Some say that Ithaca can be summed up a few descriptive words: college town, liberal, and countercultural. However, such a snapshot would not do justice to it, or provide the reader with the nuance that Ithaca deserves.

Fifty percent of the city population consists of students.  Town interests include sustainable growth, social justice, and environmentalism.  Local commerce is fiercely proud of its homegrown businesses, from the famous Moosewood Restaurant to the Ithaca Beer Company to Gimme Coffee!, all excellent local enterprises. There is a distinctly anti-establishment tilt to the city. It is not uncommon to see bumper stickers such as "Ithaca is Gorges", or "Visualize Whirled Peas". 

Ithaca has its own currency called "Ithaca dollars" where one dollar is designed to be equal to the fair wage for an hour's work. A great deal of emphasis is placed on enviromental and social sustainability.

Ithaca is a small, rural community, and yet it is sophisticated far beyond its size -- attributable largely to Cornell and Ithaca College. People from all over the world congregate and live here (including the Dalai Lama). It contains more restaurants per capita than any other city in New York state. Theater, museums, and galleries are much in abundance. 

It is also a nature lover's paradise, surrounded by 5 state parks and the world-famous Cornell Plantations. Cycling, hiking, nordic and downhill skiing, gorge--bathing and nature walks are very big parts of the Ithaca experience. Outside Magazine recently named Ithaca one of America's ten most livable cities. The Utne Reader once called Ithaca "the most enlightened city in America".

No trip here is complete without visiting the famous Cornell Plantations, one of the country's great outdoor laboratories. Because of Cornell's world-renown ornithology lab, Ithaca is home to more ornithologists than any other city in the world. So, not surprisingly, bird watching is very big here!

Black Enterprise Magazine recently highlighted Ithaca as one on America's best retirement towns, citing its long tradition of racial tolerance, diversity, and opportunities for entrepreuership.