Cornell: Top Ten Things to Do

By: Dani Zeller, Class of 2021

Touring Cornell and have an afternoon free? Are your parents or friends visiting for the weekend and you want to show off the area? Here is a Top Ten List from rising Cornell sophomore Dani Zeller. (Class of 2021) 

1. Buttermilk Falls (Gorges)

If you’ve heard of Ithaca, New York, you have probably heard the expression—‘Ithaca is gorges.’ The region is famous for its gorges, which run through Cornell’s campus and across town. The Cascadilla Gorge Trail cuts right through college town and can be seen from several points on campus. Buttermilk Falls is only 20 minutes from school and is one of the best gorges in the area. There is a gorge trail and a trail around the lake, where you can hike to see the beauties of Ithaca. 

2. Sunset Views

An Ithaca sunset is one that I miss when spending time away from Cayuga Lake. There are many places to experience the sunset, and one of my favorites is to head to Stewart Park, where you can sit by the lake and picnic as the sun is setting. Sunset Park, in Cayuga Heights, is where many college students park their cars to watch the sunset from a point high above the lake. The Cornell Plantations and Botanic Gardens, or Libe Slope (on campus), also are high points in Ithaca that make watching the sunset an incredible experience. 

3. The Ithaca Farmers Market

If the Ithaca Farmers Market is open when you visit campus, be sure to head there right away! The market located right on the water occupies an indoor pavilion where fresh fruits, vegetables, and delicious meals are prepared. Whether you are arriving at breakfast time and looking for hot apple cider and donuts, or you are interested in brick oven pizza, the farmers market will satisfy all of your cravings. Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach and the curiosity to explore the hidden treasures of Ithaca! 

4. Wine Tours 

The Finger Lakes is well known for its wineries that host events for small and large groups. The Catharine Valley Winery on Seneca Lake is just 40 minutes outside of Ithaca, in addition to the ones located right in Ithaca (Lakeshore Winery, Six Mile Creek Vineyard, Americana Vineyards Winery). If you are looking for the same vibe as a wine tour, try Ithaca Beer Co. where you can sit outside and enjoy the nice weather or tour the brewery inside. 

5. The Commons

The most recent development in the town of Ithaca is the downtown area of the commons. It’s home to several excellent restaurants, as well as seasonal festivals and events. Just a Taste, Mahogany Grill, and Red’s Place are my favorite restaurants in the commons. In the fall, Applefest is a seasonal event where food trucks and local vendors showcase their delicious treats to the community. 

6. Cornell Plantations and Botanic Gardens

On campus, the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences contributes to the beautiful plantations and gardens that make Cornell unique. Overlooking several ponds and tree gardens, the view from the top of the botanical gardens allows you to take in the serenity of nature, a good antidote to hours of studying!

7. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

If you have some extra time, it’s well worth it to head to the Arts Quad to see the collection and latest exhibitions at Cornell’s own art museum. Designed by I.M. Pei, the building itself warrants a visit! 

8. Cayuga Lake

Located in downtown Ithaca, Cayuga Lake is part of the Finger Lake Area. Ideal for a picnic, to watch the sunset, or go for a walk, Cayuga Lake is a perfect spot to show off to visitors. During the summer, there are boat rentals and water activities that are perfect for a hot summer afternoon! 

9. Collegetown

When classes are done for the day, you can find Cornell students hanging out at Collegetown Bagels or Pete’s Souvlaki House. Collegetown is home to many bars, restaurants, and a majority of Cornell’s upperclassmen. 

10. Food Trucks

Even if you aren’t grabbing food on the go, the food trucks are home to the most popular meals on campus. Whether you are dining at That’s How I Roll (sushi), Dos Amigos (taco), or Louie’s Lunch, you are in for a treat. If you are downtown in the commons, the Circus Truck is the most popular for its made-to-order pasta dishes—something my friends and I look forward to all day.