If you’re looking for things to do around Corning, New York, you’ll find plenty if you’re interested in wine, glass, and the mountains. But if you’re spending a solo day in town before heading home, you might wonder what there is to do in Corning, New York. It turns out it’s the perfect place for a little retail therapy simply by walking up and down Market Street.
Before we get there, let’s talk about where Corning, New York is located. You’ll find it nestled in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, about 4.5 hours from both New York City and Baltimore, MD. And it’s a beautiful drive.
You might be familiar with the name from your kitchen – it’s the home of Corning, the leader in materials science and makers of products like Pyrex, Corelle, and Gorilla Glass. Perhaps the most prominent landmark in town is the Corning Museum of Glass, which was the location for the latest Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference (TBEX).
Most other writers built time into their schedule to visit nearby areas like Rochester, Niagara Falls, and the FingerLakes, I had time only in Corning. So I decided to make the most of it. When the conference was over, I took a few hours in the morning before heading home and spent time exploring the quaint and beautiful downtown area of Corning, New York. I found enough shops and restaurants to make anyone happy!
Here are a few of the highlights from my trip down Market Street in Corning, NY.
Welcome to the Gaffer District
Market Street is what might be considered Main Street in any other town. It’s a blocks-long historic area known as the Gaffer District and is full of quaint shops and restaurants. So I did what I recommend anyone wanting a taste of Corning should do – park at one end and walk the whole thing.
You’ll find street parking and parking garages available or if you’re visiting the Corning Museum of Glass, you’ll be able to hop on a free shuttle that will drop you off right in town. If you’re looking for a little exercise, it’s a short walk from the museum over a beautifully refurbished pedestrian bridge.
Depending on where you enter the town, you’re likely to see a landmark letting you know you’ve arrived.
If architecture and history is your thing, you’ll find plenty of it on your walk. In fact you can take a Historic & Architectural Walking Tour right from your phone with the help of the Gaffer District website.
If I’d had more time, I would have done more than a passing glance at the historic buildings but I did capture some of the flavor of how history brings this town together.
The most prominent downtown building is the old city hall building. It reminds me of the Smithsonian Institution “castle” in Washington, DC and the similarities don’t end there. It’s now the home of the well-regarded Rockwell Museum, which features American art.
The walk up and down Market Street was worth it for the glimpse at the historic buildings but to make this a therapeutic experience for me, I needed to go shopping!
Let’s Go Shopping in Corning
Admittedly, I love retail therapy. I love to get lost in little interesting shops and had been supplied with a few gift cards as motivation to check out some of the shops in town. I was delighted to see a sign like this in every window and wanted to make sure that the shop owners knew I was there to tell the world about what they had to offer!
Hands down, my favorite shop was Pure Design, a boutique offering cleverly designed household items. The shop had gifted all attendees with a $10 gift card but I ended up going well over that amount!
Connors Mercantile also offered us a $10 gift card and I didn’t buy anything. I’m kicking myself for not buying the cookbook, Will It Waffle?, which has clever recipes for things you can make with your waffle iron besides waffles.
I did, however, come up with several gift ideas for Christmas for a few friends. You probably know who you are.
I also spent entirely too long in the Twin Tiers Antiques Plaza where I bought an old book and some Disneyland salt & pepper shakers.
The Best Kind of Retail Therapy
Perhaps the best kind of retail therapy is reTAIL therapy. When I was finished making my rounds up and down Market Street, I accidentally walked right past my car until I realized Market Street was coming to an end. It must have been fate because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have made it to my favorite shop – Tanner’s P.A.W.S. Adoption House. This small animal shelter fosters dogs, cats, and even birds! Their adoption house serves as a daycare for fostered pets and give prospective owners a chance to meet and greet them. In my case, it gave me my much needed pet fix. I so desperately wanted to take home to beautiful black Newfoundland that had been dropped off by her family just the day before.
While some pets have been dropped off, others have been rescued (at the last minute) from kill shelters. Meeting some of the pets (including the resident cat at the shelter) left me with a warm heart and a strong desire to come back again.
Table for One
I ended my visit with a light lunch at the counter of The Source, a local eatery focusing on fresh, local food.
I tried to make the most of my time in Corning while not seeing it all by myself. Half the fun of traveling is sharing it with someone and I look forward to bringing my family back with me!