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Things to Do in Ithaca During the Fall (Ithaca Blog)

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Fall Things to Do in Ithaca

A Fall Guide to Various Activities in the Ithaca Area

Ithaca. Photo by Jennifer B. BrownWhen every season starts, I swear it’s my favorite. Even winter. Typically, this fleeting love lasts until the spring’s first (and unending rains), summer’s first heat wave, winter’s first bone chilling day with gusting winds and snow already piled underfoot. But fall, fall is a commitment. A long-term, till winter’s arrival, relationship that I start looking forward to each year even as the hazy heat of August still warms my skin.

Autumn in the Ithaca area is stunning. While everything in the natural world begins its slow decay, its hoarding for winter, slows down into it can hibernate, the area seems to come alive. Perhaps it is a case of the candle burning brightest just before it goes out, but everything is alive and all the senses are fully engaged. So how do you make the most out of this time of year in Ithaca? You do the following:

1. Take a Hike- The Ithaca area’s known, in part, for its stunning natural areas…Ithaca is gorges, after all. Fall is no exception. My favorite hikes of the year are often in the fall and spring. With numerous state parks and many trails in the area there are a ton of options, whether waterfalls, leaf gazing, or getting a brisk walk are your goals, you’re going to find something that meets your needs. My recommendation for all 3? Robert H. Treman State Park. Home to both Lucifer and Enfield Falls (though I’m pretty sure the swimming’s done for the season) boasts stunning views from the upper gorge trail of the hillside and the falls. Of course you may want to check out Buttermilk Falls State Park, or even venture a little further to Watkins Glen State Park. Of course, you can take a shorter hike on say the Cascadilla Gorge Trail (and see Ithaca Falls) and couple it with any of the other great things to do!

Ithaca Farmers Market. Photo by Jennifer B. Brown2. Go to the Farmer’s Market- Ithaca’s Farmer’s Market, located on the Cayuga Lake’s inlet, home to steamboat landing as well as many  farms, wineries, crafts and food vendors is the perfect way to enjoy a weekend fall morning in Ithaca. Whether you grab a cup of coffee or cider, a donut or oatmeal (seriously, best oatmeal I’ve ever had), or even a breakfast burrito, there will be music and plenty of art to see as you stroll through the covered market. You may also want to come back for a visit in December, for the market’s ceremonial closing and infamous Rutabaga Curl!

3. Two words: Book Sale!- Ithaca is home to one of the largest used book sales in the country. Hosted by the Friends of the Library and housed on Esty St. in Ithaca (conveniently right off Rt. 13). Featuring over 250,000 items including books, dvds (and vhs for you holdouts), cds, record albums, the sale lasts for multiple weekends allowing you plenty of time to peruse, plenty of time to take advantage of the decreasing price structure (books get cheaper each weekend) and even the very special Collector’s Corner, home to rare and special books/items. The fall sale has two weekends left…so hurry on over! This is one of my favorite Ithaca events ever. And if you miss it this fall, it’ll be around again in the spring.

Ithaca. Photo by Jennifer B. Brown4. Cheese/Wine Trail- The Ithaca area’s a great launching area for any of the numerous wine trails in the area (it’s a great way to do a combo tour of Cayuga and Seneca as well). While you’re at it, you may want to check out the Cheese Trail as well…after all, what goes better with wine than cheese? Many of the trails also offer special events

5. Eat- In 2010, Bon Appetit named Ithaca among the foodiest small towns in America. Perhaps it’s the wineries that drive the restaurants, or the local farms, the local food makers, but we’ve got some amazing places to eat in Ithaca. While we’re home to the famous Moosewood Restaurant, there’s plenty more downtown and on the west end to keep you busy. Whether it’s Italian (check out Zaza’s), Lebanese (Mira’s), American Bistro (Fine Line or Simeons), burgers and fries (Ithaca Ale House), Thai (Thai Cuisine..try the dim sum on Sunday!), tapas (Just a Taste), gastro-pub (Bandwagon or Northstar), and for a taste of New Orleans, try Maxie’s Supper Club…Ithaca’s got food you’re going to love. And when you’re done with dinner, head on over to Madeline’s for some of the finest desserts Ithaca’s got to offer.

6. Cap off your night with some live performances!- With multiple theatres (The Kitchen Theatre, The Hangar Theatre and The State Theatre), the two colleges providing plenty of entertainment (Cornell Concert Series, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Ithaca College Theater, Ithaca College Music) and plenty of other theatre groups, small bands, bars and clubs, you’re sure to find a way to end your evening in style.

Whether you’re looking to spend a day or a weekend, there’s plenty to do, and fall’s one of the most beautiful times to do it! So head on out, if you plan your day right, you can do all 6!

Jennifer B. Brown is a Contributor to The Free George. Photos by Jennifer B. Brown.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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