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 fun even while social distancing.
Learn Something New
Tompkins Center for History & Culture
Learn about the history of Ithaca and Tompkins County at the new heritage tourism center. In a shared space with the Downtown Visitors 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. Free admission, reservation highly suggested.
Museum of the Earth
This museum in a large, unique space just a few miles from downtown Ithaca is where you can explore our world through a mix of natural history displays, interactive science features, and art exhibitions. From the magnificent Right Whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling in the entrance to the almost complete Mastodon skeleton, there is something for everyone of every age. Check the museum's website in advance to reserve your time slot to support social distancing.
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, now with locations in the Triphammer Marketplace and inside the ITH airport. 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!
NEW: Now offering online ordering and pick-up options for the specialty market, craft beer shop, and cafe.
Finger Lakes Cider House
Technically located a little north of Ithaca in Interlaken, 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 ciders from Kite & String Cidery. There is something for every taste, with a mix of dry and sweet, still and sparkling. Their menu reflects a true farm-to-table experience, including mostly organic ingredients!
NEW: Serving lunch daily from 11am to 4pm.
South Hill Cidery
One of Ithaca’s newest cider houses, South Hill Cidery's grounds are wide open and expansive with rolling hillside views. On a rainy day, you can taste cider under the large tent. If you're not shy when it comes to a light rain, enjoy your cider and snacks around one of their fire pits.
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 offer cider and wine from other regional makers! 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 hangout spots in Ithaca's west end.
TIP: Fun non-alcoholic options are available too including kombucha on tap.
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!
NEW: Outdoor dining available along with large expansion of indoor dining, plexiglass barriers, and updated top of the line HVAC system.
Read a Book or Play a Game
In the mood for a treasure hunt? Head to Autumn Leaves. Here you’ll find an eclectic shop mixing together thousands of used books, and Angry Mom Records downstairs.
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. 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. The super friendly staff always has good suggestions!
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!
Watch a Movie
Update: Cinemapolis is exclusively offering private movie screenings for your pod. Advance reservations required. 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.
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?
This has been updated from the original article to reflect COVID-19 Safety Protocols.
About the author (November 2020): 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.