Americas Destinations

Ithaca – New York’s gorges college town

July 11, 2017
What to do Ithaca NY

No, there’s no spelling mistake in the title, Ithaca truly is gorges! And I’ll tell you soon why 😉 As you may (or may not) know, New York isn’t only a world famous metropolis but also names one of the 50 states of the US of A (where New York City is actually part of). Simply called “upstate” by locals, there’s no way you would mistake the hectic city with the idyllic countryside. After over a month not leaving the city, I started feeling tired of all the concrete and people and I was quite excited to get away from it all for a few days. July 4th gave us a long weekend and we were SO ready to hit the road with our rental car. Our first stop was Ithaca, a small town in the Finger Lakes Region, located on the southern shore of Lake Cayuga. However, thanks to some major colleges (like Cornell University and Ithaca College), the town is home to notable big student population.

Cornell University has an amazing campus with lots of parks and beautiful buildings which look like a Harry Potter movie set. It’s a nice space to walk around and take in the quiet but college-friendly atmosphere. I really wish I went to a school like that!

Apart from the colleges, the numerous waterfalls in and around town are the main draw: There are about 10 waterfalls in the region and due to our short time in Ithaca we had to pick wisely. The Ithaca Falls are actually the closest to the city and also one of the biggest – so that one was a must!

When we saw photos of the abandoned power plant of Wells Falls (also called Businessman’s Lunch Falls) our second choice was clear: We had to check it out! It’s an eerie-beautiful place!

The last and most spectacular one was Taughannock Falls, which was a little further away but absolutely worth the stop: We first saw the waterfall from a lookout point and later walked along the gorge to the bottom. It was such a nice and warm day and a few people enjoyed a little refreshment in the river. The whole area is a State Park and a popular weekend destination for itself!

Back in town, we found a nice selection of restaurants and bars. But the Moosewood Restaurant isn’t only an institution in Ithaca, it’s known for its excellent vegetarian cuisine in the whole region! It’s very popular, yet the atmosphere remained cozy and casual.

I could not write this article without mentioning our lovely Bed & Breakfast we stayed at. I have a weakness for personal and homey stays and I’m always trying to find a cute-looking B&B for at least one night. Luckily Besemer Station Inn had a room available during that popular long weekend and we loved it! (Btw our last B&B experience was here) The house is full of history as it once served as a railway station but today the family shares its home with guests who appreciate a more personal touch.

And the best thing about a B&B is the breakfast of course! Freshly made and ready at the table – that’s how I like it!

Last but not least, if you happen to be there on a weekend, the Ithaca Farmers Market apparently shouldn’t be missed. I love farmers markets anyway, so for me that was a must-visit. Although I was still full from breakfast I enjoyed browsing through the local products. And if you haven’t had breakfast (or lunch) yet, this is a great place to grab a snack, listen to some (country) live music and take in a glimpse of the lake.


With normal traffic the journey from NYC to Ithaca should take around 4.5 hours by car. There are buses that run between those cities, but the distances between the waterfalls are pretty far, so you definitely need a car to get around.

Ithaca is gorges in many ways. Don’t you agree?

Traveling Upstate NY? Then you shouldn't miss Ithaca, a town defined by beautiful waterfalls and home to notable college crowd. Find here the highlights for a weekend trip!

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  • Reply Paleica July 12, 2017 at 2:38 am

    das sieht lustigerweise irgendwie sehr europäisch aus dort. also die natur, meine ich – vor allem der abandoned place <3 wunderschöner ausflug und das b&b erinnert mich ein wenig an das, in dem wir geschlafen haben, nachdem wir in bodie waren. super süß! und JA ich wollte auch immer an so einem campus studieren. darum hab ich die amerikaner schon immer beneidet!

    • Reply sileas July 22, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      Witzig, derselbe Gedanke ist mir auch gekommen! Vor allem auf dem Highway dachte ich mir, das könnte genauso gut die A1 sein 😉 Ja die Colleges sind schon sehr cool, aber unsere Studiengebühren sind mir lieber 😉

      • Reply Paleica July 23, 2017 at 5:44 am

        Haha das ist natürlich auch wieder wahr!

  • Reply Hanna July 12, 2017 at 3:46 am

    Oh, what a scenic route you have explored!!!! All the waterfalls and the places!
    I love the “Porch Rules” at the B&B 😀 I have never heard about Ithaca, shame on me since this place is screaming my name to come for a visit.

    • Reply sileas July 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      I don’t blame you Hanna, I haven’t heard about it either before I came here 😉 There’s always something new to learn and explore 😀

  • Reply SnowdonStudent July 12, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Wow, you really picked a great position for that shot of the Taughannock Falls. Well done!

    • Reply sileas July 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you! That spot was very popular and I cut out the people successfully 😉

  • Reply The Wayfarer July 12, 2017 at 6:41 am

    I love upstate New York! It’s so not what people expect when they hear the words “New York”, not realizing the city is only a tiny sliver of the state! I mostly stayed around Albany but I would love to see the finger lakes region someday!

    • Reply sileas July 22, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      I just realized how big the state actually is (well compared to anything in Europe) and I definitely want to explore more Upstate!

  • Reply SueT唐 梦 琇 July 12, 2017 at 7:13 am

    That is so nice to have such lovely country towns to visit away from busy NYC. Wow time has flown since you arrived Julia. I love Farmers Markets too but have to be careful I don’t buy all the foods/goods on offer.

    • Reply sileas July 22, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Yes it was a much needed change! You’re right, time flies… Haha I feel the same about Farmers Markets! Fortunately I just ate before I got there 😉

  • Reply Marisa's Italian Kitchen July 12, 2017 at 8:56 am

    What beautiful waterfalls and sounds like a wonderful weekend getaway. I especially love the porch rules😉

    • Reply sileas July 23, 2017 at 7:49 am

      The porch rules are the best 😉 I wish I had one!

  • Reply Julie July 13, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Makes me realize how little of the US i know… I’ve spent so much time trying to see other places, I should pay more attention to the US!

    • Reply sileas July 23, 2017 at 7:51 am

      It’s too big! You could easily spend a lifetime just traveling the US 😉 (No wonder that so many Americans don’t have passports…)

  • Reply Sanne July 13, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to any waterfalls as big as the ones you visited. The closest is probably one in Thailand, which was almost dried out because it was summer. It really looks amazing!

    • Reply sileas July 23, 2017 at 7:53 am

      It’s true, I’ve seen quite a few waterfalls recently 😉 I love the Thai ones, where you can actually swim in!

  • Reply Chiara Pannozzo (@wine_and_olives) July 21, 2017 at 7:48 am

    You are right, it is absolutely gorgeous! I had no idea it was that pretty. I so want to visit now!x

    • Reply sileas July 23, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Thank you Chiara! I was surprised too!

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  • Reply PinaySkattebasse July 22, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Lovely B&B you had. Have not heard of Ithaca before, but it looks like a nice place to see. 🙂

    • Reply sileas July 23, 2017 at 8:03 am

      It was just perfect!

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