Are you looking for something to do around Rochester, NY? Ithaca may be your answer! With beautiful scenery and fun family things to do, a Rochester to Ithaca day trip with kids is a great way to spend a weekend day together.
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Ithaca is known for it’s gorgeous trails, waterfalls, and family friendly outdoor activities. It is a perfect spot for a day trip from Rochester!
I love planning family time adventures. There are so many distractions going on and it is nice to unplug and reconnect as a family with a family day out. For more day trip ideas check out this post: 16 Family Day Trips from Rochester, NY.
One of our favorite family days was a visit to Ithaca. We planned a day full of family fun things to do in Ithaca and it was a really great way to step away from our busy life at home and create some awesome memories.
Day Trip from Rochester to Ithaca
Ithaca is located south of Rochester with a little under a 2 hour drive. The final hour of your drive has you driving along the Finger Lakes making this a beautiful drive, especially in the fall.
Breakfast at Steve’s Diner
We start our trip with breakfast at Steve’s Diner. There are two locations local in Rochester: Penfield and Fairport. The pancakes are the best thing on the menu and they are larger than the size of your plate.
After a full breakfast we start our drive to Ithaca. If you are short on time or do not want a big breakfast you can grab a quick bite at home or do the drive-thru at Tim Horton’s.
Often we will pack food in our CleverMade tote. It is perfect for all the things we need as a family of five.
First Stop: Museum of the Earth
The Museum of the Earth focuses on fossils and dinosaurs. It is small in size and takes about an hour or two to visit. The museum has a giant mastodon skeleton and a 41 foot whale.
We liked learning more about the changes in fossils and life on earth as the world evolved. There was also a hands-on discovery area that the kids could explore. You can also check out the visiting exhibit that changes seasonally. Learn more here.
Second Stop: Ithaca Children’s Garden
We kind of randomly discovered the Ithaca Children’s Garden, and I am so happy we did. This garden is free to the public and allows kids to explore, discover, and use their imagination to play at this unique park.
The garden focuses on open ended and creative play while supporting the importance of the environment and nature. It is an awesome spot to stretch your legs and let the kids run around outside.
There is a giant turtle built into the ground, a tire swing area, and a very hungry caterpillar trail. Everything at the garden was fun for all ages and really engaging.
I liked that most of the activities were very open-ended, meaning the kids had to use their imagination and creativity to play with them. That is always the best kind of play.
Third Stop: Lunch at State Diner
We love a good diner, as you can tell by where we started breakfast. For lunch you can stop at State Diner or the Moosewood Restaurant. My kids like to eat breakfast food for all their meals so diners always offer a wide range of options.
We also like to try new places when we plan day trips and try to do one meal out as a treat. If you are on budget for the day pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at our final stop of the day Taughannock Falls.
Fourth Stop: Taughannock Falls
I will hike anywhere to find waterfalls. They are one of my favorite ways to get outdoors. Earlier this year we visited the Watkins Glen Gorge Trail, and it didn’t disappoint.
Taughannock Falls is another great gorge trail. It is less strenuous than Watkins Glen making it great for families with young children, but all ages will enjoy this hike.
The Gorge trail is under a mile and you can choose to walk along the trail or closer along the water that leads to the waterfall.
After we hiked the gorge trail we decided to start our way back home. This is where you can decide to take the long or short way home.
We decided on the long and stopped for ice cream at one of our favorite spots, Orbakers in Williamson. This drive does add at least an hour into your drive back.
One of the reasons I like to take a different route home is because sometimes you will discover something new to add to your day that you didn’t expect. Maybe a playground that you have never visited or an ice cream stand.
These day trips are best planned with a flexible schedule. You never know where your adventure may lead you.
We loved our Ithaca to Rochester day trip. It was the perfect mix of outdoor and indoor fun for the family. We couldn’t see everything so we added a few more ideas for things to do in Ithaca below.
A few places that we didn’t visit but you might want to consider for your visit:
- Stewart Park
- The Cayuga Waterfront Trail
- The Sciencenter
- Explore Downtown Ithaca
- Ithaca Discovery Trail
- Waterfalls in Ithaca
Looking for more Rochester things to do? Check out these posts.
- 101 Things to Do in Rochester, NY for Families
- Family Fun Things to Do in Syracuse NY for a Weekend Getaway
- 12 Easy Family Hiking Near Rochester NY
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