Ithaca — a little city on top of a hill with scenic views of mountains, sunsets of a lifetime and glances of the stillness of Cayuga Lake. This town has much more to offer than just Ithaca College and Cornell University’s campuses. One of the things I was looking for when I came to college was community centers that had volunteer opportunities or initiatives, and luckily I was introduced to Southside Community Center by one of my dearest professors, associate professor in the Department of Education, Nia Nunn. She is a grand presence at Southside and makes sure her students are aware of the ways they could give back to their community. Two of my most memorable moments at Southside were helping to build a mural and organizing a bereavement luncheon designed for women in the community. Another awesome opportunity I was able to be a part of because of Nunn was at the Kitchen Theatre Company, located downtown. Some of my classmates and I got to watch her and other local actors perform in a play, which was very entertaining and reminded me of some of the activities I enjoy doing back home.
While volunteering is gratifying, it can be emotionally and physically taxing at times, so to rest my mind, I’ve tried to find stores, coffee shops and restaurants around Ithaca that my friends and I can go to during our spare time. One of my favorites to go and unwind is Angry Mom Records, which is located underneath Autumn Leaves Used Books. It’s very therapeutic for me to look through all the records of any genre you can think of. I found some of my favorite vinyls and reads at affordable prices in this bookstore and record shop combo. Unfortunately, along with purchasing endless records, one of my weaknesses is thrifting for new outfits, purses, bags, little knick-knacks, antiques and paintings at my two favorite shops: Mimi’s Attic and Thrifty Shopper. These spots might be hard to get to without a car, but if you have a friend with transportation, going to these two stores is an absolute must before leaving Ithaca.
When I need to refuel from thrifting all day, I like to go to some foodie spots in Ithaca. For breakfast sandwiches, Dolce Delight and Hound and Mare on the Commons really hit the spot. If I am looking for coffee to end my breakfast with, I adore stopping by the little coffee nook in Home Green Home for some whimsical twists to classic coffee drinks, and of course Collegetown Bagels for a chai tea latte with vanilla and oat milk. Two other spots that I frequently go to downtown when looking for lunch or dinner are Mia Tapas Bar & Restaurant, which specializes in Pan-Asian cuisine, and Kilpatrick’s Publick House for its loaded fries and pub pretzels. After a meal, to satiate my ever-growing sweet tooth, I like to go to 15 and Below for some green tea rolled ice cream or Collegetown Bagels for a slice of carrot cake. These are just a few of my favorites. Ithaca has a wide variety of places to eat, shop, volunteer, and learn about local vendors; the options are endless and inclusive to all types of cultures, backgrounds and personalities. Oh, and don’t forget: Ithaca is “gorges.”