Ithaca, NY

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I posted my Summer Bucket List and last weekend checked off the first item: visit Ithaca, NY to see some waterfalls. Turns out, Ithaca is also home to Cornell College, which has a beautiful campus!

My friend Ben and I planned a day trip for our long weekend last weekend. We left at 7 am to try to get a full day of travel time and to have time to spend at each place. We picked three waterfalls and had lunch in Ithaca! It is close enough you can do a day trip but a weekend would be ideal because I definitely wanted to spend more time exploring!

Tip: BRING CASH. I don’t know why I continue to have to tell myself this. We had to pay a toll for the international bridge and ended up on a toll road that only takes cash. The guy definitely pocketed some of the money because the $2US toll cost us $6CAD. We took out $20US at an ATM that cost me $35CAD. Unbelievable!

Our first stop was lunch in Ithaca at Franco’s Pizzeria. It was the greasiest pizza I’ve had in a while and I loved it! We used this awesome app to park called ParkMobile that gives notifications for when you’re about to run out of time and you can add more from your phone. So handy!

Our first waterfall stop was right around the corner.

Ithaca Falls

Cost: FREE
Parking: FREE

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There’s a parking lot and a short (<5 minute) walk to see the falls. They were roaring and magnificent! Plan to get a little wet from the mist (especially if you want to get closer).

Robert H. Treman State Park

Cost: $8US (in season)
Parking: included in state park fee
Walk to falls: less than 10 minutes

Our second stop was about a 15 minute drive from Ithaca Falls to the Robert H. Treman State Park. It was technically closed for the season (so we got in for free) so we parked and wandered up the path to the waterfall. Turns out, it’s an amazing outdoor swimming pool (I don’t want to say beach) complete with a ladder, stairs and lifeguard in the summer. Ben and I didn’t bring our swimming gear (and it wasn’t nearly deep enough to swim in yet) so we just explored and took a few pictures. Two girls had the right idea and brought a towel to lay on and sleep in the sun.

I ended up chatting with a local who was fishing and he mentioned a great trail (the Gorge Trail I believe) that was about a 1.5 hour hike to get to the falls from the back. We didn’t have enough time to do it but you KNOW I’ll be back for more hiking.

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Taughannock Falls State Park

Cost: FREE (from lookout) or $8US for state park access
Parking: included in fee
Walk to falls: 0 minutes from upper lookout and about 20 minutes from lower trail

Our third and final stop was by far the best (and I’m glad we saved it till the end): Taughannock Falls. It was about a 20 minute drive from the Robert H. Treman State Park with two vantage points: an upper lookout to see the falls from above and a lower trail and lookout to see them up close.

We started at the upper lookout and snapped a few photos. Ben was taking a minute to set up, so I went down the stairs to take a few photos and then went back up to see him. Somehow, I got up to the top and we noticed there was no one on the ledge so I ran back down the stairs so we could get a picture of me without anyone else (my favourite type of shot). We managed about a 3 minute window by which time I had an audience and got awkward so I ran back up the stairs. I’ve shared Ben’s AMAZING photo at the end of the post.

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We then drove another 5 minutes to the end of the park to walk the short (3/4 mile or 1.2 km) trail to the lower lookout. It is about a 20 minute easy walk and 100% worth it.

Ben had a shot in mind and I had brought my yellow jacket (similar here) so we scoped out where I would stand and I tried carefully to make my way to the middle of the water. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to get out there without getting wet so I practically jumped in and waded through water that was about knee deep to get to a shallower part. TOTALLY WORTH IT. As I walked back, I realized I could have stayed on the dry path for most of the way but I was getting wet anyways!

Here are the two amazing shots from Ben.

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I’ll be heading back later in the summer with my friend Nina to do more exploring. Can’t wait!

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