Gorges and waterfalls run through this college town at the edge of the Finger Lakes.
This college town in the Finger Lakes region offers gorgeous scenery and some of the liveliest culture in upstate New York. Located on Cayuga Lake, Ithaca's natural beauty is built into the town. Hills rise above the historic downtown, and the Cascadilla Gorge winds through with century-old stone stairs leading down. Campers don't have to go far to pitch a tent. Right in Ithaca, Buttermilk Falls State Park has stunning views and well-maintained tent sites and cabins. The park's namesake waterfall greets visitors at the entrance, and hiking trails loop the gorge. For lakeside camping, head to Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg. Located on Cayuga Lake, the campsites and cabins overlook the water. A sandy beach and boat launch provides easy access to the lake. Hiking trails lead the way to Taughannock Falls, a waterfall that drops 215 feet into the gorge below. To swim under a waterfall, make a beeline for Robert H. Treman State Park. The town's most-loved swimming hole is here at the lower falls, with stone steps leading down to the water. Campsites and cabins are close by, offering an especially scenic camping experience. Summer is undoubtedly the favorite time for camping. Festival season kicks off in May with the Ithaca Festival and parade. Also, Ithaca College and Cornell both host free concerts throughout the summer. The town's colleges are a significant boost to the local music and arts scene, not to mention great bars and restaurants.