Road Trip Filter: Ithaca, Buffalo, Niagara Falls
July 21, 2011 4:56 PM   Subscribe

I am going on a road trip next week that will include Ithaca, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and points in between. I'd love some suggestions of fun, amazing, quirky, or air conditioned things to do along the way. We'll be coordinating rest stops so any 'in between' suggestions would be especially appreciated. Moderately physically active OK, strenuous not so much. Trip includes very small children.
posted by bq to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I did something similar several years back and really enjoyed the Corning Glass Museum.
posted by sunchai at 5:19 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are not from Ithaca area, I would for sure stop at the gorges near the Cornell campus and cool down by taking a dip.

Clock tower at Cornell is fun to walk all the way up.
Sundown sitting near it it usually pretty and amazing if the starlings come out when the sun sets
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:20 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Corning Glass Museum.

For a quick stop the Jell-O Gallery in Leroy is pretty neat.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:26 PM on July 21, 2011

Clock tower at Cornell is fun to walk all the way up.

If you can, time this so that you can be inside the tower when they play the chimes.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:28 PM on July 21, 2011

You might want to see about day tickets to the Chautauqua Institution.
posted by paulsc at 5:31 PM on July 21, 2011

In Ithaca: check out the gorges, especially below Ithaca Falls. You can swim right up to the waterfall! Cool, refreshing, and quite beautiful -- breathtaking even. Unfortunately, it's very rocky -- there's no "beach" -- so you might have to keep the kiddies on shore. Lots of other waterfalls in the area; some moderate hikes.

You can also swim in Cayuga Lake where the Taughannock Creek drains into the lake, in Trumansburg. And Taughannock Falls is also pretty, with a very easy, totally flat hike to the base of the falls. Trumansburg is a very cute little town, itself -- two good places to eat, just outside of it, are Glenwood Pines (burgers) and Woodland Roadhouse (bbq, lots of other stuff).

If you're in Ithaca on Saturday or Sunday, go to the farmer's market! Ithaca has the best farmer's market of any town or city I've ever been to. Lots of good food choices, people selling flowers, produce, crafts, cider, all kinds of stuff. Super social. And it's right on the lake.

Ithaca's just plain wonderful in summer -- green and lush and most of the college students are gone, leaving only the townies and grad students and a few college kids hanging out at the creeks.

I would so much rather be in Ithaca right now than where I am (hotter 'n hell Texas). Have fun!
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 5:51 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've not been to the Corning Museum of Glass, but everyone I know who has raves about it. So thirding that.

If you enjoy vegetarian fare, you might want to stop at Moosewood while in Ithaca.

This is the time for summer theatre, if you want something to do with an evening! For example, Cortland Repertory Theatre or the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:11 PM on July 21, 2011

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I really wouldn't let little children run around in Ithaca Falls area. I go there for the views sometimes, but that area was heavily contaminated with lead 20 or 30 years ago.

Taughannock and Treman State Parks are both very nice.

If you're going up to the Cornell bell tower for the chimes concert, just know that it may be very loud.
posted by bread-eater at 6:13 PM on July 21, 2011

If your route can take you through Rochester, the National Museum of Play fulfills all of your criteria.
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:51 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Similar, recently.

I'd also warn you not to go wandering in the gorges in town too much; two college aged kids have already died this summer goofing around in the Ithaca Falls area. There are spots that are perfectly safe but I wouldn't tell a non-local to go wandering. Taughannock, though, has plenty of splashy fun while being very shallow and slow-moving and lovely. (And also, a flattish hike.)

Corning glass museum is amazing. Sciencey stuff and arty stuff and cool demos. If the kid/s are the type, the Sciencenter is good fun.

If you're in Ithaca on a Thursday, there are weekly concerts on the Commons (the central downtown pedestrian area) through Sept. 1. If you're in town on a Friday, there is similar at Cornell. The Cornell one is particularly kid-friendly, held as it is on a huge grassy lawn only 10% covered with picnic blankets.

Depending on the age and patience of the kids, both Buffalo and Ithaca have outdoor Shakespeare performances.

There are a bunch of Erie-canal themed things between Ithaca and Buffalo. I haven't been but folks who have grown up around here have mentioned them.

Upon preview--yes, Museum of Play! I haven't been there but as soon as my little dude is big enough I'll have a good excuse.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:59 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Science Center in Ithaca is really cool.
posted by notcreative at 6:59 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]
The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester is fun but might be a bit old, depending on the kids' ages.
posted by thewestinggame at 7:49 PM on July 21, 2011

Similar previously.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 7:58 PM on July 21, 2011

Memail me if you want recommendations for safe swimming holes in Ithaca for small children. Also, great view from the 5th floor of the free Cornell Art Museum, but there's a lot of construction around there now --eg the pedestrian bridge across the gorge is closed.

Between Ithaca and Buffalo --
1. Nthing Taughannock state park for swimming. In Trumansburg, places to eat are the Falls Cafe (diner, really, but gooood), and Hazelnut (great. transplanted big city restauranteurs. Check chow hound. Only open for dinner, though.)

2. Corning glass is not rely on the way, but is fanTAStic. Can be conjoined with a trip to Watkins Glen. You think NASCAR, but the actual glen is a beautiful walk.

3. Most definitley on the way to Buffalo - the west side of Seneca Lake, on hwy 414! Prime spots include Dano's (lunch), Wagner (beer), Red Newt and Damiani (wine), and the Finger Lakes Distillery. Awesome.

Sorry to make you google rather than link, but I'm on my iPad.....
posted by kestrel251 at 8:18 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: Are there still ugly fences on the gorge bridges in Ithaca?
posted by bq at 8:46 PM on July 21, 2011

Nthing Museum of Play, the Glass Museum and Jello Gallery. The Buffalo area has TONS of old school sweet shops (select the ice cream and candy listings for NY state on Roadfood).
posted by brujita at 9:55 PM on July 21, 2011

Different ugly fences than what first went up, but yes, argh. Current talk is about a net under the bridges (seriously).
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:27 AM on July 22, 2011

I just did the Buffalo to Ithaca route and there are some pretty awesome winerys. I think the fields of grapes themselves are pretty cool!
posted by ashtabula to opelika at 4:08 AM on July 22, 2011

Howe Caverns, Finger Lakes area have great waterfalls and beaches (and wineries! that serve grape juice!), and in buffalo, don't forget the Anchor Bar, home of the buffalo wing!

In Niagara, the Canadian side has tons of touristy things. I recommend getting the event pass that lets you use the bus and go to multiple attractions (Falls walk, rapids walk, flower gardens, etc, etc).
posted by rich at 7:30 AM on July 22, 2011

Seconding the Science Center in Ithaca, which is totally fun for young children -- it's got water tables and bubbles and an awesome outdoor playground if it's not too hot. (Well, it had all of those things when I was last there 10 years ago. Hmm.)
posted by wyzewoman at 7:42 AM on July 22, 2011

Yes ugly fences.

Shakespeare plays at Cornell Plantations end this weekend.

The playground and the swimming area at Taughannock are really nice. The hike to the falls is very easy.

Loved Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg (5 min from Taughannock) when I went there for dinner. Fairly casual. Kids are fine if they behave.

There's Purity Ice Cream in Ithaca and Cayuga Lake Creamery 8 mi north of Taughannock.

Also, Museum of the Earth, Cayuga Nature Center.
posted by bread-eater at 9:44 AM on July 22, 2011

Response by poster: Hey all, we just got back from an awesome trip. The gorges are beautiful, the fences are still pretty darn ugly. The Falls are magnificent and well worth the trip by themselves.
posted by bq at 1:03 PM on August 1, 2011

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