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3 Adventurous Ways to Get To The Alternatives Library

As it turns out, driving isn’t the best way to get to the Durland Alternatives Library. Unless you’re willing to wait until 5pm when parking is available on campus, you’re better off taking an alternative route… such as the topic of this post.

First I want to be honest – the real reason I’m writing this article is to deal with my own frustration about driving and parking on campus. I get it… I drive in from out of town so I rely on parking options to keep my schedule on time. If you think parking in Ithaca is a pain, wait ’till you try parking at Cornell.

But this video pointed out to me that free parking has it’s own hidden costs – so I wanted to change my perspective and identify some of the benefits of alternative travel.

3 Alternative Ways to Get to the Library + Make it a Day Trip

We’ll start with biking, bussing, walking, and then I’ll give the library the esteemed status of “day trip destination”

1. Ride a Bike

You can bike up to the library… And yeah, I get it… it’s on top of a huge hill, but you don’t need to become an athlete, you can take the bike on a bus! That leads well into the next point… but first, did you know there are some great biking lanes and trails on campus? It’s a really great place to bike around.

And if you can get your hands on an electric bike, I think you’ll enjoy climbing the hill and then cruising down with a basket of books.

2. Ride The TCAT Bus

Route 10 comes every ten minutes and goes in a loop. It’s great because you don’t need to make plans. Just go to the bus stop and wait. You won’t be there longer than 10 minutes. Easy to remember, easy way to get on campus.

If you want to be able to plan ahead, just go to and use the trip planner. I think Google maps even has the bus routes connected in their directions these days. Anyways, route 30 goes from downtown to Cornell every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour – also easy to remember.

3. Walk The Talk

You want to be more present, appreciate the seasons, know the sounds of the birds right??? Well here’s your chance.

Walking is one of the most under-rated forms of transportation so I’m going to give it some extra attention and provide my own personal favorite routes.

Walk the Cascadilla Gorge Trail

During the warmer months you can hike from Fall Creek all the way up the hill in pure natural bliss. Cascadilla Gorge trail is one of the special hidden treasures in downtown Ithaca. It’s close to pretty much everything, and yet it’s the kind of place I’d travel hours to visit. We’re just 2 blocks away from the trailhead, which means if you’re walking to the library, the gorge trail is about 90% of the way here… good deal if you ask me.

Walk the windy street by the gorge

Right next to the gorge trail is a windy road called Cascadilla Park Road which turns into a foot path. Next to the path is an overlook with views of the gorge below and the city in the distance. The neighborhood is tucked between the gorge on one side and the graveyard on the other. It’s quiet and everything is ordained in beautiful gardens.

Walk the City of Ithaca Cemetery

This is a great walk, and my favorite way to go in the winter months.

When it’s icy or snowy I’d prefer to stay away from the gorge, but the graveyard is still a fun (and steep) challenge. This is one of the most wildlife rich places in Ithaca and you’re likely to see interesting birds, deer, rabbits, foxes (I found tracks once), and squirrels – all good things.

Walk the Buffalo street challenge

Up for a challenge? Walk up Buffalo street from the bottom. It’s the same amount of hill as any, but it’s straight up with almost no variation. In fact, as you get close to the top it gets steeper.

Up for a bigger challenge? Ride a bike from the bottom without stopping. It’s true, people do this – I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Destinations at Cornell

Even though the library is A-mazing, there are other things you can do on and around campus which make the Durland Alternatives Library a worthy destination spot.

So get out your planner and plan a day trip. You’ll be glad you did!

Fun Public Museums

Cornell is full of awesome things to see. The Johnson Museum of Art is free and open to the public. They have rotating shows as well as a consistent collection. It’s also a really neat building which looks like a gigantic sewing machine. The 5th floor has a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Ithaca and the Cornell campus.

A list of Cornell museums and attractions is another blog post (on the someday maybe list), so for now I hope you’ll trust me that there’s a lot of interesting things on this campus.

Food on campus

Over the past few years there’s been an increase in high quality lunch bites on campus. Just across the courtyard from Durland Alternatives Library is Fork and Gavel Cafe. This is run by the same fine folks who started Manndible Cafe, and if you’re a long time Ithaca you’ll remember Juna’s on the commons. It’s all connected.

Both Manndible and Fork and Gavel prioritize local ingredients, sustainability, and have a rotating seasonal menu. They also have the largest variety of vegan baked goods on campus (you wouldn’t know unless I told you they were vegan).

There are some student run cafes too.. like the Temple of Zeus.

Did I miss anything? Please email me and let me know what I need to add to this post.

Events on campus

There are tons of events on campus. Just check out anytime. Of course we have events as well here at the library (you can also fill out an application to use our space) at 

Events range from concerts, performances, academic lectures, film screenings, conferences, plant walks, outdoor education, climbing wall classes, taiko drumming, dance performances, theater, oh my gosh the list goes on and on.

Getting on the right lists and regularly checking events at Cornell will make you grateful to be in the Ithaca area.

Interesting Natural Places

Where to start! Just like Ithaca, the campus is full of awesome natural places. I’ll just make a list with some links. This was one of the most fun parts to write because I got to look at a map and just pick all the great places I’ve been to share.

Use this list to open a map and get directions.

What’s your favorite way to get here?

I’d love to hear your stories about coming to the library. Back when I was a kid I used to hang out at ABC Cafe on Stewart ave, and look at shoes at Fontanas, and then visit the Durland Alternatives Library.

Or, I’d be up here because my parents brought me to Bound For Glory – so I’d camp out in the library and read.

When I worked at an orchard picking apples I used to borrow Alternatives Radio CDs and play them on my portable CD player at work. I still credit that as my true political education.

So what’s your story? Write me at or signup for our newsletter.

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Ryan Clover-Owens

I'm on a mission to prove that we can live in a society that reconciles with our history, respects difference, cherishes the land and animals, and can create solutions to the challenges we face.