Take an ideal wintertime escape from the city to the Ithaca-Cortland region without breaking the bank:
After a quick drive upstate, head straight to Ithaca Beer Co. for a tasting flight of their craft beer in the taproom they’ve been brewing with locally-sourced ingredients since 1998. Check into the stylishly restored Grayhaven Motel, a lovingly reimagined 1950s motor lodge, one of the oldest continually run hotels in the Ithaca region. Grayhaven boasts 16 mid-century guest rooms and thoughtful touches throughout the property.
Fuel up for a full day at Coal Yard Café, the place in town to get locally roasted coffee, fresh baked goods, and hearty breakfast items like breakfast sandwiches, shakshuka, and Flap Quacks (johnny cakes with duck confit, of course). The cozy café is a historic “coal office” of a former local coal delivery business dating back to 1901. Then pick your mode of snow transportation. Snow shoe, cross-country ski, or hike Lime Hollow Nature Center where snow recreational equipment is available for rent in the visitor center. Immerse yourself in nature on one of their 12-miles of scenic and serene trails on 592 acres of natural land. The Art Trail opens into an Art Meadow filled with immersive and interactive works of art including a variety of sculptures created by different artists. On your way back toward Ithaca, grab lunch and a pint in historic downtown Cortland at Brewer’s Kitchen and Taproom in Dryden. Serving up inventive and hearty pub fare (think poutine, kimchi tater tots, and apple brie burger), Brewer’s has a seriously impressive selection of craft beers with many cans from breweries across the Finger Lakes.
After lunch, take some time to browse the many boutiques, eateries, vintage shops, and art galleries in downtown Ithaca at the Ithaca Commons, a four-block pedestrian shopping area downtown; the Dewitt Mall, a former school from 1914 now filled with unique shops and dining; and Press Bay Alley, the newest retail development with micro-retail spaces. Don’t miss Buffalo Street Books (one of Ithaca’s cooperatively owned independent bookstore), Angry Mom Records (for its vast selection of vinyl records), Mockingbird Paperie (offering cards, stationery, and art from around the world), and Ithacamade (for all things crafted in Ithaca).
For dinner, head to Bickering Twins Restaurant & Tequila Bar, a popular restaurant (yes, run by twins) focusing on made-from-scratch dishes with a unique blend of Latin American flavors. With a large selection of tequila, this spot is known for its tequila flights, margaritas, and craft cocktails.
Stop by Milkstand for breakfast. A former Byrne Dairy location, this Instagram-worthy spot serves American breakfast classics loved by students, visitors and locals alike. Don’t sleep on the brie-stuffed brioche, vegan chorizo skillet scramble and buttermilk pancakes. Set out on a wintertime hike you won’t soon forget. Make the easy and mostly flat trek to Taughannock Falls the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. The falls turn into an icy, natural masterpiece during the winter months as the falls are literally frozen in time. It’s quite a beautiful and majestic sight to behold. Before departing, stop by Creekside Cafe for lunch in the quaint town of Trumansburg. Perched over the Trumansburg Creek and specializing in locally-sourced, farm-to-table fare, the cafe hits the spot with dishes like Kimcheese Panini (with homemade kimchi), the Creek Burger Bowl (with a shitake-black bean burger), and tasty treats. Before heading out of Trumansburg grab a locally-roasted coffee to go at Gimme Coffee or specialty grocery items from impeccably curated Trumansburg Main Street Market.