages has something unique to offer, and a trip to “Binghamton” must include a stop in each of these places as well. The community focus has led to great farmers’ markets and a loyally-used Four County Library System, among other things.
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I used to think, wow! I have to get out of town as quickly as possible- there is nothing to do here, I know everything within 20 miles. Then, however, I realized that I was sorely mistaken. I have never explored Endicott’s Little Italy beyond a slice of pizza, nor have I visited any of Endwell’s parks for more than a dip in the pool. I had only been to Vestal to shop or study in the library on the campus of Binghamton University, never had I thought of really going to Johnson City.
Despite my reluctance to get out into my community, once I did, I found many great things to do, and many special places (all of which are traveler-friendly!). For sports fans, there are the Binghamton Senators (hockey), the B-Mets (baseball), and the Division I Binghamton University Bearcats. If one is willing to travel a few minutes out of downtown, Chenango Valley State Park and its bike trails beckon the nature lover. Between Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endwell have seven carousels, all funded as a result of the Johnson Shoe Company. The good works of the Johnson brothers and their factory workers are plentiful throughout Greater Binghamton- statues and fountains in Binghamton’s Recreation Park, arches in Endicott and Johnson City, and a pagoda in the latter town (albeit, a small and decorative one).
For out-of-towners, downtown Binghamton offers lots of great, local eats. A few of my favorites include the Lost Dog Café, Water Street Brewing Company and Café 46 West. To get around, biking is popular, but if multiple towns are on your itinerary, cars are the only option. These can be rented at the Binghamton Airport- very convenient for local and variable long-distance flights- which is really the only way to get into the city of Binghamton from very far away.
For me, Binghamton will always be a reliable hometown. While the weather may not always be warm and sunny, I know that I have a community here- one which I will always be ready and excited to explore.
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