48 Hours in Ithaca (Part 1)

Ithaca, NY is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent four and a half grueling years there, learning, growing, and making friends and it will forever be a special place to me.

For a while, I was brainstorming where we should go for a fun family mini break. I thought maybe The Hamptons and then I thought maybe the Jersey Shore and looked for airbnb rentals that were dog friendly. After having some not-so-great luck finding suitable places (re: pretty but affordable), it hit me that we should visit Ithaca! None of us had been back since my sister had graduated in 2013. That's two years, which is the longest I've gone without visiting Ithaca since I first went up as a pre-frosh in 2004.

It was actually the perfect setting for George Michael; Ithaca is a great place for pooches. I'm sharing all of the fun things we did, which also happen to be dog friendly activities.

I'll be splitting this into two posts because I just have too much to share to squeeze it into one entry. And, as usual, I'm sharing all about the food over on my food blog (how appropriate).
We packed up on Thursday evening, had a restful sleep, and then got on the road around 8.

The drive was pleasant and traffic-free.
We pulled up to campus around 11 and fueled up with a late breakfast before starting any strenuous activities.

Cascadilla Gorge Trail
This trail was closed for a while (due to safety issues) but I was happy to see that it was reopened. The last time I walked down into the Cascadilla Gorge was probably sophomore year when I lived in the Cascadilla dorm. It's an easy climb (via stairs) down towards the water and there are some lovely views of cascading water.
Sometimes I wonder if I took this beauty for granted by not visiting more often while I was attending Cornell or can I justify it because I was busy getting an education.

Maybe if Instagram was around when I was a student, I would've come down more because this place is an IG gold mine.
The most fun aspect of this trail is that you can take it from Collegetown to the Ithaca Commons. We didn't go to the Commons on this trip because dogs are not welcome (unless you're a resident with a permit). I find this policy rather stupid. The residents said they don't want dogs around because they leave messes and are noisy. I think if the owners are irresponsible enough to leave behind poops and allow their dogs to bark, then they should be asked to leave. But, if you've got a well-behaved pup then they should welcome you to visit. Whatever! If you're in town without a dog, I recommend a walk through the Commons.
Buttermilk Falls
Buttermilk Falls is a popular spot in the summer because it's a lifeguarded swimming hole. Unfortunately for GM, they don't let dogs in the swimming hole. Fortunately for GM, higher up the trail, there are plenty of spots for taking a dip and even though technically, it's prohibited, there's no one around to scold you if you want to go for a swim.
From the lower park entrance, we took the Gorge Trail. It's a pretty strenuous climb and not one that I recommend for anyone other than avid hikers. It was a great hike for us though, because it made us work up a sweat and when we cooled off in the falls, it was so refreshing and rewarding.
I absolutely love when GM plops down into the water like this! We all die of laughter because it's cute and hilarious.
To avoid the messy, dilapidated steps of the Gorge Trail on our way down, we decided to cross over to the Rim Trail. It's less scenic and lacks waterfall views but there are mushrooms everywhere. Seeing as both M and I took Professor Hudler's Magical Mushrooms & Mischievous Molds class, we had a blast pointing out all of the different fungi. We didn't pick any though because too many mushrooms have evil twins (i.e. lookalikes that are poisonous).
If you're looking for an easier option to get to the unguarded swimming holes, then I recommend parking at the upper park entrance and taking the comfy stairs down. That's what we did on our second trip to Buttermilk.
There were hoards of brave people jumping off of the cliffs into the swimming holes.
GM was adorable on this hike. He'd walk up the steps then pause to look over the edge.
Courtyard Marriott Ithaca
Besides all of the fun activities, I also wanted to mention the hotel we stayed in because it was super dog friendly. It seemed like, 80% of the guests we encountered in the elevator and the lobby had dogs with them. There's just a one time $75 cleaning fee to have your pooch accompany you and the hotel is clean, modern, and comfortable. It's just a short drive from campus and into downtown Ithaca.
I booked a king suite because I'm fancy. No, but really, I wanted to have enough space for sis, dad, GM, and me. The bathroom was pretty tiny but the room was huge and comfortable.
GM had a decent time here. The rooms are pretty soundproof, dampening the noise between the rooms, but there's definitely a little noise coming in through the door from the hallway. I mention this because my dog is super aggressive about guarding his family and will bark at any tiny noise coming from outside (unless he's sleeping; what a great guard dog, right?).

The staff are nice and accommodating and I would certainly consider staying here again, even without a dog.
Come back tomorrow for part 2!


  1. Summer in Ithaca's the best!!! So glad you were able to take GM with you!! :)


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