In Corning, it’s the Gaffer District


Written by:

Janelle Becerra

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Gaffer District in Corning

Corning Gaffer District
Clock Tower in the Gaffer District – a city landmark

We just came back from the Wine Bloggers Conference held in Corning, NY.  We were very impressed by this small, quaint town and would love to return some day. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to explore the beautiful Finger Lakes.  As part of the conference, we were driven to wineries on 3 lakes: Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga. All were about an hour’s drive from Corning. More about the Finger Lake Wine Country.

We stayed at the Radisson Hotel in Corning, which is ideally located if you want to walk to the main shops, restaurants and museums in the town. The main street in Corning is Market Street and is about 6 blocks long. The area is called the Gaffer District in honor of the highly-skilled glass-blowing artisans who create unique glass pieces in all sizes, shapes and colors.

Corning has a very small-town feel to it.  Almost every shop on Market Street is independently owned and operated. The shop owners and staff are very friendly and helpful.  In fact, most people we passed on the street stopped to say “Hello” and ask how we were doing.  Many of the locals congregate around the clock tower in the plaza.  We saw many families sitting and having a meal or ice cream and taking the opportunity to enjoy one another.  Kids were taking turns jumping up on to a stage and giving impromptu performances.  One night a guitarist was playing for an attentive crowd.

We didn’t have much free time but stopped for a drink at Tony R’s Restaurant and then had dinner at The Cellar, a wine and martini bar with delicious tapas on their menu. We had breakfast at Sorge’s Restaurant, a family-owned Italian Restaurant operating since 1951.

We took a quick walk along Corning’s Market Street and these are the shops that caught our attention:

  • Bottles and Corks –  a great selection of local wines
  • Donna’s – small diner that takes only cash
  • Gaffer Grill and Tap Room – an American Steakhouse
  • Market Street Brewing Company and Restaurant – Corning’s only Brew Pub
  • Old World Café & Ice Cream – also serves homemade soups and sandwiches
  • Poppleton’s – homemade desserts, breakfast and lunch
  • Stained Glass Works – stained glass lamps and window.  Classes are taught there
  • Steuben Design Company  – an interior design studio offering workshops
  • The Glass Menagerie – a glass retail shop featuring local and regional artists
  • The Source – homemade chocolates and gift baskets
  • Three Birds Restaurant – progressive American fare with a Martini Bar
  • Vitrix Hot Glass Studio – distinctive contemporary gifts
  • Wegmans – a large market with café and bakery.  Also has a pharmacy
  • Wine and Design – an art workshop with lessons that include a glass of local wines

You can find a Gaffer Tour of the historic buildings on Corning’s Gaffer District Website.

There are two Corning museums not to be missed

The Rockwell Museum includes American Bronzes, Landscapes, and Pottery. The Corning Museum of Glass has 35 centuries of glass art, history and technology as well as glass blowing demonstrations.  You can even make your own glass souvenir in a 40-minute class. The summer weather during our stay was very comfortable. I imagine the winter months can be very harsh.  Corning is truly a town that has something for everyone!

The Gaffer District Movie