Discover Ithaca with your student
3 minute drive
The Commons and Walk are free; Sciencenter admission is $8
You may happily lose yourself for hours at the Downtown Ithaca Commons, a four-block pedestrian stretch bubbling with shops, eateries (including the original Moosewood Restaurant of classic vegetarian cookbook fame), street entertainers and art galleries. Do you still have energy for a stroll through the solar system? The sun (first stop in the Sagan Planet Walk) is located at one end of the Commons. Three-quarters of a mile later, you’ll be at Pluto (still considered a planet here!) and the Sciencenter, having gleaned many a stellar fact along the way.
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
7 minute drive
Free (donations gratefully accepted)
Located just outside of Ithaca, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study and conservation of birds. The 100-year-old lab is open for daily tours, and you can also download a mobile app to take a self-guided tour. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, free guided bird walks are led in the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary. Wander the Sanctuary on your own, any day of the week, from dawn to dusk.
7 minute drive
Yes, there’s a year-round farmers market in upstate New York! Locations vary depending on the season, so be sure to check the website before you visit. The main market is held at Steamboat Landing pavilion on the breathtaking Cayuga Lake waterfront from April through December. At all locations, you will find fresh local produce, baked goods and artisan gifts, all produced within 30 miles of the market, not to mention many other happy people.
Cornell University hosts two wonderful attractions. At the Cornell Botanic Gardens (recently featured in the NY Times’ “36 Hours in the Finger Lakes Region of New York”), you can enjoy a woodland walk with panoramic views, interpretive exhibits in the Nevin Welcome Center, lectures, botany-themed cocktail parties and more. Visitors should also stop by the Johnson Museum of Art (designed by I.M. Pei and Partners). With a world-class permanent collection of more than 35,000 pieces, the museum’s most popular exhibits include Asian art and modern and contemporary painting and sculpture.
112 E. Buttermilk Falls Road (off Route 13 South)
20 minute drive
You really can’t spend enough time in nature when you visit Ithaca, and this gem of a state park makes it all accessible: lake swimming, waterfalls, spectacular rock formations, hiking, camping, fishing… Bring a picnic, and your camera.