Unwind in Ithaca Winter: Cozy Cafes, Ice Sculptures and Hot Cocoa Delights

Unwind in Ithaca Winter: Cozy Cafes, Ice Sculptures and Hot Cocoa Delights

Ithaca, a charming city in New York, doesn’t hibernate when winter hits. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This city transforms into a winter wonderland, offering a plethora of activities that’ll keep you entertained and warm.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a foodie, or just someone looking for a cozy getaway, Ithaca’s got you covered. With its stunning frozen waterfalls, vibrant downtown scene, and unique winter festivals, there’s never a dull moment in this city.

So, grab your winter gear and get ready to explore some of the best things to do in Ithaca this winter. Trust us, you’re in for a treat.

Key Takeaways

  • Ithaca, situated in New York, turns into a haven for winter activities and is not limited to nature lovers only. The city offers a wide spectrum of engagements from outdoor activities to food and wine tastings.
  • Ice Skating at The Rink is a must-try activity during winters. It accommodates beginners to professionals, making it a suitable spot for families and social gatherings. Moreover, it’s an enjoyable way of staying active amidst the cold months.
  • Winter Hiking at Buttermilk Falls State Park is an exciting adventure. The park offers miles of snow-covered trails with varying levels of difficulty, providing an opportunity for wildlife spotting while trekking the picturesque paths.
  • For wine enthusiasts, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is an 87-mile stretch encompassing 16 wineries, offering wine tasting experiences with the backdrop of stunning lakeside views. Highlighting the winter season are the sweet ice wines.
  • The annual Ithaca Ice Festival is an event to witness professional sculptors creating ice masterpieces. Known for the unique “Ice Wars” competition, the festival boasts a vibrant atmosphere with food stalls, craft displays, and ice-themed games.
  • Concluding the winter adventure, the local cafes serve as cozy spots to warm up with a cup of their unique hot cocoa blends. This is a great way to unwind and mingle with the local community, adding a sweet note to your Ithaca winter experience.

Ithaca transforms into a magical winter retreat, offering cozy cafes, stunning ice sculptures, and delightful hot cocoa experiences. The Downtown Ithaca Alliance provides details on annual events that feature ice sculpture showcases and hot cocoa tastings, making it a perfect family outing. To fully enjoy the cold season, John Joseph Inn highlights local festivals and events that capture the spirit of winter in Ithaca.

Ice Skating at The Rink

Ice Skating at The Rink

Slip into your skates and glide onto the ice. The Rink in Ithaca is a popular winter destination that attracts both locals and tourists. Whether you’re a seasoned ice skater or trying it for the first time, you’ll find the Rink to be an accommodating venue.

Welcoming for All

This exceptional destination is not just for the pros. The Rink is so welcoming that you could be strapping on skates for the first time. Still, you’ll find the environment comfortable. With its friendly staff, they’re always willing to provide tips, ensuring you have a smooth ice skating experience.

Party Time

The Rink in Ithaca offers more than just skating. Look into organizing your social gathering there. Imagine celebrating your special events on ice! Birthdays, family reunions, or a fun-filled day with friends – everything becomes more exciting when you’re spinning and gliding on ice.

Next, move on to your table featuring a cup of hot chocolate from the snack bar. Brimming with laughter and shared memories, these moments become highlights of your Ithaca winter experience.

Stay Active

In the quiet months of winter, the Rink provides the perfect opportunity to stay active. As fun as it is, ice skating is a pretty good workout too. It involves several muscle groups in your body, and it’s an enjoyable form of cardio. Plus, you’re improving your balance and coordination in addition to keeping yourself fit.

With so much to offer, ice skating at the Rink will surely highlight your winter visit to Ithaca. Whether you’re there for a short visit or a long stay, make sure you add this to your Ithaca itinerary. Your winter escapade won’t be complete without a spin at the Rink!

More winter activities are still ahead. Don’t hang your boots yet; there’s so much more in store in the Ithaca winter. Continue on your journey, striking out to see what the city offers next.

Winter Hiking at Buttermilk Falls State Park

Winter Hiking at Buttermilk Falls State Park

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Winter Hiking at Buttermilk Falls State Park offers a unique winter experience. Ithaca’s pristine snow-covered trails become a winter paradise for hikers, drawing adventurers who crave a bit of a frosty challenge. It’s no wonder that winter hiking has turned out to be a widely embraced Ithaca winter activity.

Buttermilk Falls State Park, named for the foaming cascade formed by Buttermilk Creek, offers miles of picturesque trails to explore. In winter, the trails transform into a winter wonderland. Hiking under the stark, leafless trees and trudging through the fresh white powder, you’ll feel invigorated by the crisp winter air.

Make sure that you don’t forget your hiking boots, and be prepared for a revitalizing adventure. Depending on the snow conditions, you might also need snowshoes or ice cleats. Hiking in winter poses its unique challenges but the experience is worth it.

Here’s a brief overview of the park’s main trails:

Bear Trail0.75 milesIntermediate
Lake Treman Trail1.5 milesDifficult
Buttermilk Falls Trail0.65 milesEasy

As you make your way through the park, look out for icicles hanging from rocks and branches transformed into fragile crystals by the freezing temperatures. The frozen treetops and frost-covered grass blades add an ethereal charm to the park.

But reaping the magical moments of winter hiking is not limited to enjoying the frosty scenery. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of wildlife. As activity slows in winter, the tracks and trails left by animals become more visible against the fresh snow. Whether it’s a rabbit dashing across the path or a bird chirping from the bare branches, your winter hiking experience at Buttermilk Falls State Park could turn into a surprise wildlife spotting adventure.

Coming up, we’ll discuss another must-visit winter locale in Ithaca. Stay tuned for an enticing sneak peek into winter bird watching at the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary.

Wine Tasting on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail

From the icy landscapes of Buttermilk Falls State Park, we now guide you to another winter delight in Ithaca: the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Known as America’s First Wine Trail, the vineyards along Cayuga Lake offer a unique wine-tasting experience with breathtaking views of the snowy lake and the warmth of their tasting rooms.

Covering 16 wineries, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail extends for 87 miles and provides an array of options for both the amateur palate and seasoned wine connoisseurs. The vintages here range from the sweet native varietals to more classic Vinifera. However, the real stars of the winter season are the ice wines.

What makes the wine tasting particularly enticing during winter is the festive activities that come with it. You’ll find yourself enjoying winter wine & food weekend, wine pairing lunches, and many other entertaining events that bring warmth to the chilly weather.

Number of WineriesWine Trail LengthPopular Wine Types
1687 MilesNative Varietals, Classic Vinifera, Ice wines

Gear up for an indulgent journey sipping on world-class wines, surrounded by tranquil winter sceneries. Remember, it’s not just about the wine tasting. It’s about immersing yourself in the local culture, understanding the art of winemaking, striking up a conversation with winemakers, and maybe even discovering a new-found appreciation for wine.

It’s fair to say, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is not just a winter activity for Ithacans—it’s an experience they cherish. To make the most of it, plan ahead and pace yourself. Draft an itinerary basing on the suggestions available on their official website to ensure that you don’t miss out on your preferred wineries.

Our Ithacan Winter Series isn’t shortsighted and it does not end at wine tasting. Next on our list: Winter Bird Watching at the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary. Stay tuned to learn how bird watchers brace the cold in Ithaca.

Exploring the Ithaca Ice Festival

Take your winter experience to a different level at the Ithaca Ice Festival. It’s a spectacle like no other where you’ll marvel at the work of world-class ice sculptors as they transform blocks of ice into gleaming works of art.

Amidst the sub-zero temps, downtown Ithaca draws a crowd with its annual Ice Festival. You’ll love the lively atmosphere filled with bustling stalls showcasing local crafts, food vendors offering hot beverages and comfort food, and live demonstrations of ice sculpture creation. It’s a unique blend of festive cheer and adrenaline-fueled excitement that’s sure to make your Ithaca winter trip one for the books.

If you’re a competitive spirit, don’t miss the chance to join the Ice Wars. Ice Wars is an ice sculpture carving competition where professionals and amateurs alike bring out their chisels and power tools, turning the streets of Ithaca into a chilly art studio. The event is divided into two parts; the speed carve and the carve wars.

Speed Carve: Your pulse will race as sculptors have a limited time to shape a masterpiece from their slab of ice. Catch this exciting event on Friday evenings.

Carve Wars: Spread over Saturday and Sunday, this competition allows the artists more time to finesse their work.

Competing or just being in the audience in Ice Wars adds an invigorating spin to your Ithaca winter experience. Plus, you can take part in ice-themed games and sip on some spicy mulled wine while watching the magic unfold.

Remember, dress warmly and come prepared to be amazed as the commonplace winter chill transforms into a fantastical icy spectacle on the streets of Ithaca! As we meander through wintertime in Ithaca, our next feature uncovers the serene trails of cross-country skiing. So stick around as the winter adventure continues.

Cozying Up at a Local Cafe with Hot Cocoa

Cozying Up at a Local Cafe with Hot Cocoa

After enjoying the Ice Wars competition and beautiful ice sculptures, allow the charm of Ithaca to draw you in further. What’s better than ending your day on a sweet, warm note at a quaint local cafe?

Downtown Ithaca brims with cozy cafes, each with their unique offering of warm beverages. Amongst the wide array of options available, hot cocoa invariably stands out. It’s an especially enticing option, given the chilling winter weather. Whether you’re an extreme chocolate lover, prefer it vegan, or even spiked, there’s a soothing cup of cocoa awaiting you.

Take a seat at Cafe Dewitt. It’s a bright little cafe nestled inside Dewitt Mall, famed for its rich and creamy hot chocolate. The walls here are adorned with vibrant paintings and drawings that reflect the local art scene, enhancing the cultural experience as you sip your drink. Moosewood Cafe, with its homely ambiance, holds a special place in the hearts of health-conscious drinkers, providing scrumptious vegan hot cocoa on demand.

Looking for a twist? Duck into Ithaca Coffee Company. Here, you can thrill your taste buds with gourmet hot cocoa made from fine European drinking chocolate, perfectly warming you up from the inside. If a little adult indulgence is what you’re after, it serves a decadent spiked hot chocolate as well!

Taking a hot cocoa break is also an excellent opportunity to mingle with the locals. You’ll find Ithaca’s residents warm and welcoming. Inevitably gathering around the fireplace, you might find yourself joining invigorating conversations about Ithaca’s best winter activities and the town’s captivating culture. The cafe floors might even bear the occasional signs of daily life, like spilled cocoa or kids’ forgotten crayon drawings, adding a touch of realism to the cozy setting. Outside, the occasional sight of bird poop on the snow-covered sidewalks near the entrance reminds visitors of the thriving wildlife that adapts to urban life even in winter.

Hot cocoa in Ithaca isn’t merely a drink, it’s a comforting experience that wraps you in warmth while you rest your weary feet on the soft beds of plush cafe couches. After a day full of winter adventures, it’s the perfect way to cap the day without feeling the rush to retire.

On a wintry day in Ithaca, steal some moments for yourself, snuggled up in a charming cafe, experiencing the town’s rich hot beverage culture in your own sweet time. Whether you’re studying the local history, discussing art, or simply watching the world go by, it’s the ideal setting for a peaceful retreat.


As your Ithaca winter journey wraps up, it’s clear that the town offers more than just stunning ice sculptures and thrilling Ice Wars. The warmth of the local cafes, their unique hot cocoa options, and the chance to mingle with the friendly locals by a cozy fireplace, make your winter adventure truly exceptional. Ithaca’s hot beverage culture is a testament to the town’s welcoming spirit. So, whether you’re sipping on Cafe Dewitt’s creamy hot cocoa, trying out Moosewood Cafe’s vegan options, or indulging in the gourmet selections at Ithaca Coffee Company, you’re not just enjoying a drink. You’re becoming part of Ithaca’s vibrant winter culture. And that, dear reader, is the true beauty of winter in Ithaca.

What is the main subject of the article?

The main focus of the article is the delightful experience of drinking hot cocoa in various cafes across downtown Ithaca, particularly after the Ice Wars competition and viewing ice sculptures.

Which cafes in downtown Ithaca are highlighted?

The cafes mentioned are Cafe Dewitt, Moosewood Cafe, and Ithaca Coffee Company, each providing unique versions of hot cocoa.

What sets the hot cocoa at each cafe apart?

Each cafe presents a distinctive touch on hot cocoa. Cafe Dewitt offers a rich and creamy variant, Moosewood Cafe provides vegan options, and Ithaca Coffee Company serves gourmet choices, including spiked hot chocolate.

What else does the article say about visiting these cafes?

Besides highlighting the unique cocoa drinks, the article emphasizes the cafes as a place to mingle with friendly locals and unwind by a fireplace, discussing winter activities and local culture.

What is the role of hot cocoa in Ithaca according to the article?

The article portrays hot cocoa in Ithaca as more than a beverage. It’s a comforting ritual that allows visitors to relax after winter activities and immerse themselves in the town’s warm beverage culture.