Attractions in Corning NY
The Gateway to the Finger Lakes, Corning, NY boasts the Corning Glass Museum, the Rockwell Museum of Western art, and access to Finger Lakes Wineries.
Visiting Corning, NY: A Gateway to the Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes area of New York State is famed for its dramatic waterfalls, beautiful foliage, and great wines. Cited several times by American Styles as one of the United States’ top twenty-five small city arts destinations, Corning, NY is a little gem of a city that provides a great starting point for an exploration of the Finger Lakes while offering recreational opportunities of its own. Home to Corning, Incorporated, makers of Corning Ware and Steuben glass, the city offers museums, art galleries, and fine dining opportunities, along with plenty of places to stay and convenient access to several of New York State’s Finger Lakes.
The Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass, located in the center of Corning, NY is the premier museum on glass in the world. There are over 45,000 pieces in the museum’s collection, which span over 3,500 years of glassmaking history. What makes this museum particularly special, though, is all of the interactive, hands-on features that help visitors become truly immersed in the process and history of glass-blowing.
There are always narrated glass-blowing demonstrations occurring in the museum, and audience questions and even participation are welcome and encouraged. The “Make Your Own Glass” program allows visitors aged four and up to make their own glass products, and the museum will even arrange to have your glass shipped home for you. The Corning Museum of Glass is very family-friendly, with many interactive activities for kids. Parents will also enjoy the admission rates – kids and teens ages 19 and under are admitted for free.
The Rockwell Museum of Western Art
Corning is not exactly the center of the Old West, but for easterners who can’t make it to a dude ranch, the city can provide the next best thing – The Rockwell Museum of Western Art, which houses the largest collection of Western Art in the eastern United States. The museum grew out of the private collection of Robert and Hertha Rockwell, who donated the original collection, dominated by works of such masters as Frederic Remington, Albert Bierstadt, George Catlin, Cyrus Dallin, and more.
The Rockwell, as it is referred to by locals, has been focusing on adding more recent pieces to their collection as well, focusing on Native American arts and paintings and sculpture by emerging artists. The museum offers a plethora of free activities for children, ranging from scavengers hunts through the museum to drawing lessons and dress-up stations. Like the Corning Museum of Glass, Rockwell offers free admission for children and teens aged 19 and under, as well as discounted admission for guests who live in the neighboring area (ZIP codes beginning 148, 149, and 169).
Historic Market Street
The first settlement in the Corning area was established around 1796, and over the next several centuries, the city became a center of several different industries – lumber, canal trades, and then railroads. After the Civil War, the industry came to Corning in the form of the Ingersoll Rand Corporation, which is still located in the town, followed soon by the Corning Glass Works, the precursor of today’s Corning, Incorporated. The heart of the city is still its main business strip, Market Street, which boasts many placements on the National Register of Historic Places.
Market Street is the center of the Corning Gaffer District, an organization dedicated to the development and historic preservation of Corning, NY, which plans many community events, festivals, and parades year-round. Visitors to Market Street can find retail establishments, antique stores, art galleries, museums, and dining establishments that run the gamut from sports bars to fine dining establishments to ethnic cuisine. Much of what can be found in the various establishments are local, handcrafted work – restaurants serve local produce and wines, jewelry stores boast beautiful pieces handcrafted and designed by local artisans, and the art galleries are brimming with glassworks, painting, and sculptures by artists who live near Corning.
Historic Walking Tours are offered on the street, which showcases historic buildings and details their histories and unique architectural features. These tours start at the visitor’s center in Baron Steuben Place, right at the center of Market Street.
Gateway to the Finger Lakes
Corning, NY is located near to several of the major Finger Lakes, but two in particular – Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake – are within very close proximity to Crystal City.
Hammondsport, NY, a tiny city with a unique, relaxed charm, rests at the southern end of this forked lake. Keuka is one of the less developed of the Finger Lakes, at Keuka State Park, near the northern end of the lake, offers beaches, playgrounds, and a stunning vista of the lake. Wine aficionados will enjoy the Rieslings from the wineries on the Keuka Lake Wine Trail including my personal favorite – Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars, the most award-winning of the New York State wineries.
Race fans – and seventies rock fans – will have heard of Watkins Glen, the city that crowns the southern time of Seneca Lake, the deepest – and coldest! – of the Finger Lakes. Watkins Glen contains a truly spectacular public park boasting a gorge and dozens of waterfalls, along with the famed racetrack and an assortment of retail establishments catering to race fans. Seneca Lake is another great spot for wine lovers – there are over 30 member wineries in the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, which sponsors several themed events every year that pair wines from participating wineries with items such as pasta, chocolates, herbs, and ornaments.
A visit to Corning, NY has something for everyone, boasting big-city sophistication with small-town charm. The Crystal City awaits!