Visit Syracuse: Culture Shock at WonderWorks Destiny USA


While traveling around South America, we mainly visited 15th century cathedrals for our day trips, so this time it was a bit refreshing to visit a 300+ store shopping mall. The stereotypical American shopping mall, Destiny USA, is located in Syracuse NY, and contains 2.4 million square feet worth of retail area!

Just as I exited Macy’s and stepped into the mall, the iconic mall aroma hit me. It was a Thursday at 10 AM but there was still a ridiculous amount of people strolling around all 7 floors. It had only been 8 months since I had visited a North American mall, but I’d have to admit that it was almost a culture shock.

Our first stop in the mall was to the guest services counter where we received our tickets to the WonderWorks interactive museum courtesy of Visit Syracuse. Our family got lost while trying to find WonderWorks, but we finally arrived after walking in seemingly endless circles. The outside of the WonderWorks museum looked like an upside down building but when we walked into the museum it got even weirder. Kudos to WonderWorks for doing a really good job at designing the place.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

The entrance to the exhibit started through the ‘inversion tunnel’, which basically was a walkway inside a crazy spinning tube. At first I thought I would try to ‘act cool’ and just walk through the tunnel like it was no big deal, but halfway into the 10-foot tunnel, I almost fell over. Thankfully there was a railing that kept me from being completely humiliated. The tunnel played games on my mind, so now I understand why they recommended pregnant women and people pushing strollers to take the other entrance.

The rest of the interactive museum had the same exact effect as the inverted tunnel. My brain was messed with by every other exhibit such as the one with flashing lights that made it look like water droplets were falling up. The WonderWorks museum had several other interactive exhibits, my favorites being the space shuttle simulator (though I crashed every time) and, of course, the inversion tunnel.


Here are some of the other notable exhibits:

  • Bed of nails – it actually hurt a bit because I could feel the tip of the nails going through my polo
  • Hurricane force wind shack – pretty cool to feel 70 mph winds right in your face, would have liked it if it was a bit faster, but I guess that could be dangerous
  • Xtreme 360 Bikes – I didn’t actually try this one because I wasn’t keen on the idea of flipping in a full circle, like if I were to do a 360 on a swing set
  • Virtual reality mini-theater – short 5 minute videos with seats that vibrate and wind blows in your face to simulate motion
  • Google Earth – there was a large screen with Google Earth that could be controlled by a joystick. Our family probably spent the most time on this trying to look for places that we previously visited in South America.
Cathedral in Cuenca, Ecuador that we visited in real life and in Google Earth.

It took us about 1 and ½ hours in total to see all of the exhibits. Special thanks to Visit Syracuse for making this adventure possible.

What is your favorite local place to visit? Leave your comment below.

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