Corning, New York, and nearby Watkins Glen State Park, pack a perfect one-two punch for a fall getaway full of beauty and nature. With fall foliage nearing its peak, hop in the car and get your road trip on in the gorgeous NY Finger Lakes region.
Corning is home to the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG), where glass comes to life. Stroll through the galleries and learn about the origins of glass making, the history of glassblowing, and the transformation of the Corning area from farm town to “Crystal City.” The exhibits seem to go on forever, but you never tire of looking at them.
Live glassblowing, flameworking, and glass breaking demonstrations showcase the training and precision glassworkers must master, and, with a little help, you can get into the workshop to create your own glass art. My 9 year-old daughter tried glassblowing and made a unique glass pumpkin – she loved that she could choose her own colors to match her newly-painted bedroom! My 14 year old son, as well as my husband and I, created glass flowers. The workshops take 15 – 30 minutes per person and there are activities suitable for all ages.
There’s more to see in Corning. The downtown Gaffer District offers museums such as the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, themed walking
trails (chocolate trail anyone?), and more amazing restaurants than you’d expect to find in a town this size. The main street is small and quaint – perfect for a stroll after dinner. We chose the Gaffer Grille and Tap Room for dinner. My husband had a tender, well-spiced, perfectly-cooked filet mignon. I indulged in a messy set of ribs that had quite a kick! Sweet potato fries and crisp green beans rounded out the meal.
The following day we drove half an hour north to Watkins GlenState Park at the base of Seneca Lake. Descending down the Gorge Trail, we were soon greeted by immense water-carved rock walls and waterfalls we could walk under.
The temptation to soak her head in the waterfalls proved too great for my daughter – so consider bringing towels or a change of clothes for your kids!
The 1.5-mile trail along the gorge will have you stopping again and again to take in the stunning scenery. Several additional trails branch out from the Gorge Trail, offering other options for your return hike. The park has camping, picnic tables, a playground, and a pool and swimming areas open in the summer.
Around the corner from the main entrance of the park is The Great Escape Ice Cream Shop. I have to give a shout out to this impressive shop with its many flavors of hard ice cream, custard, gelato, and even vegan ice cream. Do stop by after spending your day hiking!
We left the Corning/Watkins Glen area feeling tired, satisfied, and saturated by beauty. And we can’t wait to go back.
CMoG provided my family with passes to the museum and workshop experiences. All opinions are my own.