September may bring cooler evenings and back to school activities, however with the lakes still warm and plenty of events happening, many people like to believe summer is not quite over in Ithaca and across the Finger Lakes. As o­­ur college students have just returned, Ithaca is getting a second wind of life and vibrancy. Let's soak up these last few weeks before fall and savor summer activities in and around Ithaca. 

Whether you’re looking for something fun to do alone, with friends, or with family, there are plenty of options for you. If you’re local or just visiting for a night or two, we hope this list brings you sweet summer memories.

10 Labor Day Weekend and Early September Activities to Keep Summer Going:

1. Hupstate Circus Festival

Come and be part of the Hupstate Festival from September 1st to 4th, where you will witness an amazing display of circus acts, both local and international. The festival offers free circus entertainment that everyone in Ithaca can enjoy, making it the perfect event for the whole family. Don't miss out on this spectacular festival!

2. CFCU Downtown Summer Concert Series 

If you’re looking for free and fun for the whole family, look no further. The CFCU Summer Concert Series offers Thursday night concerts throughout summer featuring local and national acts performing music in genres including jazz, blues, reggae, folk, hip hop, country, bluegrass, rock, and more. The last concert of the summer will be at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on September 14th, at 6 pm. If you are looking to enhance your experience, we recommend arriving at the Ithaca Commons early to enjoy shops and an early dinner before the show. When the show begins, grab a spot, a drink, or dance the night away. 

3. Discover a new Trail 

As you explore Ithaca, you will find deep beauty beyond its surface. While many are aware of our state parks, there are still many trails to discover. A comprehensive resource for finding and exploring new trails is Ithaca Trails provides information about many scenic places in and around Ithaca. When using the site, you can refine your search to find criteria that will meet your needs for the ideal hike. 

4. Ice Cream

Can you think of a better way to celebrate summer than with a sweet treat or ice cream? We can’t! Since Ithaca is home to the first ice cream sundae, it is safe to say we know a thing or two about ice cream. Choose between Purity, Sweet Melissa’s, Trimmers, Cayuga Lake Creamery in the Dewitt Mall, 15 Below, and Not My Dads are a few of our "coolest" spots (no pun intended). Depending on where you get your ice cream from, walk around, and check out the surrounding area or drive to a nearby park for epic sunset views. Check out our ultimate A-to-Z Ice Cream Guide in Ithaca. 

5. Ithaca Farmers Market 

The Ithaca Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing is a weekend staple during warm weather. Students and locals come together to create a vibrant scene over farm-grown products, prepared foods, and many artisan merchants. Often you will find live music by the dock and have the chance to eat or sit waterside. Due to the popularity of the Ithaca Farmers Market, consider visiting earlier in the morning to beat the crowds and enjoy a quieter setting; the market is also open on Sundays beginning at 10 am.

6. Picnic at Taughannock Falls 

Summer cannot end without having a picnic, right? Why not make a day of it then? Head on over to Taughannock Falls State Park for a day of hiking, swimming, playing, and eating. Whether you pack a meal or want to have a cookout, this is a great place to settle down for the day. Taughannock Falls State Park does have public grills and picnic tables available. At the park, you will also find kayak and paddleboard rentals from Paddle n’ More, a large playground, hiking trails to Taughannock Falls, and a visitor center located at the falls outlook. 

7. Gallery Night in Ithaca- Explore Downtown 

Join us for our First Friday Gallery Night in Ithaca for a traditional walkable tour of Downtown Ithaca Art Galleries from 5-8 pm. Gallery Night is a monthly community celebration of creativity and art. Throughout the evening, you will be able to explore local galleries, art houses, businesses, performances, demonstrations, and screenings. Artists vary from local, national, and international. Gallery Night is free and open to the public and takes place in and around downtown Ithaca. 

8. Dine Downtown

Did you know that Ithaca has so many restaurants and different types of cuisine?  Enjoy a unique outdoor dining experience at Ithaca's very own restaurant row or on the Ithaca Commons. Restaurants downtown offer both indoor and outdoor seating. Revelry Yards has an expansive outdoor patio, which will provide a casual full-service experience from a centrally located “Container Bar” fabricated out of a shipping container with a patio menu centralized around a wood-fired oven. 

9. Take a Stroll in the Cornell Botanic Gardens 

Slow down and stroll through the Cornell Botanic Gardens and explore seasonal highlights. The Cornell Botanic Gardens are free and open to the public year-round. A perfect destination to reconnect with nature at a leisurely pace. During your visit, interactive garden maps will help you find natural areas, gardens, waterfalls, overlooks, and outdoor sculptures. If you do not feel like walking, a fun way to experience the land is by bicycle.

10. U-pick at Indian Creek Farm 

Here is a fresh experience, visit Indian Creek farm for u-pick, fresh donuts, or already harvested fruits and vegetables from their farm stand. Visiting the farm is a great activity to share with friends and family while enjoying the last few days of summer before fall kicks in. Indian Creek Farm is only three minutes from downtown Ithaca and offers plenty of space, tables, and grills for a hassle-free day. Escape the city feelings and wander through acres of land picking delicious apples, jalapeños, peaches, and more!