Every so often, Corning plays host to a large conference like the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference, a 4-day summit featuring hundreds of wine enthusiasts and writers from all parts of the United States and Canada – or the 2016 Glass Art Society Conference, a 3-day experience for visitors from all around the world to meet their fellow artists, collectors, manufacturers, scientists, experts, and students. Whenever this happens, hundreds – or even thousands – of visitors get to experience our small town for the first time.
These conferences are important to Corning and the surrounding region for many reasons, not the least of which is their impact on the local economy through hospitality, tourism, dining, and retail. A secondary advantage is the exposure we receive as conference attendees turn to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to tell all their friends and family members around the globe about Corning.
So, since we’re lucky enough to have the Radisson in the heart of Corning’s Gaffer District, where many visitors stay for conferences and summits, we wanted to compile a few essential experiences for their time in Corning. Often times, the visitors are already seeing some real gems during their respective conference, like the Corning Museum of Glass and The Rockwell Museum, so those are intentionally left off this list.
Visitors and friends: if you come before or stay after, or find yourself with a little free time during your conference, here are the 5 experiences you can’t miss while you’re in Corning, NY:
1) The Perfect Meal
We’re not naive enough to think everyone’s idea of a perfect meal is the same. However, no matter what it is, you’re bound to find perfection on Market Street. If it’s a late-night slice of pizza with the exact amount of greasy cheese, tasty crust, and quality ingredients, don’t miss Aniello’s; no matter how you pronounce it, all is right in the world when you watch the quick-stepping staff dance their way to the perfect slice (just be careful not to burn the roof of your mouth)! If you have time to sit down and enjoy a few courses, each paired with a beautiful glass of wine and the exact service pace for savoring every taste, don’t miss having dinner at The Cellar. And if you’re looking for lunch or a more casual dinner, you won’t regret any choice you make at Hand + Foot, where you’ll never feel under-dressed or over-talkative. Note: the bar at Hand + Foot has the region’s most finely-curated selection of beer, wine, and spirits, and a conversation with owners Laurie and Dan Morton will never be long enough.
2) The Ideal Cup of Coffee
When it comes to coffee in Corning, it doesn’t get any more ideal than Soul Full Cup. Serving their own locally roasted coffee and espresso, Soul Full baristas can whip up just about any drink that even the most experienced coffee aficionados could ask for. A variety of flavored coffees, which are perfectly nutty, smooth and aromatic, are available daily, and the house espresso is strong enough to wake an elephant without leaving a bitter taste in its mouth. Soul Full Cup is relatively new to cold brew, and they’re still perfecting their recipe, but if you’re lucky enough to stop in when they have some available, you’d better grab a cup because chances are good that it’ll sell out quickly. In addition to coffee and espresso, Soul Full offers fresh gluten free and vegan baked goods, some seriously delicious handcrafted Italian sodas and, on the most special of occasions, addictive affogato.
Basically, Soul Full is great. The people are kind. The atmosphere is relaxing. And, most importantly, the coffee is stellar.
3) The Nicest Evening or Morning Walk
The Google Map embedded below will take you on a 1.5 mile walk to and from The Radisson Hotel. You’ll walk through one of the most beautiful town squares in the United States, cross the Chemung River via Corning’s walking bridge, head along the dike to get a unique perspective of the city, travel behind the beautiful headquarters of Corning, Inc., and end up back on Market Street to take in the shops and restaurants that give this city its true charm.
4) The Local-Endorsed Night Life
As small towns go, Corning is unique in that it’s home to the world’s top producer of specialty glass materials, Corning, Inc. Headquarters and the nearby Sullivan Park research facility attract some of the top scientists and businesspeople in the world, so there’s likely to be a truly interesting crowd at any of the local hot-spots. Order the Moscow Mule at VOLO and check out some of the old movies playing on their walls. Try the local draughts at Market Street Brewing Company on a nice evening and you’ll be able to take advantage of their rooftop seating. And trust your bartender to make any of the listed cocktails, or to make up one of their own, at the aforementioned Hand + Foot.
5) The Coolest Public Art
As you’ll mostly likely see at the Corning Museum of Glass, locally referred to as “CMoG” (pronounced: see-maug), some of the most beautiful artwork in the world is hand-blown every day by expert gaffers. But that’s not the only art in town. The City of Corning Public Art Committee, together with The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and Market Street Coffee and Tea collaborated to create this interactive (and really cool) public art map. Stop along the way as you take the walk we outlined above or set out for another excursion to take it all in. And while you’re at it, check out some of the art galleries and studios dotted throughout Market Street.
When the conference is over and it’s time to head back home, we hope you’ll leave feeling like you didn’t have enough time in Corning. And we’re sure you’ll understand why Rand McNally voted us as the Most Fun Small Town in America. Have fun and don’t work to hard during those conference sessions – we can’t wait to see you around!