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Corning, NY and the Southern Finger Lakes

It’s a destination known for its natural beauty. A place where sparkling lakes are the backdrop to sparkling wine, served in the sparkling glassware. Upstate New York and its beautiful Southern Finger Lakes teem with small town charm, and world renowned innovations. From a material that changed the world and the roots of modern aviation, to quaint bakeries and local artisans, it’s easy to see why Corning, New York and the Southern Finger Lakes is a place to love.


Get more behind the scenes info on this episode (and my first trip after COVID-19!) here:


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The Corning Museum of Glass

When you think of Corning, New York, glass probably comes to mind. But I was not expecting to be rendered speechless by the beauty, elegance and innovation at the Corning Museum of Glass. This museum draws visitors from around the state and beyond, showcasing over 45,000 objects covering 3,500 years of the art and history of glass. Join one of their daily 40-minute workshops and classes with master glass blowers, who teach visitors the nuances of glassworking and flameworking. Another highlight? The New Glass Now exhibit, featuring 100 contemporary works by artists of 31 nationalities working in glass today.

Did you know?

The first light bulbs were blown by hand in Corning for Thomas Edison’s company in the 1890’s. Corning developed the automated production of light bulbs and, in 1926, began producing 15,000 bulbs an hour.

Learn more

Corning Museum of Glass
One Museum Way|
Corning, NY 14830

Corning, NY & Finger Lakes - Places To Love - Samantha Brown

The Erlacher Glass Collection

The Erlacher Glass Collection is part history lesson, part artisan marvel, and part love story. Max and Kitty Erlacher met when Max, born and raised in Austria, came to Corning in the 1950s to work for Steuben Glass as their master glass engraver. Their shared love of glass led them to begin their first business in 1974. Currently, they operate two shops on Corning’s Historic Market Street. The gallery features one-of-a-kind exhibition pieces and Max’s engraved works (he’s been engraving for 65 years on a machine that’s one hundred years old!). The shop features vintage and modern Steuben Glass, as well as Lotton Art Glass.

If you go

It’s a stolen Steuben crystal egg that achieved notoriety as the central focus (aside from Tom Cruise lip synching in his skivvies) of Risky Business.

More Info

The Erlacher Collection featuring Steuben Glass
12 East Market Street
Corning, NY 14830

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Old World Cafe

What makes a small town charming? An idyllic Main Street, of course! It’s a hub of sorts, with arts and culture, shopping, and unique dining experiences. In Corning, it’s all about Market Street—the town’s historic main drag. Old World Café strikes a chord for anyone who loves that small town America vibe. Jennifer Herman and husband Chris have owned this slice of heaven for 17 years, specializing in homemade soups, sandwiches, paninis & salads, Purity ice cream and more. A meal here will transport you back to a slower, simpler time.

Good to Know

Check out Centerway Square, which Travel & Leisure named one of the most beautiful town squares in America.


Old World Cafe & Ice Cream
1 W Market St
Corning, NY 14830

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Betty Kay Bake Shop

The character of Betty Kay Bake Shop is almost as notable as the store’s edible creations. This space has served as a bakery since 1872. Today, the bakery is owned by local Bath resident Emy Lou Snyder and her husband—only the third owners since the place opened nearly 160 years ago. Stepping into the shop feels like traveling back in time. The glass cases date back to 1935 (replacements for the previous cases damaged in a flood), and the delightfully kitschy wallpaper to the 1950s.  Their offerings run the gamut, from cookies to wedding cakes, doughnuts to rolls and more.


Betty Kay is most famous for the English Cut, a hole-less, frosted donut that can only be found in the town of Bath.

More info

Betty Kay Bake Shop
49 Liberty St
Bath, New York

Corning, NY & Finger Lakes - Places To Love - Samantha Brown

Take a Bath Cemetery Tour

Sometimes the best way to learn about a place is through some of its quietest residents. I’m talking about cemeteries, and Bath’s Grove Cemetery is filled with stories that give visitors a look into its past. I toured this historic place with Helen Brink aka the “Cemetary Lady.”  Helen, a Steuben County Historical Society volunteer, does an annual Columbus Day Cemetery tour that always sells out. In fact, there’s even a waiting list! Her knowledge of the souls laid to rest in the county’s 450 cemeteries is jaw-dropping.


Helen wrote a book, Steuben County Cemeteries – Good, Bad, and Gone, about the area graveyard. Many of those included had been long forgotten, and Helen helped clear debris and overgrowth from these sacred spaces. Learn more here.


Want to sign up for the annual cemetery tour? Find more info here.

Corning, NY & Finger Lakes - Places To Love - Samantha Brown

Bath’s 1st Presbyterian Church

In the middle of Bath, you’ll find a little-known artistic gem. The Bath Presbyterian Church is one of eight sanctuaries in the USA to feature designs by Tiffany Glass Company. From 1895-1897, Tiffany created the cathedral-like sanctuary. From stained glass windows to acorn light fixtures and mosaics, almost all of the decorative pieces come from the Tiffany. Walk into this unassuming church and the beauty will take your breath away. The church offers tours on Wednesdays, from 10am – 1pm, during July and August. If that small window isn’t an option for you, call ahead and they may be able to accommodate you with a mini tour.


On September 30, 1983, the church was nationally recognized as a historic place of significance.


First Presbyterian Church
6 E Morris St
Bath, NY 14810

Corning, NY & Finger Lakes - Places To Love - Samantha Brown

Hands on Glass

Founded in 1990, Hands On was the first public access studio in Corning, NY offering instruction in glassmaking. Owner and artist Rodi Rovner, along with son Eric, help aspiring glassmakers of all ages try their hand at glassblowing. During my one-on-one lesson, I created a paperweight. Even though it is only a thirty-minute process, it’s one of choreography, intensity and a soft touch. All glass items require an overnight cooling process called “annealing” and are ready by noon the following day for pickup.

If you go

When heated, your glass creation is orange in color because it is so hot. You won’t really know the exact color of it until the next day. Consider it a fun surprise.


Hands on Glass
124 Crystal Lane
Corning, NY
(607) 962-3044

Corning, NY & Finger Lakes - Places To Love - Samantha Brown

The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum

When you think of the birth of aviation, the Wright Brothers probably come to mind. But there’s another name that arguably did more for flight. In 1910, Glenn Curtiss flew from Albany to New York City—the first appreciable anyone had made in the world. And with that, the idea of the airplane was no longer seen as a spectacle, but one with a practical use. Regarded as the Founder of the American Aircraft Industry, the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is dedicated to the memory of this aviator, containing a priceless collection of early aviation artifacts and regional history. I had the great pleasure of visiting the renovation shop and talking with two brothers, Art and John Wilder (87 and 92), who have a passion for rebuilding old planes. Seeing the impact of Curtiss’ accomplishments through their eyes made this trip extra special.

Good to know

While many planes at the museum are reproductions, there’s a real P40 Warhawk that their passionate volunteer staff is restoring. The goal? To allow visitors sit in the cockpit, getting up close and personal with this modern marvel.


Glenn Curtiss Museum
8419 State Route 54
Hammondsport, NY 14840

Corning, NY & Finger Lakes - Places To Love - Samantha Brown

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

Situated on the south western hills of Keuka Lake, you can taste the melding of the old and new world. It was here in 1957 that Dr. Konstantin Frank, a professor of plant sciences who held a Ph.D. in viticulture, planted his first vinifera vines. He hoped the cool climate would produce Riesling and Pinot Noir grapes, perfect for creating world class wines. Over half a century later, this vineyard is still owned and operated by the Frank family. Fred & Meagan Frank, 3rd and 4th generation winemakers respectively, continue Konstantin’s legacy by continuing to use grapes from those original vines, and never resting on their laurels. Enjoy sparkling wines, rosés, Gewurztraminers and more from the state’s most award-winning winery.

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From a material that changed the world and the roots of modern aviation, to quaint bakeries and local artisans, it’s easy to see why Corning, New York and the Southern Finger Lakes is a place to love.

Good to Know

Taste and discover over 30 wines ranging from sparkling to still, traditional to unique grape varieties, and bone-dry to sweet. The Tasting Room is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. The tasting fee is $10 per person and is refunded with a purchase of 4 bottles.


Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery
9749 Middle Road
Hammondsport, NY 14840



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