Outdoor Play Spaces

Find the new site at
The MAP OF PLAY website is a fabulous resource for learning about all the playgrounds in our area. You can learn about the playgrounds in your neighborhood and contribute to info to help others! The Trails link below is a comprehensive list of hiking for our area.

Buttermilk Falls -Buttermilk is a great State Park on the South West side of town near Home Depot. Aside from hiking, there are two large new playgrounds adjacent to each other (one for older kids and one for younger) in a nice shady area, and swimming at the bottom of the waterfall.  There is some limited free parking on Sand Bank Road where those wishing to play on the playgrounds without paying the entrance fee sometimes park.
Cass Park -Cass Park is on the West side of Cayuga Lake.  The sprawling park boasts great paved waterfront trails, playgrounds, the Ithaca Children's Garden (see below), plus a - Roller Skating in the summer, Ice Skating in the winter.

Cornell Plantations -  From taking a stroll through the Arboretum, playing on the large statues and feeding the fish  or touring through the beautiful botanical gardens, or take in one of their special events.
Discovery Trail - The Discovery Trail is made up of the following organizations which provide excellent indoor and outdoor opportunities. There is more info on these locations here at Ithaca Family Fun or by clicking the Discovery Trail link. Cayuga Nature Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell Plantations, The History Center, Johnson Museum of Art, Museum of the Earth, Sciencenter, Tompkins County Public Library

Ellis Hollow Community Center - This community center just out of town on the East side has a nice older large wooden play structure.
Sciencenter -On top of their amazing indoor activities, the Sciencenter also has a fabulous outdoor play area with a climbing structure, duck and water play, bubbles, bridge, sand and more. They also have a Mini Golf course.

Sciencenter 18-hole Mini-Golf Course
The Sciencenter has constructed a new 18-hole mini-golf course. (fully wheelchair accessible with ADA approved clubs). Watch this summer as we install science-themed challenges, from physics to astronomy, at every hole!
Mini-golf pricing does not include nor require museum admission.
 Sciencenter members,
$5; Toddlers (ages 0-3), free with paid adult; Players (ages 4+), $6. Does not include nor require museum admission.
Sciencenter, 601 1st St, Ithaca, NY 14850. www.sciencenter.org or 607.272.0600.

Ithaca Children's Garden - Located on the West side of Cayuga Lake, this is a garden for and by the children, with storytimes, educational programs and a lot of fun. They have a "Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone" Open Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons in the summer.  There are also playgrounds nearby as part of Cass Park.

Myers Park - This park in Lansing has a great playground and Swimming

Primitive Pursuits - Primitive Pursuits has outdoor recreation programs for kids of various ages, including their new Forest Preschool and free outdoor preschool playgroup.

Six Mile Creek Wildflower Preserve - An easy-to-walk trail (much of it is actually all-terrain stroller friendly) that winds along Six Mile Creek with plenty of spots to throw rocks in the water or dip your toes.

Stewart Park - Located on the Western side of the lake near the Ithaca Youth Bureau, Stewart park has a play area for little kids, one for bigger kids, walking paths, a merry-go-round carousel, and sprinkler fountain area for water play. Stewart Park also has lots of green space for ball games & running, pavilions and a pond where people can fish. The one drawback of this park is that sometimes it is heavy with goose droppings. It can also be a little chilly as it is on the late.

The Stewart Park Carousel is open in the summer Memorial Day weekend through the first week of September, Wednesday - Sunday and on holidays. Hours are 11-6:45, rides are 75 cents each. 

Taughannock - This state park North on 89 near Trumansburg has a large new playground conveniently located close to where they have Saturday night concerts in the summer, and the swimming area. The walk to the dramatic, tall waterfall is 3/4 a mile and very easy and stroller friendly on a wide smooth path.  Many people choose to walk along the dry riverbed as well.
Town of Ithaca Parks - This link goes to a map that shows Town of Ithaca Parks. Unfortunately, it's not a great map, but you can zoom in to find some small parks close to where you live.

Trails - There are tons of fantastic trails for walking, hiking, running & biking in Tompkins County. East Hill Recreation way and South Hill Recreation way are both very stroller friendly. The Game Farm Road section of East Hill Recreation way is especially flat to hike and bike. Six Mile Creek trails (wildflower preserve) can be stroller friendly, but most are at least baby carrier and small child hikeable. The "Trails" link is to a pretty comprehensive list of trails on Wikipedia.

Treman - The nice new playground at this park is located close to the entrance and pretty far from the picnic and swimming areas at the lower entrance to the park South of town off 13.  Although it has really fun play structures and lots of swings, it does not have a lot of shade.  At the upper falls, there is an old mill that has some historical information inside.  The walk to the upper falls (Lucifer Falls) is my personal favorite in the area. The walk is not stroller friendly, as it has many steps, but is short enough and has enough breaks between steps to make it easy enough for those with mild mobility issues.

The "Little Houses"/"Tiny Town"
as it's referred to by locals, is a group of three wooden play houses: mini-library, mini-fire station (complete with fire pole to slide down) and mini-house) located right on Main St. in T'burg (right in front of Colonial Laundromat, across the street from Gimmee! Coffee) It's a hot spot for kids and visitors often say, "I'd be here every day if I lived around here!" It's also a great place to have a picnic with it's slate table overlooking the creek.

Varna Community Playground

Varna Community Center, 943 Dryden Rd. (Rte. 366) Ithaca. Large, professionally designed & recently built playground with activities for toddlers and older children - swings, slides, climbing wall, overhead rings, lots more.