Why You Should Visit The Cayuga Nature Center In Ithaca New York

The Cayuga Nature Center, which is located in Ithaca New York, is truly such an amazing spot to visit. It leads you into an immersive nature hiking experience with so much to discover on every turn. My husband and I were amazed that at this location they have a six-story treehouse, a waterfall, a historic main lodge that holds the largest public aquarium of the Finger Lakes, and a home for wild animals that have physical or behavioral problems that would make it difficult for them to survive in the wild on their own. I really respect what they are doing at this nature center, and that is why we knew we had to check it out!

The area was founded back in 1981 with the goal of providing nature education opportunities to the students in the area, and especially through their summer camps. In 2013 the center combined with the Paleontological Research Institution to continue expansion on the sites exhibits and programs.

Cayuga Nature Center

The address for this center is 1420 Taughannock Blvd, Ithaca New York 14850, and it is located by Lake Cayuga on the southwestern side of it. If you are staying the city region of Ithaca, you can expect about a 15 minute drive depending on traffic, so this is a really great day trip option from there. There is a parking lot as well right next to the main building (the lodge) as you drive up. There are also outhouses on location if you should need one.

Similar to most of the hiking adventures that we go on, there are several things that we did to prepare for a fun and safe experience. When we visited, it was in early October, so we wore long light pants, comfortable shirts, light coats, sturdy shoes, and sunglasses as well. In our bags we brought several water bottles, a couple granola bars, and some hand wipes. Please remember to be respectful of the land and make sure that you do not leave any waste behind, it is honestly up to all of us to make sure that we are taking care of our beautiful Earth.

Cayuga Nature Center
Cayuga Nature Center

After we parked, we walked past the main lodge building, and the path we were on continued to go up a hill, but you can also go off into other trails from here as well from the lodge. I was very excited to see some of the gorgeous animals that they were taking care of, and at the time we visited we saw a beautiful owl, two red foxes, and a vulture too! Each animal also had information listed on how they were found, and the ways they are taking care of them which was really sweet. I am glad that they were given this second chance at life since they probably would not make it in the wild. I was honestly surprised to see how many of these wild animals were once kept as pets, I think it is crucial that we respect these creatures and for the safety of them and for us humans not to keep them in our homes.

Cayuga Nature Center

For our hike, we went up the Gravel Trail. As you continue walking up this trail, you will see a magnificent six-story treehouse on the property called TreeTops. I highly recommend that you go all the way up this building, because it will provide you a spectacular view of Denison Falls a 21 foot (6.4 meters) cascading waterfall in the wooded gorge area. In addition to the waterfall, we were completely mesmerized at the beauty of the treehouse itself!

Cayuga Nature Center
Inside TreeTops At The Cayuga Nature Center
Denison Falls At The Cayuga Nature Center
Denison Falls At The Cayuga Nature Center
Cayuga Nature Center

This center has amazing educational programs and camps for children with a ton of resources. If you are a teacher, they also have virtual programs available for you with topics ranging from learning about the environment, to even discovering more about animals and their habitats as well.

I highly recommend a visit to the Cayuga Nature Center, and it is a fabulous place to explore nature, go hiking, and learn about various animals as well. Let me know in the comments if you have visited the center, and what you thought about it. I hope that you have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!

If you are traveling to the New York area, and are interested in hiking or viewing spectacular waterfalls, a book that I would highly recommend and also own myself is “Hiking Waterfalls New York.” This literature reviews a variety of hikes, from the famous Niagara Falls, to even more less known hikes, but spots that you will not want to miss! At the beginning of the book, I really like that the author categorized the trails from her favorites, best waterfalls for fall foliage, best gorge hikes, roadside waterfalls, best historical falls, and even waterfalls that may draw in more crowds versus less crowded waterfalls. There is also a very nice map that lays out where the locations of them are, and that can be an amazing tool when you are planning your trip. This is great so that you know how far of a distance you can expect to travel from where you are lodging, and you can really make the most out of your time and itinerary. With each hike and waterfall listed there is a full color photo, trail distance, difficulty, and even information about the actual surface that the trail is made out of in addition to so much more!

My personal copy of “Hiking Waterfalls New York”

For more information regarding this book, click on the Amazon Affiliate link below to learn more.


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Cayuga Nature Center
Cayuga Nature Center







Published by NortheastAllie

For generations, my family has lived in the Philadelphia area, and my writing reflects these influences. This blog explores perspectives on life, encouragement, travel, health, and local living.

10 thoughts on “Why You Should Visit The Cayuga Nature Center In Ithaca New York

  1. Cayuga Nature Reserve is a fascinating place. `The nature is of course beautiful and how interesting that they house animals with behavioural problems. `The tree house is very cool, who hasn’t dreamed of living in a tree house as a young kid:) I could learn something from you about pre-hike preparation as we tend to go not very well prepared for our hikes and nature walks. So far we’ve managed to wing it somehow.

    1. Thank you very much Leighton! It was definitely neat to see how the center cared for the animals that needed help and to see them in a more comfortable environment.

  2. Thank you for these posts. I am currently planning a family trip with my 5 year old to explore Ithaca and these articles give great insight and tips.

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