What to do in Ithaca & the Finger Lakes Region!
At the end of September, I took a road trip with A to my beloved college town and today I’m going to share with you what to do in Ithaca if you ever find yourself in that direction. As mentioned before, and as seen on my Instagram, there is quite a lot to do for those of you who are the outdoorsy types.
If not, don’t fret! There are plenty of great restaurants to try out from various cuisines as well as great thrift and vintage stores. If you’re a wine aficionado there are an abundance of wineries and if nightlife is your thing there are a few great bars too.
I of course, have no trouble thinking of what to do in Ithaca. I spent four crazy years of my life there. The area had a few noticeable changes but for the most part, it looked exactly like how I left it. The experience of going back at 26 when I left at 21 was surreal.
My life is so different now. In some ways as I walked those familiar halls I felt exactly the same and in other instances, I felt incredibly removed. I’ll talk more about the impact of nostalgia and what happens when you confront it in an upcoming post. For now, let’s focus on what to do in Ithaca and check out these suggestions below!
- Buttermilk Falls State Park has hiking trails, camp grounds and a woodland area along with a lake. It’s the largest of the 10 falls along Buttermilk Creek and plunges down 600 ft. It looks incredible in person and unfortunately these gorgeous images only show a fraction of how beautiful it really is.
- Taughannock Falls State Park is technically in a neighboring town called Ulysses. Still, this breathtaking waterfall cuts a 400 ft gorge through sandstone, shale, and limestone. When you walk the trail leading up to the fall or at the overlook point there are stands listing facts about it that are interesting to read. There is also a playground and even a summer concert series at the nearby marina.
- Stewart Park is located right in the Finger Lakes and includes a playground and picnic area. If you’re not too into hiking check this locale out for a quiet place to enjoy stunning views of the lakeside homes.
- South Hill Recreation Way is a hiking trail right next to my house from senior year and leads to the Six Mile Creek Gorge.
There are over 150 waterfalls in Ithaca and within 10 square miles of the surrounding area. It’s where the phrase “Ithaca is Gorges” comes from and you can see hiking trails and more of what to do in Ithaca here.
- Ithaca College & Cornell are the college campuses in the area. They have two very different vibes to them and both campuses are worth a walk through.
- The Commons is located in downtown Ithaca and is situated at the bottom of the hill that Ithaca College (Go Bombers!) is on. It’s kind of the intersection between the two hills/colleges. When you’re in the Ithaca Commons you can easily make your way up the East Hill toward Collegetown and Cornell or head back toward South Hill and Ithaca’s campus. In the Commons, there is a bevy of shops and restaurants.
- Our hotel, Hotel Ithaca, was located in this area and so were the majority of the places we dined at.
- Petrune is a vintage store that thankfully was still there when we visited. It has a more refined selection and some of the prices can be a bit more expensive but I love it! You can see it below.
- Collegetown is another area filled with cute shops and restaurant but it’s located directly at the entrance of the Cornell campus. When I was a student I spent equal amounts of time in both the Commons (which is considered more Ithaca College’s territory) and Collegetown.
Experience Food & Wine:
- Collegetown Bagels is a local chain with THE best bagels in town. I spent so many Saturdays catching up with friends about the night before there.
- Just a Taste is a fantastic tapas restaurant that you should certainly check out!
- Taste of Thai has one of the best chicken satay appetizers that I’ve ever tasted. Delicious!
- Viva Taqueria & Cantina has excellent quesadillas and even better margaritas! The sangria is also really good and comes in a big solo pitcher.
- Bandwagon Brew Pub is a nice, cozy bar with a killer cheese plate and an awesome ambiance.
- The Finger Lakes Wine Trail boasts 25 wineries to choose from in the area.
I’m glad that I could show off my home away from home to all of you today. I’ll always think fondly of my time living in Ithaca and now, after my trip, I have even more memories to hold onto. I hope I’ve given you a few helpful suggestions in this post. If you ever head up to the Finger Lakes region now you’ll know what to do in Ithaca when you get there!
What do you think? Have you been? Share your suggestion on what to do in Ithaca!