Just a few minutes from downtown Ithaca, nestled comfortably between hiking trails and forest, is the glamorous Firelight Camps campsite. A cross between a luxury hotel and camping, or Glamping as the youngins calls it these days, Firelight brings guests the amenities of a hotel while staying true to the integrity of the outdoor experience.
Visitors staying overnight in one of the eighteen luxury safari tents will enjoy a comfortable bed (king size or double beds for families), nightstands, a desk, a cute trunk for storage, and a private balcony facing the forest. That balcony, which is also covered by an extension of the tent, is truly the best part of the morning. You can just sit there and enjoy the fresh air, birds chirping, and you will most certainly see at least a few fluffy bunnies or chipmunks scampering around. The tents can be opened from both sides (there is a protective netted layer on all sides) and have cut out windows for natural light to creep in. Even in the rain, it's so soothing to lay in bed and listen to the raindrops hit the roof of the tent.
The whole site has a very communal feel. The bathhouse is fully equipped with clean towels and shower supplies as well as private and communal stalls. The main tent, where you check-in, has a lounge area and dining tables where a continental breakfast is served every morning and happy hour cocktails every evening. Around the tent are games like Cornhole or Bocce Ball, several hammocks, a wooden swing, and camp fires circled by lounge chairs. At any given point, you’ll see many of the same faces mingling or playing board games together which gives you a sense of familiarity and homey-ness. Not to mention their gourmet, homemade s’mores are to die for.
The only amenities not offered here are lunch and dinner. No worries, the downtown area is just a short drive away and offers a great variety of restaurants for every mood. There is also a nice steakhouse conveniently within walking distance of your tent.
We very much enjoyed these two spots:
-Creek Side Cafe: A small cafe offering farm to table fresh dishes, made of mostly vegetables and plant based ingredients that are locally sourced. We encourage you not to miss the side salad. I know, a side salad, but it’s the prettiest and yummiest salad ever! A mixed green assortment with flower petals and thin melon slices.
-Maxie’s Supper Club and Oyster Bar: Southern dishes, fresh shellfish, and live music! The specialty drinks are the perfect garnish to the fresh homemade cornbread. Yummmm!
The main attraction of course is the convenience of the camp setup. It sits right at the entrance of Buttermilk Falls Trails. You can start your hike mere feet away from your tent. Several entrance points lead you to wooden bridges, cascading waterfalls, and other natural beauties of Ithaca.
A short drive away you can explore the Taughannock Falls State Park. The Taughannock waterfall plunges 215 feet over rocky cliffs that tower almost 400 feet over the gorges. Don’t forget to pack your hiking shoes and refillable water bottles! Also in the area is the Paleontological Research Institution and it’s Museum of the Earth. Here you can explore how the earth evolved from the ice age to present day along with some unique exhibits displaying artifacts lended directly from Cornell’s research labs.
If you’re on the fence about toughing out a real camping weekend, Firelight Camps is the perfect happy medium. Smell the fresh air from the comfort of a king size bed and take a nice hot shower after a long day of hiking. No lake baths for us!