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Ithaca Travel Guide, New York

Ithaca is settled on the south shore of Cayuga Lake with two beautiful gorges on its sides. Many come here for the scenery, the wealth of great outdoor opportunities that include hiking and biking, and a fine reputation for its wines.

One of the most visited natural attractions is the Fall Creek Gorge one of the two gorges. People walk its trails that lead to the lake mostly to get a swim in the lake or just lay in the sun. While in the area you can also view the impressive 100 feet high Ithaca Falls, but if you are not quite so impressed you must go 7 miles north of Ithaca to see a higher fall.

Higher than Niagara Falls, with a height of 215 feet this fall can be found in Taughannock Falls State Park. But for the fall to make a really big impression on you, it’s better to visit during spring and fall when there’s plenty of water coming down. But besides having a great view you can get some activity by swimming at Taughannock Falls State Park. Take your kids they will surely enjoy splashing around. You can get to the top by car or on foot depending on what you fancy.

Besides its natural beauty the cultural background is also to be appreciated being home to Ithaca College and Cornell University, one of the main attractions in town as it beautifully combines nature with culture. Its location, on a hill overlooking the town, denotes that it is the central point of the community and the bird’s eye view it offers over the town is splendid. Besides the University you can visit the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art home to interesting itinerant exhibitions and a collection of more than 30,000 pieces of Asian art craft. Still on the campus ground is the university's museum of living plants, a well worth a stop for the charming exhibits and the sense of local pride it contains. You can spend quite some time wandering the maze of the 3,000 acres of natural areas in and around the campus without missing the botanical garden, wildflower garden, the orderly herb garden, the quiet knoll area and Newman Arboretum.

You can then pass on to the Sapsucker Woods Bird Sanctuary to see and hear the song of a number of various bird species. Another building that you must visit while on campus is the McGraw Tower; you can’t miss it as it is the highest.

Ithaca is a perfect destination for families as there are so many entertaining and learning opportunities provided especially by the many museums that parents can really say they bought some piece of mind by coming to visit the town.

An interesting and fun to visit museum is the Sciencenter, a science museum equally entertaining for adults and children hosting an outdoor playground, a walk-in camera and a walk that is a scale model of the sun and nine planets. Still in the area of museums is The Museum of the Earth where children and not only can learn about the history of life on Earth. Among the exhibits is the skeleton of the Hyde Park Mastodon. You can go on having fun at The Cayuga Nature Center where children can climb in the forest canopy.

Ithaca has a fine reputation for its festival held the first weekend after Memorial Day. It features several stages and performances by musicians, painters, dance groups, and more. You will surely enjoy the parades with adults dressed as dancing tofu and kids dressed up like compost piles.

And the list of attraction is not over as even if you are not a wine drinker, following the Cayuga Wine Trail will prove to be quite entertaining. There are around 15 wineries on the southern and western part of the lake Cayuga. Most of them welcome visitors for tours and tasting.

For the nightlife, either take in a night at The Kitchen Theater, The State Theatre or the Hangar Theatre to see a good performance or go for outdoor concerts that are usually held at The Commons, Taughannock Falls State Park, and the Cornell University quad. There are also plenty of restaurants with great bars and late-night crowd.

You can find no reason to complain really, Ithaca does have something for everyone.

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