I hear it far too often: “Binghamton’s a shit hole.” Sure, it’s not the most glamorous city in the world. But to anyone who has ever muttered these words, I ask you — have you even given this city a chance? I’ve fallen in love with Binghamton over the past four years. It’s got a lot more to offer than people give it credit for.
Binghamton is like Clint Eastwood’s face. It’s hard to imagine what it must have looked like in its prime, back before the potholes started getting really deep and everything began to turn an ashen gray. But when the light hits it at just the right angle, it shines with a certain rugged beauty.
Getting to know the city of Binghamton has been a huge part of my four-year stint here at BU. Some of my greatest moments were spent exploring the streets, looking for new restaurants, new bars or just a new place to walk when I’m bored.
That’s how I discovered Tom’s gift shop, where they sell nearly 100 different flavors of gourmet coffee. That’s how I discovered Rec Park and Otsiningo Park, two of my favorite places to spend a rare sunny afternoon. That’s how I discovered how beautiful the city looks when reflected off the Chenango River in the middle of the night.
We all know that the local restaurants are the hidden gems of Binghamton. Since it started in 2010, Restaurant Week has been one of the most anticipated weeks of my semester. It’s still a shock to me that Binghamton is home to such quality restaurants as Lost Dog, Tranquil Bar & Bistro and Whole in the Wall.
But even better are the real holes in the wall. Danny’s Diner, owned by a middle-aged greaser, serves the best greasy diner food in town. And Kennedy Fried Chicken is a must for anyone looking for Southern-style fried chicken.
For anyone getting sick of the typical night on State Street, try something new. Get a craft brew at the newly opened Water St. Brewing Company. Get a $2 pint at Lost Dog’s happy hour. Get a sampler of dark beers at Cyber Café West. Go to wing night on Thursdays at Manley’s. Get a taco or two from the Belmar. Hit up the bar at Laurel Bowl and bowl a few rounds. Get a Berries and Nuts shot at The Beef — seriously, do it.
And then there are the arts. First Friday is just the beginning. You can always find a live band or local art exhibit somewhere in Binghamton. Cyber Café West, RiverRead Books and the Art Mission Theater are always good places to start when looking for some local entertainment.
Of course, this column wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the B-Mets and the Senators. This season may be the last for the Binghamton Mets, so get to a game at NYSEG stadium while you still can. And even though the B-Sens will probably keep losing here in Binghamton for a long time to come, they know how to put on a good show and come highly recommended on my list.
I’ve lived off campus longer than most undergrads, but you don’t need to live Downtown to experience everything that Binghamton has to offer. The University provides us with the incredible service of free city buses. So hop on one, it really doesn’t matter which, and ride it until you don’t recognize anything around you, then get on another and ride some more.
I remember being hopelessly lost Downtown as a freshman. As it turned out, I was never too far from State Street, but it was the most fun I had that year.
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time to say goodbye to Binghamton. I’m going to miss the shit out of this place and everyone that’s shared in the experience with me. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of the last four years for anything in the world.