Ithaca is a college town at its best. The small city of approximately 30,000 is influenced culturally by the students and staff of its two local campuses, Cornell University and Ithaca College, but is also characterized by the natural beauty of its many gorges, waterfalls and lakes. The town has a slightly alternative, intellectual energy, and in recent years it has been named America’s Most Enlightened City and the country’s Best Emerging City. It is an engaging weekend destination for visitors who want a mix of culture, scenery and outdoor recreation.
The Perfect Ithaca Weekend
Day One: Spend your first day getting to know bohemian downtown Ithaca. Make appointments to visit several artists’ studios along the Ithaca Art Trail in the morning. Browse the Ithaca Commons in the early afternoon (be sure to buy yourself an “Ithaca is Gorges” shirt), and stop for lunch at Moosewood, a trailblazing vegetarian/organic joint that Bon Appetit named as as one of the 13 most influential restaurants of the 20th century. Spend the rest of your afternoon kayaking on Cayuga Lake or making the short drive to view Taughannock Falls in the neighboring town of Trumansburg.
Day Two: Explore the wineries of the Cayuga Lake Trail, taking time to enjoy both the lake views and the many different kinds of wine on offer at each stop. Be sure to try the strawberry wine at Americana, one of the closest wineries to Ithaca, and follow it up with a taste of homemade fudge. Several wineries along the trail have restaurants or cafes that serve lunch. Make your way back to Ithaca in time for an evening theater performance, either at the Hangar in the summer or at Cornell’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts during the school year.
Day Three: Visit the Ithaca Farmer’s Market for breakfast and stock up on fresh, locally grown produce to take back home. If the weather is warm enough, take a picnic to Buttermilk Falls for lunch, and jump into the water for a refreshing swim. Spend your afternoon exploring the Cornell University campus, particularly the Plantations and the Arts Quad. At McGraw Tower, Cornell’s iconic clock tower, student chimesmasters put on a concert at approximately 6 p.m. each evening. Make your last dinner in Ithaca a memorable one — Maxie’s Supper Club serves oysters and New Orleans-style fare in boisterous style.
Learn more about this itinerary with our Ithaca Attractions.
–written by Tracy Elsen