Ithaca, NY downtown shopping district

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 68
Demographics 41
Economy 48
Education 72
Health 77
Housing 47
Infrastructure 46

#71. Ithaca, NY

Ithaca, NY is sophisticated yet down to earth, with 30,000 residents and two excellent higher education institutions: Cornell University and Ithaca College. Ithaca is situated in central New York’s scenic Finger Lakes region, so there are lots of outdoor recreation activities here (plus 150 waterfalls to explore!). Wineries are big here, as are cideries and breweries, so if you enjoy sampling local craft beverages, you’ll love living in Ithaca. The city is also relatively affordable, with median home values hovering just under $250K.

Top Colleges/Universities: Cornell University & Ithaca College

Top Industries & Employers: Ithaca is a highly educated city so it’s no surprise that jobs in higher education are titans of industry here. 

Weekend Plans: Pick up some fresh produce, local honey and baked goods at the Ithaca Farmers Market, followed by browsing for a new read at Autumn Leaves Used Books and perusing the other locally-owned shops in Ithaca’s quaint downtown. 

Favorite Place to Feast: The Boatyard Grill offers delicious seafood with scenic views of Cayuga Lake.

Beloved Beverage: Wine from one of the 25 local wineries in the region, including Six Mile Creek Vineyard and Ports of New York Winery.

Outdoorsy Activity: Birding at Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary, a 230-acre nature lover’s paradise run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: There are dozens of dog-friendly shops, bars and restaurants in downtown Ithaca, so you’ll never have to feel guilty about leaving your pup at home.

Remote Work Perk: If you need a place to work in peace and quiet, check out one of Cornell’s libraries, which are open to the public. The university’s A.D. White library, in particular, is a pretty gorgeous place to work – it looks like it’s straight out of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

One More Thing … Ithaca is home to Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, which was chosen as the site of the 14th Dalai Lama’s library and museum. It’s also the North American seat of personal monastery for His Holiness.

– Sarah Kuta

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