Ithaca, New York, is one of the most beautiful areas to visit in the Northeastern part of the United States. The region has some of the most gorgeous or as locals say “gorges” waterfalls that you will ever see, fabulous areas to hike, delightful farms/dairies, restaurants, breweries, and wonderful day trip activities as well. This article reviews the very best spots you should check out. You can also use this as a planning guide for your itinerary on your travels. Under each section, I will link my detailed blog articles about the area, and/or companies themselves if you are interested in reading more.
I think the Buttermilk Falls should be the first waterfall that you check out in Ithaca. There are several reasons I recommend this. It is very convenient to get to as the park is located in Ithaca itself. (The address is 112 E. Buttermilk Falls Rd. Off Rt.13 S.) This is one of the more accessible locations if you do not want to hike very far to see a beautiful waterfall. At the time that my husband, his family, and I traveled here, I had a pretty severe ankle injury, and I was able to make my way to the main waterfall at the bottom of the park in crutches. I also liked that there were tables and benches available to relax and enjoy the view when you walk into the park. On the flip side of that, if you do want to hike, there is an amazing trail that takes you up past the waterfalls to see some pretty spectacular vantage points.
Robert H. Treman State Park
The Robert H. Treman State park is very impressive and has ample hiking trails with delightful waterfalls. You can find it at 105 Enfield Falls Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850. In the summer, in some areas of the park under lifeguard supervision, you can even go swimming. This park also had public restrooms and also various picnic tables to relax at.
Ithaca Falls Natural Area
Located on Lake Street, and within the city of Ithaca, this waterfall is easy to see right from the sidewalk by the road. There are two small parking lots available where the Lake Street crosses Fall Creek, and it is not a far distance to walk to Ithaca Falls after you park. This waterfall is so impressive to see and stands over 100 feet tall (about 30 meters), and it is 175 feet at its base (about 53 meters.) There is also a hiking trail if you are interested in checking that out, and the whole area is very picturesque!
Taughannock Falls State Park is about a 20 minute drive if you are visiting Ithaca, and is located at 1740 Taughannock Blvd.
Trumansburg, NY 14886. Taughannock Falls is actually the highest single drop waterfall in the Northeastern region of the United States, and it is 215 feet (65 meters) tall! To give you even more perspective, it is about 33 feet (10 meters) higher then the famous Niagara Falls. It is such a marvel of nature and very magnificent.
Cascadilla Gorge Trail
One of the most beautiful and vibrant waterfall spots located in Ithaca is the Cascadilla Gorge Trail. You can either park at the lower area of the falls (that is what we did on Linn Street) or the upper trail is located behind Cornell’s Schwartz Center for Theatre Arts by the Cornell Campus. This unique trail was constructed in the 1920s and has six different waterfalls that you can see as you hike up it. The 3,600 acre region is one of the protected natural areas of the Cornell Campus, and it is managed by the Cornell Botanic Gardens. Even though it is surrounded by the bustling city of Ithaca, you are truly immersed into another world filled with the extremely relaxing nature sounds, and the water flowing through the gorges.
Salmon Creek Falls
The Salmon Creek Falls are located literally right next the Ludlowville Park and actually is a quite impressive waterfall, although maybe not as well known as some of the others. The location is a perfect spot to relax because there are benches and picnic tables set up in the park, and you really do not have to walk really far to get to this waterfall. I could see this being a fabulous area to pack sandwiches and snacks, relax at the park, and also enjoying a beautiful waterfall! The park is on Mill Street in Lansing New York 14882, and it is about a 20 minute drive from Ithaca.
Day Trip Activities
If you are visiting Ithaca, of course you have to visit the downtown area. There are so many beautiful art murals, shops, amazing restaurants, and even theaters. It has a very historic and whimsical feel, and I think a perfect activity for a nice evening out!
Sagan Planet Walk
This interesting planet walk was named after Carl Edward Sagan, the famed American planetary scientist, author, astronomer, and astrophysicist. He began his career as an associate professor at Harvard, but later moved to Cornell in Ithaca New York where he spent most of his career as a David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences. He is also very well known for assembling the first physical messages into space via the Voyager Golden Record and the Pioneer Plaque. There are just a few of his numerous accolades, but you can see why The Sciencenter Museum decided to name this planetary walk after him. This walk spans about 3/4 of a mile (1,200 meters) so this would be pretty easy to do in a couple hours. It starts out at the Sun station right in downtown Ithaca, and then it ends at the dwarf planet station of Pluto right at the Sciencenter Museum. Another interesting note about the Sagan Planet Walk is that it literally models our own Solar System, and it 1/5 billionth of its actual size. If you enjoy a bit of educational fun on your excursions, I think you will really like this walk. I think everyone of all ages can learn something from it!
Fall Creek Suspension Bridge
This structure is about 140 feet off the ground (almost 43 meters) and length wise it is 270 feet (about 82 meters.) We felt very safe on it, but at times this bridge is known to sway and bounce a little, so just take your time walking across it. The views from it are simply spectacular, and it provides an amazing viewpoint of the Rocky Falls, as well as the adjacent hydroelectric plant that is utilized and operated by Cornell University. You can find this location at 310 Fall Creek Drive, Ithaca NY, 14850.
Cayuga Nature Center
The Cayuga Nature Center is such an amazing place to visit, and it leads you into an immersive nature hiking experience with so much to discover on every turn. The address for this center is 1420 Taughannock Blvd. in Ithaca. There is a six-story treehouse, a waterfall, a historic main lodge that holds the largest public aquarium of the Finger Lakes, and also 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 truly respect what they are doing at this nature center, and it is really worth checking out!
Lively Run Goat Dairy
If you enjoy cheese, cheese tastings, visiting a farm, or even feeding goats you will want to visit the Lively Run Goat Dairy located in Interlaken New York (about a 30 minute drive from Ithaca at 8978 Co Rd 142, Interlaken, NY 14847.) The cheese tasting had some of the best I have ever had, and I highly recommend this place.
Cabin View Alpacas
The Cabin View Alpaca Farm is about a 25 minute drive from Ithaca. Their address is at 9435 Congress St Ext, Trumansburg, NY 14886. This farm truly has a beautiful home for their animals, and in the tours they are so knowledgeable and friendly. You also get to see these sweet creatures up close which is amazing. They also do sell some really gorgeous alpaca fiber items in their gift shop, and you will want to check that out as well!
Myers Point Park/Lighthouse
Myers Point Park and the Myers Lighthouse are a must see if you enjoy nature in a waterfront sense, and are located right on the Cayuga Lake. The park itself is very relaxing and has a boat marina, pavilions, a swimming region (during certain parts of the year and when lifeguards are present), a playground for kids, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and they even have camping available if you are interested in that. We personally really enjoyed the Myers Point Lighthouse and it was a really beautiful area. I think this could be a really nice outdoors day trip area.
Ithaca Farmers Market
The Ithaca Farmers Market is located right off Cayuga Lake, and they have so many vendors with fresh produce, take out dishes, a variety of eat on site meals, specialty foods, and very talented artisans as well. Their address is Steamboat Landing, 545 3rd St, Ithaca, NY 14850. We really enjoyed that all of their food was local to the region, and was super fresh. At our visit in early October, they had fresh apple cider, donuts, burritos, and so many amazing food options. There were also benches there for seating so you do have time to relax and enjoy what you order. They also had so many unique and local products if you are interested in shopping more local to Ithaca. We actually went back there several times on our trip to Ithaca, so do highly recommend it!
Ithaca Beer Co.
Ithaca Beer Co. has absolutely delicious farm to table cuisine, in addition to their award winning “Flower Power IPA” which has actually recognized as on of the “25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed” by Food & Wine Magazine. The location that it is in is seriously gorgeous as well, and it is right on a farm outside of the city by several state parks. Their address is at 122 Ithaca Beer Dr, Ithaca, NY 14850. (They also have another location in Collegetown at 409 College Ave. Suite A, and this is about 10 minutes away from the Ithaca spot that I reviewed.)
Silo Food Truck/Liquid State Brewing Company
If you are interested in trying some of the best fried chicken you have ever had in your life, I definitely recommend stopping by the Silo Food Truck, which resides at the Liquid State Brewing Company. Their address is 620 W Green St, Ithaca, NY 14850. The Liquid State Brewing has fresh ales, lagers, wines, ciders, and many other amazing beverages as well. The partnership with the Silo Food Truck really enables their customers to have a unique and amazing experience.
Ithaca Coffee Company
If you need a pick me up in between your traveling adventures in Ithaca, this is the place to go. They have a really nice make to order coffee area right when you walk in, and also carry gourmet foods, snacks, gifts, beer, and a variety of baked goods as well. You can find them at 2255 N Triphammer Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Purity Ice Cream Co.
If you are looking for a more “sweet treat” location, the Purity Ice Cream Co. is a wonderful stop to check out, and they are at 700 Cascadilla St, Ithaca, NY 14850. It was pretty amazing to find out that they started back in 1936 by Cornell grad Leo Guentert. The company is known as “Ice Cream of the Finger Lakes” and is proud to be a locally owned business. We really adored their delicious ice cream, and they have a variety of shakes, sundaes, and bakery items. They also more savory items such as veggie burgers, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and a kids menu for the little ones.
Herbert F. Johnson Museum Of Art
This museum has a combination of modern and ancient art from various world cultures, and is worth a visit if you are interested in seeing some pretty amazing and unique pieces! They are located at 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853.
This is a great museum for families and they have a ton of hands on exhibits that really focus on education and science! Their address is 601 1st St, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Cornell Botanic Gardens
The Cornell Botanic Gardens have woodland trails, beautiful gardens, and an arboretum that make this spot worth the visit. You can find them at 124 Comstock Knoll Dr, Ithaca, NY 14850. Sometimes they even have educational events, so make sure you check out their website if you are interested in that as well.
Watkins Glen State Park
Although this location (1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891) is not in Ithaca itself (a little less then a 40 minute drive) if you enjoy hiking and waterfalls this is an excellent location to check out in your travels to Ithaca.
I really hope that you have an amazing visit to Ithaca New York. There is truly no other place on Earth like it, and from their amazing shops to “gorges” waterfalls, I think you will fall in love with the area just as much as we did. Let me know in the comments if you have visited this area before, and what your favorite spots were too! I hope that you are having a wonderful day, and remember to click the like and 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!
For more information regarding this book, check out the Amazon Affiliate link below.
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