If you are looking for a place with friendly locals, picturesque streets, and small-town charm, then plan a visit to Corning, New York. Corning, a small town just north of the Pennsylvania border in the middle of New York State, serves as the gateway to the Southern Finger Lakes. It was voted “America’s Most Fun Small Town” by Rand McNaulty, and it definitely lives up to that title.
When you arrive in Corning, park the car and forgettaboutit! There’s no need to drive anywhere. All of the picturesque shops, fun bars, delicious restaurants, and interesting sights are within walking distance of each other with most located right on the town’s main tree-lined thoroughfare, Market Street. Plan on bumping into a lot of friendly locals and tourists alike as you stroll around this area known as the Gaffer District, and while you are at it, enjoy the slower pace of life for a change.
A Morning Walk
If you are an early riser, definitely get out and go for a walk through town before breakfast. It’s so quiet and peaceful in the morning hours before the shops open. Take a walk along the riverfront and return via Market Street for a great start to your day.
A Relaxing Breakfast in the Gaffer District
One of the best things about Corning is the slower pace of life that you’ll experience while visiting the town. No need to rush breakfast while visiting Corning; you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy everything this fun small town has to offer.
There are a few places to grab breakfast along Market Street, including: Donna’s, the town’s classic greasy spoon; Poppleton’s Bakery and Café, the town’s go-to for pastries and crepes; and Soul Full Cup, for those who simply enjoy a cup of good coffee with the morning paper.
111 Cedar Street
After breakfast, walk over to the Rockwell Museum (open at 9AM). It’s conveniently located at the corner of Dennison Parkway and Cedar Street, just two short blocks off of Market Street. The Rockwell Museum features art about America by American artists. You can see the Rockwell Museum in an hour. I recommend visiting it in the morning right after breakfast since the shops in town don’t open until 11AM. It’s a great way to spend those early morning hours in Corning.
A Pub Stop at the Market Street Brewing Company
63 West Market Street
The Market Street Brewing Company is a great spot to stop for a cold refreshing craft beer. When you see the list of available suds on the wall, you’ll easily opt for the flight so you can try them all. For $7, you’ll get 6 of the Brewery’s best selections. You can also buy a growler so you can enjoy your favorite back home.
Lunch at Old World Café
1 West Market Street
There are quite a number of spots to grab a bite to eat along Market Street, but for a quick sandwich, this is your place. You can enjoy your lunch either in the Victorian themed cafe or outdoors on the beautiful Centerway Square where the Clock Tower is located. The Square sits adjacent to the restaurant.
Shopping along Market Street
Market Street has just the right amount of stores offering a nice selection of goods without requiring a whole day to shop. You can hit up many of the shops in about 2 hours. Most shops along Market Street are cute boutiques, but there are a few chain stores like Bass sprinkled in along with some antique shops. Some of my favorite boutiques include the Posh Boutique, Crystal City Olive Oil, Connors Mercantile, West End Gallery, Bacalle’s Glass Shop, and The Source.
Even if you are not a shopper, you should pay a visit to at least these shops. I guarantee you’ll find something, whether it’s olive oil, chocolate, a new shirt, or something for the home. Also, if you are simply looking for a souvenir Corning t-shirt or sweatshirt, you’ll find those at Connor’s Mercantile. Check out my Corning Shopping Guide for more information.
Snack Stop at Jim’s Texas Hots
8 West Market Street
You’re going to have a late dinner and a bit of walking ahead of you, so you might as well have a snack before starting your late afternoon visit to the Corning Museum of Glass, which is next on our agenda. There’s no better stop on Market Street for something quick, delicious and not-too-filling than Jim’s Texas Hots. A Corning classic, this is where you go for a hot dog amped up with meat sauce, sauerkraut, and cheese whiz. You can order at the pick-up window from the sidewalk and grab a seat outside or step back in time and grab a seat inside. Cash is king here; they don’t accept credit cards.
Corning Museum of Glass
1 Museum Way
No visit to Corning is complete without a stop at the Corning Museum of Glass. The largest glass museum in the world, it attracts close to 400,000 visitors annually. This place is hugely popular and simply huge. You can easily spend a day in the Corning Museum of Glass, but if you are limited on time, you can see and do enough of the museum to get a good taste of it in about 2 hours. Add another hour if you decided to go to the “Make Your Own Glass” studio to make a glass flower or sculpture and peruse the enormous gift shop.
The museum tells the story of glass, and that story includes art, history, culture, technology, science, craft and design. Throughout the day, there are various glass blowing demonstrations as well as interactive learning stations.
The large (18,000 square feet) gift shop offers everything from pricey vases to reasonably priced glass flowers. There’s also a small kitchen shop where you can pick up some basic items for the cook in your life like a Pyrex measuring cup or pie dish.
The Corning Museum of Glass is located across the Chemung River from the downtown area. There is plenty of free parking available or you can take the free shuttle from the Gaffer District. The free shuttle runs in a loop about every 15 minutes and has stops at the Rockwell Museum’s front door as well as at the corner of Pine and Market Streets. Alternatively, if the weather is nice, you can take the pedestrian foot bridge across the river to the Museum. You can find it at Riverfront Park just past Centerway Square and Market Street.
Dinner at The Cellar
21 West Market Street
There are several options for dining right on Market Street depending on what you are in the mood for. I like The Cellar because of the ambience, the tapas menu, and wine list. Definitely order a cheese and charcuterie board to enjoy with a glass of wine. This is a great place for a light dinner.
Another option is Three Birds at 73 Market Street. Although I didn’t get a chance to eat there, a quick look at the menu has me dying to go back to Corning just to try some of their deliciously sounding dishes.
Ice Cream at Dippity Do Dahs
58 East Market Street
There are two Ice Cream shops on Market Street, Old World Café and Dippity Do Dahs. Both offer locally made ice cream. However, Dippity Do Dah’s is opened until 9PM, so the hours are suited better for an after dinner treat.
The ice cream is very creamy and flavorful . One scoop will run you $3 and 2 scoops cost $4. Definitely go with the two scoops because you’ll have a hard time trying to decide which ONE flavor you’ll get. Plus, it’s so good, you won’t feel satisfied after just one scoop. I opted for the wild berry with peanut butter and the coconut fudge. (The wild berry with peanut butter was very unique and delicious). If you are not sure what to order, just ask for a few samples to help you make up your mind!
Late night snack from Aniello’s Pizzeria
68 East Market Street
If you find yourself looking for a late night snack, give Aniello’s Pizzeria a try. They are opened til 1:00AM on weekends. I’ve been told by locals that it is a Corning classic, and it is the best pizza in town. I didn’t get a chance to try it, but it’s on my list for my next visit.
Recommended Hotel – The Radisson Hotel Corning
125 Denison Parkway East
The Radisson Corning is a great hotel for a stay in Corning. First, you can’t beat the location right in the heart of the Gaffer District. It’s literally right on the end of Market Street. Second, the rooms are big and comfortable. After a long exhausting day, I looked forward to the short walk back to my room. It offers amenities like a fridge and microwave in your room as well as free wi-fi. Third, the staff is fantastic. Not only are they friendly but they appear genuinely interested in your comfort and are very helpful. Whenever I called down to the front desk for something, the phone was answered immediately, and my requested items were promptly brought to my room. Finally, the hotel offers another perk…free parking!