A Weekend in Corning

Nicknamed “Crystal City,” Corning, NY is perfect for a fun family weekend getaway.  Situated in the southern Finger Lakes region, there is something here for everyone. Last summer I visited Corning with my two children and we had a great time. However, the town will appeal to art lovers, wine connoisseurs, or couples looking for a romantic getaway as well.  The trip to Corning is a little less than 4 hours by car.

Where to Stay:

Staybridge Suites Corning
Staybridge Suites Corning is located a short distance from the Corning Museum of Glass.  This hotel is perfect for families.  Our suite had a small kitchenette with a table and chairs and a living room with a television.  The kids shared one bedroom and each got a bed all to themselves, while I slept in the other bedroom.  Getting ready in the morning was made easier with a bathroom in each bedroom.  My kids loved swimming in the indoor pool.  Breakfast is included with your stay, which is always nice when traveling, to save on expenses.  The buffet had a decent selection of hot and cold choices including oatmeal, scrambled eggs, waffles, pastries, fruit and more.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings the hotel hosts an evening reception with complimentary food and beverages.

What to do:

Rockwell Museum
The Rockwell Museum is located in the heart of Corning, on the corner of Cedar Street. The museum houses a diverse collection of art that tells the story of the American experience through the works of American artists.  Open at 9 AM, this is a great place to start your visit in Corning.   You can easily spend a couple of hours viewing the paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works of art.  You can buy a combo ticket to the Corning Museum of Glass and take advantage of the free shuttle.  Read all about why this museum is great for families!

 

 

Corning Museum of Glass
Most people associate Corning with the Corning Museum of Glass and of course it is a mandatory stop on your trip. The Corning Museum of Glass houses the world’s largest collection of glass art, with over 3,500 years of glass history exhibited throughout its galleries.  During your visit you will also be able to watch live glass making demonstrations that are held continuously throughout the day.

Prior to your visit, be sure to make a reservation at the Studio if you want to participate in a Make Your Own Glass experience.  For an additional fee, you can enjoy a memorable glass blowing experience and take home a souvenir of your trip.  Because the glass needs to undergo a slow cooling process, it must remain at the studio overnight and can be picked up the next day or shipped to your house, for a fee.  Read all about our visit to the CMOG.

Other Museums and Historic Sites
Located in or around Corning you will also find other museums including the Arnot Art Museum,  Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, the Finger Lakes Boating Museum and the Erie Depot.  History fans will also enjoy Mark Twain’s Elmira.

Watkins Glen International Speedway

Located approximately 30 minutes away is the Watkins Glen International Speedway.  If you are into car racing, you may want to plan a weekend when a race is taking place.  On specific dates, you can purchase a pass to drive your car around the raceway!


Shopping

The Gaffer District is home to over 50 shops. From clothing, jewelry, glass, wine, cigars, art and more, you will find something for everyone among the different shops.

Wineries & Breweries
The Finger Lakes is well-known for its wine trails.  But did you know that the region is also home to many breweries and distilleries?  While not something that I could partake in with the kids in tow, I can’t wait to return with my husband to enjoy the craft beverage trail.

Outdoor Fun
There are many different outdoor activities to enjoy in Corning.  Depending on when you visit you can kayak, hike, bike, fish, boat and even horseback ride.  No matter what season you visit, you should make time for a stop at Watkins Glen State Park.  A short drive from Corning, this New York State park is home to 19 waterfalls, a couple of which you can actually walk behind!  During our visit we kayaked, went horseback riding, and also visited Watkins Glen State Park.

Where to Eat:


 Old World Café

Within walking distance of the Rockwell Museum is the Old World Cafe.  It sits in the heart of the Gaffer District, and is a perfect place to grab lunch.  You can enjoy the homemade soups, sandwiches and salads, but leave room for some Purity ice cream, served in the parlor.

Hand + Foot
Back in the Gaffer District enjoy dinner at Hand + Foot.  The have a drink menu featuring an extensive list of draft beers.  Their menu features sandwiches and dishes made with seasonal ingredients.  The restaurant focuses on community and has one long table for seating, conducive for meeting the locals and making new friends.

Nickel’s Pit BBQ
After a hike at Watkins Glen State Park, visit Nickel’s Pit BBQ located on North Franklin Street. The restaurant is located in the historic Watkins Glen fire department building.   It serves all kinds of delicious BBQ in a casual, but fun atmosphere.

Village Tavern Restaurant
Located approximately 40 minutes away in Hammondsport, near Lake Keuka, is Village Tavern Restaurant.  This European style bar and restaurant serves award-winning wines and over 100 different beers.  While the restaurant specializes in fresh fish and seafood, the lunch menu includes a variety of salads and sandwiches.  This restaurant is seasonal and is open May through the beginning of December.

Note:  Thank you Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes for hosting our visit.  As always,  all opinions are our own. 

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Crown Maple at Madava Farms

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This past weekend was the last of the Maple Weekends in New York State.  For two weekends (March 21 – 22 and March 28-29) almost 160 maple producers throughout New York State held open houses for visitors to see how maple syrup is made, tour their facilities and offer samples.  My family took an hour drive to Dutchess County, New York to Madava Farms, home of Crown Maple.

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Madava Farms is located in Dover Plains, New York and sits on 800 acres of land.  As you drive through the gates, the farm lets you know it is a modern operation. We were expecting perhaps a bunch of buckets tapped into the maple trees and a rustic collection of wooden buildings. Maybe there would be a smoky fire cooking down the sap at the sugar shack. We were way off. The facilities look brand new and whoever designed and built the property spared no expense. Instead of buckets, all the surrounding trees are snaked with miles of plastic tubing carrying the sweet sap directly to the gleaming holding tanks.

Outside the main building there was a fire pit where you could warm up on the brisk day or roast marshmallows.  We started inside the building first though.  Normally, maple tours cost $10 per adult and $5 per child.  During the Maple Weekend open house, our “tour” was free.  I say “tour” in quotes, since it was a more relaxed, self-guided tour, versus the sixty-minute guided tour that you pay for.  When we walked through the main door we were greeted by a Crown Maple employee.  He gave us a map of the facilities and pointed out some of the highlights.  To the  right of the entrance was the Farm Stand, the eatery where you can purchase food that is seasonal and locally sourced.  To the left was the shop where you could purchase maple products.  We walked through the lobby and into the large dining room/evaporation room.

We started our tour in the Mural Room, named for the large painted mural on the wall.  We enjoyed listening to two Crown Maple employees talk about the  tree tapping process.  We got to see where they stored the tap as well as where the sap is clarified and concentrated. The filtering and refining process is very efficient and modern with a lot of water removed from the sap before any cooking actually begins.

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The kids’ favorite part of the trip was getting to sample maple cotton candy, popcorn and granola.

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We then went into the Tasting Room and sampled maple sugar as well as four different maple syrups ranging from light amber to extra dark amber.  We then got lunch at the Farmstand, where  they offered a special Maple Weekend menu. The four of us shared a Crown Maple Pulled Pork Sandwich and Maple Spiced Chicken Sandwich, both served with an arugula salad on the side.   They were both tasty and I enjoyed sampling dishes made with their maple syrup. After lunch we headed out to the fire pit and roasted some marshmallows and enjoyed the view.

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The farm has hiking trails, which we attempted on our way out, but it was super muddy and we didn’t have appropriate footwear.

We had a great time visiting Madava Farms!  Although Maple Weekends are over until next year, we highly recommend visiting.  This was a fun and informative experience.  We will hopefully visit Madava Farms again soon!

Taste NY

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On a recent trip down to New York City we saw this advertisement on the Metro-North Railroad.  An October 2014 press release from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo reported that the Taste NY store opened in February 2014 in Grand Central Terminal.  As a life-long New York State resident, this was the first of me seeing or hearing about it.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to stop and peruse the shop, located next to the Biltmore Room across from track 37.  On our next trip into the city we will be making sure to stop in and make a purchase.

So what exactly is Taste NY?
Taste NY is an economic initiative that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo began in 2011 to promote products made in New York.  In an October 2014 press release Cuomo stated, “We launched the Taste NY program to highlight the world-class products that our food and beverage producers have to offer, and in doing so have boosted the profiles and sales of a wide variety of small business owners.”

In November 2014 the first Taste NY Harvest Fest was held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York to provide consumers with a tasting and buying opportunity to support local producers.

How can you support Taste NY?
You can start by checking out the official website here. The site provides information on beer, cider, dairy, fruits & vegetables, maple, spirits, wine and specialty products.  Each heading provides information on that particular industry in New York state, as well as useful links and information on where to purchase such items.

Visit a Taste NY Farmer’s Market at select Travel Plazas located on the New York State Thruway.  Check here for additional information.

Check out the Taste NY store in Grand Central Terminal and purchase goods.

Or, depending on where in New York State you live, buy locally and help to support New York food and beverage producers.

What’s in the future for Taste NY?
In his October 2014 press release, Cuomo proposed major expansions for the program, including being able to purchase products online via the Taste NY website.  At the time of writing this post, products were not currently available for purchase through the site, although it looks like they will be using Shopify.

Adding Taste NY displays, vending machines and stores on all SUNY and CUNY campuses.

There are also plans to place Taste NY vending machines, at the Department of Transportation rest areas in Binghamton and Clifton Park as well as in state office buildings.

Additional retail Taste NY stores are in the works as well as Taste NY displays in New York state liquor stores with special tags on bottles to help identify them as “made in New York.”

A mobile phone app to be released through “I LOVE NY” which will identify Taste NY attractions throughout the state.

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I’m sure if you haven’t already seen the Taste NY logo and advertising, you will be seeing a lot of it in 2015.

This year, one of our family goals is to eat more food sourced locally from New York State, which helped to inspire this blog.  We will be using the Taste NY site as a reference as well as buying from local farmer’s markets. We will hopefully be able to check out Harvest Fest 2015!

Have any of you seen any Taste NY signs, visited the store or seen the website?