Located at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake (right in the heart of New York state's scenic Finger Lakes region), Ithaca has 150 magnificent waterfalls and three spectacular gorge parks within a 10 mile radius of its downtown. It's therefore simply known as the "City of Gorges and Waterfalls".
Gorges and Waterfalls
Ithaca Falls is itself 105 feet high and 175 feet wide, and it's the largest of the six waterfalls found along a one mile-long gorge in Ithaca (known as Fall Creek). And the Robert H. Treman State Park is another of the natural areas that's not to be missed on your visit to this area, for here you'll find winding hiking trails, with incredible views of craggy gorges and enchanting waterfalls (including both Lucifer Falls and the Devil's Kitchen). Yet another worthwhile stop is Buttermilk Falls State Park, where you'll find that the picturesque Buttermilk Creek descends more than 500 feet in a series of cascades and rapids. And the nearby Taughannock Falls (located in Taughannock Falls State Park) is an even more spectacular sight, for (at 215 feet in height) it's a taller vertical drop than New York state's renowned Niagara Falls (making it the tallest falls east of the Rockies!).
Education and Restaurants
But Ithaca has much more to offer than simply the awesome beauty of those glacially carved gorges and waterfalls, for it's also home to both Ithaca College and Cornell University; therefore, you'd probably expect to find not only a lot of educational and intellectual activity here, but perhaps several restaurants and pubs, too - and, in fact, there are! The great variety of dining opportunities here (including the many ethnic specialties), is particularly noticeable, for it has been said that "Ithaca offers more restaurants per capita than NewYork City!"
The Ithaca Commons is in the downtown center, and it's a "happening", vital, alive spot, with dining establishments that range from casual to elegant (including quaint taverns, sophisticated cafes, and the well known Moosewood Restaurant, of vegetarian cookbook fame), specialty shops (for the inquisitive shopper), and a variety of free outdoor concerts (primarily during the summer season). You'll also find the Sun Station in the Commons, which is an integral part of Ithaca's Sagan Planet Walk, a scale model of the solar system; it's one of the few "Planet Walks" in the world (and it was built as a memorial to Cornell University Alumni Carl Sagan, the renowned astronomer). The Sagan Planet Walk actually ends at Cornell's Sciencenter (where you'll find numerous hands-on activities and over 200 interactive exhibits).
Other Places of Interest
Other points of interest in Ithaca include the renovated State Theatre (in the downtown core), the Tompkins County Museum (where you'll gain insights into early life in the Ithaca area), the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Fine Art (with its impressive collection of art works, including Asian and contemporary), the Farmers' Market (with its great variety of produce and crafts), Cornell Plantations (with its arboretum and botanical gardens), and Sapsucker Woods (the home of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology).
The Cayuga Wine Trail
Ithaca also serves as the gateway to the Cayuga Wine Trail, and you'll have the opportunity to taste some of the award-winning wines and learn about the wine-making process on this tour around the longest of the Finger Lakes. If you prefer getting a workout with your tour, the Cayuga Wine Trail makes a great cycling trek, too. The Finger Lakes Region is the oldest wine-producing area in the East (a brochure of the Cayuga Wine Trail, with maps and descriptions of the individual wineries, is available from the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau).
Annual Events in the Ithaca Area
Special annual events in Ithaca and area include the midwinter Chili Cook Off (in February), Maple Sugar Festival (in March), Ithaca Festival (in June), Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival (in July), and Apple Harvest (in October). So Ithaca is worth a visit in any season.
For More Information:
Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 904 East Shore Drive, Ithaca, NY 14850; phone: 1-800-284-8422; web site: www.visitithaca.com