If you find yourself in Ithaca, then you have to visit Cornell. Ever heard of it? The Campus on the Hill. Upstate New York. Shameless plug: it’s the home of the Psi Chapter. What is there to see and do on a college campus in summer? Plenty. Can I spend a couple hours there? Absolutely.
In the morning or afternoon, take a TCAT bus ride from E. Green St. (a block from the Hotel Ithaca) or drive to Collegetown. Stop in Collegetown Bagels, or “CTB” to students and locals, and grab a California Sunrise (scrambled eggs with avocado, red onion, and pepper jack on a fresh baked bagel of your choice) with iced coffee to start off your day.
Cross College Avenue Bridge towards the Law School and head towards Ho Plaza. Visit the Cornell Store for college “merch” then admire the stained glass windows and carved artwork at Sage Chapel, which has hosted Martin Luther King, Jr., Carl Sagan, and Elie Wiesel at the pulpit. Pop your head into the AD White Library to see what was one of the largest private book collections amassed by Cornell’s first president, AD White, with period artwork, furniture and artifacts. Step outside and climb the 161 steps of McGraw Tower to listen to a chimes concert while enjoying the panoramic views of Cornell, Ithaca and Lake Cayuga. Once you climb down, get artsy and walk to the Johnson Art Museum to check out pieces by Manet, Degas, and Matisse.
Want to get weird? Take a walk to Uris Hall to see the Wilder Brain Collection, recently featured in international bestseller Atlas Obscura, where 8 of 70 brains are displayed to the public. Thirsty yet? Swing by the Regent Lounge at the five-star Statler Hotel, the university’s mostly student-run hotel, for a libation (perhaps a local Ithaca Flower Power?) with beautiful views of central campus and the Johnson School of Management on its balcony. Maybe you’re hungry and love dairy? Head to the Cornell Dairy Bar for ice cream, cheese or yogurt in the Ag Quad. You can’t go wrong with Triple Play Chocolate and Big Red Bear Tracks! Behind Cornell Dairy is Schoelkopf Field, home to the Cornell Big Red football team and named for fellow Zete, Henry Schoelkopf.
Tour the Ag Quad and cross the Thurston Avenue Bridge towards North Campus. Make sure to get the “insta” or “snap” along the bridge to see some iconic gorges and falls. Walk around Beebe Lake (one big circular trail) to see a small part of Ithaca’s natural beauty (and to walk off the ice cream!). When you get back to Thurston Avenue, stop by the Psi Chapter House at 534 Thurston, a short walk from the trail. The Zetes at Cornell have called 534 Thurston home for almost 50 years, and their home has 150 years of history to explore at your leisure.
Upon leaving the house, you can catch a TCAT ride back downtown or head down Fall Creek Dr. and cross the Suspension Bridge to see the Rocky Falls and gorges. Once you cross the Falls, you can head through West Campus to get back to Collegetown. You will pass through row after row of ancient fraternity houses and dorms along the path. If you’re still not tired after all the walking, drive to the Cornell Botanic Gardens, open seven days a week free of charge, to explore the more than 3,400 acres of gardens, fields, gorges, and preserves.
~Thank you to Psi Zete, Alex Pruce~