The Best of Cornell

This is Cornell, and this is Ithaca. We curse it for its multitude of inclines and frequent snowfall. We praise it for its vibrant, quirky locale and natural beauty. Yet we often fall so deeply into the routine of papers, projects and prelims that we tend to forget about our surroundings altogether.

The Best of Cornell, a collaboration by the staff of Sunspots (the Blogs department of The Sun), aims to spotlight a few of the noteworthy attractions of Cornell and the city of Ithaca. We present to you the results of a survey within Sunspots’ staff.

This list is by no means exhaustive; we hope to stimulate discussion and thought. But most of all, we hope this compilation will inspire a newfound appreciation for all that Cornell and Ithaca have to offer.

Best Place to Grab A Cup of Coffee: Temple of Zeus


The Temple of Zeus embodies everything that a college student could want in a coffee joint. The cafe’s prime location on the Arts Quad makes for a convenient coffee break, a great meeting spot to work or wind down with friends and a fabulous study spot after a tiring class. Furthermore, the cafe’s all-white ambiance creates a bright and uplighting study environment. The marble tables and wooden chairs make for an aesthetic that virtually all Cornellians can appreciate. Although Zeus’ tables are usually filled most weekday afternoons, a table in the Klarman atrium is worth the wait. In regard to the coffee itself, you honestly can’t go wrong. Options range from espresso drinks to kombucha, and if you’re lucky, your drink may be blessed with latte art. And don’t forget to try the food! The cafe’s sandwiches and soups are not only delicious, but fresh. Whether you are a student in Arts & Sciences or not, Zeus has become a favorite for Cornellians of all persuasions and occupations.

Place to Spend Your BRBs­: Ivy Room


We go to an Ivy League university. You’ve probably been telling yourself that since you got accepted, but it does wonders for inflating your ego to remind yourself of that. Why shouldn’t we surround ourselves with ivy? It’s crawling up the walls of the towers and dorms we know and love, so it’s probably a great assurance to know that there’s an Ivy Room, too. There isn’t actually any ivy growing in there, but the name should be enough to encourage you to check it out. The Ivy Room is like the classier, more appetizing half-sibling of Okenshields, and whether you’ve got some time to spare for lunch at midday or want to head down the stairs in Willard Straight in the evening, you won’t go away disappointed. They specialize in all-day omelettes, burgers cooked on the spot, New York style pizza, and Pan-Asian cuisine, whatever strikes your fancy. I can’t think of a place on campus that manages to give you so much bang for your Big Red Buck: the lines aren’t nearly as crazy as elsewhere, the fare is fast but fantastic, and the decor in the seating area is appropriately antique, offering beautiful views facing down the slope and across the breadth of the edge of Central Campus. Give it a try!

Best Grocery Store: Wegmans

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.01.57 PMSunday afternoon at Wegmans is a veritable social scene: upperclassmen, freshmen straight off the TCAT and Ithacans alike flock to this brick monolith to obtain not only weekly staples, but also the obscure Italian sausage or fancy cheese for a special get-together. The perpetually packed parking lot of the 24-hour national chain says it all: no other grocer in Ithaca has as wide a range of offerings as good ol’ Weggos. Though their organization can be a bit unpredictable (why is one package of noodles available in seven separate aisles?), their selection — ranging from international foodstuffs to 4 for $4 avocados to gourmet chocolate — can’t be beat. Plus, after you’ve collected your week’s worth of cooking ingredients, you can avoid actually cooking them by sashaying over to their convenient restaurant (ranked #2 out of 202 in all of Ithaca on TripAdvisor) for a gourmet meal.


Place to Visit: Botanic Gardens


With over 4,000 acres of beautifully dynamic landscape, the Cornell Botanic Gardens is a wonderful place to visit, especially when the much-awaited seasons of spring and fall grace Ithaca. The breathtaking plant biodiversity — the gardens offer a collection of grasses, herbs, flowers, vegetables, rhododendrons and vines, to name a few — will provide intrigue, calm and rejuvenation to any awful day. Starting your visit with the twelve specialty gardens located at the heart of the grounds — which surround the stunning Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center — is highly recommended. In addition to interpretive exhibits, a reception desk and an inclusive array of snacks, the Welcome Center also houses a Garden Gift Shop with fascinating souvenirs, such as a $12.99 “yoga” rabbit figurine eternally frozen in the Downward Dog position (if you’re interested, the figurine is also available online through The Cornell Store!). The Botanic Gardens are open from dawn to dusk, all year, and if you’re up for it, guided tours are also available. So if you would like a breath of fresh air, charming scenery and a better understanding and appreciation of biological diversity, then waste no time and head over to the gardens!

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