Chances are you have heard myths and stories about winters in "upstate" New York. 

The thing is "upstate" means different things to different people and seems to be used by many to reference anything outside of New York City.

As a result, the term can be misleading and gives rise to a number of misconceptions which could cause you to miss out on wonderful Wintertime experiences.

Let's address some of those misconceptions. 

Misconception #1 - Tsunamis of Snow

Winter Bilzzard
We Are NOT Up To Our Eyes in Snow

Rumor has it all of New York State is blanketed by the white stuff all winter long. And not just a dusting, but feet upon feet.

Not true! 

Let’s get something out of the way up front. This is NOT a land of 8-foot snow drifts. It is NOT a hot spot for whiteouts, snow squalls, or blizzards. 

You will NOT typically see folks on their rooftops shoveling, or using a snow blower.

If you do see a random person doing that, we strongly suggest you just keep driving. Imagine what they do during the summer.  

Winter Mess
This Is Winter . . . Somewhere Else

Contrary to what you might believe, the Southern Finger Lakes is NOT a frozen tundra during Winter. As a matter of fact, when it comes to average annual snowfalls, Steuben County ranks #47 out of 62 counties in the entire state. 

Soul Full Cup and Market Street in Winter
Soul Full Cup and Corning's Historic Market Street in Winter courtesy Brian Maloney

And as far as towns go, Hammondsport ranks 1,021st and Corning comes in at 1,158th when it comes to average annual snowfall for New York State.

Misconception #2 - Yeti Sightings!

Yeti in Snow
Rare Sighting of Yeti in Snow (not seen around these parts, except possibly waterskiing Keuka Lake in summer though that has not been confirmed)

Okay, maybe this one isn’t very common. But apparently Big Foot frequents the region, so let’s nip this in the bud. 

Not true! 

We’re pretty certain.

Of course, who knows for sure? Big Foot and its winterized cousin are elusive after all. Masters of social distancing and mystery. 

Outdoors Red Fox Wildlife In Snow
Red Fox in Snow courtesy Bill Banaszewski

You might, however, discover other sorts of wildlife. Like red or gray fox, pheasants, deer, snow geese, or an assortment of other birds. 

Scenic Snowy Winter Field Vineyard
Scenic Snowy Winter Landscape courtesy Bill Banaszewski

A little dusting of snow on vineyards, rolling hills, and farmland can actually make for some truly breathtaking views!

Misconception #3 - Everything is Shut Down!

Sure Is Cold Out There
There Are Plenty Of Ways to Stay Warm and Have Fun

Definitely not true! 

You might not know this, but just about everything you can experience during summertime, is still open and still doable. 

Winter Wine Tasting at Heron Hill
Winter Wine Tasting courtesy Bonnie Gustin Photography

The wineries, breweries, museums, small towns, great outdoors . . .

While certain small towns do experience a reduction in some shopping and dining options during winter, there are a number of wonderful boutiques and restaurants ready and waiting for the chance to show you what you’ve been missing.

Family Exploring New Glass Now Exhibit in the Contemporary Art + Design Wing at CMoG
CMoG photo by Chris Walters for The Corning Museum of Glass

Make the Myths Work In Your Favor

One wonderful benefit winter in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes offers that most folks don’t realize is that you practically have the place to yourself. 

Let the above myths work in your favor. 

Spencer Crest Snow Shoeing
Spencer Crest Snow Shoeing courtesy Cagwin Photography

Unless you have your heart set on spotting a Yeti. While it’s not likely to happen here, you’re welcome to look. And with nearly 1,000 miles of wilderness footpaths winding their way through the woods, we suggest you start on the Finger Lakes Trail.

Of course, there are several other trails scattered throughout the area, as well, that are perfect for winter hikes which can be quite exhilarating.

And if there is any of the white stuff, folks are encouraged to experience the trails on snow shoes or cross country skiing. Combine the refreshing aspect of crisp clean air, old-fashioned solitude, and the quiet crunch of snow underfoot for a relaxing, rejuvenating experience. 

Winter Shopping Market Street
Winter Shopping Market Street

While you’re at it, you might as well savor the exceptional wines and craft beverages being created here. After all, this is where the world-renowned wine region got its start. Twice! With the planting of the first grapes in the region. And, over a century later, when one small winery helped revolutionize winemaking for the entire east coast. 

Krooked Tusker
Krooked Tusker Distillery

Craft Your Adventure during winter by using the craft beverage app to discover the diverse craft beverage offerings and experiences on the trail. With over 30 producers, including some of the best in the state, your palate will thank you. 

Hot Glass Show Artist Helen Tegeler Glassblowing Demo
Hot Glass Show Artist Helen Tegeler Glassblowing courtesy The Corning Museum of Glass

This is where you can master the art of the winter getaway. 

For years The Corning Museum of Glass has been one of the state’s top draws. During winter, you can visit this remarkable museum devoted to glass, the largest museum of its kind in the world, and take in mind-blowing creations, hot glass shows, and expansive museum shops. 

The chance to secure a spot for your own glassblowing workshop also increases with less people vying for those precious spots. 

Rockwell Museum 7035
The Rockwell Museum courtesy Cagwin Photography

Keep warm and continue the art experience by taking the free shuttle over to The Rockwell Museum to witness the story of America as expressed through art. Paintings, sculpture, mixed-media are all used to tell fascinating stories in a way only art can do. 

The Thing About Snow

Some of us recall the winters of our youth, back in the 1970s and 80s when it seemed as though we had a foot or two of snow to play in and enjoy throughout the winter months. 

Winters in the Southern Finger Lakes are milder these days. What that means for you is easier navigation throughout the region. 

Of course, if we do get snow, it’s difficult to deny just how beautiful the landscape appears. 

Magical Centerway Square Winter Evening Clocktower
Magical Centerway Square Winter Evening Clocktower courtesy Brian Maloney

For us, Winter is a Magical time of year. To learn more about Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes and the many myth-worthy experiences to be found here, request an official Experience Guide