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The Best Attractions in Ithaca

Explore these top Ithaca attractions ranked by consumer preference, such as the local Universities or the many Gorges, Waterfalls and State Parks. Tompkins County features some of the most unique places to visit in New York State. Aside from discovering delicious places to eat, you can explore the natural beauty of the region, attend a concert or play, or experience some of Ithaca's unique history with tours and special events. Be sure to check out our Ithaca Events page as well. Have fun!

1. Cornell University & Ithaca College

Ithaca College and Cornell University are remarkable destinations on their own. Whether you plan to attend, have attended, or have no intention of attending college in Ithaca, these two academic campuses are worth exploring, both inside and out. Both offer a wealth of cultural treasures and opportunities (many free) - rich with performing arts, live theater, music recitals, art galleries, museums, and workshops. You don't have to pay a semester's tuition to visit and learn why these schools are so attractive.

2. Gorges, Waterfalls and State Parks

The visitors bureau estimates 150 waterfalls within 10 miles of downtown Ithaca, each with its own gorge. Hence the local slogan, "Ithaca is Gorges." For more information, visit Ithaca, NY's waterfalls page and check out/download our interactive online Waterfall Guide.

The most popular waterfalls are:

3. Downtown Ithaca Commons

The Ithaca Commons, an open-air, pedestrian mall opened in Downtown Ithaca in 1974, and retains its character as the center of the community's dining, shopping and entertainment scene. Unique boutiques, casual and fine dining, and outdoor public art exhibits help keep the Ithaca Commons from being anything but common.

4. Dining & Restaurants

College-town economics, educated palates, abundant local ingredients and creative chefs combine to make Ithaca a great eating town, with more restaurants in Ithaca per capita than New York City. We have casual dining, fine dining, Food Truck Round-Ups, farmers markets, Farm-to-Table events, a chocolate factory, Wegmans, and more! But you should come taste for yourself, as we don't like to talk with our mouths full. 

5. Cayuga Lake

Carved by glaciers, Cayuga Lake is the longest and second deepest of the Finger Lakes, at 38.2 miles long and 435 feet deep at its deepest point. It reaches 53 feet below sea level, and along with Seneca Lake, it is among the deepest lakes in North America. Designated a New York State Scenic Byway, the views from Ithaca's Stewart Park and the Cayuga Waterfront Trail are spectacular. Schedule a boat tour with Ithaca Boat Tours and Cayuga Lake Cruises. Rent kayaks from Puddledockers, Paddle-N-More, and Eastern Mountain Sports. Sunbathe and swim at Taughannock Falls State Park on the west side of the lake or Myers Park in Lansing on the east side of the lake. There are also numerous B&Bs and inns in Ithaca and on Cayuga Lake that offer amazing views of the region, as well as secret tips on making the most of time on Cayuga Lake.

6. Music, Theater & Arts

Live music, engaging plays, and art gallery shows are nightly events in Ithaca. Both the variety and quality of the arts in Ithaca underscore the distinct pleasure of life in a major college town. In the summer, enjoy Ithaca's free concerts and acclaimed performing arts events at our numerous theaters, such as The Hangar Theatre, The Kitchen Theatre, The State Theatre, and college campus theatres. Additionally, you can find free live music on any given day of the week.

7. Finger Lakes Winery Tours

With a total of over 100 wineries, the Finger Lakes Region is receiving accolades as a booming wine producer in the United States, with Riesling being the area's signature variety. The Ithaca area is home to many award-winning wineries and breweries. More than 15 of the best wineries are on Cayuga Lake, forming the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, America's first, and oldest, wine trail, and boasts over 5,500 national and international wine-related medals. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail also features a cidery, a meadery, numerous distilleries and a few breweries, as well as festive, seasonal events and activities.

8. Discovery Trail

Great indoor and outdoor entertainment, the Discovery Trail is a collaboration of eight brainy family attractions in the Ithaca area. 

9. Ithaca Farmers Market

Visiting the Ithaca Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing is an Ithaca tradition. The Ithaca Farmer's Market is the largest in the region, with over 150 vendors living within 30 miles of Ithaca. Agricultural vendors grow and offer high quality fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, poultry and dairy products. Food vendors bring a wide variety of freshly baked goods, jellies, honey, and sauces as well as delicious meals to eat at the market. As well, many talented artists and craftspeople sell exceptional, locally made items. Bring it on home.

10. Moosewood Restaurant

Famous for its bestselling vegetarian cookbooks and its delicious commitment to local organic foods, the Moosewood Restaurant has been an Ithaca dining icon since 1973.


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