Ithaca, New York, nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and progressive community. Beyond its dozens of waterfalls and renowned educational institutions like Cornell University and Ithaca College, Ithaca is also home to a thriving LGBTQ+ community with a deep history and a host of queer-owned businesses that contribute to its welcoming energy. In this guide, we'll take a closer look at some of Ithaca's queer-owned establishments, from cozy cafes to eclectic thrift centers and delicious bites.


Buffalo Street Books

Address: 215 N Cayuga St (Dewitt Mall), Ithaca
Dive into a world of literary delights at Buffalo Street Books, a charming community-owned cooperative bookstore that proudly celebrates LGBTQ+ literature and authors. From classic works to contemporary gems, it offers an extensive collection of books that reflect the diverse experiences and voices within the queer community and beyond. Whether you are searching for a poignant memoir, a captivating novel, or a thought-provoking anthology, Buffalo Street Books is a literary haven where all are welcome to explore, discover, and connect. They also host our local Drag Story Hour!

Rasa Spa, LLC

Address: Cayuga Wellness Center at 310 Taughannock Blvd & 105 W Court St
Since its opening in 2006, Rasa Spa has aimed to “serve the well-being of the whole person through healing, client empowerment, fostering a mindful community, and cultivating a tranquil, beautiful atmosphere.” Client testimonials indicate this mission's fulfillment through each of their services from waxing, meditation, skincare, to whole body or focused massages. Rasa Spa also emphasizes their value of safe spaces for all bodies, making this a desired destination for many queer locals and visitors alike. With a friendly and welcoming staff and a focus on whole-person healing and holistic health, Rasa Spa is one of the many treasures of the Ithaca and Finger Lakes Region.

Mimi’s Attic

Address: 401 Elmira Rd, Ithaca
Operating as a home consignment store, Mimi’s features a little bit of everything from vintage home furniture to kitchen wares and home decor and has been locally owned and operated for over 10 years. One step through the door and visitors can browse a variety of quality home items with the peace of mind that comes from buying second-hand. There is a value placed on the environment and the community by buying second hand and Mimi’s positively contributes to that mindset here in Ithaca.

Alley Cat Cafe
Address: 112 N Cayuga St, Ithaca
Enjoy amazing coffee and scones, visit the cat playroom or do both! Alley Cat Cafe prides itself on being an inclusive space for everyone, no matter their identity or background and brings people together over a love of funny and energetic cats! The cafe works with Brown Coat Rescue to give homes to rescue cats and in the meantime, the cats can play with cafe visitors! This space is family-friendly and a perfect stop on your visit or a great way to wind down after work for locals. No matter your reason for stopping by, everyone and every cat has a place at Alley Cat Cafe.

Via’s Cookies
Address: Online, Various local events
Founded by a graduate of Ithaca College, Via’s Cookies is proudly owned and run by Black women. Part of Via’s operations includes donating five percent of profits to struggling BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students in the area. With a slogan of “Enact meaningful change one cookie at a time,” it’s hard not to support the mission, and flavors, of Via’s Cookies. Via’s also provides options for folks with dietary differences as well, making a variety of flavors that are vegan and/or gluten-free so “life can be sweet for everyone.” Visitors and locals can catch Via and her amazing treats at any and every local festival and celebration, or can visit Via’s Cookies’ website to purchase cookie boxes, place catering orders, or for businesses, buy the cookies wholesale!

Asempe Kitchen
Address: 2024 New location coming soon!, Ithaca Farmer’s Market (Sunday only)
Asempe Kitchen provides Ithaca and the surrounding region with delicious, mostly plant-based, West African food via cooking classes, pop-up markets, and at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market every Sunday. Founded by an LGBTQ+ woman, Asempe Kitchen emphasizes creating connections and conversations at all ages through sharing meals and invites patrons on a mouth-watering journey through the vibrant culinary landscape of Ghana. From hearty stews to fragrant rice dishes, each meal at Asempe Kitchen is crafted with love, using fresh ingredients and traditional recipes passed down through generations. Whether you're craving the comforting warmth of jollof rice or the fiery kick of suya skewers, Asempe Kitchen is a delightful place to visit.


From literary treasures to culinary delights, Ithaca's queer-owned businesses offer a kaleidoscope of experiences that celebrate diversity, creativity, and inclusivity. Whether you're a resident or a curious traveler, these establishments call you to explore, connect, and celebrate the vibrant tapestry of LGBTQ+ life in Ithaca, one visit at a time. With a plethora of activities and sights to see, it’s no wonder people make Ithaca a frequent vacation destination.


Mikayla (Mack) Rovenolt is an Ithaca College Alum with a passion for journalism and photography. Their work can be found in local papers, The Morristown Green, and the National Parks of New York Harbor website. For writing inquiries please email