21 Best & Fun Things to Do in Ithaca (NY)

Ithaca, New York, is home to Cornell University. The city has plenty of beautiful tourist attractions, such as the Cascadilla Falls and the Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Ithaca, which stands at the southern portion of Cayuga Lake, is known for its beautiful waterfalls and other natural attractions. 

The city is also known for its thriving arts and music community. It has been ranked as one of the most livable cities in the country.

Below are all the best things to do in Ithaca, NY, for tourists!

Where is Ithaca, New York?

Ithaca is a city in New York’s Finger Lakes region. It’s situated in the southern portion of Cayuga Lake. 

ITHACA is the seat of Tompkins County and is the largest community within its statistical area. The city was named after Ithaca, which is a Greek island.

Ithaca, New York, is a college town home to both Ithaca College and Cornell University. Other nearby institutions include Tompkins Cortland Community College.

These schools significantly affect the city’s population during the school year. 

Since the students come from these universities, the city’s seasonal population grows during this period. As of the 2020 census, Ithaca’s population was 32,108.

Fun Things to Do in Ithaca, NY

1. Cornell University

One of the most prominent universities in New York, Cornell University, is located in Ithaca and is known for its Ivy League status. 

It was founded in 1865 by Andrew Dickson White and Eli Cornell. The university is divided into seven graduate divisions and seven undergraduate colleges.

The university is also home to an extensive art collection, which includes works of Asian art, prints, and photographs. 

It is also home to The Herbert F. Johnson Museum, which holds over 30,000 works of art.

The university has various attractions, such as the Newman Arboretum and the Cornell Plantations Museum. 

The latter features a collection of living plants endemic to New York. The university also has a notable building known as the McGraw Tower.

Address: The Cornell University is in Ithaca, NY 14850.

2. Cayuga Lake

The longest and second-deepest body of water in Ithaca, Cayuga Lake spans 40 miles. Glaciers formed during the Ice Age. 

Measuring 435 feet deep, the lake is considered one of the deepest in North America. It also has a sea level of 53 feet.

Visitors can explore the region’s natural beauty and various activities through the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway. 

Some of these include kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. Other activities such as bird-watching and wine-tasting can also be had at the lake.

Address: The Cayuga Lake is in Ithaca, NY 14850.

3. Buttermilk Falls State Park

This 811-acre park was named after the natural waterfall known as the Buttermilk Falls, located in the town of Ithaca.

It features several waterfalls and a small lake. Another natural feature is the Buttermilk Creek, which cuts through the park’s gorge. It also has hiking trails that go through the woodlands.

The upper portion of the park features picnic areas and playing fields. 

The lower portion of the park has various areas, such as a swimming pool. It’s also home to a nature trail and a wetland area.

Address: Buttermilk Falls State Park is at 106 E Buttermilk Falls Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

4. Robert Treman State Park

Robert H. Treman State Park is located in Tompkins County and features a variety of natural attractions. 

One of these is the majestic and rugged Enfield Glen gorge. This natural area has 12 cascading waterfalls and numerous hiking trails.

The park has various attractions, such as the Devil’s Kitchen and Lucifer Falls. It also has campsites and a swimming pool. 

The park is also home to the Historic Gristmill, which features a campground for tents and RVs.

The park features six hiking trails that have various sections and rocky gorges. 

One of these is a three-mile section of the local hiking trail known as the Finger Lakes Trail.

Address: Robert Treman State Park is at 105 Enfield Falls Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

5. Sciencenter 

The Sciencenter is an educational and hands-on museum that encourages kids to explore the world of science and technology. It features interactive exhibits and programs.

The museum’s two-story structure features over 250 exhibits with interactive stations that teach kids about various scientific topics. 

These include a water table, air station, and activity table for kids.

The museum also features a variety of other attractions, such as a gift shop and an 18-hole mini-golf course. 

Free tours of the Sagan Planet Walk are additionally available.

Address: The Sciencenter is at 601 1st St, 14850-3507 Ithaca, NY.

6. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

Photo by Matt Hintsa via Flickr

The Johnson Museum of Art is located in Ithaca and features over 40,000 works of art. It’s an award-winning building that I.M. Pei designed.

The museum is open year-round and offers spectacular views of the lake. 

It’s also known for its distinctive concrete facade and windows that can be seen in Frank Lloyd Wright’s home.

The museum’s permanent collection features works by prominent artists, such as Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, and Andy Warhol. 

It also hosts gallery tours and educational programs. The museum additionally features a variety of courses related exhibitions.

Address: The Johnson Museum of Art is at 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853.

7. Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Photo by Yerpo via Wikimedia

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an educational and scientific center focusing on bird-focused research.

It’s located in the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary. The center aims to improve the understanding of various biological diversity through its work.

The lab also produces various books and publications, such as the Living Bird magazine. 

It also manages a variety of websites and citizen science projects. One of the facility’s other properties is the Macaulay Sound Library, which holds over 500,000 recordings.

Address: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is at 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, 14850-1923 Ithaca, NY.

8. Ithaca Farmers Market

The Farmers Market in Ithaca is an open-air market on weekends. It features a large pavilion on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s also known for its variety of fruits and vegetables.

People flock to the market to purchase local fruits, vegetables, and other products. 

It also offers a variety of international cuisine. Besides food, the market additionally features local art and crafts.

Although the market is commonly held in different locations throughout the city, it’s usually held on weekends. It offers live music and various other activities.

Address: The Farmers Market is at Steamboat Landing, 545 3rd St, Ithaca, NY 14850, United States.

9. Ithaca Waterfalls

In addition to its numerous attractions, Ithaca is also known for its numerous waterfalls.

These natural features are carved out by the glaciers that formed thousands of years ago.

The various waterfalls can be spotted in different city areas, such as the Ithaca Commons and Cornell University. 

They can also be seen in the neighboring towns of Ithaca and Tompkins County.

One of the most famous falls in the area is the Ithaca Falls, which measures about a hundred feet tall. 

It can be viewed from the bridge over Fall Creek. People can also hike the Ithaca Falls hiking trail to look closely at the falls.

Address: The Ithaca Waterfalls is at 399 Lake St, 14850 Ithaca, NY.

10. Cornell Botanic Gardens

The Cornell Botanic Gardens, which used to be called the Cornell Plantations, is a botanical garden located next to the university’s campus. 

It features 25 acres of gardens and a greenhouse. It also manages 40 natural areas within the city and neighboring counties.

The gardens of Botanic Gardens are located on the central portion of the university’s campus. 

It also features an 80-acre woodland area known as the F.R. Newman Arboretum.

The gardens of the Cornell Botanic Gardens are known for their various features, such as the herb garden. 

It also features a heritage vegetable garden and a decorative arts flower garden.

Address: The Cornell Botanic Gardens is at 124 Comstock Knoll Dr, Ithaca, NY 14850.

11. Six Mile Creek Vineyard

Six Mile Creek is the oldest distillery and winery in Ithaca. 

This establishment is located on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. It has been producing various types of beverages for over 30 years.

The Six Mile Creek tasting room is open seven days a week. It can be used for events such as weddings.

In addition, the facility has an expansive deck that can be used for multiple activities.

Address: Six Mile Creek Vineyard is at 1551 Slaterville Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

See Also: Fun Things to Do in LA California

12. Ithaca Children’s Garden

The Ithaca Children’s Garden is a public park that children and adults can visit. It features a variety of trees and shrubs and a blooming flower garden.

The park is also set on the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. It has various exciting features, such as a giant turtle sculpture known as Gaia. 

It has a bird garden, a farm with bees and chickens, and a greenhouse made from recycled bottles.

Address: The Ithaca Children’s Garden is at 121 Turtle Ln, Ithaca, NY 14850.

13. Stewart Park

Initially owned by James Renwick, the park has a rich history. It was once used as a film studio during the 1900s. 

It also housed a bird sanctuary operated by the Cayuga Bird Club.

The park has various facilities, such as a playground, a golf course, a duck pond, a spray pool, and pavilions that can be rented for events.

Address: The Stewart Park is at 1 James L Gibbs Dr, Ithaca, NY 14850

14. Museum of the Earth

The Museum of the Earth is in Ithaca. It is dedicated to showcasing the natural world in an engaging and fun way. 

It was founded in 2003 as part of a research organization focusing on studying and conserving the environment.

The museum features various permanent and temporary exhibits. It also hosts art exhibitions, interactive science exhibits, and rotating events.

Address: The Museum of the Earth is at 1259 Trumansburg Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

15. Namgyal Monastery

One of the most culturally significant locations in Ithaca, New York, is the Namgyal Monastery, a branch of the 14th Dalai Lama’s monastery. 

This Buddhist monastery is set in a beautiful woodland area near Ithaca. It’s currently the only North American location of the main sanctuary.

Address: The Namgyal Monastery is at 201 Tibet Dr, Ithaca, NY 14850.

16. The History Center

The History Center in Tompkins County features several exhibits that explore the region’s history. 

It also aims to educate the public about the various natural wonders that the area has to offer.

The History Center also owns a beautiful schoolhouse located on Upper Hanshaw Road. It’s open seasonally.

Address: The History Center is at 110 N Tioga St, Ithaca, NY 14850.

17. Cayuga Nature Center

Photo by Xrksvi via Wikimedia

Cayuga Nature Center is on the western side of Cayuga Lake. It’s dedicated to educating the public about the environment and nature.

Through its exhibits, visitors can learn about the various facets of the local environment. 

They can also get a glimpse of the animals that live in the area. The center additionally hosts live animal ambassadors.

Address: The Cayuga Nature Center is at 1420 Taughannock Blvd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

18. Sciencenter Sagan Planet Walk

Photo by Mark H. Anbinder via Flickr

The Sagan Planet Walk, a scale model of the Solar System, was constructed in 1997 in honor of Carl Sagan.

It features a 1,200-meter-tall replica of the system. This model was built as a memorial to Carl Sagan.

Various plaques in the area contain exciting facts about the solar system. 

For instance, it rains sulfuric acid on Venus. There’s also a year that Earth has been on Pluto.

Address: The Sagan Planet Walk is at 601 1st St, 14850-3507 Ithaca, NY.

19. State Theater of Ithaca

The State Theater of Ithaca is a historic theater with a 1600-seat capacity. It can also host various events, such as silent movies and comedy.

The State Theater is regarded as the last remaining historic theater in Ithaca. It hosts over 75 events annually, and it has featured various types of performances.

Address: The State Theater of Ithaca is at 107 W State St, Ithaca, NY 14850.

20. Hangar Theater

The Hangar Theater is also a regional theater that presents various shows. It’s known for uplifting and entertaining performances.

Besides regular shows, the theater also hosts workshops and classes designed to help individuals transform their lives through the power of theater.

Address: The Hangar Theater is at 801 Taughannock Blvd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

21. Mia Tapas Bar and Restaurant

Mia Tapas Bar and Restaurant serves Asian cuisine and local craft beers. It’s also equipped with an elegant and intimate atmosphere.

The restaurant’s food is infused with the flavors of different countries, such as Japan, Thailand, and Chinese. 

Its extensive selection of imported and local beers and its premium spirits are also available. 

In addition, the restaurant’s nightly dinner menu features a variety of Asian and Indian dishes.

Address: This restaurant is at 130 E State St, Ithaca, NY 14850.