Waterfalls & Amazing Food! Weekend trip to Ithaca, NY

by Christine on July 25th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Good morning Revolutionists! Did you all have a good weekend? I hope you were busy, active, and staying away from naughty summer foods!

I had a wonderful weekend away with a friend of mine. We went to Ithaca, New York, which isn’t really known as a “destination location” but turned out to be a fantastic weekend getaway locale! I hadn’t been there in about 15 years (and even then, my trip was brief) and I had a great time exploring new places!


We kicked off our trip on Saturday morning. It was a three-hour drive from the Albany area, but I-88 is a beautiful, scenic highway, so there was plenty to look at along the way. Our first stop, as we rolled through town, was the Six Mile Creek Winery.  The wines were great, the venue was cute and convenient, the views were fabulous, and our bartender was really nice and helpful. It was a great way to start our weekend trip!

Ugh, this weekend I discovered that either my legs are still fat or they have a lot of loose skin that I probably will never loose. Sigh.

Look at those healthy grapes! So lush!

After that we made a pilgrimage to one of the places I was most looking forward to seeing: The Moosewood Restaurant!  Moosewood is famous for its line of cookbooks featuring vegetarian recipes. Oh, the food is so incredibly flavorful! Of course, that doesn’t always mean low-calorie; on the contrary. But it is vegetarian and delicious. I was thrilled to check this place out live and in-person for the first time! (Check out the website for some recipes.)  I had the Bavarian Vegetarian Soup with dill and sour cream as well as some kind of bean/spinach/garlic dish served over rice, a little bit New Orleans style. Delicious and well worth the visit!

After lunch we walked around town and window-shopped to stretch our legs and digest our food. There’s a closed-off, paved section of downtown Ithaca that has some hippie stores. Think tie-died shirts, bongs and glass-blown pipes, and incense for sale, and yup, you’ve got the picture of downtown Ithaca. We passed a family (mom, dad, and two kids under 10 years old) who were chanting some kind of meditation thing and passing out half-dead flowers to strangers. Funny stuff.

When we had enough of that, we headed out to west side of the lake to hit up a few more wineries. We hit up a few….Americana Vineyards and Sheldrake Point and Lucas Vineyards.  I particularly enjoyed Sheldrake Point vineyard. The venue was really lovely (they have three tasting rooms to accommodate all the tour buses, which is really nice) and we shut the place down, being the last people in the tasting room that day. We bantered with the bartenders for a while and enjoyed the old-school Rolling Stones playing on their system. Great group of guys! Americana Vineyards had really delicious cheeses and fudge on sale in addition to the wines.

After getting our tastings on, we decided to check out one of the local waterfalls. There are a lot of parks, gorges, and waterfalls in the Ithaca area.  We passed by Taughannock Falls State Park and drove up to the scenic overlook for a view of the falls.  It was lovely of course, although I prefer Albany’s Thatcher Park/Indian Ladder trail personally to this particular waterfall.

When we got back to the hotel room to clean up for dinner (we were hoping to go swimming at the hotel) we discovered that our air conditioning was broken! BOO!  We had to sit around for an hour and a half while the maintenance people fixed it (meanwhile sweating our asses off in the room…it was HOT that day!). Then it was a frantic shower and dash out the door to make dinner in time. No swimming for us, boo! Needless to say I don’t recommend staying at the Holiday Inn if you have a choice. It wasn’t cheap, either.

For dinner we went to Just a Taste. It’s a tapas restaurant with an ever-changing menu. The restaurant was recommended to us by about four different people, and it did not disappoint. Tapas restaurants are really band-friendly because they offer such small portions! We ordered four dishes and split it: caesar salad, grilled fish, shrimp, and steamed vegetables. The food was delicious! I really wanted desert but couldn’t fit it all in my tummy. We had a drink at the hotel bar when we got back (I had a Diet Coke…I was soooo parched!). The restaurant bar seemed pretty nice!


Sunday we got up early and headed to the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. Oh the fresh veggies looked so amazing! I wanted to buy a ton of great veggies, but knew that I don’t eat enough to benefit from that, nor would they sit well in the car all day. Bummer. We had breakfast at the market though, at one of the little stands. I had an apple streudle thing (it was small; fit in the palm of my hand). It wasn’t very good though, so I took 2 bites and threw the rest out.  What I really wanted were some of the fresh apricots! They were only selling apricots by the pint and half-pint. I asked the woman if I could buy 2 mere apricots for $1 (a huge deal for them) and she refused, so I didn’t get any fresh fruit. BOO!

Afterwards we drove towards Cornell University, which is on the side of the hill in Ithaca. The Cornell campus is huge and lovely, with a strange mix of old-beautiful buildings, new-ugly buildings, and one or two new-modern-lovely buildings.  We passed a beautiful building and I said, “Stop here! I want to check that out!” It turns out that it was the Cornell Arboretum, which is free to park at (on the weekends) and walk around the grounds. The grounds were extensive (we barely saw a 16th of what they had there, and we were there for an hour) and sooooo beautiful! What a little treasure!

After walking around for ages — and oh! It was really warm outside! — we were hungry. We stopped at Subway and picked up lunch to go. (For me: salad with tuna fish on top) and we headed to the other side of town to Buttermilk Falls State Park.  I definitely prefered this park and waterfall to the Taughnnock falls we visited the day before. We parked kind of at the wrong end–on the top of the hill. Parking fee was $7. We ate our lunch and then started on our hike. We followed gorge trail–which is really scenic and beautiful, but hard on the knees. You descend about 600 feet in 0.5 miles, so it’s pretty steep, but you follow the gorge the whole way. There are signs not to swim in the water holes, although it was really warm and people were swimming in every section of water! It was so fun to watch everyone having fun!

At the bottom of Buttermilk Falls is a designated swimming area (with life guards) and about a bajillion people and sunbathers, etc. It was very hot at the bottom of the gorge. Then we realized, oh no! Now we have to go BACK 600 feet up the hill! I’ll tell you what though–the workout felt amazing. I felt so energized and sweaty and ALIVE! We did the trail on the other side of the falls, which isn’t scenic at all but was much easier on the knees (no stairs). I think we went UP faster than we went DOWN, probably because we didn’t stop to take pictures every two seconds!

By the time we got back to the car, I was super-sweaty and gross!! But what a great workout!

Do you see all my sweat? Yucky!

The only thing left to do was head home and…yes! Stop for ice cream! I got a blizzard at a little farm stand, but all I really wanted was a taste. I only ate half and threw the rest away. Wasteful, yes, but they don’t sell blizzard/flurries in teeny-tiny sizes unfortunately, and I didn’t need all those fatty calories! I just wanted a little treat!

It was 3 hours back home, just in time for dinner.  First thing hubby wanted to do was go out for dinner, so we got back into the car and went out to a restaurant. (I would have prefered to cook at home after a weekend away, but we didn’t have any food at home). I had some grilled salmon and some grilled zucchini. nom nom!

It was a great weekend filled with adventure and new sights and great food! I highly recommend a weekend to Ithaca for anyone looking for something to do!

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