Beyond Earth Day, here are some ideas to incorporate ecotourism into your next visit to the Ithaca area.
The city of Ithaca has recently made headlines for its commitment to decarbonizing buildings, but finding ways to lessen the impact of humans on the environment is a longstanding effort in Ithaca. At the forefront of renewable energy, the city has plenty to share about being green and ways you can experience the area in an environmentally friendly way.
Get inspired to plan a nature-friendly trip to Ithaca and the Finger Lakes:
- Visit the Museum of the Earth to learn more about the geology that literally shaped our region, and check out the “Changing Climate” exhibit to learn how you can make a positive impact to stem the rapid changes taking place.
- Climb a treehouse. The Cayuga Nature Center offers miles of trails, but kids young and old are sure to be enthralled by the six-story TreeTops treehouse nestled by a creek. A perfect stop before or after visiting Museum of the Earth. Be sure to get a unique aerial view of the property’s signature waterfall from above.
- Shop for vintage and gently used items, including clothing at Petrune and Found, kid stuff at Mama Goose, home goods and building materials at Significant Elements and Finger Lakes ReUse, antique treasures at Pastimes in the DeWitt Mall, and books galore at Autumn Leaves Used Books.
- Stay at the LEED certified Argos Inn – a beautiful example of adaptive reuse. Even if you are not an inn guest, you can enjoy fabulous and inventive cocktails at Bar Argos and Argos Warehouse.
- Go camping at one of our state parks or private campgrounds, or upscale your lodging in nature with a glamping experience at Firelight Camps.
- Book a Discover Cayuga Lake educational sight-seeing tours on the lake from May through October, giving you an opportunity to get up close and personal to the longest Finger Lake.
- Re-center with a localized spa treatment. We’ve all heard of farm-to-table, but what about farm-to-spa? August Moon Spa offers a number of treatments using ingredients grown right on their premises, giving you a chance to pamper yourself in an environmentally friendly way.
- Eat at least one plant-based meal. Ithaca is home to many creative vegetarian and vegan menus. Notably, Moosewood – of the vegetarian cookbook fame – offers up traditional vegetarian fare, while Angelhearts Diner is a great place to grab vegan comfort food.
- Get a growler at one of our many breweries, filling – and refilling – as you try new brews throughout your vacation.
- Meet and support local farmers. Celebrating 50 years in 2023 Ithaca Farmers Market is an essential addition to your agritourism itinerary. All vendors to be located within a 30-mile radius of the Steamboat Landing Market Pavilion. The outdoor market is open Saturdays from April into December, and adds Sundays from May through October.
- Allow time for children to play in nature. Free and open to all from dawn to dusk, the Ithaca Children’s Garden offers an invitation to play among the flowers, trees and in the mud. Plus, once the fruits and veggies get going, they will be ripe for visitors’ picking.
- Rent a kayak or paddle board to explore the Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail along the lake, getting some exercise while you take in nature from a different point of view.
- Honor the importance of pollinators. We’ve all heard of wine – and beer and cider – tasting, but have you gone honey tasting? You can do just that at the Honeybee Embassy, with a hive-inspired tasting room and plenty of product varieties to offer a flavor for everyone.
- Rent a bike. Ithaca is a very walkable community, but for the times when you’re looking for a faster foot-powered transportation option, Ithaca Bike Rental has you covered. An added bonus is its proximity to the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, which connects with multiple parks and the Ithaca Farmers Market.
- Take a guided foraging hike with FLX Wild, highlighting all the edible opportunities that can be found in nature – including many offerings people may recognize but not realize they are delicious treats to eat.
- Take a class connecting you to nature, such as fiber workshops at Luna Fiber Studio, herbal education programs with Rootwork Herbals, or learn about caring for trees at Redbyrd Cider’s orchard, to name a few You will also find hands-on classes at Gourdlandia located in EcoVillage Ithaca. If you are interested in intentional, communal living– EcoVillage offers public tours.
- Experience the world-renown resources and sustainable design at Cornell University. Walking around the sprawling Cornell campus will provide views of a full range of architectural styles including many intentional sustainable designs, and the university offers places for bird watchers and botanical enthusiasts, too. The Cornell Botanic Gardens are lovely throughout the spring, summer and fall, offering a wide array of growing things to see on the edge of campus. The world-renowned Lab of Ornithology is a short drive from campus, but is a must-stop for any serious birder.
- Explore downtown without a car. Ithaca’s downtown offers a walkable experience with the Ithaca Commons pedestrian mall, and hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and shopping options all within an easy stroll. It is easy to leave your car parked and explore the city further as well, with walkable waterfalls and quick access to the TCAT bus service.
- Learn the meaning behind Ithaca's numerous murals. Art lovers looking to stay outdoors should pick up an Ithaca Murals map to find where the 200-plus (and growing) public art locations are throughout Ithaca.
- Slow down and allow yourself be in awe of waterfalls. With over 150 waterfalls in the greater Ithaca area, you will want to slow down and soak in a few. Waterfalls are viewable to people with a range of abilities – some you can view from your car of a paved path, others do require a strenuous hike.
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