I attended four and a half years of undergraduate schooling at the State University of New York at Cortland, right in the heart of Central New York (CNY). In that time I made many friends, learned lots of great life and classroom lessons and went on many local adventures. On this page I plan to share some of my most memorable college adventures. They range from local day hiking trips to restaurants and other excursions. There’s a little something for everyone in CNY and I plan to share it right here!
Lets start with my absolute favorite day trip of my collegiate career – Ithaca, NY. Ithaca is located about 40 minutes south west of Cortland and there is SO MUCH you can do there. From the moment you round Cayuga Lake on route 13 and the city of Ithaca comes in to view, you immediately begin to crave kale, IPA drafts and artistic ability.
Ithaca is Gorges and there are a few different places you can experience these natural beauties:
- Robert H. Treman State Park was my very first Ithaca adventure and since then, I have returned upwards of 10 times. The main entrance to the park s about 5 minutes outside the city of Ithaca. I prefer to start at the West end of the park and hike around my personal favorite waterfall in the park, the 115 foot Lucifer Falls. However, the main entrance houses a swimming hole at the base of a waterfall, camping accommodations and trails that outline the perimeter of the gorge. It isn’t a overly difficult or long trail, however be prepared to climb many steps if you wish to do the full loop.
- Buttermilk Falls State Park was the site of my next Ithaca adventure and is another gorge that I have visited 1o+ times with friends and family. The lower park entrance is located right outside the city of Ithaca off route 13. The upper park is home to a small lake with many hiking trails and picnic areas along the gorge and rim. The lower park includes campground, and a featured cascading waterfall of the park that flows into a swimming area. Another beautiful hike, it’s fairly easy unless you’re attempting it in the winter months in which case I suggest carrying micro-spikes for slippery rim areas and a lot of patience!
- Taughannock Falls State Park is one of the coolest gorges in Ithaca (in my opinion) however, it is also the park I’ve been to the least. I’ve witnessed its beauty once in the winter and once in the fall and it’s stunning during both seasons. The falls drop a whopping 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower 400 feet above the gorge. The hike along Taughannock Falls is completely flat and very easy to maneuver. The park has campgrounds with access to Cayuga lake; winter activities include two skating ponds, a sledding hill and cross country skiing/ snow shoeing trails with a warming center.
Aside from gorges, Ithaca has a lot of other really great places one can visit, especially restaurants. I have two favorite places that I try to stop at every time I’m in the area. First, Ithaca Bakery can be found right in the heart of town on route 13. It’s definitely more of a breakfast/lunch stop but you will NOT be disappointed. Every sandwich I have ever tried has been delicious, and their pastries delectable. They are also vegan, vegetarian and gluten free friendly! A lot of their products are all from local vendors which is pretty neat. The atmosphere is slightly eclectic (just like the rest of Ithaca) and service is good but I will forewarn you that the line is often long. You will require thinking time as you read through their massive list of sandwich possibilities so at least your time waiting won’t be entirely wasted. Don’t forget to grab a pastry on your way out!
My next suggestion is the Ithaca Ale House, located right next to the commons – which is a shopping and food area I also suggest you check out – and absolutely delicious. You will wait forever to get in here on a Friday or Saturday night, but it is worth it. We came here to watch someone we knew perform and no we are not biased, the live entertainment was great and added positively to the atmosphere. We grabbed a few appetizers, and a few more beers and both sunk our teeth into delicious, juicy burgers. I love onions and bleu cheese so naturally, I chowed down on “The Ale House Burger” and it was perfect. Lots of other great menu choices that I would love to try in the future but the apps and burger I chose were perfect in this moment.
This next Suggestion I would save for the late summer and fall months but we had a lot of fun at Indian Creek Farm last fall. There are over 100 crops to choose from and the farm is a blast! There’s pumpkin sling shots, playground equipment rows and rows of beautiful crops! We came to pick apples and pumpkins and we really enjoyed our walk through the farm. The ‘farm stand’ more like a farm building has a wide variety of peppers, squash and sprouts, as well as apple cider (a personal favorite). Certainly a great stop any time from July – November!