Ithaca, at the south end of Lake Cayuga, is a college town in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, the small town is dominated by the students, staff, and faculties of the schools. Consequently, the town is much richer culturally than similar sized towns upstate. Excellent restaurants, live entertainment and shopping make the town entertaining to visit. Local hotels provide excellent service because of the influence of the faculty and staff of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. There are also several excellent B&Bs. All lodging tends to book up very early for college events, so check before visiting at the beginning and end of the school year. Summer is the best time to visit; winters can be windy as well as cold, though with less snow than Buffalo, Rochester or Syracuse.
There are several excellent parks which offer opportunities for hiking and viewing waterfalls, as well as picnic grounds. It is said 'Ithaca is Gorgeous' and one visit will make it clear why.
The famous vegetarian restaurant Moosewood is right downtown and worth a visit, even if you wouldn't normally eat vegetarian cooking. At the other extreme of cuisine, the Hot Truck (at the West edge of the Cornell Campus at night) and it's owner, the Short Stop Deli downtown, provide the original French bread pizzas with a language all their own. Manos Diner is great example of an upstate Greek variety of the classic American diner, located on the Elmira Road, which leads out of town towards the Southwest. This is also where you can find the fast food chain restaurants for comfort food. The greatest variety of entertainment is found on the two college campuses including museums, live theater and film. College Town, to the East of downtown uphill, is home to many restaurants and some live entertainment as well. Parking on campus can be difficult, so as an alternative you may choose to take T CAT transit buses or a taxi. If flying into Ithaca, the airport is to the north near Pyramid Mall and from which Route 13 will take you past a great view over Lake Cayuga on the drive downtown.
To learn more about area attractions, check out the page on The Finger Lakes!