Hi folks, Audrey S. here! My husband and I marked 4 years of marriage last week and celebrated with a night of glamping. In case you’re not familiar, glamping is just what it sounds like — glamorous camping! Reaching this decision was just like anything else in marriage — compromise! I’m more of an outdoor adventurer, he’s more of an anything-that-involves-air-conditioning type of guy :D. Cue Firelight Camps in Ithaca, New York, the perfect blend of nature and luxury.
Firelight Camps was co-founded by Robert and Emma Frisch, who since meeting in college have traveled together around the world backpacking, rock climbing, discovering local cuisines and scoping out hostels and boutique hotels. I got a chance to ask Emma about their inspiration for creating a glamping experience and she shared, “We were sitting around a campfire on a climbing trip, and had the ‘a-ha’ moment: We want our hotel to revolve around the campfire, a place where people truly unplug and connect with the natural world, with each other and with themselves on a deeper level. The campfire is a symbol for appreciating the great outdoors, and a gateway for those who’ve never slept outside before. Plush beds and hot showers help too. In effect, glamping is getting more people outside and that’s exactly what we set out to do!”
The philosophy worked for us! Upon arrival, we checked in at the beautifully furnished lobby tent. Imagine the type of tent people rent for weddings adorned with Moroccan rugs, a fully stocked bar, long tables with fresh wild flowers, and plenty of board games and records for your entertainment. We were greeted there by friendly staff who provided us with complimentary drink tokens to use at the bar and walked us through a map of the area. Right outside of the lobby tent was a communal fire circle where we couldn’t wait to enjoy s’mores and chat with other guests later that evening.
No setup was required for settling into our tent. All we had to do was unzip the canvas and step into our tranquil home-away-from-home. Our tent featured a king-size bed with high-quality linens, battery-powered lanterns (that also charge your phone!), a small clothing rack, writer’s desk, and a private balcony. The Copy Cat Chic in me automatically started making mental notes on how I could recreate my own backyard glamping for less (stay tuned!).
I had to ask Emma about the design of the tents and her go-to source for unique furnishings. She explained, “We worked with a wonderful duo, Heather Hallagan and Melissa Thompson of Gather in the Finger Lakes. They helped source our furnishings. We use ‘campaign-style’ furniture, which gives a nod to the portable, refined aesthetic of the great camps, with bright Moroccan textiles, which honors the Bedouin roots of nomadic travel. My mom, Fenella Pearson, is also an interior designer and helped us quite a bit when we were boot-strapping our launch in the first season. We love Barebones Living, World Market, and One King’s Lane, but we work with local craftsmen for our signature pieces, like our lobby sign and bar.”
We could have happily spent the whole weekend in our tent but Ithaca offers so much to do that we had to get out and explore. Check out how we spent our 36-hour vacation on less than $500!
Obviously not local, but it’s our regular grab-and-go for early morning drives! Ithaca is a 4-hour drive from where we live in NYC. $10
Freshly baked breakfast sandwiches. I asked the cashier for her recommendation and she suggested the “Sweet Piggy” — French toast bagel, egg, cheddar, ham, and maple syrup. Enough said. $12
Buttermilk Falls State Park
We loved the natural swimming hole located at the base of the waterfall. There was a lifeguard on duty and a diving board! You have to pay to park but the ticket will get you into all of the surrounding state parks. $7
Ithaca Beer Company
This restaurant/taproom/beer garden/brewery is set sprawling farm with outdoor games. We enjoyed playing corn hole in the sunshine while waiting for a table on the patio. For lunch, I had an incredible vegan burger on an Ithaca Bakery roll. It was also fun to taste a few of their unique beers in their “year round flight.” Brewery tours are offered on weekends. $36
This cute shopping center is based in the center of Ithaca. It’s a nice place to window shop, step into art galleries, or catch an indie flick.
Firelight Lobby and Lounge
2 free drinks (wine or beer) are included with your stay at Firelight but they will also whip up the yummiest seasonal cocktails. I literally watched my bartender pick rosemary out of the herb garden for my drink. Very impressive! $20
Instead of giving gifts on our anniversary we always do an “experience” together. This stay was a splurge for us but I would go back in a heartbeat! $219
We brought our own s’more fixings but you can also purchase a handmade s’more kit at the Lobby and Lounge tent. Either way, Firelight starts the fire for you and provides roasting sticks! $10
I picked up picnic goodies at Whole Foods before leaving NYC. We sat at a picnic table near the campfire and taught each other new board games from the large collection in the lobby and lounge tent. Sometimes cheap food and silly games make the best date night! $10
This coffee is a special Firelight Camps blend that is free 24/7 at the lobby and lounge tent. The owners use a pour over method officially making it the fanciest coffee I’ve ever had by a campfire.
Firelight provides a complimentary breakfast by the campfire. Served continental style, I enjoyed sampling the locally-sourced cuisine.
Johnson Museum of Art
This is a world-class art museum nestled on Cornell University’s main campus. A perfect place to explore on a rainy afternoon. Admission is free!
Treeman State Park
This park is full of beautiful waterfalls and steep hikes. Be prepared to climb lots of stairs. I promise it’s worth it! Free with parking pass.
Not the most unique spot for lunch but it’s great for picking up to eat later on a hike. They also deliver. $12
Found In Ithaca
We just stumbled upon this place while driving around Ithaca and it was such a treat! The huge shop is full of antiques and vintage finds at amazing prices. I found a mid-century dining table complete with 4 vintage chairs and the total for the set was under $100. Had it fit in the car, I definitely would have been trying to talk my hubby into letting me take it home! In the end, I settled on two tiny hand glazed pots for succulents. 50 cents a piece!
Ithaca Beer Company
Yep, we enjoyed this place so much that we went back the next day for $3 tap and another game of cornhole. I’m not a big beer drinker but I loved their “Apricot Wheat” beer which tastes smooth and fruity. $6
The people at Firelight told us “No matter where you eat, don’t miss dessert at Madeline’s.” This place was pricey but delicious. Instead of eating in the restaurant we opted to take our treats to an outdoor table at Ithaca Commons and people watched. $19
Even my AC-loving husband agreed that we want to make glamping a regular thing. Whether you enjoy the great outdoors or prefer the comfort of a nice hotel, I highly recommend giving glamping a try, especially if it’s in a fun town like Ithaca! Looking forward to our next adventure.
See all of our 36 Hour posts here! Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: Thank you to Firelight Camps for inviting me back for another night of glamping since writing the original post! Our second visit was just as fun as the first — especially sitting around the campfire with a sweet family visiting from France who was experiencing the joy of s’mores for the first time ever 😀
Firelight Camps is offering a special discount for Copycatchic readers now through the end of October! You can use code CCC2017 for a 15% discount (eligible for any mid-week stay, Sun-Thurs nights, during September and October 2017). Comment below if you take advantage. We’d love to hear about your adventure!