How to make the most of your Cornell summer

While beautiful year-round, Cornell is magical in summer. Although the heat and humidity do rise above comfortable levels at times (thank you, Willis Carrier M.S. 1901, for inventing the first modern air conditioner), Mother Nature is more predictable than in the spring. As you celebrate the summer solstice and the days thereafter, here are ways to make the most of your Cornell summer, including some indoor activities for those who prefer light jacket weather.

Cornell University
Cornell University
Published in
5 min readJun 16, 2022

Sit among the flowers

Summer’s slower speed is ideal for sitting, so stop and commune with nature at one of Cornell’s many scenic sitting spots. Scout out the stone picnic table in the woods in the Park Park Natural Area. Immerse yourself in the panoramic views of Cayuga Lake from the limestone cliffs at Edwards Lake Cliffs Preserve. Take a moment for yourself to harmonize with the butterflies and bees while enjoying the beauty of native pollinator plants at the Mundy Wildflower Garden. June is the peak time to visit the Comstock Knoll and the Bowers’ Rhododendron Collection, with the Guy Nearing Summer House nearby to sit and enjoy the beautiful garden.

The Cornell Botanic Gardens and other local trails and gorges offer endless tranquil spots in the summer months.

Looking for a respite from the heat? Check out the groundcover collection at Cornell Botanic Gardens. Step into the shade and enjoy one of the coolest spots in the gardens. Summer is one the best times of the year to visit the Botanic Gardens, with peak bloom in July and flowers, foliage and fruit in August. While you’re there, also check out the colorful Class of ’53 Container Gardens and Tropical Garden Beds, which evoke a sense of the tropics. If you’re looking to quiet your mind and sit with guided intention, be sure to attend Let’s Meditate at the Museum with Cornell Health as part of the Let’s Meditate program. Options are nearly unlimited when it comes to exploring the outdoors at Cornell, whether you’re on-campus or off.

Get active

Pair a healthy dose of vitamin D with some exercise and you’ve got the ingredients for a happy summer day. Satisfy your sailor’s spirit with sailing lessons at the Merrill Family Sailing Center on Cayuga Lake. If nautical navigation isn’t your speed, check out summer swimming on- or off-campus. Swimming is prohibited in the gorges, but the local area offers several life guarded natural and community swimming areas.

If you want to get active but water isn’t required, check out rock climbing lessons through Cornell Outdoor Education. Don’t feel the need to increase your altitude but want to get a workout in? Visit one of the fitness centers on campus or sign up for fitness classes. If you’re looking to escape the confines of the indoors and strike out on an adventure, check out the outfitting center and utilize the gear rental list to plan your expedition.

Sailing on Cayuga Lake.

Enjoy the finer things

Summer at Cornell also offers a variety of cultural events and activities to nourish the soul. The free Friday concert series at the Arts Quad begins July 1 with Maddy Walsh and provides a menagerie of sounds throughout the month. The free CFCU Downtown Ithaca Summer Concert Series runs through September and offers local and national acts performing across diverse genres in an outdoor setting. If visual art is more your appetite, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art has an array of exhibitions throughout the season. Explore the personal and passionate roots of dissent through the student-curated exhibit “Resistance Is Personal: The Photobook as Protest” or the cross-cultural “Powering Exchange: Teaching Objects in Transformation”. Nearby, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) is celebrating the Department of Architecture’s 150th academic year and 100 years of art education at Cornell via the “Measures and Meaning” exhibit at AAP’s galleries and on the Arts Quad. The exhibit includes works by 20 artists and architects.

Taking in the view from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

If you’re in the mood for art and a walk, head downtown for a stroll through Gallery Night Ithaca every first Friday of the month, a walkable art show featuring works created by local and regional artists.

Stay sharp

While first thoughts of summer may not include nourishing your mind, learning is never out-of-season. The School of Continuing Education offers year-round education for all ages and phases of life, for Cornell students and lifelong learners alike. Summer Session enrollment is now open. Act fast, as the window to register closes soon.

If something more informal is your preference, put your language skills to the test and meet new people at a conversation hour in French, Russian, Spanish, Yiddish or Chinese. Whether in the classroom, online or informally in-person, learning new skills or keeping old ones fresh is always a good idea.

Whether you’re on the Hill or at home for the summer, stay connected with Cornell via its many social media accounts. The mission of learning, discovery and engagement is year-round.

Written by Jesse Osbourne
Strategic Communications at Cornell University



Cornell University
Cornell University

Learning. Discovery. Engagement.