Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes region has become one of New York’s top destinations for a summer getaway. Full of history and outdoor adventure, the area has scenic places to explore, nearby wineries, excellent restaurants, and family-friendly activities. Corning has a charming downtown, and it’s renowned as one of the premier centers for glass cutting in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away or a weeklong vacation full of adventure, you’ll find it in this beautiful part of New York.
Things to Do
Explore the Shops and Museums
Start out by exploring historic downtown Corning. The antique shops and artisan wares on display are a fun way to spend a lazy morning or to wind down after an action-packed day of adventure. Be sure to check out the Gaffer District, which includes shops, studios, galleries, restaurants, historic architecture, and a range of annual events worth planning a trip around. Stop in at the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass. In addition to exhibits on the impressive history of glass production from around the world—over a period of 35 centuries—this museum features working artists and craftspeople. Visitors can attend a variety of guest lecturers throughout the year or take a class from a glass artist (booking in advance is recommended).
Swim, Paddle, or Fish on Keuka Lake
If Keuka Lake is what brought you to the region, you are not alone. Affectionately known as the “crooked lake” because of its unusual y-shape, Keuka Lake is a hub of activity. It’s generally the warmest of the big three area lakes (Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga) making it inviting for all water-related activities. Enjoy a mid-day swim, followed by a picnic lunch on the shores of the lovely Keuka Lake State Park—or you can eat at one of the four lakeside restaurants. Take an evening paddle and watch the sunset. For anglers, Keuka Lake features some of the best fishing in the region.
Learn More About Aviation History
Hammondsport, N.Y., is known as the “Cradle of Aviation,” as it’s the home to aircraft pioneer Glenn Curtiss. He, like the Wright brothers, began as a bicycle maker, before moving on to motorcycles and then aircraft. He piloted his “June Bug” aircraft more than 5,000 feet in 1908 to win the Scientific America Cup, the first-ever aeronautical prize. He would go on to hold several speed records, and he became the first pilot to travel between two cities (Albany and New York) in 1910. Curtiss also developed technology to help planes take off and land on the water, making the seaplane possible. You can learn more about his incredible life at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, where you can see many of his historic creations.
If you’re inspired by the museum, take to the skies yourself in the area. Enjoy a seaplane ride from Keuka Lake or float across the peaceful skies in a hot air balloon. Another option is to go “soaring” in Elmira, which is about 45 minutes away. After being towed in the air by a motorized aircraft, you are left to glide back to earth, enjoying a silent ride through the sky.
Tour the Wineries
Visitors won’t want to miss the friendly reception and innovative creations of some of the finest wineries in New York. One of the most famous in the region is Hammondsport’s Bully Hill Vineyards, where you can enjoy a glass of wine overlooking Keuka Lake. Hunt Country Vineyards is well known as the oldest producer of true ice wine in the United States—it has even been served in the White House. For those who like the bubbly stuff then a visit to Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars is in order as it specializes in making award-winning New York State sparkling wines. Dr. Konstantin Frank also has a line of sparkling wines (formerly marketed as Chateau Frank) among many other options. It was founded by Dr. Frank in 1962, and it has been a leader in making this region so successful in wine production. If wine isn’t your thing, you’ll find a fast-growing network of craft breweries, cideries, and distilleries in the area. Follow the Southern Finger Lakes Beverage Trail to discover the best that the region has to offer.
Hike to the Waterfalls in Watkins Glen State Park
When it comes to truly memorable moments, you don’t want to miss a hike where you can marvel at the 19 waterfalls and spectacular rock formations at Watkins Glen State Park. The park has three primary trails to explore: the Indian Trail, the South Rim Trail, and the Gorge Trail. The Indian and South Rim trails follow either side of the gorge along the rims, while the Gorge Trail follows Glen Creek through the bottom of the canyon. Stony Brook State Park is another excellent option for hikers. Three different mile-long trails will help you explore this rugged gorge with three scenic waterfalls. The 2,490-acre Erwin Wildlife Management Area is just five miles west of Corning, and here you’ll find 10 miles of hiking trails that highlight both thick deciduous forest and hemlock-shaded marshland. Be on the lookout for deer, turkey, grouse, and other animals living in the preserve.
Where to Stay
No getaway is complete without a cozy spot to call home while on vacation, and the Southern Finger Lakes region is filled with memorable options. Pretty views and 230 feet of lake frontage for guests is the main draw of the Keuka Lakeside Inn in Hammondsport. For those looking to bring on the romance, try the Villa Bernese Bed & Breakfast. This B&B is just four miles from downtown Corning on a wooded hillside overlooking the Chemung River Valley. Another inspiring choice is the Rosewood Inn, an elegant Victorian B&B within walking distance of the famed Gaffer District. If being right in the heart of it all equals perfection to you, look no further than Lodging at the Gaffer Inn, which is located on historic Market Street in Corning.
Where to Eat
In downtown Corning, Sorge’s is a local favorite providing casual and tasty Italian and American food. The Market Street Brewing Co. & Restaurant has excellent pub food to go along with the half-dozen beers that it makes, including several seasonal options. For fine dining, Three Birds offers beautifully plated meals, with steak, seafood, and vegetarian options, plus an extensive wine list. Looking for something a little different? Try out Hand + Foot, a “creative bar serving craveable food in an environment focused on craft and community.”
Keuka Lake’s many miles of accessible shoreline also features great lakeside dining. The Switzerland Inn, affectionately known around these parts as “the Switz,” offers a wide-ranging American menu, often with live music. You can enjoy the sunset from its beautiful outdoor deck. The Waterfront Restaurant and Bar in Hammondsport offers casual lakeside dining and a brunch that make it a worthy destination.
Beautiful lakes, art, outdoor adventure, history, fine restaurants, wine and craft brews—the Southern Finger Lakes region really has everything you need for a relaxing time away.
Written by Lisa Collard for Matcha in partnership with Steuben County Conference & Visitors Bureau and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.