20 Things to do in Ithaca NY
At Freedomcare, we believe that our patients should enjoy life to the fullest. That is why we put together this guide of things to do in Ithaca, NY.
Ithaca is a great place for seniors and the disabled to visit. There are plenty of non-strenuous hikes and beautiful museums to visit. Many of these locations are wheelchair accessible and very accommodating to the elderly population.
Ithaca Falls is a must-see attraction for visitors to Ithaca who are looking for a fun outdoor adventure. The roadside walk-up to Ithaca Falls is one of the easier waterfall hikes in the area, making it an excellent choice for people who prefer a less strenuous hike. A lookout point can be accessed directly from the road, and another parking lot below the falls allows visitors to take a pleasant walk to view the falls. Although the walk to the Falls is easy for seniors, Ithaca Falls are only handicap accessible from the roadside and bridge viewpoints.
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art is a wonderful museum full of both temporary and permanent exhibitions and stunning views of Ithaca, Cornell, and the adjacent Cayuga Lake. Best of all, admission to the Johnson Museum is completely free! The Herbert F. Johnson Museum is accessible to everyone and handicapped individuals have easy access to the exhibitions. Learn more about the museum’s accessibility here.
Stewart Park is a stunning natural park located on the southern side of Cayuga Lake in Ithaca. The park is tranquil and peaceful while still boasting plenty of activities for people of all ages, including a bird sanctuary, municipal golf course, and athletic and tennis fields. Stewart Park is a fantastic place to experience the natural side of Ithaca, New York. It is handicap accessible and requires minimal exertion to visit and explore.
Sciencenter is an interactive science museum featuring over 250 exhibits and educational programs, along with an outdoor museum area and gift shop. There’s even a seasonal mini golf course! Seniors can enter the museum at a discounted price and the entire museum is handicap accessible. This is a fantastic place to spend the day for the young-at-heart and for people who love to learn new things!
Ithaca Farmers Market
The Ithaca Farmers Market is a must-visit attraction for anyone who enjoys exploring local foods, produce, and farming. The market is operated by a group of 130+ cooperative members who produce and sell fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats, wine, eggs, and baked goods. All the products sold at the market are produced within 30 miles of the Pavillion! The Ithaca Farmers Market is handicap accessible and a fun, relaxing spot to explore on weekend mornings.
Buttermilk Falls State Park
The Buttermilk Falls State Park is a national park outside of Ithaca, NY that offers peaceful, hilly hikes through the countryside toward the beautiful Buttermilk Falls. Though the area is stunning the entire year, autumn is one of the best times to visit! The hiking trails at Buttermilk Falls have varying levels of difficulty ranging from very easy to more difficult. None of the trails are handicap accessible, though it’s possible to view the base of the falls from the picnic area near the parking lot or from a viewpoint to the south.
Cascadilla Gorge Trail
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail is located right in the heart of Ithaca and connects the Cornell campus to downtown Ithaca. Along the (comparatively) short trail there are numerous waterfalls, each more beautiful than the next! The hike is steep, but it’s easy to access and offers truly spectacular natural beauty that you won’t want to miss. It’s certainly doable for seniors looking for a bit of an adventure on a trip to Ithaca. The Cascadilla Gorge Trail is not handicap accessible.
Cornell Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens at Cornell University in Ithaca are some of the best in the world. With over 500 acres of natural and garden areas to explore, many visitors to the gardens spend one or two hours within the area. The Cornell Botanic Gardens are handicap accessible and offer relatively easy walking paths.
Ithaca Falls Natural Area
Home to the famous Ithaca Falls, the Ithaca Falls Natural Area is a New York state park full of fantastic natural beauty and easily accessible hiking trails. Located just off of Lake Street, the area is extremely easy to find and offers great adventure without journeying far from the center of Ithaca. The hiking trails are not handicap accessible, but there are waterfall viewpoints and picnic parks available for handicapped individuals who want to experience the Ithaca Falls Natural Area.
Allan H. Treman State Marine Park
The Allan H. Treman State Marine Park is by far one of the most beautiful access spots on Lake Cayuga outside of Ithaca. The park is situated on the northern side of the lake and offers plenty of picnic space, a gentle one-way trail around the Cayuga Inlet, and even the occasional theatrical performance or event near to the marina. The park has free admission to all and is handicap accessible in all areas (including the showers).
Triphammer Falls are located right on campus at Cornell University, and they’re only a short walk away from the Cornell Botanic Gardens. Pairing the gardens with a visit to Triphammer Falls is a perfect way to spend a leisurely day in nature while still remaining right in the center of Ithaca! The falls are free for all and for handicapped individuals they can easily be viewed from the sidewalks or bridges surrounding the area.
Robert H. Treman State Park
Although often confused with Allan H. Treman State Marine Park, the Robert H. Treman State Park is in a different location near Ithaca. The Robert Treman State Park is filled with waterfalls, including the Lucifer Falls, and has many exhilarating hiking trails through the hills and forests to view the various falls and rivers along the path. The trails at this park are not handicap accessible, but portions of the swimming areas and the camping areas are accessible.
Museum of the Earth
The Museum of the Earth is another fantastic education-oriented museum in Ithaca, New York. A combination of art exhibits, nature areas, and science centers are all housed within the walls of this museum, and the hands-on aspect of the museum makes it an excellent choice for seniors who like interactive tourist-type activities. The Museum of the Earth is completely handicap accessible and easy for seniors to navigate.
Mulholland Wildflower Preserve
In Ithaca, nature is everywhere, and with so many waterfalls to visit, the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve can be an interesting and relaxing way to break up the sightseeing with a pleasantly unique activity. The Mulholland Preserve is a tranquil area in the middle of Ithaca, featuring hilly hiking trails past waterfalls, pretty scenery, and of course plenty of wildflowers! Parts of the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve are handicap accessible.
Six Mile Creek Vineyard
The Six Mile Creek Vineyard first opened its doors for wine tasting in 1987, giving it the honor of being one of the oldest members of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and also one of the most sophisticated vineyards in the Ithaca area. Boasting beautiful vineyard views and a wonderfully restored Dutch-style barn as the wine tasting room, for seniors who enjoy wine tasting, the Six Mile Creek Vineyard is definitely a must-visit destination in Ithaca! The vineyard’s wine tasting room is handicap accessible.
Cornell University - McGraw Tower
McGraw Tower at Cornell University, also known as the Cornell Chimes, is a 21-bell tower on the Cornell campus in Ithaca. The Cornell Chimes offer performances and concerts played by student chime-masters almost every day of the week! This unique musical tradition is both fascinating and enjoyable for the audience. A visit to Cornell wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Cornell Chimes at McGraw Tower.
Cayuga Nature Center
The Cayuga Nature Center is by far one of the most unique and most interesting nature destinations around Ithaca. It features a 6-story treehouse surrounded by natural forest and plants, along with two enormous aquariums at the entrance to the Nature Center! The Lodge features ecology and environment-related educational exhibits as well as native New York “animal ambassadors”. The Cayuga Nature Center is mostly handicap accessible and easy to navigate for seniors.
Although the famous Finger Lakes usually dominate the scene, the somewhat lesser visited Beebe Lake is just as beautiful. One of the main features of Beebe Lake is its abundance of wildlife, including plenty of birds, making this lake one of the best bird watching locations in the Ithaca area. Situated within the Cornell Botanical Gardens area, the lake has plenty of trails that are gentle and pleasant to walk. There are some trails at Beebe lake that are handicap accessible and others that are not.
The Finger Lakes are an excellent example of the stunning natural beauty that surrounds Ithaca, New York. Visit the Lakes to discover the reason why Ithaca is “gorges”! With countless waterfalls, clear ponds and lakes, and acres of surrounding forests, farms, and vineyards, it’s easy to see why the Finger Lakes have been heralded as one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States. While most hiking trails at the Finger Lakes aren’t handicap accessible, there are still numerous other activities surrounding the Lakes that offer beauty, nature, and fun, but that are friendly to handicapped individuals.
A.D. White House
The A.D. White House Library is a book-lovers dream! This incredible collection of books is arranged throughout three stories of zigzagging walkways that were tastefully designed by Cornell’s first architecture graduate, William Henry Miller. This book collection, which belonged originally to Andrew Dickson White, the co-founder and first president of Cornell is part of Uris library and it contains books about witchcraft, revolution, and abolition. Uris Library is handicap accessible, preferably with advance notice.