1. “Do you guys get a lot of snow?”
You have no idea. Syracuse averages more than 115 inches a year. You basically learn how to drive fast in any condition growing up in the state of New York.
2. “Does everyone there eat buffalo wings?”
Yes. But they don’t call them that. They’re mostly just called wings.
3. “Wegmans is just another grocery store, right?”
Don’t ever compare Wegmans to other grocery stores in Upstate. They’re very particular about the stores they shop at, whether it’s Stewart’s, Hannaford or Price Chopper.
4. “Where does Upstate New York start, anyways?”
You could spend an hour arguing about where NYC ends and Upstate New York begins. Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 different opinions.
5. “Did you go to Woodstock?”
Woodstock was THE biggest cultural event of our time, and concert goers came from all over the country to attend. The small town outside of Albany was the centerpoint for music for three days in 1969.
These days, Mountain Jam in Hunter Mountain, NY (in the Catskills) is the must-see event of the summer, usually in early June.
6. “Does everyone there drink a lot?”
Folks here are definitely a rowdy bunch. Whether it’s out on the farm or at a sporting event, Upstaters pretty much make alcohol a part of their lives for a lot of the year.
7. “Do you eat salt potatoes?”
Salt potatoes were invented in central New York, and while locals don’t eat them non stop, they certainly are delicious. They are also known to mix in some chicken and clams too.
8. “Were you at the Miracle On Ice?”
Lake Placid was home to the Olympic Games in 1980 and in 1932, and left an indelible mark on the local area. However, tickets were hard to come by, and temperatures were freezing both years, meaning a lot of the fans who lived in the region didn’t attend.
But if you were there when the USA beat Russia 4-3, consider yourself blessed.
9. “How far away from Canada are you, eh?”
Buffalo is sometimes sarcastically called an extension of Montreal, and Toronto is only a 30-minute drive from the state line, so a trip to Canada is a cinch.
10. “Ever seen anyone go over the falls in a barrell?”
Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and for many kids, it can be a summer ritual to make the short drive up to the Canadian border to see them. Just don’t try anything stupid.
11. “Do you like the Mets or Yankees?”
While you’ll get a few stragglers here and there, it’s pretty obvious that a majority of Upstaters pull hard for the Yankees. Wouldn’t you, too, if your local team made the playoffs almost every single year?
12. “Do you like the Giants or Bills?”
It’s split pretty evenly between the Bills and Giants. You’d actually be hard pressed to find very many Jets fans way upstate.
13. “Know any good ski resorts?”
With the Catskills and Adirondacks in the middle of Upstate New York, locals have some of the best snow sports in the entire region. It’s basically skiing and boarding paradise in this part of the state.
14. “I assume hockey is a big deal up there?”
You’ve assumed correctly. Between the Sabres, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and the predominance of college teams in the area, locals have to have something to do to keep themselves occupied during the long, long winter months.
15. “Do you live in New York City?”
This is basically the biggest, most annoying stereotype that all people who live north of White Plains hear. It can be hard to convince people to move to the city. And, please don’t ask if you can go see the Statue of Liberty when you’re in town, either.
Upstate NY residents know exactly how long it takes to get to the city, and can tell you within 15 minutes how long it takes, no matter if it’s summer or there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground.
16. “It’s Fall. Can we please go outside?”
When you consider that the Aridondacks are the biggest national park area in the nation, yes, there’s nothing like fall in upper New York. Whether you’re out in the country or downtown Syracuse, you really have to see it in person to really appreciate it.
17. “Which SUNY did you go to?”
People in the State University of New York system are pretty protective of where they go to school, and others are quick to sum you up by the school you attended. So, if you say you went to SUNY Oswego or SUNY Purchase, prepare to be judged.
Incidentally, the SUNY system actually is one of the highest rated state university systems in the U.S.
18. “Why is everyone running red lights?”
A lot of the roads out in the country come into small towns, and after locals have been stuck behind a tractor for an hour, they’re just about ready to get home.
19. “Do you know where the nearest winery is?”
The region has what’s been called some of the best wineries in the world. From the Finger Lakes all the way through the Adirondack valleys, you can get everything from traditional to blueberry, cherry and raspberry wines from one of many vintners who really know their stuff.
There’s nothing like sipping wine in Upstate New York in the fall.
20. “How do you navigate around this place?”
The locals know the criss crossed highways and biways really well out in the boonies of Upstate NY. Expect an outsider to get directions that involve a barn, a Wegmans and “the third road past the river” when you’re passing through or on vacation.
21. “What’s up with the lacrosse obsession up here?”
Syracuse is basically a world power when it comes to college lacrosse, and it spills down to the high school and junior high ranks. In May, expect to see a sports bar in the area packed with people rooting on the Orange to another national championship run.
22. “Why are there tractors everywhere?”
Outside of the major metro areas like Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester (among others), the Upstate New York area is pretty rural. A huge part of the area is either forest or farmland. In fact, in a lot of the smaller towns in between, it’s not uncommon for others to know you, your dad and your grandpa.
23. “Do you have a lake house?”
Sadly, not every family has a home on the lake in Upstate New York, though, that can be a stereotype. There are some really amazing lakes in the region, and of course, Upstate NY is home to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which are real beauties.
There are also beautiful homes along the Hudson River, but that can be a little…smelly at times.
24. “Did everyone in high school bonfire up here?”
If you were to ask a native of Upstate New York if they got drunk and went to bonfires as a kid, the answer would most likely be yes (at least to the bonfire part). The tradition continues, as bonfires are one of the reasons people look forward to winter to end around here.
25. “When can we go hunting?”
Between muzzle loading, bow hunting and deer and/or bear season, hunting is a really big deal in Upstate New York. Don’t be surprised if you see people wearing hunting clothes to church.