Ithaca’s best season is fast approaching, but most freshman don’t know what’s good in the 607. Contrary to what one might think, there is so much to enjoy here in upstate New York, so here’s an upperclassman giving you the best advice for your first Fall in Ithaca.
Enjoy the Gorges
Put down the books people! You have three more years to worry about your GPA. Plus, it’s only nice in Ithaca for so long, so get outside because “winter is coming” (s/o to Ned Stark). Regardless of how you feel about the pun, Ithaca is gorges and there are so many places to explore on or around campus. Go take a walk around Beebe Lake or Cascadilla Gorge, or take a swim at Buttermilk Falls or Treman Park. Of course, safety does come first, so try to find a designated area with a lifeguard to keep you safe. Also be sure to check out Cornell’s gorge safety page!
Attend Applefest (September 30-October 2)
Any seasoned Ithacan will tell you that Applefest is the best. Thing. Ever. This is by far one of the most beloved fall events because there is food, food, food, and more food. Applefest takes place in the Commons in Downtown Ithaca, and is a great excuse to get off campus with your new friends and enjoy being a part of the greater Ithaca community. Pro tip: Brave the massive line for apple cider donuts, apple pizza, or apple cider. I swear anything is good–and worth the wait–at this apple lover’s paradise.
Take a trip to the Cornell Orchards
In case you didn’t know, yes, Cornell actually has its own apple orchard. Located on Dryden Road, the Cornell Orchards is a pretty #basic fall activity, but let’s face it: we’re all a little basic deep down. This event is perfect for getting that perfect Instagram, as well as a fabulous way to show off an extreme passion for all things fall. While you’re there, be sure to pick up some Cornell Dining peanut butter. It’s honey roasted by the gods.
Get lost in the Cornell Plantations
There is no better place to forget the qualms of being a freshman than the Cornell Plantations. Located a spits distance from Mann Library and North Campus, it’s a great way to escape the confines of your shared 228 square feet dorm room. While you’re there, take a solitary walk and find a quiet place surrounded by fall foliage to just relax.
Support Cornell sports teams
Cornell isn’t exactly renowned for its athletics (besides hockey), but it’s still important to show your Big Red pride. Our sports teams are dedicated and talented, and they deserve to see some fresh faces at their matches. Gather up your freshman floormates and head on over to Schoellkopf Field for a football game or soccer match.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Sweet Melissa’s
If you’re looking for a sweet, satisfying snack look no further than Sweet Melissa’s. This is hands down the best soft serve in Ithaca, and possibly the world. The only problem? The stand is only open seasonally because it is located outdoors. Sweet Melissa’s is located downtown next to Short Stop Deli on West Seneca Street. Literally everything is good, but personally I’m partial to the classic twist with rainbow sprinkles.
Buy locally at the fresh farm stands
Remember those weird, small stands selling fresh fruit and vegetables you passed on your drive to Ithaca? Well, turns out they aren’t that weird, but actually pretty amazing. Nothing beats farm fresh foods grown and harvested right here in Ithaca. This is also the best season to buy fruits and vegetables, so take advantage before winter comes and turns Ithaca into Arendelle post-Elsa break down. Sweet corn is always the best when it comes from a sketchy van/stand with a drop box to collect the money. Take my word for it.
Go for a hike at Taughannock State Falls Park
Based on personal experience, this is more of a vigorous walk than a hike. It also results in an amazing scene – a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls! This is located a bit further from campus, so befriend that one kid on your floor with a car and head on over across the lake.
Watch the Sunset
This is a must do, even as an upper classman. I cannot tell you how many memories and meaningful conversations I have had while watching the sun go down over Cayuga lake. It also makes for a sick Snapchat story or Instagram. Best views can be found from either the slope or Sunset Park.
Attend Wizarding Weekend
Most Cornellians have a sick obsession with Harry Potter like the nerds we are, and besides, we basically go to Hogwarts. This festival was just added last year to the Ithaca repertoire, and it has proven to be one that is a must-see. Local businesses come out and make Harry Potter themed food and dress up like the characters to basically recreate Diagon Alley. Don’t have a costume? Don’t worry–you don’t need to dress up to attend this event.
Even if you can’t get to all these activities this fall, as a freshman, you still have three more. Take advantage of the beautiful opportunities Cornell and Ithaca have to offer, and don’t take any of it for granted as time passes much too quickly. Take it from a junior who wishes it would last forever.