Steuben County is one of the most beautiful spots in New York State, especially in the summer and fall. In the early fall, the aroma of ripening grapes wafts through the air. Late fall brings a brilliant change of colors. Summer arrives full of festivals and water sports, including boating, kayaking, swimming, and fishing on Keuka Lake. Winter is good for snow sports and spring for the early blossoms.
A hub for exploring the entire Finger Lakes region, Steuben County has everything — museums, outdoor activities, great food, boutiques, and, of course, wineries. It is a nice spot for a day, weekend, or week-long trip for families, singles, and all types of travelers.
Some of the information on this trip was obtained during a press trip sponsored by Explore Steuben. We have been to Steuben County several times on our own and have formed our opinions independently.
1. Corning Museum Of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) is one of our favorite museums in the world. At CMOG, you can spend hours exploring incredible glass creations, learning the history of glassmaking and modern innovations in the art. You can try your hand at glassmaking or watch live demonstrations. There are family-friendly activities at the museum. Do not miss the extensive gift shop.
Pro Tip: Purchase the combination ticket that allows you to visit both the CMOG and Rockwell Museum. The shuttle from CMOG runs regularly to the Rockwell Museum.
2. Rockwell Museum
The Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is a center for American art with a spotlight on Native American culture. The curation is engaging and current. From traditional American art to contemporary Native American and African American voices, the museum is well worth the visit. For families with children, there is an interactive studio — Kids Rockwell — on Market Street.
3. Keuka Lake Wine Trail
If you love wine, Finger Lakes is the ultimate destination for the wine aficionado. Keuka Lake is one of the four wine trails in the Finger Lakes. A wine-tasting adventure on the lake is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon (or a weekend).
Some of the best vinifera grape varietals in the U.S. can be found at the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery. Dr. Frank was a pioneer who helped to elevate the wine industry in New York. You can’t go wrong with a tasting at the boutique Weis Vineyard, named the best classic winery in New York State in 2022.
For a unique view of the wine history and background in the region, check out Bully Hill Vineyards. Don’t miss the wonderful smoked barbecue meats with your glass of vino. Drop by the museum and art gallery after your tasting to see the works of Walter Taylor. A wine tasting on the patio of Ravines comes with wonderful wines and a scenic view of the east side of Keuka Lake. Make sure to try Ravine’s dry riesling.
4. Pleasant Valley Wine Company
To learn about the history of wine (especially sparkling wine and winemaking during Prohibition) on Keuka Lake, take a tour of Pleasant Valley Wine Company — the oldest winery in the Finger Lakes. Established in 1860, as you walk through some of the eight historic buildings, you’ll see the cellars and barrels that held the award-winning brut.
5. Gaffer District In Downtown Corning
With a plethora of options for lunch, you will find Asian, American, and Italian restaurants, as well as barbecue or simple pub fare on Market Street. After the meal, take a stroll along downtown Corning to walk off your lunch or stop in the shops. There are many gift shops, art galleries, and ice cream shops that you can meander into.
6. Krooked Tusker Distillery
If spirits are more to your liking, do a tasting at Krooked Tusker Distillery for their award-winning, bespoke spirits — whiskey, vodka, bourbon, and gin. They also serve wines and beers from the region.
7. Mountain Rose Horse Farm
Mountain Rose Horse Farm is run by two sisters — Rachel Beiler and Emily Gingerich — who love sharing their love of horses. Lucas the goat, the official greeter, will also steal your heart away. They cater to riders of all levels; new and experienced. There are two cottages on the property for rent for those who crave the complete experience of life on a farm. You can also spend time fishing in the small lake or hiking the trails.
8. FLX Boating Museum
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is focused on preserving the heritage of boat building in the Finger Lakes. Boat lovers can spend hours in the 20 buildings and restoration workshops. The museum, mostly staffed by volunteer boat makers, has spent many years lovingly rehabilitating old donated boats.
9. Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum
We have all heard about the Wright Brothers — American aviation pioneers synonymous with the first airplane flight. We hadn’t heard of Glenn Curtiss until we visited the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum. Curtiss built and raced the first motorcycles. He then turned his hand to flying. The museum tells the story of his discoveries and houses both original and replica planes and motorcycles.
10. Mud Creek Bison Ranch
When we heard about Mud Creek Bison Ranch, we had to go. Mud Creek has 60 bison at the main ranch and another 300 on their ranch in the next town. At the main ranch, you can do a self-driving tour along a well-kept gravel road that meanders around the ranch. There were plenty of opportunities to stop and watch the bison roam, feed, and play with their young ones. Children (of all ages) will enjoy spotting little calves with their moms.
11. Letchworth State Park
We highly recommend a day trip to Letchworth State Park, the “Grand Canyon of the East.” While it is not technically in Steuben County, it is a wonderful park with gorges and powerful waterfalls. A little closer, you will find Stony Brook State Park, which has extensive trails through the gorge and outdoor activities.
12. Create Your Own Food Tour
The Finger Lakes and Steuben County have many wonderful restaurants for food lovers. In Corning, the Gaffer District is the place to go. The Quincy Exchange, with its socially distanced tabling, offers a varied seasonal menu in a relaxing setting. If you are craving Thai food, we recommend Nine Elephants. For a quick and tasty lunch, Cugini Pizzeria and Restaurant hits the spot; try their grandma pizza. We also recommend lunch at Bully Hill for their smoked-onsite barbecue meats. For breakfast, try the scones at Laurabelle’s; the cookies are mouthwatering.
In Hammondsport, the Park Inn, Timber Stone Grill, and Switzerland Inn all have excellent offerings for dinner. The Switzerland Inn is a great place to watch the sunset over Keuka Lake. The Switz and Timber Stone also serve lunch.
For breakfast in Hammondsport, try Crooked Lake Ice Cream Company. You won’t be having ice cream for breakfast, though it’s tempting since they serve ice cream from Dippity Do Dah. Crooked Lake serves wonderful breakfasts and lunches; you can go back later for ice cream. Down the block, you’ll find Vern’s Bakery for blueberry scones chock-full of delicious berries.
Pro Tip: Where To Stay In Steuben County
There are numerous hotels and BNBs in Steuben County. Built in 1861, the Park Inn in Hammondsport is a lovely place to stay. If hotels are more your style, try the Hilton Garden Inn. It is walking distance to the CMOG and the Gaffer District. The Staybridge is also conveniently located.
Book your lodging and wine tastings in advance if you visit during the summer and early fall.