Ithaca, NY

Travel Guide
Buttermilk Falls State Park featuring tranquil scenes and a river or creek
This college town calls itself “gorges,” for the striking ravines that cut through the city and offer spectacular hikes and views.

You’ll see more than one person wearing the T-shirt, “Ithaca is Gorges,” in this Central New York college town. Explore the ravines in Ithaca and along the shores of Cayuga Lake, the longest of the glacially formed Finger Lakes, to appreciate the beauty of the area’s gorges, hillsides and waterways.

The heart of Ithaca is Cornell University, a world-renowned Ivy League university. Stroll through the large campus past 150-year-old brick buildings. Climb 161 stairs of the McGraw clock tower to listen to chimes played three times daily during the school year by Cornell students. Visit the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, a free gallery with original artwork from various cultures and times and frequent themed exhibitions. If you’re in the city on a clear Friday night, go to the Fuertes Observatory to view the night sky.

Cornell Plantations, the university’s botanical gardens, is over 25 acres (10 hectares) in area with an arboretum of New York trees, colorful annual and perennial garden plantings and numerous natural areas. Wander the walking trails to see gorges, streams, waterfalls, woodlands and meadows. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and nearby Sapsucker Woods offer some of the world’s best bird-watching experiences.

Visit several waterfall areas within the city limits: Ithaca Falls and Buttermilk Falls and Robert H. Treman state parks. Just west of Ithaca at the southern end of Seneca Lake is Watkins Glen, with a long walking trail through an impressive ravine and an international speedway which hosts varied auto races and concerts. You may want to follow the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail around the lake to enjoy vineyard views and flavorful vintages.

In the city, Museum of the Earth, Sciencenter and State Theatre of Ithaca offer additional family-friendly activities. Visit the downtown Ithaca Commons pedestrianized area for numerous shopping and restaurant choices.

Fly into Ithaca or other regional airports. Then see for yourself that “Ithaca is Gorges…” and buy the T-shirt.

Where to stay in Ithaca

Hiking trail

East Ithaca

You'll enjoy the restaurants and wineries in East Ithaca. You might want to make time for a stop at Six Mile Creek Vineyard or Eastern Heights Park.

East Ithaca