Crazy for Corning
There’s something a little corny about going all out on alliteration in a kooky title like Crazy for Corning, but what can I say? It’s simply the kind of sweet small town that inspires such silliness.
Okay, I’ll stop now.
Alliteration and corniness aside, there is something cool about Corning. While Corning is often lumped in with the Finger Lakes, it’s actually about a thirty minute drive south of the Southern tip of Seneca Lake. As we were coming from Keuka Lake, we decided to swing by Seneca on our way. After all, there was one natural wonder I just knew I couldn’t leave the region without seeing — and that was Watkins Glen State Park.
While about half of the two-mile main trail was yet to open for the season, we were lucky enough to be joined by one of the park’s lively rangers for a tour of what was already open to hikers. Waterfalls gushed with life, our cameras snapped furiously, and both Margaret and I vowed to return someday for the full trail. It was a reminder to me that New York is brimming with natural beauty, and I need to remember to give some love to the State Parks around my hometown of Albany sometime soon as well!
Before heading off, we decided to take a quick peek at Seneca Lake. While not quite as scenic as Keuka from this particular vantage point, Margaret did have some pretty enthusiastic ideas for how we could spice up the shot.
Driving into Corning, we were both unsure what to expect. The only thing we knew about the city was that it is home to the Corning Museum of Glass, where we had a full day of fun planned ahead. But what else? Having had my expectations exceeded and beyond so far, I was pretty excited to find out.
Our first stop, just a short stroll from our modern digs at the Raddison Hotel Corning, was Corning’s Gaffer District. Historic storefronts boasted trendy eateries, chic salons and bustling artists’ studios that seemed to stretch for a mile. Vintage cigar shop signs hung next to hand-lettered chalkboards promising the best pizza in town. An upcoming events calendar sold us on a lively scene of arts and music festivals. This is the kind of American main street that movie makers scramble to recreate in studios.
It was the perfect destination for a little window shopping and sightseeing. “Corning must have the most beautiful people in the world,” Margaret remarked, as we passed what felt like a dozen beauty salons. I was itching for a cut and color by the time we reached our destination.
But I’d settle for a drink and dinner instead. I admit, Hand + Foot had us both erring a bit on the skeptical side based on the name. I mean, I love pedicures as much as the next Corning salon-addict, but I don’t really want to think about feet when I eat. That said, all thoughts of appendages went out the window when we stepped into an eclectic dining room that would have fit right in on a hip street in Brooklyn.
The menu was a creative conversation piece — seriously, anyplace with an offering called the %*@! Me Pretzel has pretty much won me over from the salad course. We had such a fun meal here, stuffing ourselves with delicious treats and chatting with the owner, a Corning native who’d recently returned home from — you guessed it — The Big Apple. I loved hearing him talk about returning to his roots, and we bonded over our shared Upstate heritage.
The next morning, we sprung out of bed ready to sample another of Corning’s adorable eateries, this time run by a local mother daughter duo. The Poppleton Bakery and Café looked like it was straight out of Wonderland, winning this Wanderland blogger over right away. I started my day with a granola crepe, simply because I’d never seen it on any menu before. And with Greek vanilla yogurt topped with banana and clementines and fresh granola, it was a gamble that paid off big.
The Poppleton girls weren’t going to let us get away with being quite so healthy though, and sent me away with a big box of treats that had me vowing never to return to Corning lest I wish to gain six pant sizes. They were that good.
While it was the Corning Museum of Class that brought us and so many others to Corning, we decided to warm up with one of its smaller gallery-filled neighbors, The Rockwell Museum.
The Rockwell Museum’s focus is on Traditional Western and Contemporary Native American Art, which it displays in bite-sized, eye-poppingly bright galleries. I pinched myself when I saw a set of Andy Warhol paintings I’d never seen so much as reproductions of before (no photos allowed of those, sadly) and loved going room to room with my sister picking out each of our favorites from the collections. Don’t miss this museum if you come to Corning — you can get a great feel for it in just an hour.
“So… when did Corning get so cool?” Margaret and I took turns pretending to ask Corning residents a question we were starting to suspect the answer to — it has been all along. We’re the ones who were slow to catch on.
And we were about to go behind-the-scenes at the museum around which Corning’s creative heart beats.
Stay tuned for a post on our day at the Corning Museum of Glass!
Many thanks to Steuben County Conference & Visitor’s Bureau for hosting me in Corning. As always, you get my honest thoughts and opinions regardless of who is footing the bill. And big hugs and kisses to my big sis Margaret for being my travel buddy!
What an adorable idyllic town! Wishing we would’ve started our RV adventure up there. Who knows what the future holds though!
This would be a great place to road trip in an RV. So many fantastic places to camp and so many beautiful roads to drive!
Cool! My parents are from New York and this post reminded me of vacations as a kid. So pretty!
Nothing like childhood nostalgia to fuel a great adulthood trip 🙂
It feels a bit odd seeing you in this kind of environment! 🙂
Watkins Glen State Park reminds me a little of Devon, England.
Ha, I know! Like I quoted my friend in an earlier post… quite a change of scenery!
What an adorable little town!
Thanks Alex! Great name by the way 🙂
The Palace Theatre facade looks as delicious as that crepe.
Both were pretty gorgeous 🙂
Oh, beautiful place! I had no idea it existed and it just looks wonderful! I truly hope you had fun. Kisses,
I did indeed! Thanks Vera.
Hey Alex! I LOVE Corning too! I’m from Buffalo, NY originally and my family and I would always take day trips there! Thanks for sharing!
Nice! I’m from Albany 🙂
This happens to me every summer in Colorado when I’m traveling the state to hike 14ers. I stumble upon the most adorable towns I never knew existed and I’ve lived here a long time! That Western museum would fit right in out here. I’ve been to Oswego and really wasn’t impressed but these posts are making me want to visit Upstate and give it a second chance!
I visited an old boyfriend years ago in Oswego but never left the college campus… it’s easy to miss some of the gems in these kinds of towns!
These posts are reminding me of how much I love getting outside of major cities and exploring all the wonder of small towns.
It looks like lots of fun was had on your road trip!
I love it all… big cities, small towns, quiet islands. But small towns are just so darn easy to explore. I do adore them!
Ah, I can’t get enough of towns like this! It kind of reminds me of Boulder (maybe because I recently traveled there). But it has a similar vibe that I love…cool old buildings, trendy restaurants, a vibrant art scene. Love it 🙂
I need to get back to Colorado. It’s been far too long!
This looks awesome. There has got to be a film set here some time soon, no?!
It really would be pretty perfect for a little Pleasantville, USA of some sort!
I am loving these posts from New York. I have always wanted to visit NYC again, but shamefully never considered venturing further afield in the state – the beautiful scenery and cute towns are very much making me re-consider!
Yay! Come Upstate, Kat 🙂 There’s so much more to New York than the five boroughs!
Corning looks so cute!
It is — and nice job on the further alliteration 🙂
I’ve never heard of Corning, but I love that you’re highlighting this place. It looks so cute!
Gotta give my home state some love! 🙂 Thanks Esther.
Ok first post I was charmed by Upstate NY & now I’m totally sold. Next non-whirlwind Manhattan trip, I’d really like to check out these darling towns!
Swing by Albany and I’ll give you a personal tour if I’m around 🙂
Hi Thanks for sharing. It’s a very nice city.
You’re so welcome, Peter!
What an adorable quirky little town! That dinner restaurant sounds like the sort of place I would return to over and over again.
Me too! So many fun dishes to try and explore… and a bustling bar too!
There is something to be said about travelling around your home base/hometown/home state – travelling abroad is always fun and exciting, but there is so much around where one lives that has yet to be discovered and is equally as adventurous and breath-taking! I have been focusing on this with my hometown and home-province this summer, and I have fallen into a deeper love with southern Ontario because of it. I hope it has been the same as you travelled around your home state too! 🙂
Indeed. And that feeling of home pride that you can’t really feel anywhere else is pretty powerful!
Amazing pictures as always! And that Crepe looks absolutely incredible!
Thanks Jones! It’s easy to get great pictures with a town as cute as this…
Corning looks adorable! Those nature picture are great. Trails like that are so relaxing – no matter how strenuous the workout on them is.
Agreed. Just wait till you see our hiking trail from Ithaca 🙂
I LOVE small towns! This place looks idyllic and perfect for a weekend getaway. So many small towns own their charm and show how proud they are of what they have to offer. This post reminds me of a town in my province called Black Diamond. The cutest little art galleries, soda shops and diners, set amongst the prairies with the rocky mountains as a backdrop!
Love that town name… I might visit just for that alone 🙂
Glad you enjoyed your time in Corning! I own an art gallery on Market Street and it’s a great joy to meet new visitors to the area. And as you might guess we have a lot of repeat visitors. Next time you come you may also want to try some motorless flight. Harris Hill home to an airfield and the Nation Soaring Museum is right next door. A sailplane ride is a great way to see the local landscape especially in the fall.
That sounds pretty gorgeous. I’d love to return to Corning in the fall!
Thank you for sharing your adventures with us all. Beautiful pictures and words to match. We were so glad to host you and Margaret.
Thanks so much for having us at Watkins Glen, Brittany! We would love to return someday to see the full trail 🙂
I just love your writing. Thank you for visiting our little slice of heaven. Now I have to revisit the Rockwell Museum after reading your article.
Thank you for reading, Christine! I loved Corning. And what a sweet little museum — loved the sounds of their Gingerbread Invitational this December 🙂
What nice words! I have lived here all my life and I am proud to say my daughter-in-law and her wonderful mother own Poppleton’s !!! Thanks again !! Please come back and visit!!
You have lots to be proud of, Carol 🙂 I bet you get some amazing home-made gifts in the form of baked goods at all holidays — I’m jealous!
Live here all your life and see how much it sucks and ppl know your business and town talk. .
That may be so, but it is quite a lovely place to visit. I didn’t think my hometown of Albany was too hot either until I moved away. Now I’ve come to appreciate so much about it! Thanks for reading…
I love exploring things that are kind of in my own backyard, and upstate NY has so many gems (I called NYC my home, too, for almost 7 years, before moving back to Moscow). PS – I have an unhealthy reliance on alliteration as well 😉
It’s an addiction I think we can stand to accept, Anna 😉
Thank You so much for such an awesome shout out!!! Glad to hear you had such an amazing experience here!!! We are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful place!!! I spent majority of my summers as a child on Seneca Lake and believe me when I say there are some pretty beautiful landmarks on that lake as well and I’m sad you missed them. I may be partial, but I’ve always thought Seneca was “better” than Keuka 🙂 Hope you visit again and get to experience those wonders!!! Winters up here can be harsh but to most of us with an artistic eye, there just as beautiful!!
There’s only so much you can see in five days 🙂 I’m sure I’ll be back to the Finger Lakes again to see more!
Thank you for the great write up on my little town. I have carried mail here for the last 22 years (12 delivering the business and historical district) I got to see these attractions and sights every day.
What lovely sights to see 🙂 Thanks for reading, and for saying hi!
Did you happen to stop by my store to experience a whole new world of over 45 varieties of extra virgin olive oils, flavored oils and balsamic vinegars?
I did not, Wendy. Maybe next time!
Yay, glad you loved my hometown! And that you found the Rockwell! Its gift shop is dangerous if you love jewelry.
I bought gifts for both mother’s and father’s day in that gift shop 🙂 It’s a great one!
Alex, Hand and Foot is named after a card game that the owner used to play with his family! It’s a great game that I also played withy family growing up. The directions (and story about the name) are in the back of their drink menu;)
I read that 🙂 I still must admit that it gave me pause regardless!
It’s so weird reading about you visiting places ‘local’ to me. Watkins Glen is a popular place for everyone here to day trip to in the summer, though I don’t think I’ve ever been, as is Seneca Lake and Corning. Obviously I need to start paying more attention to all these local things!
Oh man, indeed! I know how easy it is to ignore the things in our own backyard but I definitely hope this inspires you to get out Watkins Glen. Such a gem!
great trip with your sister alex !! i love little towns they are so cute and you see the real life without a lot of technology
I think the best part of this trip was getting to spend time with my big sis!
I must say, you have gift for words and humor and I absolutely love the alliterations and the unique title. I have visited corning and found it to be really beautiful, with the lake Seneca and the caves and the waterfall. You have captured the beauty of the place with your words.
Thank you so much Debanjan! That is a much appreciated compliment 🙂