Ithaca is most noted as home to Ivy League Cornell University. As might be expected, the town is attractive and progressive, activities are plentiful, and educational attainment is high. The location, at the south end of the Finger Lakes region, affords access to nearby outdoor recreation, interesting landscapes, and a number of wineries. The economy is growing, bolstered by the university and the many small new-economy businesses it attracts.
Downtown is clean and prosperous, although a recent shift towards large retailers on the outskirts has some locals concerned. Cost of living is reasonable for the region. Larger cities, such as Syracuse, can be hard to get to in bad weather, but Ithaca has good air service for its size. Ithaca loses points for climate, a soft job growth picture, and cost of living, but for those who can navigate the climate and economic challenges it is a solid choice.
Ithaca sits at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake in a hilly area of central New York. The city itself is located on a flat to moderately rising shoreline area, growing into the dense deciduous-wooded surrounding hills. The Lake Ontario-influenced, humid continental climate produces frequent precipitation- almost 1 day in 2 on average year-round.
Summers are warm but seldom oppressive, with typically cool evenings when breezes come off the lake. Winters are cold, long and dreary, with only a few sub-zero readings each year. Snowfall is moderate but may become heavy at times, and snow cover persists most of the winter, especially in the hills. Valley effects may bring rain in Ithaca when it is snowing in the hills and outlying areas. Clouds and valley fogs are common. First freeze is in early October; last is in early May.