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Staying Indoors: Indoor Recreation During Ithaca’s Cold Winter | winter time




With another cold Ithaca winter looming, it can be hard to don a winter coat and brave the outdoors. Fortunately, staying indoors doesn’t mean sacrificing fun, especially in Ithaca. From pickleball to game bars, there are plenty of indoor recreation options nearby to help keep you going while staying out in the heat.

Pickleball Mania

Opened in December 2020, Pickleball Mania has been making quite a stir thanks to owner Lesa Carter (better known as Petunia Pickle to her pickleball friends). As a certified pickleball instructor, Carter has made it her mission to create a community around the sport and attract demographics of both young and old to her facility.

I want people to feel that they can come and that there is something for everyone, she said.

In recent months, Carter has done just that by adding table tennis, spikeball, and basketball to the facility. On February 5, there is even a table tennis tournament on the agenda.

Looking to the future, Carter said she hopes to expand Pickleball Mania into more than just sports, by using extra space in the gym to create a recreation center for kids, where they learn everything from computer coding to music.

I have a PhD in education, so I never want to lose the fact that educating our young people is something that is extremely important, she said. It really goes beyond what I’m working on, which isn’t just about pickleball, it’s about community.

Pickleball Mania currently offers private lessons, skill clinics, and pickleball training programs. It is located in the Ithaca Mall, on the site of the former Planet Fitness Center. Hours are 9am-12pm and 5.30pm Monday-Friday and 9am to 3pm Saturday-Sunday.

According to Carter, people can just show up or call ahead and take schedules. It’s $10 for a drop-in session, or $70/month memberships for unlimited play. The 18,000-square-foot facility has four standard-sized courts and four table tennis tables.

Proof of vaccination is required to enter, masks are not required on the track.

Cayuga climb

If you’re in the mood for a little adventure, look no further than Cayuga Climbs. Cayuga Climbs specializes in a particular type of rock climbing known as bouldering. In this case, the participants climb small walls without the use of a harness or rope (a crash pad is placed underneath in case someone falls.)

Free climbing may sound a little daunting at first, but General Manager Amy DeGaetano assured Cayuga Climbs has plenty of resources to get beginners on the right track.

I think the environment is really approachable and people are ready to welcome new climbers, she said. People will be there to help you along the way, if you’re a little nervous about it.

If bouldering still isn’t your thing, DeGaetano said they offer a variety of classes, such as yoga for climbers, as well as a class called Pound, which combines percussive drumming with music and fitness exercises.

Cayuga Climbs is also suitable for toddlers, where 1-3 years old can play on smaller obstacles set up around the gym. DeGaetano added that climbing camps for children are offered in the summer.

For bouldering, a day pass costs $16, a three-pass package includes equipment rental and a 20-minute introductory lesson for $50. There are also monthly memberships for kids, adults, and families ranging from $50-$100 per month. One-to-one individual lessons are also available.

Masks are required at all times in Cayuga Climbs, but proof of vaccination is not required.

Modern Alchemy Game Bar

If you’re not the athletic type, Modern Alchemy Game Bar is a fun, relaxed option not far from the center of town, on West State Street. Here you can chill out with a beer and a board game or play Super Smash Bros and other video games on Nintendo Switch in this bar/game hub.

[Its all about] great drinks, great games, great food, said co-owner and bar manager Nicholas Daniluk.

In addition to traditional bar fare (think pretzels, pizza, and fries), the bar offers alchemy-themed cocktails such as the Philosopher’s Stone, which features rose gin, grapefruit vodka, cinnamon, and elderflower.

Modern Alchemy also hosts weekly trivia nights and casual game nights around certain games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Magic the Gathering.

If you’re hoping to stick with only members of your COVID-19 bubble, Modern Alchemy offers private game rooms. There is no additional cost, just a minimum purchase requirement of $25 per hour for any large group.

Going forward, Daniluk said he hopes to increase community engagement through their pre-existing Discord server, where Modern Alchemy hosts games through the online chat room.

Our long-term goal is to have, you know, a more stable, trustworthy community, he said. We want people to be able to show up and know they can play a game with people.

Visit Modern Alchemy’s Facebook page for information on opening days/hours:

A vaccination certificate is required to enter the building.




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