Ithaca New York (named for the Mediterranean island in Greece) is a mid-sized city located about halfway between the state capital of Albany to the east and the far western Lake Erie city of Buffalo. It is north of the major Interstate Route 88 and south of Route 90 in what is called Upstate New York. It is on the southern shores of Lake Cayuga, one of the Finger Lakes. It is in one of the snowbelt regions around the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, making for very cold winters with a great deal of snow.
Despite its chilly locale, there are no dramatic mountains here, and it is not a major ski destination. However, the Greek Peak Mountain Resort is only about 40 miles away and a very popular destination for families, for novice and intermediate skiing as well as for the indoor waterpark and spa. Other very popular winter activities include ice fishing, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.
During the late spring, summer, and early autumn Ithaca is a very popular destination for New York vacations. Here is the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail with fifteen wineries, a cidery, a meadery, and four distilleries. There are a number of historic bed and breakfast inns along the trail. There is fabulous scenery of forest, waterfalls, and farmland that is particularly beautiful during the autumn foliage time. The lake itself offers many water activities during the summer, and you will find numerous lakeside vacation rentals and camping opportunities. There are more than 100 gorges and waterfalls within ten miles of the Ithaca NY downtown area. There are three state parks in the immediate area, including Taughannock Falls State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park, and Robert Treman State Park. Taughannock State Park contains the tallest waterfall in the Northeast.
There are also plenty of things to do in Ithaca New York right in the city. On the campus of Cornell University, you will find beautiful Cornell Plantations. Here is the F.R. Newman Arboretum with 150 acres of trees and flowering plants, a 25-acre Botanical Garden with 14 specialty gardens, a collection of central campus gardens, and 40 unspoiled natural habitats of wetlands and meadows, bogs and fens, gorges and old-growth forest. You can also visit the Museum of the Earth, an excellent natural history and paleontology institution. The lakeshore is literally in the downtown area. It contains numerous green spaces and even a golf course. There are also a number of theaters where you can enjoy live performances.
Ithaca New York is best known as a center of higher education, especially as the location of the prestigious Ivy League school of Cornell University, which has more than 20,000 students. Also here is Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College. Because of this, there are a large number cultural venues, good hotel choices, and variety of dining options for a city of its size. There are actually more restaurants per capita than in New York City. Because of the large student population, there are also a large number of excellent music bars and lounges.
The Ithaca Farmer's Market is famous in the region. It is held every weekend from April to December on the lakefront at Steamboat Landing and welcomes 150 vendors from within a 30-mile radius. Here you can find fresh produce and flowers, specialty foods, and an array of handcrafts by local artisans. The city's restaurants also get into the act with local specialties and ethnic cuisines from Sri Lankan and sushi to Latin and Italian.