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5 Things to Do For Family Weekend

Whether you attend Cornell or Ithaca College, Family Weekend is a chance to wind down and spend some much-needed time with the family. What better way to wind down than exploring the great Ithaca area including some of the most beautiful outdoor public spaces? Here’s everything you need for an amazing Family Weekend in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Come for your kid and stay an extra day for you!

People walking over bridge
Credit: Cornell University


1. Experience What Makes Ithaca “Gorges”

With over 150 waterfalls and gorges, a trip to Ithaca simply isn’t complete without experiencing a few. Why not take a trip to Taughannock Falls – the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi (that’s right - taller than Niagara Falls!)? Or you could enjoy a hike through Buttermilk Creek, where the over 500ft tall Buttermilk Falls greets you at the entrance. Robert H. Tremen State Park has a dozen waterfalls six trails through spectacular rocky gorges and wooded sections – perfect for a fall hike. These are just a few of the waterfalls in Ithaca and Tompkins County.

Ithaca is Foodies Science of Taste Tour

2. Stroll the Ithaca Commons

Visit the award-winning Downtown Ithaca Commons. A four-block pedestrian shopping area known for its decidedly Ithaca “vibe” with over 100 unique local shops, restaurants, street vendors & street entertainers; and, the best part, it’s adjacent to Cornell University & Ithaca College.

Grab dinner at Coltivare, a farm-to-bistro experiential restaurant utilizing the farm and students’ talents from nearby Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3), or the legendary Moosewood Restaurant, famous for their vegetarian menu and bestselling cookbooks, If you’re interested in learning together – check the schedule at 15 Steps.

To enjoy a beverage and good conversation check out The Watershed for tea and cocktails – one of our locals’ favorites. For fun coffee options, try Alley Cat Café.

Eve's cider bottles

3. Savor the Finger Lakes Best Wines and Ciders

Named one of America’s Best Wine Region in 2021 (again!) by USA Today reader's choice poll, the Finger Lakes boasts reds, whites, and rosé that sommeliers rave about as excellent food-friendly wines. While known for its Rieslings, the Finger Lakes is becoming a destination for all craft beverages, with distilleries, breweries, and cideries popping up alongside award-winning wineries. Take in the fall foliage along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, America’s first organized and longest-running wine trail in the country or stay closer to town and explore Six Mile Creek Vineyard or Liquid State Brewery with a wide selection of local drinks beyond just beer. Explore a whole new style of dry, complex hard ciders. Even for those not imbibing in alcohol, South Hill Cider near Ithaca College has beautiful grounds for all to enjoy. For a contemporary farm setting with delicious made-from-scratch food, check out Finger Lakes Cider House.

Ithaca New York Farmers Market

4. Go to the Farmers Market

The Ithaca Farmers Market is consistently ranked in the Top 10s throughout America – and for good reason. Boasting a gorgeous location at the Steamboat Landing on the Cayuga Inlet, seasonal produce, and local vendors ranging from jewelry to clothing, to any type of prepared and delicious foods you can think of the Ithaca Farmers Market is an experience all its own. You can even enjoy a one-hour cruise from the dock at the market with Discover Cayuga Lake. Afterward, take a stroll along the Cayuga Waterfront Trail to either Cass Park or Stewart Park for more gorgeous lake views while enjoying your bounty.

Cornell Botanic Gardens

5. Visit the Cornell Botanic Gardens

You will forget that you're on a college campus. Don’t miss the Cornell Botanic Gardens as the flowers and foliage prepare for their winter naps. Stroll through the herb and winter gardens or drive through the loops offering a scenic vista of Cornell University and the arboretum. The grounds are open from dawn 'til dusk, year-round -- there is no admission fee and parking is free for the first hour.

More tips for making the most of your visit:

  • Planning your trip to Ithaca? Find ways to get here
  • Download the Parkmobile app to conveniently pay for parking downtown and at select locations on Cornell's campus: us.parkmobile.com
  • Check our Events Calendar for more happenings 
  • Stop in one of our visitor centers with additional questions and to purchase Ithaca is Gorges gear, you can also call 607-272-1313
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2020 Visit Ithaca Travel Guide
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Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau
A division of the Tompkins Chamber
904 East Shore Drive, Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 272-1313 | Toll Free: (800)-28-ITHACA
The official web site of Ithaca, New York and Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Finger Lakes. Complete guide to Ithaca, NY hotels, attractions, dining, shopping and recreation with maps and driving directions.
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