Posts in this series
- The Perfect Finger Lakes Weekend Getaway
- Cayuga Lake Sunset Cruise, Ithaca, New York
- The Best Ithaca Restaurants
- Chasing the Finger Lakes Waterfalls in New York State
None of the events or activities in this post were sponsored, but I have included affiliate links for some activities to help you better plan your trip and keep the blog up and running. I will make a small commission if you purchase anything through these affiliate links.
I was looking for a trip just a bus ride from NYC, with affordable hotels, and easy to get around without a car. A Finger Lakes Weekend trip was the perfect solution! I debated renting a car upon arrival in Ithaca, but a few of our activities required drinking and I quickly realized there was enough to do in the Ithaca area to keep us very busy for three days! I received warnings, don’t go for orientation, avoid parents weekend, etc. Fortunately, we managed to do that by going for Labor Day Weekend, and we had the extra day to enjoy the area.
Day 1 Finger Lakes Weekend
My friend and I took the greyhound bus from Port Authority at 5:15 am and arrived in Ithaca by 10am. We chose this bus because it was shorter than other options (I assume because there was no traffic) and to save on the hotel night for Friday. For what we spent on taxis and bus, it might have been cheaper to rent a car. We preferred not to drive though. Those ten hours on the bus round trip were spent relaxing. Upon arrival, we took an uber to check in at the Quality Inn on Elmira Road. The rooms here were spacious and it had a full size bath tub, which is my travel dream!
After dropping off our bags. we headed back into town to grab some lunch. We took the advice of our lovely cab drivers from 607-277-7777 and had our first meal in Ithaca at Simeon’s on the Commons. They have a lobster & crab roll special and it was truly amazing. Probably the best thing we ate all weekend. On the way into town (about a ten minute drive) the drivers suggested a few local waterfalls that could be accessed from the town. The first was Cascadilla Gorge and the second, and more famous, Ithaca Falls which can be seen partially from the road.
After lunch we walked the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, passing six waterfalls, and ending up in Collegetown. Collegetown is part of Cornell’s campus. You’ll find the well known local Collegetown Bagels, where we stopped for refreshments after out leisurely hike. We did this hike unexpectedly and I wore ballet flats and jeans. It’s pretty easy for non-serious hikers.
After our snack, we ventured on to the Johnson Museum. Admission is free and gives you access to thousands of artifacts belonging to Cornell. We spent an hour or so browsing the museum and taking in the view of Lake Cayuga.
After our museum excursion, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. We made a quick stop at the walmart to pick up snacks for our sunset lake cruise with Ithaca Boat Tours. You can read more about the Cayuga Lake Sunset Cruise here. I wish I could recommend a local shop, but we simply weren’t there long enough to find one.
Despite a chance of rain, we booked a 2 hour sunset cruise on Lake Cayuga. We were fortunate that it just drizzled a bit, but it was quite cold. If you are headed upstate, be sure to check the weather. Our tour guide was very informative and told us about the history of the lake and local area. One interesting tidbit is the salt mine located below the lake!
Finally, we went to Fat Jacks BBQ, located very close to our hotel and recommended by one of our taxi drivers. We got a full rack of ribs and a variety of sides. The food was quite delicious and served quickly.
Day 2 Finger Lakes Weekend
The next morning was a bit rainy. We had considered heading into town early to view Ithaca Falls, but decided to hold off. I opted to get a manicure at a local salon instead. There were a handful walking distance from the hotel.
Our next stop was Luna Street Food. Don’t be fooled by the name. The restaurant is clean and the food is fabulous. They offer popular street food items from around the world. I went for my all time favorite, Mac & Cheese, but my travel buddy chose Bao Buns. After lunch, we walked up to The Hotel Ithaca to meet our tour group for the Wine Tasting Tour with Experience the Finger Lakes. Our tour guide Rebecca did a wonderful job driving us around and sharing information about the beautiful wineries in the area. We had sunshine and downpours, but there was no harm in wine tasting on a rainy day. I was absolutely exhausted after this trip. We stopped by the highly recommended Boat Yard Grill for dinner. I enjoyed my relaxing bath, and went to bed early in preparation for our hiking adventure the next day.
Day 3 Finger Lakes Weekend
I woke up the next morning and made a waffle in the breakfast room. That is one of my favorite things to do when stay at Choice Hotels & and its partners. We used the same hotel for Charleston, South Carolina.
After packing up our bags and checking them with the hotel reception, we walked over to Buttermilk Falls. It’s $7 per car to enter Buttermilk Falls, but since we walked over from our hotel, it was free! We hiked along the gorge, through the Bear Creek Trail to Lake Treman where we had a picnic before returning. We took the rim trail back from Bear Creek, but it was not nearly as scenic as the gorge trail.
After hiking, we went to the Cornell Botanic Gardens where we saw several beautiful plant variations. The garden is free for visitors, and you could easily spend a whole day exploring all of the parts of the garden along the creek, which includes the Cascadilla Gorge trail. After our excursion, we went to Viva Taqueria & Cantina for enchiladas and tacos before retrieving our bags and heading back to the greyhound station. I fully expected our trip home to take far longer than 5 hours, but we arrived back in NYC promptly at 10:15 pm despite the holiday weekend and potential traffic.
TBEX North America will be taking place in the Finger Lakes in 2018. If you are a travel blogger or work in the travel industry, I hope to see you there!