The Best Attractions in Ithaca
Explore these top Ithaca attractions ranked by consumer preference like the local Universities or the many Gorges, Waterfalls and State Parks. Tompkins County holds some of the best places to visit in the State. Find great places to eat, or learn some of Ithaca's unique history. New Lodging Packages & Deals available!
1. Cornell University & Ithaca College
Ithaca College and Cornell University are destinations in their own rights. Must see at Cornell: The Johnson Art Museum, Lab of Ornithology, Cornell Plantations botanic garden. Must see at IC: Live theater, music recitals, Handwerker Gallery.
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.
The most popular waterfalls are:
- Ithaca Falls/Fall Creek Gorge
Impressive gorge views from the Cornell campus leading to a 150-foot waterfall near downtown.
- Taughannock Falls State Park
Pronunciation: Tuh-GAN-ick. At 215 feet, this is the tallest waterfall in the northeast. The car-friendly overlook is convenient but the best views are seen along the Rim Trail and Gorge Trail, both easy hikes.
- Buttermilk Falls State Park
A lush, sinuous gorge trail leads from the upper park down to the swim area at the base of the 90-foot falls.
- Enfield Glen/Lucifer Falls/Robert Treman State Park
Perhaps the most beautiful of Ithaca's gorges. The hiking is somewhat strenuous but well worth the effort.
3. Downtown Commons
The Ithaca Commons, a downtown pedestrian mall opened in 1974, is the center of the community's arts, dining, shopping and entertainment scene.
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.
5. Cayuga Lake
The longest of the Finger Lakes, enjoy the views from Ithaca's Stewart Park and the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. Cruises available from Tiohero Tours and Cayuga Lake Cruises. Rent kayaks from Puddledockers. Best swimming: Taughannock Falls State Park or Myers Park in Lansing. There are B&Bs and inns in Ithaca and on Cayuga Lake that offer amazing views of the region.
6. Music, Theater, & Arts
Live music, theater and gallery shows are nightly events in Ithaca. The variety and quality are a distinct pleasure of life in a major college town.
7. Finger Lakes Winery Tours
With more than 100 wineries in total, the Finger Lakes Region is the third-largest wine producer in the United States, with Riesling being the area's signature variety. Sixteen of the best wineries are on Cayuga Lake, forming the Cayuga Wine Trail, America's first - and oldest - wine trail.
8. Discovery Trail
Great indoor and outdoor entertainment, the Discovery Trail is a collaboration of eight brainy family attractions in the Ithaca area.
The hands-on science museum for all ages with more than 250 touchable exhibits.
- Museum of the Earth
Explore 4 billion years of life on earth at Ithaca's Museum of the Earth, home to interactive exhibits and one of America's largest fossil collections.
- Cayuga Nature Center
An outdoor and indoor playground to discover the animals and plant life of the Finger Lakes region. Explore 120 acres of fields, ponds and gorges, meet 40 live animals, then climb high into the forest canopy in a six-story tree house.
- Cornell Johnson Museum of Art
A premier college art gallery holding more than 30,000 works in an iconic I.M. Pei-designed building. Free admission.
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology
If the natural world were a national park, the "Lab of O" would be its visitor center. Take an inside look at the global environment by following the life and travels of birds. Don't miss the Macaulay Sound Library, the world's largest natural sound archive. Free admission.
- The History Center in Tompkins County
A treasure trove of regional history with traveling exhibits, a research library and a vast photo collection with more than 100,000 images. Free admission.
- The Tompkins County Public Library
Weekly readings, lectures, arts presentations. Free admission.
- Cornell Plantations
More than 4,300 acres of landscaped gardens and natural beauty. Visit 14 specialty gardens, a 150-acre arboretum, and a vast collection of protected natural areas. Free admission.
9. Farmers Market
Our Farmers Market is an Ithaca tradition. With 150 vendors, this covered waterfront market is the largest in the region. Fresh and prepared foods, crafts, live music.
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.