The Finger Lakes region is a lovely drive from New York City. There is so much to enjoy in the area from adventure sports, to wonderful museums, to great wineries and delicious restaurants. This destination, in particular, is great for at least two days. You want to visit Corning NY!
Where is Corning New York?
Before I deep dive into things to do and see in Corning, with places to stay too, let’s discuss where Corning NY is! It’s part of the “Finger Lakes” region of New York. It’s in western New York just north of the Pennsylvania border. Here’s a few driving times for reference:
- Scranton, PA to Corning, New York: 2.5 hours, approx. 115 miles
- Buffalo, NY to Corning: 2.5 hours, approx. 160 miles
- Manhattan, NY to Corning: 4-5 hours (very dependent on traffic), approx. 255 miles
For an especially handy look at the area and things to do, which I go into details for below, check out this custom Google map I’ve created.
What to See and Do in Corning NY
Kayaking or Paddle Boarding
I happen to love early mornings on a lake. It’s pretty awesome to enjoy the stillness of the water and feel of the crisp air. And besides, isn’t a morning workout kayaking or paddle boarding on a gorgeous lake way better than a confined gym at your hotel? Kayaking on Keuka Lake was certainly the most glorious way to start my morning. It put me in the best mood! And since it’s a lake it’s calm – there’s no need to be scared of huge waves or anything! I recommend doing this for about an hour so you can head over to the next stop!
Note that it’s about a 20-30 minute drive from Corning but it’s completely worth it for a little morning zen to start your day!
Visit the Corning Museum of Glass
This is such a kick-ass museum. I LOVED it here and I could have spent so much more time there than we did (but there’s so many things to do in Corning NY we moved on after about four hours!). The glass sculptures will have your jaw on the ground, you’ll watch glass blowing demonstrations with awe, and you can participate in a “make your own glass” time with ease!
You can spend more or less time here if you want but I promise you it’ll capture your attention more than you expected. The great news is their tickets are good for two consecutive days. If you’re craving more time there but need to skedaddle, come back tomorrow!
Spend Time at The Rockwell Museum
Next up on your already fabulous day filled with things to do in Corning, NY, is art appreciation and digestion! After filling your stomach with delicious food, take a walk down the road to the Rockwell Museum for a low key time ahead with beautiful paintings and sculptures.
Contrary to your immediate thought, it’s a museum focusing on art about the American experience. The building is Corning’s old city hall and the art collection was Bob and Hertha Rockwell’s. It’s three floors of about 500 pieces and, as a Smithsonian affiliate, has its seal of approval in terms of its quality and art programming.
I absolutely love native cultures so I was elated to see so many pieces on display having to do with Native Americans. They own about 13,000 pieces but due to their intimate space can only display so many at a time. This is great because it means that they rotate the art to always keep it fresh! They also have a program partnering with Corning Museum of Glass, to bring guest artists to the area.
They’re open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, with the exception of a few major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. If you’re visiting both museums, be aware you can save money and buy a combo ticket for both! There’s also a free shuttle that transports visitors between the two museums, which runs every 15 minutes.
Explore the Town of Corning New York
Corning is such a cute, walkable town and you’ll want to spend some time exploring W Market Street, part of the historic Gaffer District of Corning, NY. There’s vintage shops, clothing stores and retail spaces. If you’re in need of a snack be sure to stop at Poppleton Bakery; their cake pops are phenomenal (they have gluten-free options too).
It’s also a great time to take some photos – it’s truly a picturesque American city. Be sure to stop at the fifty-feet-high Clock Tower in Centerway Square. It’s a memorial to Erastus Corning, whom the town is named after. The Clock Tower used to be a watering station for horses too, and was constructed from local stone.
Another SUPER cool thing to do in Corning, NY is to participate in self-guided this walking tour, which starts at The Clock Tower. You can start there, from the beginning, or input your location from a list of 19 landmarks in the Gaffer District.
Restaurants in Corning NY
Have Lunch at Hand + Foot
Hand + Foot is, hands down, the best place to grab lunch in Corning’s town on W Market Street. They have something for any diet, any palette. You can’t go wrong with anything you order but I enjoyed the tostones, artichoke and pretzel bread with my group to start.
The tuna poke was my main dish, which I highly recommend, but some sandwiches friends ordered looked amazing too! It’s got a bit of a cool hispter vibe inside that I really liked.
The owners are seasoned restaurant owners who moved back closer to their hometowns after learning about restaurant management, including running a successful kitchen, in Manhattan.
Happy Hour Beers at Market Street Brewing
You’re on vacation! And what does that call for? Happy hour!
Head over to Market Street Brewing for some delicious beers. The staff is welcoming, the tunes are awesome and the vibe is cozy! I recommend a beer flight – it’s the best way to try a bit of several great options. (Note they’re open Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.)
While you’re enjoying your beer admire the building you’re sitting in. The owners received a prestigious award in New York, called the PAN Award, given to those who restore historic and preserve structures in historic districts, such as Corning, NY.
Have Dinner at The Cellar
There were so many menu items at The Cellar that caught my attention it was hard to choose just one…so I didn’t! My friend and I split two dishes. But that was only after everyone at the table shared a beautiful cheese plate and we all indulged in roasted Brussels sprouts. (Yum and yum.) They also have an extensive list of wines, martinis and assorted cocktails. So many, in fact, they need an iPad to show guests all the options!
Dippity Do Dahs for Ice Cream Dessert
Just in case you saved room for dessert and you’re more of an ice cream person than a cake one, walk down the street for a treat. Dessert at Dippity Do Dahs will do the trick. They have sundaes, waffle cones, shakes and ice cream sandwiches. Indulge a little more for your day in Corning, NY; I did.
Where to Stay in Corning New York, in the Finger Lakes
Being downtown was ideal. It’s close to the Corning Museum of Glass, the Rockwell Museum, restaurants and more. Staying in downtown Corning, NY will put you in the heart of everything we’ve mentioned to do and see when you visit.
Here’s a few great options with wonderful reviews:
- Hilton Garden Inn Corning Downtown
- Staybridge Suites
- Rosewood Inn (If you’re looking for something a little more local with a Bed and Breakfast vibe. It’s the furthest one we listed from the Corning Museum of Glass but it’s still very close by, just across the water)
Please note: We thank the Finger Lakes tourism boards for generously hosting us. We also may make a small commission from affiliate links in this post but all opinions are ours and we bring you genuine content with real facts, photos, thoughts and recommendations. Always.
Traveling around New York? Also check out:
- Why a Trip to Buffalo Had Me in Disbelief
- 10 Fun Free Car Games for Road Trips
- Inside the Coolest Museum in Western New York: Corning Museum of Glass