Sunday, September 20, 2009

Things to Do - Ithaca

Things to Do

The Finger Lakes region is a beautiful place with incredible natural beauty, great local wines, and great local produce. Here are our thoughts on things to do in and around Ithaca.

The New York Times is always a good guide: 36 hours in Ithaca, NY

Here is a more recent New York Times article on the wine trail:

Downtown Ithaca

The hotel school graduates many restauranteurs (among them Stephen from Top Chef Season 1) and leads to many great local restaurants. Here are some of our favorites.

French Bistro - Dijon
Casual New Orleans Food with live music - Maxie's Supper Club (Try the Grits, the Gumbo and the Jambalaya)
Fancy - Willow
New York style deli - Hal's deli - famous for their mini potato pancakes, potato knishes, and we also loved their corned beef, as well as the pastrami)
Hip Cocktail Bar with live music - Felicia's Atomic Lounge
Moosewoods - famous for their ubiquitous vegetarian cookbooks is also in Ithaca, though we are so-so about this place.
And local coffee chain, Gimme! coffee, has amazing espressos (even their decafs).

People are very proud of the local farmer's market. Great seasonal local produce. Great place to pick up breakfast or lunch on Saturday or Sunday.

Also, locals are proud of the Wegman's (like Whole Foods). And for the crunchy granola locally owned version, Greenstar Cooperative.
Also, several local science museum and a Carl Sagan science walk.


Has a beautiful campus on high hills between forested gorges and dozens of waterfalls. Visit the gardens and arboretums of Cornell planations. Take the Cascadilla Gorge Trail path from downtown Ithaca (Ben's walk to work every day in a staircase through the woods and by several falls), or the many other trails around campus. See the Johnson Art Museum (looks like a giant Sewing Machine, and built by IM Pei. Spectacular views of the surrounding area though).

Water Falls/Hiking/Parks

There are dozens of great parks, waterfalls, hiking trails, swimmig holes in the area. Listed below are some of the ones we've really enjoyed.

Treman Park and Upper and Lower waterfalls - with large swimming hole with lifeguard, impressive gorge trail winding up alongside tall falls a few miles south of Ithaca.
Taughannock falls - Tallest waterfall in the North East and a beautiful park by the lake a few miles north of Ithaca
Ithaca Falls - Most imposing/impressive waterfall in area. No hiking, but walkable from downtown Ithaca.

Some great secluded swimming holes under waterfalls:

Wineries and Breweries

The Finger Lakes area has great wines, and great local beer. We like Shalestone for reds, but dry Rieslings is the local specialty. The New York Times article (see link above) is a good guide.

By the Seneca wineries (about 45 min from Ithaca), we really like the restaurant Danos Heuriger (an Austrian style wine garden [like beergarden but with wine], with great local wines, creative homey Austrian food, a fantastic building designed by a Cornell architecture prof, beautiful lake views, and really friendly owners). Also a really neat secluded swimming hole is by Seneca lake (see link above).

Further Afield:

New York, NY (the city so nice, they named it twice) is about 220 miles away.
Corning, famous for their glass museum and the corning factory is about 44 miles away
Rochester, famous for Kodak, and its university is 90 miles away
Niagara Falls and Buffalo is 168 miles away.
Toronto is about 248 miles away

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