Best Place for a Birthday Party: Stewart Park
A gorgeous view, pavilions available for rent, tennis courts and a playground — what better a setting for a birthday party? The lawn that faces Cayuga Lake is also an excellent spot for socially distant gatherings or ventures to the outdoor activities it offers. When celebrating a birthday pandemic style, Stewart Park gives the best of the best.
Best Place to Make New Friends: Ithaca Commons
A second-time winner for the award, the Commons — or any common place for that matter —? were just some months ago another public space to be wary of. But while the pandemic has not gone away, the Commons’ spirit hasn’t either. Given the seemingly endless options for food, retail and entertainment, the Commons is a fantastic introduction to Ithaca for the new college students that flood the city in the fall or for newcomers looking to get a taste of their new home. For locals, it continues to be a spectacle and staple for the city’s culture and annual events, including the Apple Harvest Festival and the Chili Cook-Off.
Best Bike Ride: Black Diamond Trail
Approximately 8.5 miles of agricultural lands set to the tune of cascading water, Black Diamond Trail is a peaceful yet lively trip for trailblazers seeking a quintessentially outdoor Ithaca experience with an exquisite view of Cayuga Lake. The stone-dust path slopes along what was formerly the Rail Trail, the railroad of the Black Diamond Express. The perfect location for a bike ride, as indicated by this award, the trail is also excellent for a casual stroll.
Best Gorge/Waterfall: Cascadilla
Approximately one mile long, the trail of Cascadilla falls features a superb waterfall, a must-visit for newcomers locals alike. The gorge, picturesque with 20 feet of cascading water, connects Cornell University with downtown Ithaca. The location is perfect for socially distanced, masked dog walks, hikes or runs, as well as year-round bird watching.?
Best Kids Attraction: Children’s Garden
This three-acre children’s garden is committed to providing youth activities in a natural environment, free of charge. The garden also hosts learning initiatives that connect children with the earth beneath them with the goal of creating a space in which children can physically and emotionally enrich themselves. Host to a number of events, including the Scarecrow Jubilee, the Children’s Garden bolsters youth education while connecting the community with the environment.
Best Local Garden: Cornell Botanical Garden
With seasonal highlights, gardening clubs and natural land to explore, the Cornell Botanical Gardens offer Ithaca residents a plethora of opportunities to connect with their land. Though unable to host on-site programs, the botanical garden is seeking activities to bring the garden to you at home. Visitors are required to wear a face mask at all times, maintain a distance of six feet and come alone or with small groups.?
Best Place for Stargazing: Mt. Pleasant
Complete with an old observatory, Mt. Pleasant is the perfect place for stargazing, both in the location and historical significance of the nearby building. Observe the sparkling night sky and open space to see it from — a gorgeous spot for a shooting star or milky way sighting.