This post was originaly posted on Wandering Ohana.
My Ohana and I had the most amazing time in Ithaca! It was Hubbs B-day and his whole family from Chicago came to NY for a weekend of hiking, pumpkin picking, farmers market perusing, winery visiting, and lots of cooking!
Every few years the entire crew plans a gathering where we rent a big house and spend quality time together. This year I found an amazing rental right outside of the town of Ithaca which is in the Southern-tier Finger Lakes region of New York State. Ithaca is home to Cornell University which brings students from all over the world. It is located on the Southern end of Cayuga Lake and is surrounded by beautiful gorges and waterfalls. The region is also home to many wineries, YEA!!! Due to the microclimates created by the impact of the lakes, the region surrounding Ithaca experiences a short but adequate growing season for winemaking similar to the Rhine Valley wine district of Germany. There are lots of award winning whites coming out of the region.
The Shangri-Lodge home suited our needs perfectly! We were a group of 11 adults and 3 kids and the 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms worked out just fine. The main level had a great room, huge updated kitchen, library/dining room, five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a laundry room. The upper level has a queen size bedroom with additional twin bed and en suite bathroom (this is where my crew slept). The lower walk-out level has an additional family room which walks out to the seven-person Jacuzzi hot tub and the creek beyond. The property was completely secluded with lots of open space for running around, and had an amazing fire-pit where we ended each night. The night we all arrived was filled with debauchery, homemade Mexican food and margarita drinking. We celebrated Hubbs b day and caught up.
On Saturday we resisted the urge to lounge around and ventured out to Ithaca Farmers market to get stuff for dinner that night. This is a year-round destination for all things local from fruits and veggies to honey, maple syrup and baked goods. There are even vendors selling beautiful works of art and handmade goods. We had such a hard time deciding what to get for dinner because everything was so beautiful, the sunlight lit up all the produce like a rainbow. We also headed over to The Piggery, a farm-to-table butcher shop featuring local, pasture-raised meat & house-made charcuterie, for some porky goodness.
After a little lunch break at the house we headed out to see some falls. Right down the road was Taughannock Falls State Park. The falls carve a 400 ft deep gorge through layers of sandstone, shale and limestone that were once the bed of an ancient sea. With a 215-foot plunge, this waterfall stands three stories taller than Niagara Falls! There are some great hiking trails, and picnic areas. We opted to hang at the playground while the rest of the family did a little of hiking. This playground was awesome! The kids had a blast!
The next morning, we had breakfast and drove to Buttermilk Falls State Park which takes its name from the foaming cascade formed by Buttermilk Creek as it flows down the steep valley side toward Cayuga Lake. The upper park has a small lake, hiking trails through woodlands and along the gorge and rim, picnic areas and playing fields. It was a beautiful autumn day about 65 degrees and sunny. The trail was quite steep with lots of stairs but was safe, and the dangerous parts of the trail had fences up preventing littles from tumbling off. Our toddler did pretty well and we all took turns walking with her or carrying her on our shoulders. The big kids did better than anyone and proceeded to bound up and down visiting with each of us as well as the friendly dogs taking their walks.
After the hike we headed into town, a five-minute drive, for coffee. Gimme espresso bars are found in New York City and Upstate New York and serve locally roasted beans with a direct relationship to all their farms. After a little snack we dropped the kids off for a nap and had a little adult time! Wait…what’s that?
Lamoreaux Landing just happens to be our favorite local winery. Located on the shores of Seneca Lake, about 25 miles east, this place has been making wine for 3 generations using only sustainable viticulture practices. They were also winery of the year in 2012 for Wine and Spirits magazine which is kind of a big deal. We love Lamoreaux Landing because it’s a beautiful place that overlooks Seneca Lake from a ridge. The tastings are super informative and affordable (5$ for 6 selections) and you get 3$ off every bottle you buy after your tasting. Oh and the wines are delicious! We stocked up before heading back to Shangri-Lodge for our final family dinner.
We spent out last night around the fire pit. The sky was beautiful, full of stars and clear. S’mores were enjoyed by all and I got to hear some “back in the day” stories. It was a unforgettable night. I hope we can continue this tradition more frequently than every few years.
When you are ready to plan your adventure, be sure to contact Ashley at [email protected]