3 Things Not To Miss If You Visit Ithaca, New York With Kids

You can get a great shushee (frozen apple drink) at the Ithaca Farmers MarketAs much as our family (kids ages 12, 11, 8, and 2) loved Cornell summer camp, we also loved exploring Ithaca. A week wasn’t enough! But here are the 3 things you have to do if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Ithaca, New York:

1. Try a “Shushee”: The weekend farmers’ market in Ithaca is the Cadillac of farmers markets. Overlooking Lake Cayuga, it has covered pavilions with stalls filled local produce, crafts, and food you’ll be dreaming about for months. At Khmer Angkor they sell unbelievably delicious Cambodian pancakes filled with bean sprouts, veggies, and tofu (or meat). The chicken at La Palador is so tender it falls off the bone. But our family’s favorite was the apple “shushees” at Littletree Orchards (so named because they make a shush-shush sound when poured from the machine into a glass): frozen slushes made entirely from local apples with no added sugar.

2. Skip Stones on the Singing Steps: There are literally dozens of fun things to do on the Cornell Campus with and without children, including visiting the Cornell Plantations, the fabulous Herbert F. Johnson Art Museum and the Paleontological Research Institute’s Museum of the Earth (which is just a few miles away at 1259 Trumansburg Road/Route 96). Even if your oldest kids are years away from college (five and counting), I recommend going on a free campus tour to learn about the university and get oriented. But if you only have time for one campus activity, go to the steps on the far side of the oldest library on campus, Uris Library, and skip stones. As they skip they “sing” different notes.

3. Swim (or Hike) at Treman State Park or Buttermilk Falls : “Ithaca is Gorges” is a phrase you’ll see on bumper stickers and T-shirts all over town. Suspension bridges, rock quarries, waterfalls. Ithaca doesn’t disappoint. There are many lovely places to hike in the spring, summer, and fall, and several state parks where you can swim in fresh water in the summer. We didn’t have time to hike but the swimming at Treman State Park was excellent (and the water a lot warmer than in Oregon!).

Among the many other fun things not to miss: Sapsucker Woods, the Science Center, the world-famous vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant, Purity Ice Cream (full disclosure: I’ve never tried it), and wine tasting at the Finger Lake vineyards.

Have you ever been to Ithaca? What have I forgotten? What are your favorite places to visit in the region?

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Categories: travel with kids.


  1. Sue

    Jennifer, you hit most of the highlights!!! I so miss having small streams in town the way Ithaca has. One thing to point out – Lucifer falls at upper Treman is outstanding. You could hike from upper to lower (or do a loop) or just park at the upper Treman. It’s a short walk form there to the falls.

  2. Sue

    P.S. Purity Ice Cream was our favorite growing up. For some reason I loved the combination of a scoop of mint chocolate chip and a scoop of pumpkin. Now, I wonder what on earth I was thinking…

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