The Ithaca Children’s Garden is a 3-acre garden and play area, open to the public, that provides a garden-based and hands-on learning and free-play experience for children of all ages. Open daily, year-round from sunrise to sunset, children are invited to run free and explore the many mazes and treasures throughout the garden, which to parents’ delight, is fully enclosed with fencing! Ithaca Children’s Garden Sand Pit by G. Knight


Located within Cass Park on the beautiful Cayuga Waterfront Trail on Taughannock Boulevard (Route 89) in Ithaca, the garden is minutes from the city’s downtown and a beautiful walk on the trail to the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. You can even access the popular Black Diamond Trail, a seven-mile hike or bike ride that leads to Taughannock Falls State Park, from the garden’s parking lot! Parking at the garden is always free!


Innovative, research-based education for sustainability provides the foundation for all of Ithaca Children’s Garden’s programs, summer camps, school break camps, after school, preschool, seasonal workshops, family programs, and seasonal festivals.

Permaculture, playwork, and child-directed learning are cornerstones of each program, along with a commitment to an inclusive environment that values and respects diversity of culture and identity. Ithaca Children’s Garden strives to inspire, promote, and sustain youth and community stewardship of the natural environment through garden-based learning and discovery.


Visitors can take part in classes at the garden year-round, although the majority of programs occur between April and October, a time referred to as the “growing season.” Many of the winter’s programs are held off-site in the local community.

Most programs, such as Zone-into-Nature and Summer Sprouts, are free of charge. Other programs, such as summer camps, Playful Nature Explorers and the Salad Farmers program charge registration fees or tuition. Scholarships are provided to those who otherwise would not be able to participate.

The Garden also hosts large annual community events that are open to the public, including the Festival of Fire and Ice in February, International Mud Day in June, and Scarecrow Jubilee in October.


Three women, Harriet Becker, Mary Alyce Kobler, and Monika Roth, were inspired by the idea of a garden for children to explore and connect with nature, and in 1997 started organizing. In 1999, the Ithaca Children’s Garden earned its 501 (c)3 non-profit status under the Founding Director Meg Cole. In 2004, a lease for 3 acres in Cass Park was secured with the City of Ithaca, and a year later, Gaia the Turtle was built, and the garden opened! Over 500 children from the community contributed ideas for the conceptual design of the garden, and countless youth continue to shape the garden’s growth.


For a complete lineup of the Ithaca Children’s Garden’s programs and events, and for further information, visit