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Summer brings sunshine and tourists to Ithaca

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The Ithaca area is bracing itself as wine enthusiasts flock to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail this summer in honor of its 30th anniversary, executive director Cathy Millspaugh says. Summertime is Ithaca’s busiest tourism season, and this summer the trail will feature a different winery on the 30th of each month, with special deals to entice tourists.

The wineries, festivals and quaint bed and breakfasts bring locals and tourists alike to the Finger Lakes region. With attractions like the Mark Twain Study and Exhibit, the Corning Museum of Glass, and the Cayuga Wine Trail, the area has plenty to offer visitors.

Kristy Mitchell, the integrated marketing director for the Ithaca Visitors Bureau, said that the summer season is the busiest season for Ithaca tourism.

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“We find that during this month and all the way through October, hotel rooms are pretty much all sold out,” Mitchell said. “It’s hard to find a room here, we’re so busy. There’s great evidence that Ithaca is a popular place to spend a long weekend.”

Lynette Scofield, innkeeper at the William Henry Miller Inn in Ithaca, said the inn is full year-round except for the first few weeks in January.

The wineries are the number one draw for tourists in the Finger Lakes region, said Paul Thomas, executive director of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Thomas said collectively, the wineries are the number one draw for tourists in the Finger Lakes region.

“From July 4 through Columbus Day we are rocking,” Thomas said. “It is definitely the busiest, most popular time, with the best weather.”

Most tourists visit and enjoy other experiences the region has to offer, besides the wineries, Thomas said.

“When they are here they are also doing other things, whether it be visiting the Discovery Trail in Ithaca, or the Corning Museum of Glass, or the women’s history exhibits, visitors do mix it up.”

The region is entrenched in history, from the women’s suffragette movement centered in Seneca Falls to the Mark Twain Study and Exhibit in Elmira.

“[The study] is a rich and historical literary treasure,” Dr. Barbara Snedecor, the director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, said. “We are the only ones that can say some of America’s greatest literature was written here and it was literature that changed the course of American literature. That’s a really wonderful treasure for a place to have.”

The study does not keep track of the specific number of tourists that visit the Study and Exhibit, but Snedecor estimates that the number ranges between the high and low thousands each summer.

Millspaugh says people are always looking for something to do in the summer.

“Our area really brings in a great summer crowd because all the things [the area] has to offer.”

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