Ithaca has many different areas, each with their own feel and pace of life. If you haven't lived in Ithaca before (or even if you have!), you may have no idea what the different parts of town are or what they're known for.
This is Ithaca's downtown area. A unique feature of the Commons is that it is pedestrians only; no road passes through. Shopping, banking, eating, bars, galleries, and apartments are all at your fingertips on the Commons.
The 'entrance' to South Hill starts at the Commons and is hallmarked by the IC towers at the top of the hill. The South Hill neighborhood is a great place to live. This area is shared by college students, families, professors, and young professionals. Being that it is geographically closest to Ithaca College, a large number of IC students choose to live in this part of town in apartments or historic homes that have been converted into apartments. The South Hill offers its own elementary school as well as a widely used recreation trail that explores the woods above Six Mile Creek.
This is the downtown family neighborhood below S. Hill, situated between the commons and the Rt 13 commercial district. This area gets less lip service than the rest of town, without the iconic falls or university crowded into it, but it is the classic Ithaca including parks, play grounds, creeks, with both busy main and quiet side streets.
East Hill is the general area above downtown and below Cornell. Comprised of many historic and residential homes, it is where many Cornell students, Grads, Post Docs, and faculty reside. Up hill is Collegetown and East Hill Plaza, where you can grocery shop, get gas, or grab a bite to eat. Several of Ithaca's famous gorges also run through this neighborhood, before the waters calm in Fall Creek, providing natural trails and park areas within the city.
Collegetown is perched at the top of East Hill and just outside of Cornell's gates, which consists primarily of restaurants, bars, and apartments. Offering a variety of ethnic foods, great New York pizza, or fresh-baked cookies at 2am, Collegetown is the place where many Cornell students spend their time, but keep your eyes peeled and you'll find some locals and 20-30-somethings mixed in there.
Geographically, Fall Creek is the flat section of town at the base of East Hill. This is the Brooklyn of the Finger Lakes with an eclectic, laid back area filled with families and young professionals who benefit from the nearby elementary school, various parks, coffee shops, and restaurants. Fall Creek has earned a reputation for being a Halloween hot spot. They also host Porch Fest; a day where bands will travel from porch to porch and grace onlookers with some great music.
West End/West Hill:
This area has become more lively and present in recent years. It includes the main section of State Street, stretching down to the waterfront, and into the area of town to the west of Cayuga Lake. This side of the lake has many lake homes, with beautiful views and steep cliffs that dramatically drop down to the water. Primarily residential in nature and populated by families, this beautiful area of Ithaca has a certain serene quality.