Ithaca Travel Guide
An Ivy Leaguers meet adventure seekers destination in upstate New York
Author: Chelsey Burnside
Photographer: Chelsey Burnside
Ivy Leaguers meet adventure seekers in beautiful Ithaca—a college town in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Surrounded by gorges, towering waterfalls and crazy-beautiful hikes, it's no wonder its boutique accommodations scene is on the rise. Whether you're driving through on the way to NYC or staying the weekend, Ithaca is one of our favourite stops a short road trip away. Here's where to stay, where to eat, and what to see.
WHERE TO STAY
Firelight Camps - It's no secret we're huge fans of Firelight Camps here at Escape. Custom s'mores and Navajo prints make this glampground worth every American dolla bill. Click the link to read all the details.
Argos Inn - Staying at Argos Inn is like going back in time to the Gatsby days, but getting to take all your favourite modern-day luxuries (ie Nest thermostats and subway-tiled bathrooms) along with you. Cozy up in one of ten velvet-and-brass clad suites, listen to live jazz and pour a glass from the old-timey absinthe drip at the cocktail bar.
The Cayuga Lakefront Loft - This sun-drenched two-storey loft is a short drive from idyllic Ithaca and is owned by a retired NASA employee, so you know it's outta this world (or at least structurally sound). Post up on one of your panoramic patios, lounge on your private dock or birdwatch from the comfort of your hammock overlooking the lake.
WHERE TO EAT
Viva Taqueria—A California-style "Methican" joint (intended to be a hybrid of Mexican and Ithacan, and not a lispy slur) where we scarfed down tacos on a colourful patio. It's worth noting there are lots of healthy options. We just didn't get them.
Waffle Frolic—Get the salted caramel, and make it a double.
Creekside Café—This farm-to-table café in Trumansburg came highly internet-recommended, but wasn't open while we were passing through on our way to Taughannock Falls. Apparently they do a killer "Breakfast Balmy", a sandwich filled with scrambled eggs, jalapeno, pickled carrots, homemade kimchi and cilantro (I think they meant Banh Mi, which made me love it more).
Ithaca Farmer's Market—With its wooden beams and tiered geometric roof, this open-air market is so beautiful it actually serves as a wedding venue. Stop through for a burrito or crepe, and if you're lucky, some live music.
WHAT TO SEE
Taughannock Falls State Park—About a 20-minute drive away in Trumansburg. This chute is bananas (sorry) and a must-see if you're in the area. You can normally hike to the base of the falls, but the trail was closed for maintenance while we were visiting—luckily, there's an awesome wide-angle view from the overlook.
Buttermilk Falls State Park—A gorge-ous hike with a cascade waterfall and a swimming hole. The trailhead leads directly from the Firelight grounds.
Robert H. Treman State Park—We didn't get around to seeing this park, but if you're down to take the scenic route home, stop and get a shot of the rugged gorge and take a dip under one of the 12 waterfalls.
Cornell University Campus—Want to make your alma mater feel like a glorified Montessori? Drive through this expansive Ivy League campus, a patchwork of stately buildings crawling with vines and gleaming steel-and-glass structures.