When I learned that I would be writing a blog about holiday shopping and gift ideas in Corning and the Finger Lakes, I brightened right up. Shopping! Is there anything better? And I, in my new job as communications manager here at the SCCVB, get to research it and write about it!
I was born and raised in New Jersey - the Land of Malls - so the idea of browsing and buying those perfect gifts in charming shops throughout the Finger Lakes region was especially appealing to me. Most of us have endured the crowds, the pushing and shoving, the long lines and the endless circling of giant parking lots at big box stores only to find that the items we were after had been snapped up at dawn. What to do??
The answer is simple. Give yourself the gift of holiday shopping in the midst of scenic Finger Lakes country and the friendly bustle of Corning's Gaffer District.
Each season in the Finger Lakes has its special qualities. But winter - especially the holidays - offers a unique perspective. As you travel through Corning, Painted Post and Campbell, Bath and Hammondsport, Hornell, Avoca, Addison and the surrounding countryside you will appreciate the wonderful variety of shopping opportunities available to you.
Hammondsport at the base of Keuka Lake is one of the most charming of the little villages that dot the region. The stores and restaurants lining the village square beckon us with interesting and unusual gifts we won't find anywhere else. The Cinnamon Stick is a browser's delight. I have spent hours there, choosing just the right glassware, artwork, Pandora jewelry, cards and stationery, gourmet foodstuffs and much more. And upstairs! Upstairs is a huge collection of holiday ornaments, theme Christmas trees, and "everything wine" for the wine connoisseur.
Across the village square, Lime Berry is a gallery/shop featuring unusual sculptures, folk art paintings, and hand-knotted rugs. Mud Lust Pottery's hand-painted earthenware is featured in galleries across the U.S....and you can gift a piece or two to that very special person.
Vinophiles will love the gifts you buy at Finger Lakes wineries. More than 100 wineries present their best vintages for a palate-enriching experience. Many winery gift shops have those "toys" no wine lover can do without. Check out the lovely bottle tops at Pleasant Valley Wine Company. Stop at Heron Hill Winery and drink in (sorry) the spectacular view while you choose award-winning wines to gift. And the champagne aficianados on your list will love the 400-year-old family recipe for champagne at Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars. Premium wines along with spectacular Finger Lakes scenery while you shop...what better way to spend a day?
Oh, wait! As you leave Hammondsport headed south, stop at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum and take in the world of miniatures at the 20th annual dollhouse exhibit. Not just for dollhouse lovers (although there are 100 on display), the exhibit also includes miniature machinery, military figures, animals, greenhouses, and dolls.
In Bath you can learn about the origins of Santa Claus at St. Thomas Church's exhibition, "St. Nicholas: Discovering the Truth About Santa Claus" until December 5. And December 3 will kick off the town's annual Spirit of Christmas, always a holiday delight (and a shopper's delight as well).
A short drive west and you can enjoy shopping in downtown Hornell, where the annual Aglow celebration kicked off the holiday season recently. The stores in Hornell are chock-full of things to satisfy everyone on your gift-giving list. Got a railfan in your life? A truly unique gift is a pass to the Erie Depot Museum where Hornell's place in national rail transportation is memorialized.
Back on the road to more holiday finds! Terrific treasures can be found at Antiques at the Establishment, Main Street, Campbell, New York. This remarkable shop, housed in an old (1868) church building, proudly features Tiffany stained glass windows and an unforgettable antique experience.
On to Corning and the Gaffer District where they always make the most of the holiday season. As events like the Centerway Tree Lighting and Sparkle unfold, your visits will uncover those treasures you could never find in a big box store. (And the free parking doesn't hurt, either!).
On Market Street, Simple Style offers wonderful fair trade organic wear, accessories and cute things for the home. Further down the block you'll see why Pip's Creative Wear has been a favorite women's clothing and accessories shop for nearly 30 years. The skier in the family will appreciate the attention and professional advice from the knowledgeable folks at Berger's Ski and Snowboard. And Imagine That! is every child's (and parent's) fantasy: a colorful, fanciful store full of games, toys and unique clothing for kids. Don't miss the opportunity to buy an original piece of art at the special holiday exhibit, "12x12<150",>The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. These pieces, in a wide range of styles and media, are no larger than 12 inches in any direction, and are priced under $150. Beautiful and affordable!
No shopping excursion to Corning would be complete without stopping at the world class glass studios and shops. Everyone knows that Corning, "America's Crystal City", is home to the largest collection of art glass in the world. But you can have the thrill of watching artisans form the actual piece you are buying at Vitrix Hot Glass Studio. Their uncompromising quality and workmanship is evident in all of their work, from large decorative glass pieces to stunning jewelry. And don't miss the display of gorgeous museum-quality kaleidoscopes at The Glass Menagerie.
No matter where you look in the Gaffer District you'll find something for everyone on your list. And you can congratulate yourself later as you take a breather in one of the District's many restaurants or coffee bars (tea and scones, anyone? cappuccino?)
Stumped on what to get Uncle Bob or your teenage niece? When nothing seems quite right, give them a gift card or certificate for a truly interesting experience! Museum passes (The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, Corning Museum of Glass or the Rockwell Museum of Western Art), hands-on fun (Earth Paint and Fire Studio, The Crafting Cottage, Rocky Hill Pottery), culinary classes at 171 Cedar Arts Center, or a wine sensory class at Keuka Lake Vineyards might be just the thing. And don't forget the restaurants! Most offer gift dining experiences and menus that rival anything a big city has to offer.
Do your holiday shopping in Corning & the Finger Lakes. Your thoughtfully chosen gifts are sure to delight everyone on your list.