We’re heading into early Spring and it will be time to recharge and wake up from Winter’s hibernation. Let’s discover what Corning, New York has to offer the eager traveler.

Originally known in 1796 as “The Town of Painted Post”, the town was renamed Corning in 1836 for railroad mogul and financier Erastus Corning (1794-1852), who was influential in the region. Through the town flows the Chemung River, a tributary of the Susquehanna. The Chemung provided the necessary transportation for the town’s once thriving lumber industry. Today, Corning is lovingly called “The Crystal City” — we’ll get to that later.

A worker at the Corning Museum of Glass watches as a boy works with a sandblasting machine to palce a design on glassware, one of the hands-on activities available at the museum. (Jason Whong / OutLook by the Bay)

Just five hours from Annapolis, Corning makes a great getaway for a long weekend. There’s a lot to see and do in Corning and the downtown is easily walkable. The historic Gaffer District is filled with delightful specialty shops, glass studios, art galleries, antique shops, restaurants, and breweries.You’ll notice the trees and beautifully filled planters along the streets making the area feel alive and welcoming — encouraging folks to stay awhile, to linger. Centerway Square is in the middle of it all with its amazing 50 foot tall clock tower (1883). Period streetlamps grace the way and provide a warming glow to evenings.

There are all kinds of things to do in Corning. Check out their Buildings Alive! walking tour, to see Victorian-era buildings made of local brick and sporting decorative terra cotta. Delve into the award winning Corning Chocolate Trail. Look into special events planned throughout the year such as Cabin Fever in March and the Urban Arts Crawl in March and April.

Conveniently located off Market Street, The Rockwell Museum, housed in the old city hall (1893), is a stunning building. This museum dedicated to the American experience is the only Smithsonian affiliate in upstate New York. Marvel at wildlife art, masterpieces by famed artists Remington and Russell and the Hudson River School artists, historic firearms displays, pottery of the southwest, Iroquois art and much more. Consider purchasing a combination ticket to this museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. A shuttle runs every 15 minutes between The Rockwell Museum, the glass museum, and Market Street.

Here’s why Corning is nicknamed the “Crystal City.” Corning Glass Works got its start under a different name in 1851 in Somerville, Massachusetts. The company moved to Corning in 1868. Of course we all remember CorningWare, Pyrex and Corelle made by Corning Glass. This huge corporation, now called Corning Inc., no longer produces consumer products, instead focusing on technologies like optical fiber, industrial ceramics and smart phone glass.

Do not skip the Corning Museum of Glass. This mammoth museum, the world’s largest glass museum, can take up a full day of your time. See ancient glass in the 35 centuries of glass gallery; modern, artistic glass in the 26,000 square foot gallery; demonstrations in the hot shop and innovation center. Perhaps you’ll want to get involved and join a hands-on activity suited to all ages. Kids under age 17 are admitted free. 

The hot shop is sure to amaze. The gallery seating allows all to see what is going on as glass is heated, worked, and cooled to perfection. You may see an artist watching anxiously as their vision is transformed into a reality by expert craftspeople. 

A super place for breakfast or lunch is Poppleton Bakery. Their selections are mouthwatering. For evening dining, try The Cellar and sample tapas such as Cauliflower Wings and Butternut Potstickers. Three Birds has an amazing filet mignon cooked to your liking and their menu includes many enticing selections.

The Crystal City offers so much. A visit to this thriving small town will revitalize your spirit and open your eyes to the marvels of glass and creativity.

Barbara enjoys traveling as often as possible. She can be reached at: barbara.s.aiken@gmail.com.

Discover:

Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes corningfingerlakes.com

Corning Museum of Glass cmog.org

The Rockwell Museum rockwellmuseum.org

Eat:

The Cellar corningwinebar.com

Poppleton Bakery poppletonbakery.com

Three Birds threebirdsrestaurant.com

Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.

Barbara enjoys history and is particularly interested in the history of Maryland.