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Must-See Scenic Drives While Visiting Ithaca

From rolling hills to winding lake roads, quaint neighborhoods to vibrant college campuses…scenic views abound around Ithaca. No matter the season, a scenic drive is the perfect way to take in your surroundings and see the area. Whether you are traveling solo or with a friend, these drives are sure to leave you in awe.

Gas up the tank, pick a podcast or your favorite playlist, grab some snacks and be on your way to exploring Ithaca from the comfort of your car. Below you will find our must-see scenic drives while visiting Ithaca (not ranked in any order).

Cornell University and Cornell Botanic Gardens 

It does not have to be a college visit to explore the beauty of Ithaca’s very own Cornell University. But, if you drive through campus in the fall, you are more than likely to see students passing between classes or studying outside. However, the Cornell Botanic Gardens are a must-see stop on this journey. Drive around the forest home and Beebe Lake area for lonely roads with beautiful foliage.

Buttermilk Falls to South Hill Cider (Sandbank Rd.)

Spend the day hiking and gazing at the scenic views Buttermilk Falls State Park has to offer, and then head over to South Hill Cider to enjoy a flight of their most popular ciders. Not only does South Hill Cider provide stunning views of Ithaca’s rolling hills and picturesque sunsets- the 2-mile drive there is gorges as well. Take a left out of Buttermilk Falls to Rt. 13 and then another immediate left to Sandbank Rd. Whether you are driving up the road or down, you will be sure to see fall foliage as you go through the hills.

Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway

If you have time to explore, taking a drive along Cayuga Lake by the Scenic Byway (Rt 89) is a must-do activity. This route will take you past Taughannock Falls State Park and different wineries and cideries along the Cayuga Wine Trail. You can drive straight through to the town of Seneca Falls or decide to stop and go. Many sections of this drive will bring you within feet of Cayuga Lake and is perfect for leaf-peepers. Stop at O’Malley’s Cabin on the Lake for lunch or check out Ithaca’s very own Liquid State in their newest location.

Tip: If you want to extend your drive, you can follow the scenic byway and loop around Cayuga Lake.

Through the Village of Cayuga Heights 

Drive along the winding yet the mostly flat village of Cayuga Heights during your next scenic drive. You will find yourself enveloped by older architecture and iconic estates in this quaint village. If you are one for driving through neighborhoods and looking at all the different houses, this is the place for you to visit while in Ithaca. Cayuga Heights is right off of Cornell’s Campus and has been consistently one of the best places to live in New York State. If you happen to be driving through in the winter after fresh snow, you might feel like you are in a winter wonderland.

From Enfield to Ithaca (Down Bostwick Ave.)

Close to Robert H. Treman State Park, Bostwick Ave. may be one of the most underestimated drives for seeing Ithaca from an unfamiliar perspective. Driving down this road brings nothing but wide-open spaces and fresh air (if you choose to roll your windows down, which we recommend you do). As you continue driving down Bostwick, you will notice a spectacular view of Ithaca College and Cornell. You might even realize that Ithaca College is on the higher hill. When you get to the bottom of Bostwick Rd., you will find yourself near Ithaca Beer Company and Rt. 13.

This list of scenic drives could go on and on, but we want you to get out and explore if you are already in town. If not, we hope this inspires you to hop in the car and head our way. Trust us, while the fall foliage makes Ithaca extra special, these scenic drives have proven to be beautiful year-round.

If you are looking for a few more spots to drive around, we recommend the following:

  • Stone Quarry Rd.
  • Searsburg Rd.
  • North Lansing
  • Millard Hill Rd.
  • Taughannock Park Rd.
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