Best Indoor Activities in Ithaca for Rainy Days
It’s no secret that Ithaca is celebrated for its waterfalls, gardens, and scenic views. But there are also several indoor activities worth mentioning! Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fantastic day in Ithaca. From eclectic bookstores to a collection of craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries, Ithaca has something for everyone - even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Enjoy Local Food & Drink
Ithaca Coffee Company
Start your day with some fresh roast at the local coffee shop. Ithaca Coffee Company has been serving locally-roasted, small batch coffee for 35 years. You can find their coffee at their cafés, but also in restaurants and shops around town. Don’t worry if you’re not a coffee drinker though. Ithaca Coffee serves hot chocolate, tea, and even seasonal specialties like apple chai-der in the fall. Plus, their baked goods are enough to cheer anyone up on a rainy day!
Carriage House Café & The Loft
If you’re looking for the perfect brunch spot, Carriage House Café is it! Set in an old carriage house from the 1850s, you’re bound to love the charm of the restaurant and lounge. Like most Ithaca restaurants, the Carriage House prides itself in serving delicious dishes sourced from locally grown and produced food. The upstairs lounge, “The Loft” is open late nights Wednesday through Saturday, serving craft cocktails and small plates. A word of advice: Carriage House gets very busy for brunch on the weekends, so make sure to arrive early or be prepared to wait a bit.
Finger Lakes Cider House
Technically located a little north of Ithaca, the cider house is worth the drive. It’s the perfect spot for lunch, a flight of cider, and some gorgeous views. The Finger Lakes Cider House features a wide variety of cideries from Kite & String Cidery. There is something for every taste, with a mix of dry and sweet, still and sparkling. While you’re there, be sure to grab a bite to eat. Their menu highlights some great local food!
South Hill Cidery
Ithaca’s newest cider house, South Hill Cidery has some of the best views around. But don’t worry, even on a rainy day, you’ll still be able to enjoy them from the comfort of the tasting room! While you’re there, enjoy a flight of their ciders.
Liquid State Brewing Company
If you’re a fan of craft beer, Liquid State Brewing Company is a must-visit. They have a long list of house beers on tap and they are all delicious! Get yourself a flight (or two!) and find a table to claim. While you’re drinking, grab a bite to eat or play a game of Skeeball. It’s the best late-night hangout spot in town.
Ithaca Beer Company
The longest-running and most famous of the local breweries, Ithaca Beer Company is not to be missed! Serving a wide selection of brew favorites and locally sourced food, it’s the perfect spot to grab a bite with your besties. One of the coolest things about Ithaca Beer? The bar top is made from recycled colored glass, and the side is covered with bottle caps!
Read a Book or Play a Game
Can’t decide if you want to read a book, listen to music, or have a bite to eat? No worries - head to Autumn Leaves. Here you’ll find an eclectic shop mixing together thousands of used books, records, and even a café!
Buffalo Street Books
Buffalo Street Books is that idyllic small-town bookshop that you can’t help but fall in love with. The shop is cozy, with a selection of best sellers mixed with works from local artists. Check their calendar for book signings and other events. And don’t forget to look in the back corner near the register - there are lots of gifts and goodies that book lovers will adore!
Have little ones to entertain? Check out Alphabet Soup, the local toy and game store. In the front, you’ll find a mixture of small children’s toys to the right and board games to the left. There are even some more unique titles that you can’t find at other stores! The back of the store has a nice collection of children’s books. Get yourself a book or game and then find a table in the mall behind the shop to enjoy.
If you’re up for a good challenge, be sure to visit Brain Shoppe. It’s full of brain teasers, logic puzzles, and other smart toys! There’s even a table in the back of the shop to try out some of the games. Plus, if you buy something, you’ll get a free sticker!
Learn Something New
Tompkins Center for History & Culture
Learn about the history of Ithaca and Tompkins County at the new heritage tourism center. Located downtown in the visitor’s center, the Tompkins Center for History & Culture has artifacts from all points in Ithaca’s history. See photographs from the olden days, check out a historic airplane, and learn about the native inhabitants of the region. You could easily spend hours looking through and interacting with all of the exhibits.
Cornell Dairy Bar
Cornell University does a lot of things really well - and ice cream is no different! Not only can you visit the Cornell Dairy Bar to get yourself a fresh scoop of ice cream, but you can also head upstairs and take a self-guided tour of the facility. The long hallway is full of windows overlooking the dairy lab, along with signs and videos explaining the process of how they make ice cream, cheese, yogurt, and even seasonal favorites like apple cider and eggnog.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
To be honest, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is best enjoyed by a walk along the trails in the woods. But, it’s still a great place to spend the day inside! The main lobby of the building has a beautiful curved wall with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pond. So even if you’re not keen to wander the forest, you can sit back in one of the rocking chairs and use the telescopes to get up-close views of the wildlife outdoors.
Watch a Show or Movie
Nothing beats watching a movie when the weather isn’t cooperating. Luckily, Ithaca is home to Cinemapolis, a charming independently-owned movie theater. Surround yourself with its retro movie theater vibe and catch a mixture of blockbusters, independent movies, and locally-made films.
Housed in a building over 100 years old, the State Theatre of Ithaca is a true gem. Originally another movie theater, it now operates as a venue for live performances. You’ll find a mix of local, regional, and national artists performing on stage. During the holidays, the theater hosts ballet performances of The Nutcracker and orchestral concerts can be seen throughout the year. Find out who’s performing and get your tickets today!
Kitchen Theatre Company
The Ithaca Times declared Kitchen Theatre Company to be Ithaca’s best cultural asset. Why? Because of the culture and community surrounding the theater. The Kitchen Theatre Company puts on live performances by local artists that are both intimate and engaging. Check it out for yourself!
Now that you have this list of indoor activities in Ithaca, you’ll never be bored on a rainy day! What’s your favorite thing to do indoors in Ithaca?
About the author: Danielle runs her own travel blog at Wanderlust on a Budget. She writes about budget-friendly activities and travel tips to help everyone realize that travel doesn't have to be expensive! On her blog, you'll find a mixture of historical sites, obscure attractions, dog-friendly activities, and outdoor adventures, plus lots of breweries and wineries.