Elmira in a day: 10 things to do on a trip to city with small-town charm (2024)

Elmira in a day: 10 things to do on a trip to city with small-town charm (1)

Nancy J. Parisi | Contributing writer

Elmira, a small city located in Chemung County with the wide and gorgeous Chemung River flowing through it, is an excellent day trip for nature, Victorian history, and small-town charm. Elmira is due south of Geneva in the Finger Lakesregion, approximately 55 miles away.

Following is a list of things to see and do on your trip to Elmira.

Don't Edit

Arrive hungry

For those arriving in Elmira hungry after a drive, there are several restaurant options in town, some tucked into various neighborhoods. All of the following are casual, locally-owned businesses:Central Hots, open daily located on Roe Avenue, serves burgers, sandwiches, ice cream treats and their signature Garbage Plate in a 50s-inspired space. Turtle Leaf Café, on East Water Street and open Monday-Saturday until 3 pm, serves paninis, sandwiches and salads with several vegetarian and vegan options. Curly's Chicken House on Lake Road in northern Elmira is excellent for a diner breakfast, hearty lunch and dinner. Lib's Supper Club, open from 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, serves classic Italian dishes, steaks and seafood.

Don't Edit

Elmira in a day: 10 things to do on a trip to city with small-town charm (2)

Photo: Heather Ainsworth for NYup.com

Twain time

Elmira is dubbed Mark Twain Country as the American author/novelist/newspaperman Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) summered and worked in Elmira, where his wife, Olivia Langdon, was born. Self-guided Mark Twain tours of various sites include the author's octagonal study on the pristine Victorian-Era grounds of Elmira College (also home to The Center for Mark Twain Studies) on College Avenue. The study was originally located on the property of the family summer home on Quarry Farm on the river. Twain, who died in 1910, is buried in the city's Woodlawn Cemetery (on Walnut Street) with his wife and children. There are signs directing visitors to the gravesite.

Don't Edit

Victorian art mansion

Arnot Art Museumis located on Lake Street in the 1833 neoclassical mansion of Elmira banker and former mayor and Congressman John Arnot. The museum, which charges no admission, houses a permanent collection of American and European 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century paintings and sculptures. The front room is hung salon-style, while the back spaces showcase contemporary, well-curated exhibitions. Arnot Art Museum is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon-5 pm. The wrought-iron-fenced Arnot family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery is across from the Clemens family's places of rest.

Don't Edit

Eldridge Park

Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Eldridge Park, located in Elmira on the former land of a prominent Victorian-Era businessman on the banks of eponymous Eldridge Lake, features a historic carousel with hand-carved wooden animals, paddleboat rides and food concessions. There is also The Mark Twain Miniature Golf Course and acres for roaming about. The park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Don't Edit

Don't Edit

View this post on Instagram

#chemungvalleyhistory #iamelmira #iloveelmira

A post shared by iloveelmira (@iloveelmira) on

Chemung Valley History Society

The intimate Chemung Valley History Society and museum on East Water Street features cohesive historical exhibitions about Elmira and the region, the city's Civil War roles and Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain's Elmira"). The staff is friendly and ready to answer any questions about Elmira, and a small gift shop sells a selection of historical books and postcards.

Don't Edit

Elmira in a day: 10 things to do on a trip to city with small-town charm (3)

Photo: Scott Schild | sschild@nyup.com


"The Soaring Capital of America" is the tagline of Harris Hill Soaring Corporation, located just outside of Elmira after a short drive on Route 352 and climbing Harris Hill. Once there, one lands on Soaring Hill Drive, where there is a hangar of gliders, an office for rentals/souvenirs/information and theNational Soaring Museum. The hilltop museum is open daily (except in January and February) and charges an entrance fee of $7.50 for adults. Just below is the picturesque Big Flats, a valley of trees, and nearby is a quiet road with gliding swings for view-gazing. Gliders may be hired for 20-minute rides for just under $100 per person.

»More photos

Don't Edit

Festival fun

Elmira holds its annual Street Painting Festival in July. This three-day festival (happening on July 7-9 in 2017) features dozens of artists making their temporal creations in colorful chalk along West Water Street and North Main Street. Additional fun festival attractions are craft booths with wares for sale, a pop-up gallery and food vendors. In March, Elmira holds its annual Taste of Downtown, the fund-raising event for the Street Painting Festival.

Don't Edit

Elmira in a day: 10 things to do on a trip to city with small-town charm (4)

Photo: Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Westlake Reed Leskosky

The Clemens Center

At the heart of Elmira's downtown business district is The Clemens Center, a gorgeous performing arts center along Clemens Center Parkway. Inside are two theaters: Mandeville Hall, a modern black box theater, and Powers Theater, an ornate, restored 1926 theater. The box office is open for business Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and tickets to all events are sold online as well. Clemens Center is where traveling dance troupes, a Broadway Series and concerts of all genres happen.

Don't Edit

View this post on Instagram

Mother to Mother. 🌎

A post shared by Meghan O'Toole (@greatplatesfingerlakes) on

Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum

Up in the hills surrounding Elmira, and not too far from National Soaring Museum, is Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum is located on Coleman Avenue. Admission to the museum, park and well-marked hiking trails is always free. Note that Tanglewood's museum is not open on Sundays and Mondays; trails are open year-round from dawn to dusk. Personius Woods, along West Hill Road, offers more hiking on wooded trails.

Don't Edit

Don't Edit

"Cardinals and Dogwood" ...a new installation for a lake home...designed and fabricated by Saxe Stained Glass, using all German antique blown glass.

Posted by Patrick Saxe onWednesday, June 8, 2016


Elmira has its fair share of locally-owned specialty shops, including H. Strauss, The Christmas Houseand Saxe Stained Glass. H. Strauss, located in a Victorian home, specializes in fine clothing for men, everything from casual to tailored suits. The Christmas House, also a well-kept former Queen Anne residence, is the city's premier shop for gifts, jewelry, toys and much more. Saxe Stained Glass is both an artist studio and shop, filled with paintings and stained glass work by Pat Saxe.

Don't Edit

View this post on Instagram

Family dinner AFTERMATH

A post shared by Hayley Tuller (@hayleytuller) on

Read more: Best places to eat in Binghamton, Corning and Elmira

Binghamton, Corningand Elmiraabounds with restaurants and eateries of all kinds, but here is a sample of places that are worth a try while traveling.

Don't Edit

Elmira in a day: 10 things to do on a trip to city with small-town charm (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tuan Roob DDS

Last Updated:

Views: 5945

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tuan Roob DDS

Birthday: 1999-11-20

Address: Suite 592 642 Pfannerstill Island, South Keila, LA 74970-3076

Phone: +9617721773649

Job: Marketing Producer

Hobby: Skydiving, Flag Football, Knitting, Running, Lego building, Hunting, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Tuan Roob DDS, I am a friendly, good, energetic, faithful, fantastic, gentle, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.