Ithaca winters are notorious. Anybody who’s lived in the area for more than a couple of years will be familiar with “ithacation” — the special blend of rain, sleet, and snow that occasionally falls between January and May. Newcomers who aren’t used to winter in Ithaca are sometimes unprepared for how dramatically the weather can change.

But it’s not as bad as people say! Ithaca winters are often beautiful. The locals have developed strategies for toughing out the cold, gray months, until it’s once again warm enough for drinks on the patio along Restaurant Row.

In addition to our guide for saving money on your heating bill, here are nine tried-and-true tips from the locals to help get you through until springtime:

Tip #1: Be prepared for the long haul

First, the bad news: winter in Ithaca really does last a long time. Even people who have been here for awhile get caught off-guard by how long the cold, wet weather can last. Once you get to the end of February, you’ll be tempted to think that it’s almost over and spring is right around the corner.

This is a rookie mistake.

These are the average temperatures for Ithaca winters, recorded at the Ithaca Airport by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University:

Year/Month December January February March April
2017 25.3 28.9 32.6 28 49.4
2016 28.6 24.2 27.4 38.4 40.7
2015 40.5 16.6 10.1 24.7 42.8
2014 31.7 17.7 18.4 24.5 43.3
2013 27.7 26.7 23.8 30.5 44.4

In the Finger Lakes region, snow can (and does) fall all the way through April. Even if it’s not snowing, the weather will be on the chilly side until at least early May. Don’t let your guard down. Pace yourself, and remember that summer in Ithaca makes it all worth it.

Tip #2: Check out Ithaca’s Winter Events

One of the great things about living in Ithaca is the abundance of free local events on The Commons in Downtown Ithaca, where people from all over the region gather together to enjoy food, music, and entertainment:

Tip #3: Winterproof your wardrobe

Cornell’s International Services Office has some excellent guidelines for practical winter clothing. In addition to their recommendations, we’d encourage you to check out some other local stores (all Downtown) for your winter gear:

Tip #4: Cozy up with a blanket

There is no substitute for a great winter blanket. Like a favorite sweater, a really good blanket will be your best friend when it’s cold out — something you look forward to at the end of every day. Found in Ithaca (Southwest) and Mimi’s Attic (the West End) are both great spots to check for vintage quilts and blankets.

Tip #5: Join a book club

Book clubs combine some of the best remedies for winter blues: new books, new people, and warm indoor spaces. There are a number of local book clubs to choose from, including clubs hosted by Buffalo Street Books, Tompkins Cortland Public Library, Cornell University, and local community members.

Tip #6: Check out a Trivia Night

Let’s be honest: in a college town like Ithaca, it can be difficult to find ways to socialize that aren’t dedicated to drinking. Trivia nights can be a great way to enjoy the bar scene without overindulging. There are dozens of bars in Ithaca, and it seems like almost all of them host a trivia night once in awhile. Keeping an up-to-date list of trivia nights in Ithaca is difficult with so many in town. Start by checking out one of the Geeks Who Drink quiz nights — hosted locally, with locations changing regularly — and explore from there. Happy quizzing!

Tip #7: Find a new board game

If you’ve been trying to warn people for years that Monopoly was designed to ruin relationships, in order to teach people about the evils of capitalism (no, seriously) don’t worry: there are better games available. Thanks to the recent renaissance in the world of board games, there are now thousands of great options to choose from. Everyone from complete beginners to veteran gamers can find something perfect for spending a warm evening at home with a group of friends. Comics for Collectors (Downtown) and Great Escape Adventures (Northeast) both have a good selection of contemporary board games to explore.

Tip #8: Stay active outdoors

This one might seem counter-intuitive if you’re trying to avoid the winter weather, but trust us — hiding away inside makes the weather seems worse than it actually is. Too much inactivity can make you feel sluggish, which only worsens the winter blues. The best remedy is finding a fun way to get some fresh air. The good news is that the Finger Lakes region has some great terrain for winter recreation:

Tip #9: Stock up on warm beverages

The best way to warm up on a cold day is with a steaming mug of something tasty. Being stuck inside is a great opportunity to try something more involved than your daily brew, and make something fancy for yourself — or your friends, if you’ve got company over.

With these helpful tips, you’ll be more than prepared to get the most out of winter in Ithaca, and ready to enjoy summer in Ithaca when it comes again. If you want more ideas for things to do in Ithaca, you can sign up for C.S.P. Management’s Tenant Newsletter to get updates about local events (and occasional special offers for tenants!) Follow this link to sign up for the Tenant Newsletter.

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