New York is a huge and vibrant state- with so many great things to see and do as a family- and certainly a trip to New York City should be on every family’s “don’t-miss” list at some point. But beyond the big city, there are many other great opportunities to learn something new and to revel in Nature’s beauty in the Empire State- and a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass and Watkins Glen State Park makes for a fantastic 3-day road trip with the kids!
3 Days at the Corning Museum of Glass and Watkins Glen State Park
Road Trip Length: 3 Days, 21 Miles and 25 minutes between the town of Corning and Watkins Glen State Park
*Corning is located in the Finger Lakes Region, approx. 100 miles from Rochester and 100 miles from Syracuse, New York, and 250 miles from New York City
Kids Will Love: glass blowing demonstrations, participating in glass-making, swimming and playing in the Splashpad, and dipping their heads in the waterfalls of the gorge
Parents Will Love: soaking up the small-town atmosphere of Corning, the glass exhibits, hiking the gorge at Watkins Glen
Day 1: Corning, New York
There is a reason why Rand McNally named Corning New York “The Most Fun Small Town” in 2013! On Day 1, make your way to Corning and spend the afternoon enjoying Market Street shopping, restaurants, and people watching. Be sure to make a stop at Dippity Do Dahs at 58 E. Market Street where you can enjoy more than 30 flavors of homemade ice cream, as well as ice cream cake and cupcakes, and even ice cream pizza (!) made with chocolate chip cookies from local Poppleton Bakery and Café.
In the afternoon check into the perfect place for family fun, Hickory Hill Family Camping Resort in nearby Bath. If you have a tent or RV, you can stay for $35-$69/night (depending on amenities such as water and electric hook up), or if you’d like to go a little less “rustic” you can rent a cabin for $90+/night. But the big attraction here is the fantastic pool and Splashpad which kids will love! There’s also a full schedule of activities including laser tag, geocaching, wagon rides, mini golf (nominal addt’l fee), and the best part? There’s also a spa onsite offering massage, mani/pedis, and facials! A great place for parents and for kids!
If you don’t feel like cooking out at the campsite, head back to Market Street in Corning for pizza at either Aniello’s Pizzeria or Atlas Brick Oven Pizza– both unique and delicious places to grab a great family dinner.
Day 2: Tour the Corning Museum of Glass
If a glass museum seems like a strange place to take your kids, (and you have visions of “Don’t Touch THAT!” running through your head!) think again. The Corning Museum of Glass is designed with families in mind and is packed with exhibits and activities for kids to learn about how glass is made, how it is used in everyday life (think light bulbs, windows and casserole dishes) and even high-tech uses for glass today. My kids were fascinated by the interactive exhibits- but their favorite part was the glass making demonstrations. We watched “Hot Glass” demonstrations in both an indoor and outdoor theatre, and we had the chance to see one guest’s sketch made into a 3-D glass figurine in a smaller more intimate demonstration. (adult admission is $16/each, but kids under age 19 get in for free!)
For a super-special experience, consider registering in advance for the chance to create your own glass piece with the help of an experienced glassworker (called a “gaffer”)! Each member of our family created our own glass-blown ornament ($29/each)- and doing this was truly a highlight of our road trip!
Day 3: Hike the Gorge at Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen is a NY State Park (entry fee is $8/car) through an amazing gorge. There is a trail along the rim, but I highly recommend the Gorge Trail which takes you along the path of Glen Creek for 1 1/2 miles. This isn’t a rugged hike but it does involve a descent of 400 feet along the way, and traverses 800 stone steps- but my kids had no problem (ages 7-12 at the time). The hike takes you through the gorge, past 19 waterfalls (although truth be told- most are just a slight cascade) on paved paths with railings and across stone bridges that are simply breathtaking.
It is 1 1/2 miles from the Main Entrance parking area to the end of the trail, at which point you can turn around and head back. My kids favorite part of the hike was the when they could crane their necks forward beneath one of the waterfalls and cool off in the trickle and mist!
Thinking of Heading to Corning Soon?
Then you’ll want to hear all about GlassFest– a big celebration that happens every Memorial Day Weekend, and it’s tons of fun for the whole family. The Corning Museum of Glass brings their hot glass show over to the town center to run demonstrations. There is a flameworking competition, live music, artist demonstrations and fireworks. For the adults, there’s a wine and beer tasting set up in more than 30 shops and restaurants throughout the downtown. It’s a great way to kick off summer in the Finger Lakes!
Have you visited the Corning Museum of Glass or Watkins Glen State Park? If so- please leave a comment and tell us about your experience!