• Farmers' Market
• Sciencenter - the two-story ball machine alone is worth the price of admission.
• Lab of Ornithology
• Cass Park - North off Route 89, just outside town. Skating in winter, swimming pool in summer.
The Ithaca Tompkins County Regional Airport, located northeast of the city has flights on US Airways to and from the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York - Laguardia airports, as well as on Northwest Airlines to and from Detroit. The Statler Hotel offers a complimentary shuttle for its guests to and from the Ithaca Airport. For longer flights, Ithacans often use the airport in Syracuse.
Ithaca is about 1 hour south of Syracuse, 1 hour north of Binghamton, 2 hours southeast of Rochester, 4 hours north of Philadelphia, and 4 hours northwest of New York City. The main routes into the city are New York 13, 79, 89, and 96. New York 79 connects with 81 half an hour from Ithaca at Whitney Point, which you can reach by taking 17 West from New York City or 476 North from Philadelphia.
Greyhound and Short Line buses offer service from New York City.
The nearest Amtrak station to Ithaca is in Syracuse.
As Ithaca is largely a college town, bus service by TCAT (Tompkins County Area Transit) is frequent and runs relatively late. Taxi service is available by phone, but expect to wait up to an hour or more on busy or cold nights. Avis & Hertz Rental cars are available at the nearby Ithaca Tompkins County Regional Airport, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental are located directly in Ithaca.
Despite the opening of the two "big-box" bookstores in Ithaca (Borders and Barnes & Noble), a number of independent book sellers continue to thrive in the city and its immediate vicinity. Downtown Ithaca bookstores on or very near the Commons include Autumn Leaves (115 The Commons), Ithaca Books (111A The Commons), The Bookery I & II (both in DeWitt Mall, corner of Buffalo and Cayuga Streets), Colophon Books (205 N Aurora), and Mayer's News Stand (318 E. State; huge selection of periodicals with some mass-market books).
Within a 20-minute drive of Ithaca you can also find two barn-sized used-book sellers: The Phoenix Books (1608 Dryden Rd. [Rt. 13], going north toward Dryden) and Book Barn of the Finger Lakes (198 North Rd. just off Rt. 13, Dryden, across from Tompkins-Cortland Comm. College entrance).
If you'll be in Ithaca in May or October, look into the dates of the huge "Friends of the Library" book sale, which lasts a week or two for each sale period (see ) and offers over 250,000 items for sale, with proceeds supporting the fancy, new (but cash-strapped) county library on the corner of Green and Cayuga Streets.
Ithaca is not a large city, but between Cornell and Ithaca College, about fifty thousand students attend school here. Finding lodging during major school events, like freshman move-in, parents' weekend, and graduation, is difficult -- impossible at the last minute. If you find yourself in Ithaca during those times, you may have to go as far as Cortland (20 miles away) or Elmira (30 miles away). In a real pinch, it is not inconceivable to stay as far away as Syracuse, NY. It is only about 75 minutes away, depending on weather conditions.
• Statler Hotel , 130 Statler Drive, Cornell campus (circle driveway straight ahead from campus entrance on Hoy Road), 800-541-2501. The Statler is run by Cornell's School of Hotel Administration students (as well as the full-time staff), and is the most elegant and luxurious hotel in Ithaca. However, don't expect to get a reservation for graduation at The Statler! The hotel is reserved for dignitaries, trustees and guest speakers during graduation.
• The Hilton Garden Inn
• The Courtyard by Marriott
• The Holiday Inn
• The Best Western University Inn
• The Ramada
• The Clarion
Stewart Park, Buttermilk Falls, Treman State Park and Six-mile Park all offer nice walking/hiking trails. Some have parking fees on weekends and during high season. Cross country skiing is permitted on the golf course in winter.
There are two outdoor stores down on the Commons, Mountain Edge Outfitters and The Outdoor Store, which can provide you with all your needs. Also check out Cornell Outdoor Education which has rental equipment and an indoor climbing wall. There is an EMS about 500 yards down the road (South) from Wegmans.
Cornell University, Ithaca
Parking is easy in most parts of Ithaca. Parking lots are never full and most streets have but one or two cars parked on them. However, there are some parts of Ithaca where parking can be tricky. If you park illegally the chance you will get a ticket is higher than average.
Downtown street parking is metered and somewhat more difficult to come by, although there are always spots available if you're willing to walk. There are two municipal parking structures, one at the corner of Tioga and Seneca streets, and one on the south side of the Commons, with access on Green St. There is a commercial parking lot underneath the municipal lot on the Commons, but it is more expensive than the municipal structure, which is free for the first two hours and free evenings and weekends. Enter the municipal from the right side of Green St., go up the circular ramp and cross over the bridge to enter the structure. The commercial lot's entrance is on the left side of Green St.
Parking in Cayuga Heights is easy. There are very few cars on the road. Note however that it is illegal to park overnight on streets in Cayuga Heights.
Some parts of the City of Ithaca have relatively dense housing and parking at night can be tricky, especially between November 1 and April 1, when alternate side of the street parking is in effect. There is no parking (from 2am to 6am) on the even side (house numbers) of the street on even days of the month, and no parking on the odd side on odd days of the month.
Parking on the Cornell University campus is the trickiest of all parking tasks in Ithaca. In fact, if you can get to Cornell by a method other than car, then that method is recommended. Bus service onto campus from downtown and other areas of Ithaca runs very frequently during the day. If you have to park on campus during the day, you will need to get a visitor parking permit from one of the parking booths around campus, and then you can park in a spot labeled for visitor parking, which are very few and far between. The parking booth attendant can give you a map showing where visitor parking spots are, but during a school day, expect to hunt through all of them and not find anything. There are two metered lots, one behind Willard Straight Hall and one across from the Dairy Bar, when you can park in a numbered spot and pay at a parking meter machine. The Willard Straight lot is often full, so you an expect to wait in a line of cars for a spot to open up. The Dairy Bar lot always has spots available, but is at least a 15 minute brisk walk to most places on central campus. After 5 PM, some of the various "tiered" parking lots are available for general parking, but be sure to read the signs for that lot, as many lots have restricted parking until 8PM or 10PM and others are restricted at all times. If you are arriving on campus by car during normal business hours, expect to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes looking for parking, and an additional 10 to 15 minutes walking from your parking spot to your destination, so plan to arrive on campus at least 30 minutes before you need to be somewhere. You can park for free or for cheaper slightly off campus in Collegetown or in Cayuga Heights, but expect your walk to be 20-30 minutes to your destination if it is on central campus.
• Ithaca College - keep an eye out for the free concerts in particular
• Ithaca Commons
• Cayuga Lake
• Taughannock Falls State Park - Taughannock Park Road (North on Rt.89, 7 miles north of town). Lake swimming, boating (no rentals available, though), hiking, picnicking, and camping. Take a pleasant, flat walk from the Route 89 entrance to the base of the falls, the tallest (215 feet) east of the Mississippi. There is a more vigorous hike around the edge of the falls basin. For instant gratification you can drive up the road connecting with Route 96 and pull off to visit an overlook to the Falls. There are often summer concerts here on Thursday evenings. Note that entrance to one State park gets you admission to all State parks for the day.
• Buttermilk Falls State Park - Route 13 S., King Road, and off Rt.96B in Danby. Swimming, hiking, picnicking, and camping. Even if you can stay for only a minute, you should still come and drive in to see the lovely falls at the lower entrance on Route 13. From the lower entrance you can take a hike up along the falls and gorge; from the upper entrance there is a less strenuous hike around the lake.
• Robert H. Treman State Park - Route 327 (off Rt.13 S.). Swimming, hiking, picnicking, and camping. Hike along the gorge, a relatively vigorous walk if you do the whole loop. Or, you can dip in from the upper entrance and in a short walk see the main falls. The lower entrance area includes one of the more popular swimming spots in the area.
• Ithaca Falls - easy to get to, free & beautiful.
• Cornell University is part of the Ivy League and is one of the most prestigious universities in America. Located far above Cayuga's Waters on a hill overlooking Ithaca, it is separated from the town, yet an integral part of it.
• Clock tower
• Johnson Art Museum . The 5th floor houses an impressive collection of Asian art but also happens to have one of the nicest views of Ithaca, the Cornell campus, and Cayuga Lake.
• Beebe Lake
• Ithaca Falls
• Wildflower Preserve
• Cornell Concert Series
Shopping in Ithaca is in four major areas: Downtown/Commons, Meadow St./Rte. 13 ("The strip"), Collegetown, and Lansing/Mall area. The most typical Ithaca items can be bought downtown in the commons area. Local crafts are of exceptional quality. Ubiquitous green "Ithaca is Gorges" t-shirts can be bought here as well.
The "big-box" stores have been moving in in a major way in recent years along Meadow St. Drugstores, cellphone stores, supermarkets, and major discount retailers are often present in multiple incarnations. There is not much exciting here for the out-of-towner although it is certainly practical.
An exception is Northside Liquors (identified by giant "Discount Beverage Center" letters) in the shopping center at the intersection of Elmira Rd. and Rte. 13., across from Kmart. Northside Liquors has a very large selection of wines (as well as liquors), with a rare wines room and probably the largest selection anywhere of upstate New York wines. If you go on a wine tour but in retrospect failed to buy your favorite wines, just go to Northside Liquors to pick them up instead of driving all the way back to the winery. Smaller, but also with a nice selection of wines, is Sparrow's Wines at Fulton and Green Streets.
Collegetown, just across Cascadilla Gorge from the Cornell campus, is mostly home to restaurants and businesses catering to the college crowd, and there are several shops specializing in Cornell- and Ithaca-related merchandise.
Finally, just north of Ithaca in Lansing is the Pyramid Mall, recently expanded to hold Borders, Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Target, offering a fairly broad but unremarkable selection of shops. Nearby are the Triphammer and Cayuga Malls, which are less elaborate.
Ithaca has some of the best and most diverse dining options in all of upstate New York. The areas with the highest concentration of restaurants are in Downtown and Collegetown. Downtown and The Commons has the most variety, ranging from Pizza, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian to fine-dining establishments. If you are uncertain about what you want to eat, a stroll along downtown's "Restaurant Row" on North Aurora Street should provide almost anything one is looking for. Collegetown also has a wide selection of dining, but has fewer fine dining options. Also notable is the area to the west of Downtown known as the West End, or The Inlet. Elmira Road, south of the downtown and Pyramid Mall, north of Ithaca in the Town of Lansing, have a selection of fast food and chain restaurants.
• Collegetown Bagels/Ithaca Bakery Six locations: Ithaca Bakery: 400 N. Meadow St., 607-273-7110; Collegetown Bagels & Appetizers: Triphammer Mall, Rte. 13 Triphammer Rd., 607-257-2255; Collegetown Bagels (Collegetown): 415 College Ave. 607-273-0982; Collegetown Bagels (Commons): 203 N. Aurora St. 607-273-2848; Collegetown Bagels (East Hill Plaza): 329 Pine Tree Rd. 273-1036; Collegetown Bagels (Drive-thru): 209 S. Meadow St. The Brous & Mehaffey family operates six locations around Ithaca, so Collegetown Bagels is something of an Ithaca institution. They offer bagels, sandwiches, and coffee with a whimsical, new-agey feel at reasonable prices. Perhaps not the cheapest or the best bagels and coffee, but definitely the most Ithacan. Great for breakfast or lunch. $5-$10.
• The Nines. A former fire station in Collegetown turned restaurant/bar, The Nines features live music several times a week, as well as some of the best pizza in the region. This, along with the large selection of beers on tap, makes this a favorite of the student crowd. Their service is slow; orders of pizza often take more than an hour to receive.
• Just a Taste, 116 North Aurora Street, 607-277-9463. Dinner every day, brunch 11-3 on weekends. Great tapas bar with a large selection of wines available by the glass. You can also select from a number of "flights" of wine, with a small taste of 4 or 5 different wines. The menu changes frequently and usually features local produce. Probably the best "walk in" eatery in town, and has less students than many other places. Tapas range from $4-$7. Expect to order 2-4 per person, and expect to share.
• Lost Dog Cafe 106-112 South Cayuga St., 607-277-9143. Offers a wide variety of sandwiches and entrees with a fun and eclectic taste. Also, try their wonderful selection of teas, espressos, and coffee. Lunch $5-$10. Dinner $8-$15.
• Maxie's Supper Club and Maxie's Tavern 635 W. State St., 607-272-4136. The supper club offers dinner daily until 1AM and the Tavern offers brunch on weekends, and both lunch and dinner, but closes earlier. Two restaurants in one location on the west end of town. The original Maxie's Supper Club offers a good selection of Cajun food including an oyster bar. The Cajun fries are delicious, but don't miss the grilled shrimp with chipotle honey, and definitely have lots of the honey butter they serve with the bread. The Supper Club is an excellent place to grab some food and drinks after a late evening event. The newer Tavern, in the building's east-side addition, offers Mediterranean-style fare best shared. Both restaurants feature locally-produced food and the wine list, available in both restaurants, is award-winningly extensive and also features upstate wines, which often pair well with spicy food. Lunch $10-$15. Dinner $10-$20.
• Moosewood Restaurant Dewitt Building, 215 N. Cayuga St., 607-273-9610. Famous world-wide for their vegetarian cookbooks, this downtown institution offers reasonably-priced (for a famous brand) vegetarian fare (which includes fish) with a different menu every night. Save room for dessert. Ask for a table in the furthest room. The new area is draughty. Lunch $10-$15. Dinner $15-$25.
• Thai Cuisine 501 S. Meadow St., 607-273-2031. Across from Wegmans. This restaurant serves Thai food that has been called the best in the state, although perhaps their reputation is overstated. They specialize in spicy food, but if you order your food hot, be sure to explain to the server that you do in fact want it really hot, because they have been known to smile and nod to an order of "jumping hot" and serve only "medium." The menu is extensive, and the wine list has excellent choices, including local wines, that pair well with spicy Thai food. Try a Finger Lakes Riesling--it matches perfectly. Dinner $10-$20.
• The Heights Cafe 903 Hanshaw Rd. 607-257-4144. Lunch and dinner. This upscale American-style restaurant is hidden in the ritzy Cayuga Heights area of Ithaca. The menu is definitely among the pricier in Ithaca, but the food is well worth it. This is a great place for a special occasion. Lunch $10-$15. Dinner $15-$25.
• John Thomas Steakhouse 1150 Danby Road, 607-273-2734 or 800-765-1492. What is probably one of Ithaca's most expensive restaurants is also one of the best. This traditional steakhouse is located in an old farmhouse adjacent to La Tourelle Country Inn on the way to Danby, just past Ithaca College on route 96B. Big steaks prepared traditionally are rated among the best in the state, including NYC. Great for a fancy date or to have your parents take you for parents' weekend. Entrees $20-$30.
• Pangea 102 Third St. 607-273-8515. Dinner only; closed on Tuesdays. Delicious fusion cuisine, elegant and comfortable decor, and a nice wine list. The desserts are particularly good; try the South of the Border chocolate cake with jalapenos. Entrees $15-25.
• Renee's 115 South Quarry St. 607-277-4047. Dinner only; book reservations in advance. This restaurant is a culinary gem in the heart of Ithaca. Renee Senne, the head chef, was trained in the classical French tradition. One look at their menu (see web site) is enough to show that this establishment is about seriously sumptuous cuisine. It is expensive, but every single entree is guaranteed to delight. Be sure to have some wine with your meal, and do not - I repeat - do NOT forget to have dessert. Renee ran a hugely successful pastry shop for many years, and she works wonders with chocolate. Dinner $20-$30.
• ZaZa's Cucina, 622 Cascadilla St., 607-273-9292. Located on the west end of town, this restaurant offers appealing if a bit pricey (for Ithaca) authentic Italian cuisine in a sumptuous, elegant setting. The food gets raving reviews. Good wine list with extensive selections from Italy. Entrees $11-$25.
• Wegmans, the largest grocery store in Ithaca, has a very large selection of specialty and ethnic foods, and has a large food court-like "marketplace" where ready-made food ranging from pizza to sushi can be purchased and eaten in the pleasant on-premises eating areas. A tourist experience of its own, like the Wegmans around New York State.
• The two other major grocery chains in Ithaca are Tops and P&C. They are both a step down in quality and selection from Wegmans but are favored by some residents for being less hoity-toity. Tops is the better of the two. Most grocery stores in Ithaca are open 24 hours to serve the college market, although the P&Cs tend to close at 10 or so.
• There is also an Aldi that sells deeply discounted store-brand foods with limited hours and no free grocery bags.
• Greenstar is a food co-op on the west end of town and is open to everyone. They offer a good selection of organic produce and bulk dry foods. If you're vegetarian and/or looking for organic selection, this is a great place to shop. It also has its version of the "marketplace" in its deli section where prepared foods are offered to either eat-in (there is a dining area) or take out. It is the only grocery store to offer fresh baked vegan desserts (which are VERY good). Here you will pay for the higher quality since it can get a bit pricey. It is popular with Ithaca's large leftist/hippy-leaning population.
• If you are in town on a weekend during the warm months (June-October), you should consider getting your groceries and some bites to eat at the Ithaca Farmer's Market. There is a large selection of not only fresh herbs and vegetables, but also free-range and pasture-fed meat. Many local artisans (soapmakers, woodworkers, etc.) also have kiosks, and there are about a dozen different food vendors.
• There are three main Asian grocery stores in town. The most popular are Win Li, south of downtown on Route 13 (near the McDonald's), and Ithaca Tofu, located in the "Small Mall" on Cinema Drive behind Triphammer Mall. The third is a small shop in Collegetown on Eddy Street called Tong Fang. Win Li is the largest and has a very big selection of fresh Asian vegetables and has seasonally fresh fish. They also have some Chinese housewares (pots, bowls, rice cookers, etc.) and a big selection of rice. Ithaca Tofu has a slightly more varied selection of fruit and vegetables (including fresh shiso/ohba), but has much more in the way of Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean sauces. In keeping with their name, they do have a large selection of all kinds of tofu, but they also have a lot of Japanese snacks, sushi-related items, and they get fresh shipments of pre-cooked Chinese deli staples (chicken feet, tripe, scallion rolls) from NYC every week. Tong Fang caters much more to the college crowd and stocks a large array of teas and instant noodles. It is located right across from the intersection of Buffalo and Eddy streets, so parking is a bit scarce.
• The Chapter House A local institution located on Stewart Avenue, near the Cornell campus, the Chapter House has a large selection of regional/microbrew/import beers on tap. Located on Stewart Avenue, its situation between Collegetown and Downtown Ithaca draws on a diverse spectrum of local crowds.
• Rulloffs "Upscale" Collegetown bar on the main Strip, serves lunch and dinner with sandwiches averaging $7.50 and dinner entrees averaging $11. Accepts CityBucks.
• Johnny O's On the main Collegetown Strip, tends to draw a WASP-ish crowd.
• Dunbars Hole-in-the-wall bar on Eddy Street providing cheap booze and weeknight specials.
• Stella's First floor restaurant and coffee shop with downstairs bar with a cave-like atmosphere. Large selection of Martinis, also has daily specials.
• The Royal Palm Classic dive bar on Dryden Road just off of the Collegetown drag.
• The Nines Restaurant/Bar located in an old firehouse on College Ave. Outdoor seating area, serves some of the best pizza in Ithaca.
• Pixel Relatively new to the Collegetown: Hip, upscale club atmosphere with live DJs often. Tasty selection of beer and top shelf liquor - although drinks are expensive ($5-$8, more for certain beers).
• Micawber's Irish Pub located on North Aurora Street
• Chanticleer Local hangout on corner of Cayuga and State Street marked by a neon rooster.
• Korova Relatively new bar on The Commons. Has a good variety of beer selection on tap.
• Pete's Cayuga Bar Popular with both locals and students who enjoy sports and a quiet atmosphere.
• Simeon's Restaurant with great food also has a large selection of microbrew and imported beer on tap and bottle, as well as wine.
• Moonshadow Funky bar on The Commons with drink specials
• Viva! Taqueria & Cantina Mexican restaurant that serves Margaritas and has a large selection of Tequila.
• Benchwarmer's Sports Bar on The Commons with many TVs, serves American/Pub style food
• Uncle Joe's Sports Bar Roomy sports bar on Green Street separated into a bar area with flat-screen TVs, main dining area for watching sports, and a gaming room with pool table and darts. Also serves American style food.
Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License
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