For creative gift-giving, consider one-of-a-kind handmade items and shared experiences like live performances or dining out.

A few of our favorite retailers specializing in locally made goods:

  • Ithacamade is located inside the Dewitt Mall in Downtown Ithaca.
  • Handwork, located across from the State Theatre on West State Street, is Ithaca's Artisan Cooperative showcasing 45 different artists creating functional and decorative heirloom-quality items.
  • Main Street Market in Trumansburg has a sweet selection of locally produced provisions and beverages perfect for assembling a foodie gift package, and also a great lunch stop while you're out shopping.

More ways to make the most of the time, and to feel good about who you're supporting:

For coffee-lovers

How many partnerships and friendships in Ithaca have been fostered over a cup of optimally-brewed coffee? Reconnect with those feelings, with offerings from these four Ithaca-area businesses.

Gimme! Coffee’s French Press kits include presses and coffee specifically chosen for hot or cold brews that will create a flavorful cup. They also have travel drinking vessels available, but we’re partial to their 12-ounce white not Neutral Lino mug, emblazoned with the Gimme! logo so you can feel like you’re sitting at a table in the coffee house while sitting in your own home.

Ithaca Coffee Company has sets for sale, including its Cornell Coffee, set, highlighting the trio of its most popular offerings – the Cornell Sustainable Blend, Ithaca House Blend and Ithaca is Gorges coffees – in a gift box. Or if your recipient has their own favorite varieties, pick 2 or 3 of your own choices for a custom gift box.

Besides its java, Copper Horse Coffee has limited-edition 16-ounce hand-thrown mugs for sale, featuring the business’s logo. If you max out your two-mug limit of the limited-edition version, classic 10-ounce diner-style mugs also are available. And don’t forget the coffee to help fill those drinking vessels – Copper Horse sells its beans in 12-ounce, and 2- and 5-pound bags.

For a different twist on coffee gifting, Forty Weight Coffee Roasters offers a subscription service that ships out coffee every two weeks. Let the roasters decide what to send – in bags sized between 12 ounces to 5 pounds – or make your own choice from their wide array of beans.

Affordable Luxury

Looking for something a bit more lavish? Look no further than these Ithaca experiences.

Plan a getaway at Canopy by Hilton, where upon entering you will be greeted by a welcoming and modern design, opening up to the welcoming Strand Café and its wood-fired oven. Enjoy a bite there or, since the contemporary boutique hotel is located in the heart of downtown Ithaca, wander onto the Commons or Restaurant Row for many dining options.

Combine accommodations and relaxation with a stay at La Tourelle, which includes a hotel, spa, and expansive grounds with a walking trail connecting to Upper Buttermilk Falls. Enjoy breakfast at the bistro and treat yourself to a relaxing day of pampering at August Moon Spa.

A gift certificate to Rasa Spa is the perfect way to show someone you care, helping them unwind at this LGBTQ-owned wellness oasis. Located on the edge of Cayuga Lake, Rasa has a range of treatments to choose from including their exclusive Ananda oil treatment. Consider buying a day pass to boost anyone’s winter mood or membership that is the gift that keeps on giving.

Treat your loved one to a multi-course dining experience at Gola Osteria, a locals’ favorite Italian restaurant in Ithaca offering an expansive menu that includes homemade pasta and fresh approaches to classic dishes. A full bar and curated Finger Lakes wine list to complete the experience with the perfect drink to complement the gastronomic experience.

What says luxury more than custom, handcrafted fine jewelry? Visit The Jewel Box and choose from a classic blue sapphire, beautiful Australian opal, or other gorgeous stones, combined with gold or sterling silver in a one-of-a-kind design. Their selection of rings, bracelets, and necklaces will not disappoint.

For a truly elevated gift, book a tour with Southern Tier Balloon Tours to create a lasting memory and fulfill a bucket list item. Of all the ways to take in the beautiful views of Cayuga Lake, nothing compares to soaring over the gorges and other natural features than in a hot air balloon, all while providing a sense of adventure.

Winter wonderland fun – inside and out

What’s winter in the Finger Lakes without snow in the forecast? Might we suggest planning a visit to the ultimate sledding hill? Sail through the snow on sleds overlooking the blue waters of Cayuga Lake on Rice Hill in Trumansburg – you can check out the ice forms on Taughannock Falls on the way. Rice Hill’s ice-skating pond offers impromptu hockey games and a warming lodge (think rustic lake cabin) for sipping cocoa.

When the snow falls fresh, strap on cross-country skies or snowshoes and set out on endless miles of local trails. Winter gear can be found for rental or purchase at Cornell Outdoor Education, Podunk Cross Country Ski Shop (607-387-6716), Old Goat Gear Exchange and Eastern Mountain Sports.

And no worries if the snow forecast leaves just a dusting; indoor ice skating (with rentals and a classic snack bar) at Cass Park Rink is always a win-win. 

Looking to hit the slopes? Greek Peak for downhill skiing and snowboarding is just a short drive from Ithaca.

For an indoor creative warm-up, we suggest booking a two-hour workshop at the Clay School. Located in Ithaca, the pottery studio has regular classes, while also offering opportunities to learn how to spin clay or make musical instruments. Consider a membership or gift certificate for your artistically inclined friends and family.

Or check out The Metal Smithery, which has ongoing classes, for workshops on how to make jewelry and tools, and private lessons are also available. Or consider a gift certificate or membership to help pave the way for your creator connections to find some studio time.

Discover the Discovery Trail

The Discovery Trail includes eight partner organizations that offer the best the area has to offer in culture, nature, and science. For families or any curious-minded people, here are some suggestions that make the gift of learning fun.

An annual membership to the Paleontological Research Institution grants access to the Cayuga Nature Center, filled with trails and a six-story treehouse on its 120 acres and live animals to see, and the Museum of the Earth, for interactive displays, fantastic fossils and more earthly exploration.

Also free to tour, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers 4 miles of trails on its 230-acre bird sanctuary and a Visitor Center filled with exhibits and artwork sure to delight anyone interested in our feathered friends. In addition to supporting the operation, membership at the “Lab of O” comes with a quarterly magazine subscription and a packet of birding information, as well as access to discounts.

The Cornell Botanic Gardens’ grounds are open to visitors free of charge, but a membership there supports the operations effort. The 25-acre botanical garden encompasses more than a dozen specialty gardens, while the Newman Arboretum offers a collection of native and cultivated trees and shrubs. Cornell Botanic Gardens also includes 4,000 acres of diverse habitats that provide nature viewing at its best from trails on a range of terrain.

The Johnson Museum of Art offers permanent collections and rotating exhibits, and a plethora of special programming. Free admission is standard here as well, however, your gift of membership is amplified through the Empire State Museums Reciprocal Program where members receive free admission and additional benefits to other museums across New York.

The Sciencenter offers science access to kids, with a twist of fun and lots of hands-on activities. Inside and out, kiddos of all ages will find plenty to do, and a membership here will help them come back often.

The History Center gives visitors a glimpse of the past and offers interactive exhibits to unlock new perspectives about the area’s influence in shaping culture. You will also find unique gifts including indigenous artwork, vintage images, and items celebrating women’s history. Admission is free, so plan to make lunch downtown part of the gift.