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  • Writer's pictureLisa

The Glass- and Nature-Loving Weekender: Corning, NY

Updated: Mar 24, 2019

Family reunion outside at Watkins Glen State Park and inside the Corning Glass Museum.

Last year was the 21st anniversary of my dad’s side of the family having a family reunion. Not only is that impressive, in my opinion, but also impressive is the work my dad, aunts, uncles, and cousins put into planning these every year. (They have yet to rope me into planning one unless you count our wedding, which we counted as our family reunion two summers ago!) This year my dad, the master planner, planned our reunion in Corning and Watkins Glen, NY.

Where: Corning, NY and Watkins Glen, NY, which are in upstate NY just north of the PA border

Get there: This one is a bit of a hike from DC--about a 5-hour drive--but mostly with no traffic due to the majority of the drive being through central Pennsylvania

Collin and I worked from home on Friday, which was great because we were able to get an early start on our drive to Corning. We left around 5:30. With an inspired stop at Primanti Brothers for dinner in York, PA, we made it to our hotel in Corning by 11:15pm. (If you haven’t been to Primanti Brothers before, they are a Pittsburgh institution known for their sandwiches that are stuffed with fries and coleslaw.)

After hanging out with the fam in the morning at the Fairfield Inn breakfast, we drove to the town of Watkins Glen. There were lots of cute shops and restaurants there I wish we had time to explore but will have to come back to later. Our plan for lunch that day was a lunch cruise on Seneca Lake. Luckily it stopped raining right before we left the dock, but the nice thing is that the lunch tables were inside under cover so it didn’t matter either way. But we enjoyed our hot, pre-ordered lunches of chicken, roast beef, and sole, followed by a satisfying brownie dessert. All during lunch, we passed by the beautiful houses on Seneca Lake and picked out which ones we would totally buy...totally. When we finished eating, we all hung out on the top deck in the perfect and cool upstate weather.

After we docked, our caravan of cars headed up the road to Watkins Glen State Park. About half our group set up chairs and coolers to relax in the shade, while the rest of us took the Gorge Trail to the big waterfall there. The wet steps down to the waterfall were a little scary, but totally worthwhile when we got to go under the waterfall!

After our few hours at the park, everyone headed back to the hotel to freshen up. For dinner, we drove to the small town of Corning. We went to a pizza place and took over the top floor for a surprise 80th birthday party for my great aunt. The staff were very accommodating and the pizza and subs hit the spot.

Happy birthday, Aunt Jack!

Our evening activity was going to a still-thriving Elmira Drive In movie theater. We all brought chairs and snacks (of course) and people set up their chairs and radios in different directions depending on which movie they wanted to watch. I watched The Meg, which I was expecting to be a comedy because it had Dwight from The Office in it--but it wasn’t….whoops!

On Sunday morning, our caravan headed over to the Corning Museum of Glass. This was a very cool museum that was a mixture of glass art, the science behind glass, and then tons of demonstrations of how glass is made (they advertise over 50 per day). The glass art was very cool, but our favorite was a show where two “gaffers” demonstrated the properties of glass, including--fun fact--the ability to cook popcorn as it’s cooling!

We ended our visit to the museum with lunch from the cafe, which was made fresh in front of us. However, what’s a museum--or really any tourist attraction--without a gift shop? And the Corning Glass Museum has an amazing one. I loved just walking around, and Collin loved giving me a heart attack by touching and then showing me a $52,000 piece of glass art on display. Luckily we walked out of there without being $52,000 in debt, so we can now plan some more vacations!

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