Beat the summer heat and explore Ithaca’s natural beauty –

Ithaca has so much to offer in the summer, it would be a shame if the heat kept you from enjoying its natural beauty. From cooling off in the lake to walking down shaded trails, here are some activities that will help you reap the benefits of nature and beat the heat.

Swimming Spots

South Point at Taughannock Falls State Park 

Take a dip in the lake in the swimming area off South Point, where lifeguards monitor a roped-off area. For the more adventurous swimmers, wade to the dock and jump off the springboard into the water. 

Lansing, Myers Park 

Monitored by lifeguards, the swimming area at Myers Park is the perfect way to cool off after playing a game of volleyball, basketball or horseshoe. For another way to cool off, spend some time under the shaded gazebo. 

Buttermilk Falls State Park 

This swimming area is situated at the base of the waterfall. It is a perfect stopping point to cool off after exploring the dozens of other waterfalls above the swimming area along the trail.  

Treman State Park

Pack your towels and get ready to take a dip at the base of a 30-foot waterfall which feeds the swimming hole. Make a point to take a turn on the diving board for an exhilarating and refreshing jump into the cool water. Another attraction at this park is Lucifer Falls, which although has no place for swimming, offers some incredible views of Ithaca’s natural beauty. 

Cass Park Pool 

Cass Park Pool is open to the public for swimming. There is an admission fee which varies according to age and residency. More information about fees can be found on the website. From July 6-Aug. 22, the hours for public swim are as follows: 

Mon-Fri from 3:30-7 p.m.

Sat-Sun from 12:30-6 p.m.

Alex Haley Pool

Alex Haley Pool welcomes itself to the public each day from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and resumes again from 3:15 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.. Starting on Aug. 20, the hours will slightly change. Schedule updates and pricing information can be found on the website. 

Paddle Boarding/Kayaking

You can explore Ithaca’s beauty and get some outdoor exercise by paddling through the lake. Whether you accidentally fall in, get splashed by your group, or take an intentional dip, the crisp Cayuga water will cool you off from the beating sun. There are several places around Ithaca that offer paddle board and kayak rentals with easy access to the lake. 

Rentals available at: 

Paddle Dockersoffers canoes, kayak, and paddle board rentals. You can launch into the water right from the dock on the Inlet to Cayuga Lake. 

Paddle N More has three locations and offers rentals, lessons and guided trips. Visit their website to make a reservation through the online system. The three locations you can choose from are: 


Even if self-paddling isn’t for you, you can still spend time outside on the water— take a boat tour or rent one yourself to feel the refreshing breeze of the lake and pass the time on the water. 

Finger Lakes Boating Center

The Finger Lakes Boating Center rents out 22-foot long pontoons to customers to enjoy on the lake for the day, three days, or the entire week. 

Finger Lakes Boat Rental 

Explore the beauty of the Finger Lakes on a bowrider or pontoon. Finger Lakes Boat Rental offers rentals ranging from half days to weekly increments. 

Discover Cayuga Lake Boat Tours

On the weekends, you can enjoy a one-hour cruise across the lake which launches from the dock at Ithaca’s Farmer’s Market. During the week, take a sunset cruise, an Osprey eco-cruise, or a night sky cruise. The touring group also offers private charters. 

Other Activities

Cornell Botanic Gardens 

Let the cover of the trees cool you off as you venture down Fischer Old Growth Forest and the Carter Creek Preserve, two shaded trails that traverse the Cornell Botanic Gardens. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy 23 tree species, reaching heights of over 150 feet, that populate the old growth forest. The forested area of Carter Creek will protect you from the hot rays of the summer sun. Experience the upland forest vegetation and the view of the creek which cuts between two hillsides.

Cayuga Nature Center 

Although the lodge remains closed, the trails and TreeTop treehouse at the nature center are open to the public free of charge. Through miles of trails, experience the shade of the woodlands and meadows, and cool yourself off as you pass by ponds, streams and waterfalls. If you have enough energy left after a long day of exploring the trails, visit the six-story treehouse TreeTops for sweeping views of the forested area. 

Shaded Picnic at Taughannock Falls State Park 

Spotted with grills and tables by the South and North Point shoreline, Taughannock Park is the perfect destination for a summer picnic. Not only can you find a respite from the heat under the shade of the trees, but the concession stand also has covered seating to protect you from the sun’s rays. 


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