Ithaca is a city in the midst of farms, literally one mile outside this city fields stretch on for miles.  We decided to do a two night trip to the area and spent most of our time in Ithaca which is located at the southern tip of Lake Cayuga.  It makes a terrific family vacation, which can be quite affordable.  If you prefer an outdoorsy and active vacation then this is a wonderful option!

Here are our must visits from our recent trip:

  1. Ithaca Farmer’s Market:  Come hungry if you enjoy ethnic foods.  .  My kids enjoyed Cuban rice and beans, my husband enjoyed a wood fired pizza made to order, while I had Vietnamese spring rolls. Grand total for lunch including our freshly squeezed lemonades… $26.  After a nice lunch, we enjoyed some live music and shopped the market for berries, maple sugar candy, and freshly baked cookies.

2.  Robert Treman State Park-  The slogan for Ithaca is that it is Gorges due to the numerous gorges and waterfalls. This was our first hike and in 95 degree heat, we enjoyed the solitude on the trails.  Since it is drought season, many of the waterfalls are running like water fountains just trickling.  This gave my children the ability to interact with the trail.  We found a quiet area to dip in our toes and climbs rock formations.  After sweating on the trails, we headed to the very crowded swimming hole.  This was by far our favorite part of the trip.  The water temperature was cool and so welcome on a sweltering day.  There is a shallow area with a gravel bottom, but the real fun happens in the deep end.  Our family was able to jump off the spring board into the deep hole then swim under the trickling falls.  With water running so slowly, it gave the kids the opportunity to scale the rock wall and try to climb from one side of the gorge to the other.  Total cost $8 for parking which could then be applied to any other state park for the day.


3. Taughannock Falls State Park– One day we did a late lunch/early dinner and then headed out to hike this trail.  The drought was very evident, which made the hike even more fun for my kids.  After hiking up to the trickling falls, which are higher than Niagara we took a fun trip in the stream bed back to the car.  Since we were in sneakers, it was a fun trip hopping rock to rock trying to avoid soaking wet feet.  This state park also includes a beach and playground where you can spend a full day enjoying Lake Cayuga.  Total cost for us $0 because we came after 5:30, but usually $8 per car.  This could be applied to another state park with in the same day as well.


4. Sciencenter– Hands on, hands on, hands on… Take your sanitizer, because the kids will be touching everything and it couldn’t have made me happier.  If you go in warmer months this includes a great interactive outdoor playground.  The exhibits challenge the mind and explore a variety of scientific and engineering topics. There is an animal exhibit as well as a touch tank .  We spent a solid two hours here and could have stayed longer if we had the time.  Best bet for those under 12.  This was very reasonable total cost for 4 of us $24 after our AAA discount.


With such a wide variety of restaurants(many which offer vegan options), museums, free exhibits, and hiking this makes a perfect trip.  Two nights would provide plenty of time to enjoy all that Ithaca has to offer.  If the kids are not going, check out the wineries too!


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