Cultural Experience | United States

12 Things to do in Ithaca, NY

All the best things to do in the fourth-best college town in America!

Best Fall Activity: Food festivals on the Ithaca Commons
Every fall Apple fest is held on the Ithaca Commons, which is like Ithaca’s downtown. It’s a strip full of shops, restaurants, and movie theaters. Every fall, the streets are blocked off like a block party and vendors sell fall foods like apple crisp, apple cider, caramel popcorn, warm nuts, and a bunch of other delicious goodies. Items will run you anywhere from $3-$10 on average. Make sure you bundle up, Ithaca gets cold!

Best Summer activity:
Swimming in the gorges! Ithaca is gorges, meaning full of waterfalls and gorges that are not only beautiful to look at, but fun to swim in. Venture off Cornell’s campus to Buttermilk Falls and have fun swimming in the gorges. Just be careful! The currents are strong.

• Best Winter activity:

Cornell Hockey

Photo Credit: Natalie Rosseau

Ice skating at Lynah Rink! One of the best things to do in Ithaca in the winter is go ice skating at Lynah Rink on the campus of Cornell University! Go with friends, walk over with hot cocoa, and have a good time during public skates. Admission is $4 and renting skates will cost you $2 and your I.D. card! (Another fun thing to do at Lynah is watch Cornell’s hockey team play as pictured above!)

• Best Outdoor Adventure
The Hoffman Challenge Course is located only five miles away from Cornell’s campus and contains a zipline, giant swing, obstacle course, and balance beams among other challenges. The course is open year-round by making a reservation!

• Best concert venue/festival
SLOPE DAY! Every year on the last day of classes, Cornell throws a big concert and carnival on Libe Slope and Ho Plaza respectively. Come out and enjoy performances, festival food, and carnival games. Best part about it? It’s totally free!

• Best restaurants
Surprisingly, Ithaca is home to some great restaurants. Stay away from the usual suspects and check out the local establishments. From Banfi’s Tavern in the Statler Hotel, to Maxie’s, Mahogany Grill, AGAVA, Miyake and The Boatyard Grill on the Commons and downtown respectively, you can’t go wrong. Mahogany Grille is the perfect spot for brunch with delicious crab cakes and moderate prices. Maxie’s, Boatyard Grill, AGAVA and Banfi’s Tavern will run you more but are well worth it. Miyake is a perfect spot for date night and won’t break the bank + their fried ice cream is a must!

• Best spot to feed your sweet tooth

Purity Ice Cream

Purity Ice Cream, right off Cornell’s campus guarantees the best ice cream Ithaca has to over. Head there for a banana split, good old fashioned cone, or simple cup. Indulge your sweet tooth. Purity is worth it. It’s cheap too! Depending upon what you get, prices will run from $3-$10.

• Best night club
Level B in Collegetown. If you’re ever in Ithaca, go on Wednesday night and fishbowl. All of Cornell comes out and you’re guaranteed a good time. Fishbowls are $18 on Wednesday night so split the cost with a friend or two! You won’t be able to finish it by yourself, trust me.

• Best local cuisine

Local Cuisine

Enjoying a Brooklyn bagel and Orangina from CTB on a lazy Saturday

Collegetown Bagels (CTB). CTB is a god-send. From the desserts to the ever-changing drink menu, CTB is an Ithaca staple. If in Ithaca, you must go to CTB and pick from the many bagel options. I’m personally partial to the Brooklyn. CTB is good because there is something for everyone and everything is so fresh and fun. It’s also inexpensive. Your food, drink included likely won’t cost more than $10.

• Best Farmer’s Market
I mentioned earlier that Ithaca is really into food right? Well, we are. So, naturally there’s a farmers market full of fresh produce and other goodies. Spend a Saturday or Sunday there and make changes towards a healthy lifestyle.

• Best Bar
Regent in the Statler Hotel is in my opinion the best bar in Ithaca. It’s one of two bars on campus and while it’s a bit pricey with one cocktail costing $10 and up, the atmosphere and food selection makes it well worth it.

• Best on campus activity
Climb the clock tower. It’s a steep endeavor as there are 161 steps but the view of Cornell, Cayuga Lake, and Ithaca is so worth it! It’s free and great exercise so climb up at sunset one day and take in the view.

12 Things to do in Ithaca, NY

Gabrielle Hickmon

Cornell University | 7 stories

Gabrielle Hickmon is a senior at Cornell University who just returned from studying abroad at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @gabgotti. She rants and writes regularly on her blog The Reign XY. But, when she isn't, you can find her laughing with her friends, binge watching way too much Netflix, and planning her next adventure!

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