Now halfway through my junior year, having survived a college experience colored by the COVID-19 pandemic, family members outside of my immediate family have finally been allowed to come visit Cornell and Ithaca after hearing me talk about campus for years.
My parents and I have an idea of what Cornell looked like pre-pandemic, but after COVID began, my other family members had to put a pause on their trips. Since my start at Cornell, my brother has joined as a first-year and I have had more than enough time to explore our city. However, when my Uncle Rich visited this past weekend, I found myself struggling to decide on what things the three of us could do in Ithaca. May I present through my own story, some Fun-Uncle activities to do when your family comes to visit.
First, don’t take giving a tour for granted. While we may not all be official Big Red Tour Guides, we all bring our own touch when it comes to showing off our campus. For some students, that tour looks like a lap around the Arts or Ag Quad, sharing which buildings hold which classes. For others, it looks like a trip to the Dairy Bar and having huge scoops of your favorite ice cream. Some students walk around North or West Campus showing off their dorm building; others show off their favorite napping corner in their library of choice. For my brother and uncle, it looked something like a three-hour extravaganza from Ives to Warren to Upson and back again. I am certain my brother is sick of me giving an elongated tour with hundreds of AMST2001: The First American University facts.
Ithaca’s waterfalls and gorges are excellent stops even for those not as nature-inclined. The three of us picked up my girlfriend and set out to look and hike up the raging waters of Buttermilk Falls. Though it did take us almost an hour to find the entrance after multiple failures by Google Maps, Waze and myself as a navigator, hiking up the falls was the best reminder that Ithaca really is gorges. The natural beauty of both our gorges and campus truly cannot be articulated, but it is an image that you will always be able to recall. If nothing else, you have some lovely photos to send your mother as proof that you do things other than study all day.
In between each of these activities, we also made sure to eat different Ithacan and Cornellian food. Lunch looked like a classic stop at Collegetown Bagels. We made a pit stop at the Ithaca Beer Company; us underage folks enjoyed a lovely glass of root beer and ginger beer. Dinner (after an hour of waiting and walking around the Commons) was an excellent chicken parm at Mahogany Grill with a dessert of shakes and fries from Jack’s Grill. Finally, we had brunch at Taverna Banfi before my uncle headed back to Chicago.
I write about my weekend with my uncle and brother with a distinct purpose in mind: Take advantage of anyone visiting our campus and our home. This week’s snow reminds me that most of our time at Cornell can be spent indoors, staying warm and sticking to our books. Little familial breaks are an excellent excuse to go out into our community and explore what Cornell and Ithaca have to offer. And if you’re not sure what to do for the weekend, reread above for a lovely guide.
Patrick J. Mehler is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]. The Mehl-Man Delivers runs every other Tuesday this semester.