When the rolling hills are covered in snow and the Finger Lakes have a sparking icy surface, it can mean only one thing: It’s wintertime in Ithaca!
Don’t let the cold temperatures drive you to hibernate, make the trip to Tompkins County and embrace the season. From frozen waterfalls to unique dining experiences, Ithaca offers a winter vacation destination you will always remember.
Here are our recommendations to create a truly magical winter trip to Ithaca and Tompkins County — start planning your visit today!
Take a Hike to a Frozen WaterfallBack to Top of List
Who says waterfalls are just for warmer weather? There is something incredibly impressive about waterfalls in the winter when they freeze over. So wear your winter boots and take a hike along the plowed Gorge Trail at Taughannock Falls State Park and gaze in awe at the Finger Lakes region’s tallest waterfall in its frozen-in-time state. For another quick waterfalls base walk, check out Ithaca Falls, located near Stewart Park. See other frozen waterfalls at Buttermilk Falls State Park or Lower Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park. See more Ithaca waterfalls to visit in winter.
Go Ice Skating or SleddingBack to Top of List
If outdoor recreation is your vacation go-to activity, then visiting Ithaca in the winter is a great choice. There are a variety of ice-skating spots for visitors of all ages. Indoor ice skating can be enjoyed at Cass Park or The Rink, and outdoor pond skating can be experienced at Rice Hill. Bring your sleds to Rice Hill as well and enjoy hours of sledding down a slope that overlooks Cayuga Lake.
Warm Up with Hot Beverages, Soups & AppetizersBack to Top of List
There is nothing like exploring the outdoors to work up a good appetite – and the desire to hold a warm drink in your hands. Ithaca restaurants and cafés offer diverse dining experiences, including seasonally inspired menus. Take the chill off with homemade soups, shareable appetizers, and artisan coffee and hot cocoa.
Visit a Museum and Learn New ThingsBack to Top of List
With so many museums and learning opportunities in the Ithaca area, we have made a trail for people to follow. The Discovery Trail is a partnership of eight fascinating sites where you can enjoy hands-on learning and entertaining activities. The Sciencenter and Museum of the Earth offer an easy entry into science and the natural world for all ages, the Cornell Botanic Gardens and Lab of Ornithology create an opportunity for immersion in gardens and birds, the Johnson Museum of Art has works spanning six millennia and from most world cultures – plus an unparalleled view of Ithaca. Cayuga Nature Center has 120 acres of trails and a six-story treehouse overlooking a waterfall, and the Tompkins County Public Library has more information – print, audio, video and online – than one can absorb in just one trip.
Visit the winter Ithaca Farmers MarketBack to Top of List
From January to March the Ithaca Farmers Market relocates to the Triphammer Marketplace for their winter market. You’ll find them in TWO atriums this year — outside the Reuse Center AND the Ithaca Bakery! Stay tuned for vendor listings updated here every Friday by 8 am! New this year, the Trumansburg Farmers Market has winter hours from 4-7 pm Tuesdays from February 7-April 11 at the Trumansburg Fire Department.
See a Live Performance by Local TalentBack to Top of List
Whether you enjoy seeing holiday classics brought to life or prefer to see something truly one-of-a-kind by a local writer (or both!), the performing arts theaters in Ithaca have what you’re looking for this winter. Visit the Hangar Theatre, Kitchen Theatre, or State Theatre of Ithaca and enjoy plays, musicals, intimate concerts, ballets, and more. Check their schedules for event details and to purchase tickets.
Enjoy Ithaca's Annual Chili Cook-Off in Downtown IthacaBack to Top of List
Every year, more than 35 local restaurants face off in the ultimate chili cook-off to find out who offers the best in a number of categories, including Best Meat Chili, Best Vegetarian/Vegan Chili, Best Overall Chili, and People's Choice Chili. In addition to some spicy, warm-you-up-just-right chili samplings, there is also a farmers market with vendors, local wineries and breweries, and farmers offering their goods. Come warm up on the Ithaca Commons in Downtown Ithaca this March!
Whether you're interested in getting outside and exploring the snowy world, having some fun with your little ones while learning, attending a live performance, or enjoying a food competition unlike any other, Ithaca is the place to be this winter! Book your winter lodging today.