Occasionally we do get out of the house. And occasionally it’s to more exotic places than Home Depot or Target. So just like our past adventures to Savannah, Florida and our road trip to Dallas we wanted to take you along for our Labor Day weekend trip to Ithaca, NY. The reason for the trip? Sherry’s brother Dan was gettin’ hitched!
Yep, that’s Almost-Doctor-Dan (as many of you know him) marrying his bride Ali during their beautiful lakeside wedding in wine country just outside of Ithaca. The ceremony was touching and fun-filled at the same time (the officiant was their friend and Wedding Bee blogger Mrs. Hermit Crab, fyi). I even got to watch my two girls walk down the aisle together (Sherry actually wore Clara in her carrier, which seemed to be a hit with other wedding-goers). Not too shabby for Clara’s first wedding.
The wedding took place at a picturesque spot called The Fontainebleu Inn, a historic estate that we got to explore a lot of as we hunted for private spots for diaper changes and nursing.
While the weekend was certainly filled with family and wedding-related adventures, we carved out some time of our own to explore the area. And thanks to some tips from readers Amanda, Kirsten, Ashley, Julie, Nicole, and Josh (via Twitter/Facebook) we were able to live like true Ithacans for a couple of days – which we’re pretty sure requires inserting a “gorges” pun periodically into conversation.
Wordplay aside, Ithaca was a scenic spot with lots of opportunities for sightseeing and photo taking (too bad we managed to forget the good camera at home). For example, here’s Ithaca Falls – which actually cascades right through the center of town:
Both Dan & Ali met at Cornell where he was getting his undergrad, and he’s now getting his PHD at Columbia and they’re living it up in NYC like Sherry and I once did. There was a HUGE area filled with gardens, lakes, walking paths, and an arboretum. Sherry’s biggest takeaway from that trip was actually these chunky stone steps that were spotted frequently (and sat upon occasionally). Makes us want to do some landscaping!
But beyond beautiful greenery, one of the things that impressed us most about Ithaca was its green-ness. Perhaps its because its residents are blessed with such a stunning natural setting that they seemed to work extra hard at being eco. We lost count of the number of places we spotted with compost receptacles right alongside the standard trash and recycling bins – like this one at Collegetown Bagels. And nearly every cup and plastic utensil that we used was recycled and even compostable.
And their Farmer’s Market kind puts Richmond’s to shame. Once we managed to find a parking spot, we loved how there was not only fresh local food to buy (or eat on the spot) but tons of housewares, clothing, and art too.
We particularly loved the style of these graphic clothes and handmade pillows. We left empty handed though because we arrived devoid of any cash (which was probably a good thing since our car was packed with baby stuff anyway).
And thanks to the tips sent by our readers, we also were able to check out a lot of stores with waste-not mentality, like Home Green Home – which even carried those beer and soda bottle tumblers I tried to make (for $8 a pop, by the way). Sigh.
There was also an architectural salvage spot called Significant Elements that carried your usual collection of old windows, doors, and plumbing fixtures along with some more interesting finds that we loved:
We also ventured into a thrift store called Mimi’s Attic that focused on just household items, including some upcycled furniture like these brightly colored pieces that would provide a fun Domino-ish pop of color.
Right next to Mimi’s Attic was a second-hand baby store called Mama Goose. It was filled with gently used clothing, books, games, and any other kind of baby gear you could think of. We even walked out with some of the Charlie’s Soap that many of our varsity cloth diapering readers had recommended for washing Clara’s dipes. So far we’re loving it by the way.
Ithaca actually had a lot of great places for kid-related shopping. At the Ithaca Commons walking mall (where we found Home Green Home) there was also a place called Jillian’s Drawers. They introduced us to the novel concept of buying gently used cloth diapers (they looked like new) and renting baby carriers so you can figure out which is best for you before buying one (which definitely can save money and storage space since you’re guaranteed to end up with something you and your wee one like). Genius.
There was also an awesome toy store called Alphabet Soup that we thoroughly enjoyed (even though Clara slept through it- figures). I couldn’t decide which I liked most: the bright recycled-wood dinosaur toy or the chunky modern alphabet blocks.
But then I spotted the Plan Toys Green Dollhouse and suddenly had a clear winner in my mind. We already own a few Plan Toys because they’re green and fun, so we were totally entertained by the thought of someday getting this dollhouse for Clara. Yes, it actually has a recycling station and solar panels.
So that wraps up our little trip to Ithaca. Thanks again to the folks who offered up suggestions for what to see and do (we also loved our dinner at the Moosewood Restaurant and the Hot Truck subs that we snagged before the wedding). We’d love to go back to Ithaca someday when Clara’s a bit older and we can take her on some of those “gorges” waterfall hikes. Ok, I think I’m done with the gorgeous/gorges puns for now.
Have any of you guys traveled to (or lived in) Ithaca and have other must-see, must-do, or must-eat items to add to the mix for a future trip by us or someone reading? Or do you have other Ithaca-like cities that you’d suggest we check out?
Cait @ Hernando House says
It looks like you guys had a great time! Between you guys and Katie B, I’m itching for another vacation. Sigh.
Love Ithaca. Haven’t been back in years. You went to a bunch of places we didn’t get a chance to go to so if we ever go back, we’ll be sure to hit some of those great spots you highlighted.
Looks like you had a great time. Congrats to Almost-Dr-Dan and his bride, Ali. Cheers!
as a bit of a green geek myself I can’t wait to buy a green dollhouse for my sort-of niece (although, it might be more for me than her really). I saw a good round up on re-nest – http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/babies-children/green-dollhouses-complete-with-solar-power-and-leds-115538
ps. clara is gorges!
Christa M says
What a beautiful weekend! Makes me want to book a trip to Asheville (it’s closer)…I’m just afraid that I won’t want to leave….and I’m not ready to move just yet.
I love these kinds of posts! So much fun to see what other states/cities have to offer. I’d love to check out Ithaca one day!
Amy in PA says
More wedding pics & details, please!
It was gorgeous! But since Clara and I were actually in the ceremony (we had a job to do! plus all of my energy was being put towards not tripping) we couldn’t document it as thoroughly as we would have liked ourselves (although we hope to see professional shots in a few months). You might want to hop over to WeddingBee (in this post we linked to a blogger there who plans to share all the details soon) and search for Dan and Ali after a few weeks to see if it’s published. Hope it helps!
Ah, this brings back memories of gorges Ithaca! My sister went to Cornell, so I had some good times visiting there. The whole area is so picturesque and has that crunchy granola college town thing going for it. I always loved the farmers’ market and the stores on the Commons. Ithaca is where I discovered the carb-tastic bagel :) For anyone into wine, this is prime vineyard hopping territory! And tons of water-related activities on this and the other Finger Lakes. I’m missing my New York…
Along with the “green” topics – I’m on a project team with my firm that’s currently working on the nation’s first sustainable airport master plan at Ithaca-Tompkins Regional Airport! We’ve actually included some college classes at Cornell and Ithaca College to partake in this project and come up with ideas for various projects at the airport. Ithaca seems like the perfect place for a venture like this. If you’re interested, the project website is here: http://www.sustainableith.com/
Love all the pics! I spent 4 days in the airport terminal doing passenger surveys and never had the chance to venture out into all those gorgeous gorges! :)
Wow- that’s so interesting! We had no idea Ithaca was so into all things eco but we love their dedication! What a cool city.
I almost went to Ithaca College. It was little too much $ and little too far from home though. I can’t imagine what it’s like there in the winter. I remember being fascinated that the buildings on campus were connected by underground tunnels so you didn’t have to go outside.
You should make a trip to the Berkshires someday, particularly Stockbridge or Great Barrington. Like Ithaca it has beautiful scenery, cute shops, and much of it has gone green.
Mike @HA says
Congrats to your bro! Looks like a fun trip :)
OMG! I think my friends got married in the same spot earlier this summer. I had never been to Ithaca before and it was just such a beautiful place!
Love your tour of Ithaca! As an Ithacan myself, I would have recommended some other places to eat – Maxie’s Supper Club being a must – and just want to let you know that the shop on the Commons is called Jillian’s Drawers. Someday you’ll have to come back for IthacaFestival – truly one of a kind.
As a local, I’m amazed that you were able to find such good spots in such a short time span! The place with the diapers (Eat Play Sleep) is actually called Jillian’s Drawers (http://www.jilliansdrawers.com/). I’ve been scouring their shop recently for used diapers :)
Thanks so much for the tip Sarah and Anne! We’ll change the name of the shop in our post so it’s correct for anyone stopping by soon!
I was in Ithaca last Fall to take my nephew up to Cornell for his freshman year, but with 10 trips to Target and such, we never got to go to any of the cool spots you found. Maybe next time!
As another Weddingbee blogger (I’m Mrs. Bruschetta), loved seeing the nod to Hermit Crab in your post. :-)
Hey Mrs. Bruschetta! Love those Weddingbee names. You guys are so much fun!
Great pics! What carrier do you use for Clara?
We’re totally a babywearing family (something that definitely caught us by surprise since we had limited success getting Clara to like her sling the first few weeks of her life) but she adores being carried (pretty much since week three) and it allows us to stay busy and accomplish as many things as possible with our hands free. We actually have three carrying contraptions:
1. a HotSling (I borrowed one from a friend to be sure Clara liked it before springing for one on clearance at Babies R Us)
2. a Mei Tai (a gift from my mother in law, it’s the one you see in this post both at the wedding and when I’m carrying Charlie’s Soap)
3. an Ergo (John’s wearing Clara in it at Cornell plantations, he loves it because it’s nice and manly with clips and thicker straps)
We love them all and they all get tons of use! Hope it helps. And happy baby carrying!
Please tell me you went to Wegman’s??? I grew up in Western NY and that grocery store is one of the few things I miss.
I’ve only remember eating in Ithaca once, at Madeline’s. It was fantastic. We had a huge group of people and they were able to seat us quickly. The service was awesome, no rushing from course to course.
We didn’t go to Wegman’s while in Ithaca but they have one in Northern VA where John’s mom and dad live so we go there all the time. Love it!
Sounds like a great trip! I’ve never explored Ithaca before, but this post has me itching for a road trip.
Also – it’s so funny you featured that throw pillow with the stripes (right in the front of that photo). As I wrote last week, your teal/yellow/neutral mood board from last week has inspired me to do a mini re-do of my own living room, and over the weekend I totally bought two of those pillows from an Etsy seller :) They look awesome and I can’t wait to show you guys pictures.
That’s the funniest coincidence ever! Hope you’re loving your new pillows!
AHHHH! This post makes my heart ACHE! We lived in Ithaca for two years while my husband got his masters, and we’re (not-our-)home(-anymore-)sick for it! We lived just a few blocks from the falls, and I worked on the Commons, and I lived for the Farmer’s Market! AHHHH! I’m DYING!
Other fun spots: Tremen Park, Festival Ithaca (the parade has a Volvo Ballet! Hysterical!), Gimme Coffee, nearby Trumansburg, Viva Taqueria… even the grocery stores (Wegmen’s and Green Star Co-op) are attractive! Oh, I could go on forever. I miss it so!
Glad you had a gorges time! Thanks for those heartbreaking photos! :)
OMG! I’m jealous that you got to go to Ithaca! My husband and I were there for 4 1/2 years, and now we live in dry, arid, unsustainable, polluted Phoenix.
I definitely second Anne’s comment about Maxie’s Supper Club. Great food and a really fun atmosphere! And in addition to the Ithaca Festival, my favorite was the Apple Festival. I miss autumn!
If you go during the summer, make sure to visit the Cornell Dairy for the super-delicious ice cream :)
The plantations were one of my favorite parts about Ithaca. I went through a ton of runs through there during the summer months.
And I don’t know if you two drink, but you should go for some wine tastings next time you’re up there! Six Mile Creek is probably the closest winery, but you can easily make a day of driving up the lake to visit others.
I miss Ithaca.. if only there were more civil engineering jobs up there, I’d move back in a heartbeat!
I found the SAME beer/soda tumblers that you’ve got in the photo above at Winners for $3 (Canadian). I think that Winners is TJMax in the US. Either way it’s a better deal than $8.
My parents used homemade cloth diapers on both me and my brother, and once we grew out of them, they make AMAZING dusting cloths, which I now use in my home (30 years later).
I love this post! It looks like such a fun and interesting place! You guys always do such an amazing job highlighting the fascinating aspects of everything you do. Seriously, when I go out of town, I never put the effort into finding out about all the cool local places to go. But it would make traveling much more interesting if I did. Thanks for letting all of us live vicariously through you! Keep up the great job, your blog is awesome!
How did Clara do in the car for such a long drive?
She did amazing! She usually just sleeps in her car seat which is what she did most of the time with little bouts of wakefulness to play with a rattle, look out the window, or chew on her fingers and squeal. Of course we stopped for feedings along the way and made sure to let her stretch her little legs. We actually stopped in Northern Virginia on the way up and slept there (to break the drive into 2 hours and then 6 hours the next day) but the drive home was 8 solid hours and she did really well! Thank goodness the girl loves her car seat!
Sarah H says
I am so excited by your post! I’m a graduate of Ithaca College, and my time in Ithaca was truly wonderful (I have to remind myself of that every time I pay my student loan bills). :)
But really, Ithaca is such a gem, from an environmental, educational and cultural standpoint. I’m so glad you got to explore. Like you saw, the farmer’s market is great. There’s nothing better than grabbing something there for lunch or breakfast, and then browsing and relaxing by the lake. I also love how the stores on the Commons are independent. Did you see Ithaca even has its own currency called Ithaca Hours?
Of course, it’s a great place for wine lovers too, but there’s plenty for others. You should try to get back there one fall and explore the waterfalls. Truly “gorge”ous! I’ve used lots of my own photography of the waterfalls and lake in several rooms in my house. I love the nostalgic and relaxed feeling I get when I look at them.
Thanks for sharing your experience!
My Aunt and Uncle got married there when I was young and I got to be her flower girl. What a beautiful place. I know they keep in touch with the owner and have become good friends and also have gone back and visited for an anniversary or two!
They actually got married at a small stone chapel down the road….did you see it. It was absolutely amazing. Then we went back there to the B&B for the Party.
We may have seen it! We had our eyes glued to the window and saw lots of amazing chapels and inns along the way!
Jessica @ How Sweet says
Beautiful shots! Looks like such a fun trip and gorgeous wedding!
I’m actually a native Ithacan!! :) I grew up in Trumansburg (right outside of Ithaca) which a previous poster already mentioned. Glad to see you hit so many of the great spots!! I also recommend Viva Taqueria and if you drive north a bit to Tburg, Taughannock falls is my favorite place! :)
Oh my gosh, Ms. Hermit Crab is wearing a dress designed by Carol Hannah (Project Runway) SO Amazing!
My family has a cabin up on one of the hills south of Ithaca and I love your recap, makes me want to go right now!! The wineries and hiking will be fun when Clara is older.
What a great time to visit Ith! It’s nice that you were able to make it before Ithaca reveals why its second most common phrase is “Ithaca is Cold.” You definitely hit some great spots. If you ever get the chance to visit us again, you should check out the Ithaca Antique Center. It’s a huge old building with tons of antiques in a range of prices. And my favorite for old funky jewelry is Pastimes in the DeWitt Mall (right near Moosewood).
I grew up 20 miles from Ithaca and let me tell you – Ithaca is 10 square miles surrounded by reality! It’s beautiful and all, and I love spending time there for the 3 months of year the weather is actually nice.
Asheville, NC has a lot of the same vibe as Ithaca and a much longer duration of pleasant weather to enjoy it!
Rebecca (Craving Simplicity) says
Looks like a great trip!!
You post was very sentimental to me. Born in Ithaca while my parents were grad students at Cornell and raised in nearby Corning, NY, I went away to school/now live in North Carolina. My favorite things about Ithaca: Robert H. Treman State Park and apple season… Will be heading home in October just to enjoy leaf peeping, eat some Collegetown bagels, hike the gorges, and load up on Empire State apples!
Oh! And how could I forget Gimme! coffee? BEST COFFEE IN THE WORLD. Before grad school, I hated coffee. Now I’m the biggest coffee snob. I don’t know how I’ll survive without Gimme and Wegman’s when I have to leave.
Sort of off the Ithaca topic, but I was just looking at the Jillian’s Drawers website and discovered a cloth diaper trial offer that looks really reasonable.
I really appreciate that you can try so many styles and return the ones you don’t like after 21 days. For those of us that are cautiously considering the cloth diapering world it makes a lot of sense. The reviews are 5 star across the board. Thanks for bringing this business to our attention! :)
Ithaca has one of the best library book sales I’ve ever experienced. It’s usually held in May and October, in a large warehouse in the middle of town. A friend of mine went to college in Ithaca and then lived in Syracuse for a few years after, so I made sure to plan my visits from Pittsburgh accordingly. :)
I grew up outside Ithaca, right on the lake your friend got married at! And I used to work at that Farmer’s Market!! It really is the BEST Farmer’s Market. I haven’t been back in such a long time, it was so great to see your pictures. I also love that so many of the stores on the Commons are still there. Glad you all enjoyed the trip!
i met my husband-to-be in grad school at Cornell! love, love, love the farmer’s market and moosewood!
other great places we loved to eat were Thai Cuisine, pizza at The Nines in Collegetown, Viva Taqueria on the Commons, and sandwiches from the Short Stop…we had our first date at Little Joe’s in Collegetown but I hear that is closed now…
there was a quirky shop on the commons where we bought our silver rings that we still wear to this day, but I can’t remember the name of it…
so my question is…Where was Burger for this adventure? I know you usually let him tag along everywhere. :)
He was with us! See him in the photo of John holding the glass cup? He always comes along for the ride, and we make sure to hunt down a dog friendly hotel (for things like the wedding where he couldn’t come) and take him on lots of fun walks and adventures when we can (like hanging out around the commons, walking around a waterfront park where we got to watch crew teams fly by, etc). He’s such a good little travel companion.
We just gave the plan toys green dollhouse to our three daughters last weekend for the eid holiday–I bought it back in march at a steep discount. They’re loving it. We like it most because several children can sit around it and play at once, since it is accessible from all angles, unlike most dollhouses.
Two of my favorite things to brighten up my morning – YoungHouseLove and Ithaca! CTB and the Farmer’s Market were two of my favorite places to go when I lived there. Ithaca Festival is also an interesting time to visit if you get a chance (don’t miss the Volvo Ballet!). It’s such a unique place in Upstate NY, and I miss the atmosphere and enviro-friendly practices, particularly living in LA now (maybe I wouldn’t say that in February though! :) ). Glad you all enjoyed the trip, and I LOVE the picture of Clara in her CU/Ithaca is Gorges gear. :)
Looks like a great city vibe. I’m putting it down on my mental “places to go” list. Thanks for hunting down some quaint spots and sharing your trip with us!
The solar powered doll house is the top! I LOVE that!
wow! those pillow and clothes are so pretty!
Amy @ The Nifty Foodie says
Oh how fun! I totally had to do a double take when you mentioned Weddingbee (I’m a married bee on there). What a small world! :)
Ashley Stinson says
Looks like a great time. And Ithaca looks gorgeous. My dad actually got my son a Plan Toys drum set for his 1st birthday and it is the coolest thing! I love their products. And it cracks me up to no end that that doll house has solar panels! Too cool. :)
Aaaahhhh! I LOVE that you guys went to Ithaca! I went to Ithaca College and lived in Ithaca for 5 years. My husband and I actually had a mini-destination wedding LAST September when we got married in Ithaca (we are Philly-based these days). We are heading up there for Apple Harvest Festival the first weekend in October, so this post got me extra excited for our visit. I especially appreciated the focus on baby/kid stuff–since this will be my first time in Ithaca as a parent-to-be (due in March!), I’ll have to check out some of your recommendations.
Once Clara is a little older, you MUST hike the upper loop trail at Treman Park; it is by far my favorite hike in Ithaca. Burger could probably even handle it too, since our pomeranian Moxie manages it with no problem. Glad to hear you ate at Moosewood (my husband used to work there!)–next time hit up Taste of Thai, ZaZa’s, Just a Taste, and Viva Taqueria. Short Stop is also great for subs and sandwiches made to order. The Farmer’s Market is my favorite weekend spot; did you eat a breakfast burrito and drink Gimme! coffee? The Sciencenter is also a really fun place to visit with kids.
andrea p says
Sherry I love that necklace with the green stone you have been sporting lately! Where is it from? Does it have a special significance? Do tell :)
Congrats to the new bride & groom!!
Hey Andrea P,
Yes, that’s actually my thanks-for-having-my-baby-gift from John! Clara was born in May so emerald is her birth stone and John found that pretty emerald quartz necklace on Etsy and ordered it for me. I LOVE IT!
have you seen these posts? i know you tried your heart out, but i thought that these articles might have a few more tips!
i’m interested in trying to do the same someday…
of course there are plenty more sites that come up if you google it, but i thought i’d share some that i’ve come across.
Yup, on that failed post we got tons of links to other tutorials. Time will tell if we have the desire to attempt it again someday…