Life in Ithaca
There are so many things to do in Ithaca! We are truly spoiled with the abundance and high quality of our local attractions. No need to drive long distances when you live here.
There are many great websites devoted to detailing what to see and do in Ithaca. Just Google “Things to do in Ithaca, NY” and you will be inundated with information. “An Insiders Guide to Ithaca Attractions” (on the web) has a great “short list” of some of the very best Ithaca has to offer. More information for most of these are easily accessed via the web (again, Google to the rescue!)
Given my druthers, I spend most of my available time in:
The Great Outdoors
Cautionary Note: The gorges around Ithaca are a must do, but please, only go to these during good weather, avoid the icy season, and obey all trail closure signs and off limit area signs. These are for your protection. There are a few every year who feel the rules didn’t apply to them, and every year there are several deaths as well as more than a few close calls requiring rescue crews. These are a serious waste of human resources and totally unwarranted as they are 99% avoidable; don’t you be the next front page news!
All the following are don’t miss to serious outdoorsy people
A great resource to all Tompkins County Trails can be found at this great interactive website:
Taughannock State Park Be sure to check out their summer concert series, free and fun. Right on Cayuga Lake as well.
Treman State Park Hikes, waterfalls, great gorge, and an old mill to tour.
Buttermilk Falls State Park (above)
Both the upper and lower parks are hard to beat for hikes and picnics and swimming.
Fillmore Glen State Park
Well worth the car trip to Moravia, it has swimming and a lovely gorge hike.
Hike the gorge bottom to top, it is fantastic! but I wouldn’t waste money on the laser light show
The following are not state parks, but have at least one of the following: great water falls, gorges, hikes or lakes.
Right on Cayuga Lake, and right in Ithaca. Has a beautiful Carousel for the kids.
Wild and beautiful, but be very careful.
A very pretty place to visit, even if you are strapped for time.
Easy hike goes all around it. Be sure to check out the stone arch bridge. NO diving!
Hammond Hill State Forest
My all time favorite, as I live smack in the middle of it (talk about being spoiled rotten!) 19 miles of marked trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. The skiing here is the best in the area, as we have snow when no one else does. We have a municipal parking lot (1/2 mile up Hammond Hill Road) and a sign in kiosk with trail maps provided by New York State DEC. Cornell Lab of Ornithology likes this area for birding, as we have one of the most diverse bird habitats in the county. Also can’t beat it for star gazing as there is little light pollution. We have an active trail support group that cares for the trails here, certified through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adopt a Natural Resource Program. Come join us! Email me if you are interested.
Yellow Barn State Forest
This one lies close by Hammond Hill State Forest, and can be accessed from Hammond Hill parking lot via a hiking trail that leads down to the Park Preserve wildlife wetland area. All others must use the roads. There are no official trails on Yellow barn except for a snowmobile access trail, but there are trails there, and roads. Central New York Orienteering may have maps for sale. ( http://cnyo.us.orienteering.org/ )
Shindagin Hollow Made Biking Magazine’s top ten places to mountain bike and has an avid following. Some purists think that the publicity has led to overuse of the trails. You decide for yourself.
Nature Centers, Botanical Gardens/Plantations and Birder’s Paradises
Cayuga Nature Center This nature center does it all, from special events to summer camps to school field trips. These folks are one of the very few who get my hard earned dollars to support their programming. Well worth repeat trips.
Lime Hollow A smaller nature center but has a lovely network of trails winding through very intricate, detail rich terrain. Also open to cross country skiing in winter. A new main building has recently been constructed. They have a top notch Orienteering map of their place as well, thanks to CNYO Orienteering club
Cornell Plantations Plant people rejoice! The Plantations range from rock gardens to shrubs and trees and nature hikes. The Plantations has a written guide so you don’t miss out on anything, and a gift shop. Also offers art and photography classes, as well as many others.
Sapsucker Woods and Cornell Lab of Ornithology The place for birders, bar none. There is a new building given over to everything bird and a diverse habitat to observe birds. Also an easy hike through woods and by ponds. Who could ask for anything more? The August 2009 issue of Backpacker named Ithaca, New York as the top city in the USA to raise a birder. High praise, indeed!
Six Mile Creek Mulholland Wildflower Preserve Ithaca’s water reservoir This area has a really nice hike through it. Don’t be dumb and swim in the reservoir though, please! It’s not allowed and people have gotten hurt (and died) doing so.
This VW ROCKS!!!