Seated at a work bench, my teenage daughter spins a bead of glass over an open flame. We are at Hands On Glass Studio, a small, friendly, glassmaking studio in Corning New York and she’s working with flame crafting something with her own two hands. Pretty much a perfect activity for a teen.
Glass blowing, bead making, shopping and dining too! There’s a lot to do in Corning New York. Recently we visited Finger Lakes and explored the area for 24 hours as we worked our way through upstate New York.
Here’s what we found and did while there.
What Are Some Fun Things to Do in Corning New York?
We arrive directly at the Corning Museum of Glass after spending 24 hours in Watkins Glen, and three days in Rochester. This is a quick trip through Finger Lakes New York. First up, a stop at the Corning Museum of Glass, where we find more than a few things to do in Corning and then Hammondsport.
My artsy high schooler spent months working hard as a play director for the city and she was ready for a trip that last week of summer. My youngest had just returned after two weeks at summer camp in Muskoka. So, after three days in Rochester and 24 hours hiking and exploring Watkins Glen we embraced the arts in Corning.
Explore Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass is open all year long. Immediately, I noticed the Dale Chihuly piece in the entryway and coudn’t wait to see what’s ahead. We were all stoked to be at the Corning Museum of Glass, our first stop. This is one of the adventures we were most looking forward to while in Corning New York.
Wandering around the museum itself was an educational experience. Take a self-guided tour of historic exhibits spanning 35 centuries of glass and of the Contemporary Art + Design Wing, view live demonstrations.
New Glass Exhibit
The New Glass exhibit was on when we visited and is only on through January 2020, but if you have time still to get to see it, do so. These various artists are super talented, using glass to make political statements, environmental commentary and simply pop culture pieces.
Sit in on a Glass Making Discussion
Travel Tip – Check the schedule when you arrive. There are dozens of amazing educational sessions on glass making, glass breaking and how glass breaks or how glass is used in every day life. My youngest genuinely enjoyed the glass breaking experience. Over the years, glass making has evolved, so that it is stronger and used in many different ways than it once was. Glass now is engineered to shatter differently than it did 40 years ago.
Glass Blowing at Corning Museum of Glass – Make a Flower or Choose Your Own Item
Make a glass figurine at the Corning Museum of Glass workshop. Suit up and make a pumpkin, flower or ornament. There are several options at different price points.
Corning Museum of Glass and Hands-on Glass are both open all year. They offer Make Your Own Glassblowing classes every day all year long. There are limited spots each day, so people need to sign up ahead of time. They also offer other classes throughout the year, including weekend-long classes and weekly classes for people in proximity or whose schedules allow.
Hands-On Glass Studio
Hands-On Glass Studio is on Crystal Lane in Corning. It took a bit of effort to find this amazing spot, but it’s very worth it. Rodi, the owner, and her team were spectacular and friendly. Rodi indicated that kids as young as two can get in on the glass-making process. With supervision and support to stay safe near the equipment there’s no reason why a child can’t get in to make something artistic.
At Hands-On Glass, my girls both had a chance to make a beautiful pendant. These require concentration and flamework, but they are very beautiful when they are done and you can wear them on a necklace or whatever spot you choose.
Make a glass pendant you can wear as a souvenir of the trip. I might be biased, but I felt like these looked every bot as gorgeous as the Pandora glass beads on my own bracelet. Pumpkins, paperweights and many other options also. You might make a small stained-glass hanging window ornament.
Explore Corning’s Historic District
The Gaffer District has been re-envisioned over the last four decades and it is now a thriving walking and shopping area.
Check out Gaffer District’s Parade of Lights
We arrived as the warm days of summer were trailing off and fall was bearing down. But, Corning is a great spot to visit any time of the year. It was once included in America’s Best 20 Small Towns for Christmas by Country Living magazine. At Christmas, make sure to go see the Gaffer District’s Parade of Lights.
Eat at Atlas Pizza
We didn’t have the chance to visit because we were so busy the day we were in Corning. However, you should know that Atlas Pizza was voted best pizza in upstate New York.
Old World Café and Ice Cream
The Old World Café has great paninis, soups and other snacks. We stopped in here together to grab lunch one day and were completely in love with the atmosphere and the ice cream counter. While we all tried for a modest ice cream treat there were a zillion different embellishments, so it was pretty much impossible to resist that temptation.
The Rockwell Museum
Did you know that the Rockwell Museum is upstate New York’s only Smithsonian affiliate museum? A hidden gem with world class art in a town of 11,000 residents. That’s worth checking out. Also they have a lovely gift shop, so hang around a bit.
Of course, you should always find time for shopping! Go shopping at one of over 100 boutiques and stores in the downtown area.
This is one of the area’s newer accommodations. It is affordable, clean and family friendly. Enjoy a great buffet breakfast that’s included. Also, there’s an indoor pool worth checking out and fire pits too. Plus, the lobby pays tribute to history of flight in the area and the location is near to wineries and breweries. Early development of seaplanes and aircraft happened here.
Stroll the main street, shop in the adorable stores in the village square and take home a memento of the area.
Super cute little town on the water. There are dozens of charming shops here to explore. Some have a cottage feel and many have kooky one of a kind gifts you won’t find anywhere else.
Eat at Village Tavern in Hammondsport
Located one block from Keuka Lake, on the Village Square of Hammondsport, The Village Tavern is an excellent choice for dining and lodging when touring the wineries or visiting the area.
Take the Buildings Alive Tour
A self directed architecture tour throughout the area is an easy and educational way to see the city of Corning. There are many gorgeous sculptures and buildings here to see. We accidentally did this when we took a wrong turn on foot looking for the Rockwell Museum.
Did you know that Corning was once the hub of the lumbering industry’s thoroughfare in the area? The Buildings Alive Tour is After 1855, brick and stone replaced wood. Corning Bricks Works made the bricks that replaced the wood in the structures throughout the area.
Dine at the Union Block Bistro
Locally owned Corning and Finger Lakes area favourite, the Union Block Bistro serves Italian and Mediterranean foods. Known for Chickketti, like Spanish tapas or small plates, and also known for their wine, cocktails and beer.
Walk to the Lake
Take in the only one of the Finger Lakes that doesn’t look like a finger, here in Hammondsport.
Go for a Boat Ride on Keuka Lake
The beach in Hammondsport is small but sweet and where there’s water, boats often follow.
Watersports at Champlin Beach Park
Rent a tandem kayak or find something fun to do. There’s an equipment rental shop on the lake, or bring your own. It is a public beach after all.
Book A Stay Here in Corning NOW!
Corning Museum of Glass Hours:
From Memorial Day through Labor Day the museum if open until 8pm. From Labor Day to Memorial Day the museum closes at 5pm.
Nearly half-a-million people from around the world visit The Corning Museum of Glass each year.