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There’s something a little corny about going all out on alliteration in a kooky title like Crazy for Corning, but what can I say? It’s simply the kind of sweet small town that inspires such silliness.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Watkins Glen State Park

Alliteration and corniness aside, there is something cool about Corning. While Corning is often lumped in with the Finger Lakes, it’s actually about a thirty minute drive south of the Southern tip of Seneca Lake. As we were coming from Keuka Lake, we decided to swing by Seneca on our way. After all, there was one natural wonder I just knew I couldn’t leave the region without seeing — and that was Watkins Glen State Park.

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

While about half of the two-mile main trail was yet to open for the season, we were lucky enough to be joined by one of the park’s lively rangers for a tour of what was already open to hikers. Waterfalls gushed with life, our cameras snapped furiously, and both Margaret and I vowed to return someday for the full trail. It was a reminder to me that New York is brimming with natural beauty, and I need to remember to give some love to the State Parks around my hometown of Albany sometime soon as well!

Before heading off, we decided to take a quick peek at Seneca Lake. While not quite as scenic as Keuka from this particular vantage point, Margaret did have some pretty enthusiastic ideas for how we could spice up the shot.

Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake

Driving into Corning, we were both unsure what to expect. The only thing we knew about the city was that it is home to the , where we had a full day of fun planned ahead. But what else? Having had my expectations exceeded and beyond so far, I was pretty excited to find out.

Our first stop, just a short stroll from our modern digs at the , was Corning’s Gaffer District. Historic storefronts boasted trendy eateries, chic salons and bustling artists’ studios that seemed to stretch for a mile. Vintage cigar shop signs hung next to hand-lettered chalkboards promising the best pizza in town. An upcoming events calendar sold us on a lively scene of arts and music festivals. This is the kind of American main street that movie makers scramble to recreate in studios.

Corning, New York

Corning's Gaffer District

Corning's Gaffer District

It was the perfect destination for a little window shopping and sightseeing. “Corning must have the most beautiful people in the world,” Margaret remarked, as we passed what felt like a dozen beauty salons. I was itching for a cut and color by the time we reached our destination.

Corning's Gaffer District

Corning's Gaffer District

Corning's Gaffer District

But I’d settle for a drink and dinner instead. I admit, had us both erring a bit on the skeptical side based on the name. I mean, I love pedicures as much as the next Corning salon-addict, but I don’t really want to think about feet when I eat. That said, all thoughts of appendages went out the window when we stepped into an eclectic dining room that would have fit right in on a hip street in Brooklyn.

Hand + Foot, Corning

Hand + Foot, Corning

Hand + Foot, Corning

The menu was a creative conversation piece — seriously, anyplace with an offering called the %*@! Me PretzelΒ has pretty much won me over from the salad course. We had such a fun meal here, stuffing ourselves with delicious treats and chatting with the owner, a Corning native who’d recently returned home from — you guessed it — The Big Apple. I loved hearing him talk about returning to his roots, and we bonded over our shared Upstate heritage.

Hand + Foot, Corning

Hand + Foot, Corning

The next morning, we sprung out of bed ready to sample another of Corning’s adorable eateries, this time run by a local mother daughter duo. The looked like it was straight out of Wonderland, winning this Wanderland blogger over right away. I started my day with a granola crepe, simply because I’d never seen it on any menu before. And with Greek vanilla yogurt topped with banana and clementines and fresh granola, it was a gamble that paid off big.

The Poppleton girls weren’t going to let us get away with being quite so healthy though, and sent me away with a big box of treats that had me vowing never to return to Corning lest I wish to gain six pant sizes. They were that good.

Poppleton Bakery and Cafe

Poppleton Bakery and Cafe

Poppleton Bakery and Cafe

While it was the Corning Museum of Class that brought us and so many others to Corning, we decided to warm up with one of its smaller gallery-filled neighbors, .

The Rockwell Museum’s focus is on Traditional Western and Contemporary Native American Art, which it displays in bite-sized, eye-poppingly bright galleries. I pinched myself when I saw a set of Andy Warhol paintings I’d never seen so much as reproductions of before (no photos allowed of those, sadly) and loved going room to room with my sister picking out each of our favorites from the collections. Don’t miss this museum if you come to Corning — you can get a great feel for it in just an hour.

The Rockwell Museum

The Rockwell Museum

The Rockwell Museum

“So… when did Corning get so cool?” Margaret and I took turns pretending to ask Corning residents a question we were starting to suspect the answer to — it has been all along. We’re the ones who were slow to catch on.

And we were about to go behind-the-scenes at the museum around which Corning’s creative heart beats.

Stay tuned for a post on our day at the Corning Museum of Glass!

Many thanks to Steuben County Conference & Visitor’s Bureau for hosting me in Corning. As always, you get my honest thoughts and opinions regardless of who is footing the bill. And big hugs and kisses to my big sis Margaret for being my travel buddy!

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70 Comments...
  • caroline
    September 5 2015

    What an adorable idyllic town! Wishing we would’ve started our RV adventure up there. Who knows what the future holds though!
    caroline recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      This would be a great place to road trip in an RV. So many fantastic places to camp and so many beautiful roads to drive!

  • Ruth Martin
    September 5 2015

    Cool! My parents are from New York and this post reminded me of vacations as a kid. So pretty!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Nothing like childhood nostalgia to fuel a great adulthood trip πŸ™‚

  • Janice Stringer
    September 5 2015

    It feels a bit odd seeing you in this kind of environment! πŸ™‚
    Watkins Glen State Park reminds me a little of Devon, England.
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Ha, I know! Like I quoted my friend in an earlier post… quite a change of scenery!

  • Meihoukai
    September 5 2015

    What an adorable little town!

    – Meihoukai

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Thanks Meihoukai! Great name by the way πŸ™‚

  • LC
    September 5 2015

    The Palace Theatre facade looks as delicious as that crepe.
    LC recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Both were pretty gorgeous πŸ™‚

  • Vera
    September 5 2015

    Oh, beautiful place! I had no idea it existed and it just looks wonderful! I truly hope you had fun. Kisses,
    Vera

  • Liz
    September 5 2015

    Hey Meihoukai! I LOVE Corning too! I’m from Buffalo, NY originally and my family and I would always take day trips there! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kristina
    September 5 2015

    This happens to me every summer in Colorado when I’m traveling the state to hike 14ers. I stumble upon the most adorable towns I never knew existed and I’ve lived here a long time! That Western museum would fit right in out here. I’ve been to Oswego and really wasn’t impressed but these posts are making me want to visit Upstate and give it a second chance!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I visited an old boyfriend years ago in Oswego but never left the college campus… it’s easy to miss some of the gems in these kinds of towns!

  • Britt
    September 6 2015

    These posts are reminding me of how much I love getting outside of major cities and exploring all the wonder of small towns.

    It looks like lots of fun was had on your road trip!
    Britt recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I love it all… big cities, small towns, quiet islands. But small towns are just so darn easy to explore. I do adore them!

  • Justine
    September 6 2015

    Ah, I can’t get enough of towns like this! It kind of reminds me of Boulder (maybe because I recently traveled there). But it has a similar vibe that I love…cool old buildings, trendy restaurants, a vibrant art scene. Love it πŸ™‚
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I need to get back to Colorado. It’s been far too long!

  • Sarah
    September 6 2015

    This looks awesome. There has got to be a film set here some time soon, no?!
    Sarah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      It really would be pretty perfect for a little Pleasantville, USA of some sort!

  • Kat
    September 6 2015

    I am loving these posts from New York. I have always wanted to visit NYC again, but shamefully never considered venturing further afield in the state – the beautiful scenery and cute towns are very much making me re-consider!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Yay! Come Upstate, Kat πŸ™‚ There’s so much more to New York than the five boroughs!

  • Jason
    September 6 2015

    Corning looks so cute!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      It is — and nice job on the further alliteration πŸ™‚

  • Esther of Local Adventurer
    September 6 2015

    I’ve never heard of Corning, but I love that you’re highlighting this place. It looks so cute!
    Esther of Local Adventurer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Gotta give my home state some love! πŸ™‚ Thanks Esther.

  • becky hutner
    September 6 2015

    Ok first post I was charmed by Upstate NY & now I’m totally sold. Next non-whirlwind Manhattan trip, I’d really like to check out these darling towns!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Swing by Albany and I’ll give you a personal tour if I’m around πŸ™‚

  • Peter Parker
    September 7 2015

    Hi Thanks for sharing. It’s a very nice city.

  • Kacy
    September 8 2015

    What an adorable quirky little town! That dinner restaurant sounds like the sort of place I would return to over and over again.
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Me too! So many fun dishes to try and explore… and a bustling bar too!

  • There is something to be said about travelling around your home base/hometown/home state – travelling abroad is always fun and exciting, but there is so much around where one lives that has yet to be discovered and is equally as adventurous and breath-taking! I have been focusing on this with my hometown and home-province this summer, and I have fallen into a deeper love with southern Ontario because of it. I hope it has been the same as you travelled around your home state too! πŸ™‚
    Amanda | Lesson Plans & Layovers recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Indeed. And that feeling of home pride that you can’t really feel anywhere else is pretty powerful!

  • Jones
    September 8 2015

    Amazing pictures as always! And that Crepe looks absolutely incredible!
    Jones recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Thanks Jones! It’s easy to get great pictures with a town as cute as this…

  • Marni
    September 8 2015

    Corning looks adorable! Those nature picture are great. Trails like that are so relaxing – no matter how strenuous the workout on them is.

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Agreed. Just wait till you see our hiking trail from Ithaca πŸ™‚

  • Victoria | Girl Tries Life
    September 8 2015

    I LOVE small towns! This place looks idyllic and perfect for a weekend getaway. So many small towns own their charm and show how proud they are of what they have to offer. This post reminds me of a town in my province called Black Diamond. The cutest little art galleries, soda shops and diners, set amongst the prairies with the rocky mountains as a backdrop!
    Victoria | Girl Tries Life recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Love that town name… I might visit just for that alone πŸ™‚

  • Ann Welles
    September 9 2015

    Glad you enjoyed your time in Corning! I own an art gallery on Market Street and it’s a great joy to meet new visitors to the area. And as you might guess we have a lot of repeat visitors. Next time you come you may also want to try some motorless flight. Harris Hill home to an airfield and the Nation Soaring Museum is right next door. A sailplane ride is a great way to see the local landscape especially in the fall.

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      That sounds pretty gorgeous. I’d love to return to Corning in the fall!

  • Brittany Gibbs
    September 9 2015

    Meihoukai,
    Thank you for sharing your adventures with us all. Beautiful pictures and words to match. We were so glad to host you and Margaret.
    Cheers!
    Brittany

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Thanks so much for having us at Watkins Glen, Brittany! We would love to return someday to see the full trail πŸ™‚

  • Christine
    September 9 2015

    I just love your writing. Thank you for visiting our little slice of heaven. Now I have to revisit the Rockwell Museum after reading your article.

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Thank you for reading, Christine! I loved Corning. And what a sweet little museum — loved the sounds of their Gingerbread Invitational this December πŸ™‚

  • Carol Stuckey
    September 9 2015

    What nice words! I have lived here all my life and I am proud to say my daughter-in-law and her wonderful mother own Poppleton’s !!! Thanks again !! Please come back and visit!!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      You have lots to be proud of, Carol πŸ™‚ I bet you get some amazing home-made gifts in the form of baked goods at all holidays — I’m jealous!

  • brandon
    September 9 2015

    Live here all your life and see how much it sucks and ppl know your business and town talk. .

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      That may be so, but it is quite a lovely place to visit. I didn’t think my hometown of Albany was too hot either until I moved away. Now I’ve come to appreciate so much about it! Thanks for reading…

  • Anna
    September 10 2015

    I love exploring things that are kind of in my own backyard, and upstate NY has so many gems (I called NYC my home, too, for almost 7 years, before moving back to Moscow). PS – I have an unhealthy reliance on alliteration as well πŸ˜‰
    Anna recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      It’s an addiction I think we can stand to accept, Anna πŸ˜‰

  • Colleen
    September 10 2015

    Thank You so much for such an awesome shout out!!! Glad to hear you had such an amazing experience here!!! We are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful place!!! I spent majority of my summers as a child on Seneca Lake and believe me when I say there are some pretty beautiful landmarks on that lake as well and I’m sad you missed them. I may be partial, but I’ve always thought Seneca was “better” than Keuka πŸ™‚ Hope you visit again and get to experience those wonders!!! Winters up here can be harsh but to most of us with an artistic eye, there just as beautiful!!

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      There’s only so much you can see in five days πŸ™‚ I’m sure I’ll be back to the Finger Lakes again to see more!

  • clayton
    September 10 2015

    Thank you for the great write up on my little town. I have carried mail here for the last 22 years (12 delivering the business and historical district) I got to see these attractions and sights every day.

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      What lovely sights to see πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading, and for saying hi!

  • Wendy
    September 10 2015

    Did you happen to stop by my store to experience a whole new world of over 45 varieties of extra virgin olive oils, flavored oils and balsamic vinegars?

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I did not, Wendy. Maybe next time!

  • Liz
    September 10 2015

    Yay, glad you loved my hometown! And that you found the Rockwell! Its gift shop is dangerous if you love jewelry.

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I bought gifts for both mother’s and father’s day in that gift shop πŸ™‚ It’s a great one!

  • Jessica
    September 10 2015

    Meihoukai, Hand and Foot is named after a card game that the owner used to play with his family! It’s a great game that I also played withy family growing up. The directions (and story about the name) are in the back of their drink menu;)

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      I read that πŸ™‚ I still must admit that it gave me pause regardless!

  • Sky
    September 13 2015

    It’s so weird reading about you visiting places ‘local’ to me. Watkins Glen is a popular place for everyone here to day trip to in the summer, though I don’t think I’ve ever been, as is Seneca Lake and Corning. Obviously I need to start paying more attention to all these local things!
    Sky recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 13 2015

      Oh man, indeed! I know how easy it is to ignore the things in our own backyard but I definitely hope this inspires you to get out Watkins Glen. Such a gem!

  • Izy Berry
    September 21 2015

    great trip with your sister alex !! i love little towns they are so cute and you see the real life without a lot of technology
    Izy Berry recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 24 2015

      I think the best part of this trip was getting to spend time with my big sis!

  • Debanjan Basu
    September 28 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,
    I must say, you have gift for words and humor and I absolutely love the alliterations and the unique title. I have visited corning and found it to be really beautiful, with the lake Seneca and the caves and the waterfall. You have captured the beauty of the place with your words.
    Debanjan Basu recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 28 2015

      Thank you so much Debanjan! That is a much appreciated compliment πŸ™‚