This travel blog acts as a travel guide that helps you to discover the best things to do in Elmira, NY. You will find the most popular and best places to visit in Elmira, NY. Also, you will read the best time to visit in Elmira, NY, shopping spots, best cheap restaurants, best hotels in Elmira, NY and also our travelling tips.
If you are a person who enjoys the nightlife, then read the places marked as “Things to do in Elmira, NY at night”. In case, if you are travelling with kids, then make sure that you read places marked as “Things to do with kids in Elmira, NY”
You don’t need to search for “tourist destinations near me” on google once you land at Elmira, NY, because you can find the nearby tourist attractions/places in this post itself.
So let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
- Video On “Things To Do In Elmira, NY”
- History of Elmira, NY
- What are the top attractions to visit in Elmira?
- Places to eat in Elmira, NY
- Best hotels in Elmira, NY
- Climate in Elmira
- Conclusion To “Things To Do In Elmira, NY”
Video On “Things To Do In Elmira, NY”
History of Elmira, NY
The Queen City or Elmira city is a city formed in 1864 from the incorporation of a small village and part of a surrounding town.
The village was a joint between three settlements, it was named the village of Newtown but the name changed to Elmira in 1808. There is a story which says that the village was named after the daughter of the tavern owner where the meeting, in which the name was changed, was held.
Nowadays the city is part of Chemung County at the state of New York, ethnics there is a composition of Irish, Germans, and Italians.
The Chemung River flows from the east of the city towards the west leaving more than one creek in different parts of the city, the longest of them is Newtown creek flowing along the eastern borders of the city.
You may want to know who first settled in Elmira, luckily the answer is known as there are a pond and a street named after Captain Abraham Miller, the first European-American settler in Elmira who worked for the continental army. He built a cabin to live in, and after he died the street and a pond located near his home were named after his name.
The main industry in Elmira is glass, Anchor Glass Container Corporation is the primary glass containers manufacturer there producing hundreds of glass containers designs for food and beverage markets.
Elmira is a small city with a small community, if you are part of this community you will feel like you know most of the people in the same community. Tourists visiting the city several times will get the same feeling after a while.
What are the top attractions to visit in Elmira?
The largest park in Elmira with many activities for kids and elders. It has an amusement park with numerous rides like the famous carousel, the pony carts, and the thunderbirds.
The park opens only in Summer all weekdays except Monday and Tuesday, in addition to opening on some vacations as Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July whatever day of the week these vacations happen to be on.
In order to enjoy any of the rides you buy some tickets for 1$ each, each ride costs a number of tickets ranging from 1 to 5 tickets.
Towards the south of the park, there is a nice pond where you can enjoy fishing or boating. You have Jasper boats and Hatchlings boats for up to 4 people at a ride. Taking a boat is the same thing as taking a ride, you buy some tickets and pay the fees of the boat as tickets.
If you don’t want to boat or fish, you can still enjoy walking or biking around the boat, the trail is paved for walks and bikes. You can bring your dog too and let him enjoy the walk with you. Dogs are allowed everywhere in the park except in the golf area.
Other activities you can do at the park is skating and golf courses, there is a special skating park and miniature golf area. You can gather your friends and have a golf tournament in the golf area privately for 250$ per hour.
Going to the park with your family or a group of friends? You have the option to rent the carousel for 50$ for one ride, the carousel takes up to 50 people. If you have a party and want to rent the carousel per hour, this is an option too, it costs 125$ per hour for unlimited rides during this hour.
Parties are allowed at the park, there are a dance hall and the pavilion building. Both can be rented for 50$ per hour for the dance hall and 25$ per hour for the pavilion building. You will get a barbeque pit but you have to bring your chairs, utensils, and any other needs for your party.
Enjoyed your day at the park, then leave your special marque to find it the next time you visit the park to remind you of the wonderful day you had there. The Eldridge Park Carousel preservation society, who are a group of volunteers responsible for caring about the park, has a project called memory walk project, they will engrave your name on a brick near the carousel for just 60$.
This money is not a cost of engraving a name on a brick, it is a donation to keep the park open and maintained for the coming years.
You don’t have to visit the park to donate or watch your name engraved, you can do this online by filling this form and sending the money via mail.
If you need to know more about the park and how it used to be, buy the “A Trip Through Time” book, it is a new book with photos and everything about the park from the beginning until today.
After a long day at the park, you will probably need to have some snacks to keep you powered up until lunchtime, that’s why they have a snack bar available throughout the working hours of the park.
But if you want to bring your snacks with you and have a picnic date, you will find different restaurants and takeaway shops just a few minutes from the park to take your snacks and relish your moments besides the pond with greens all around you.
Pudgie’s pizza is a small pizza shop near the park offering pizza, wings, subs, and Stromboli. It has 5 branches in New York, one of them is located a couple of minutes walking from Eldridge Park.
They sell pizza in slices, you can order a slice or two for less than 3$ a slice. They offer vegetarian and gluten-free pizza too.
For families and groups, they have snack packs of their famous sheet pizza and Buffalo wings. These are very delicious snacks to entice your stomachs during your amusement day at the park.
Don’t forget to ask about their daily specials, they have a different offer each day.
Another takeaway option nearby is McClure’s NY Deli, it opens only from Mondays to Fridays. They have hot and cold subs but their barb’s soups are a must-try. Their average prices are 4$ for a cup and 5$ for a bowl.
They have a special meat menu too if you want to fill your freezer with their delicious cuts.
You will need to refresh and cool down in hot summer days, pass by King Kone ice-cream and customize your soft ice-cream or milkshake with lots of flavors to choose from.
If you need lunch, not just a snack, go for Taste of Asia, as the name suggests, it is an Asian restaurant serving Sushi and other Asian food.
You should try the Thai dishes especially the red curry tofu vegetable chicken, or the hot and spicy chicken if you are a spicy guru.
Beef lovers have the Red curry beef and shrimp for 11$, the beef is very tender with a juicy flavor that melts in your mouth while the veggies around are somehow crunchy making the perfect mix ever.
As you can see the area is full of things to do and places to eat in Elmira that you may want to stay nearby during your visit. You can have an affordable stay as mark twain motor inn with prices starting from 50$ per night, or you can rent a suite apartment with a private bathroom and a shared kitchen at Lindenwald Haus Inn.
Let’s take a step back in time and release the childish soul inside. At Harris Hill Amusement Park you will enjoy your time whether you are a kid looking for a place to run, play, and wiggle around or even a grandfather coming with his grandkids to watch them playing and take his share of amusement too.
For kids, there are about 6 rides like the carousel, sky fighter, airplane, fire engine, boat, and train. The rides are all for 2$ each.
There is an arcade room for video games, both children and elders can enjoy this place. They also have batting cages and go-karts for 4$ and 6.75$ respectively per ticket.
Golf players will enjoy the 18-hole miniature golf, we recommend you go on Mondays as they offer all-you-can-play for 9.75$ in the golf area.
The park is open 7 days a week from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. so you can enjoy the whole day there. You won’t need to go outside for food or drink, everything is found in the park.
There is a snack bar selling pizza, hotdogs, fries, fried chicken, and other snacks, besides soft drinks and milkshakes.
They have an ice-cream stand where you can get your soft or hard ice-cream in whatever flavor you like. They also have a candy cotton machine all located near a picnic woody area.
For birthdays, they have different birthday party packages you can choose what games to include and they will determine the price according to what you will include.
Now let’s view things to see in Elmira apart from playing and rides in parks.
The National Soaring Museum is located near a glider port, you will be able to see gliders taking off and landing from your place at the museum.
The museum has a bunch of gliders and sailplanes dating back to the 1890s. It has a wall of fame too with photos and stories of those who have done recognizable achievements in soaring. Each year, two names are added to the wall of fame.
Working hours are from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. all weekdays except for Mondays and Tuesdays. In winter and spring seasons, it closes at 4.00 p.m.
Tickets are 9$ for adults, the ticket allows you to visit the whole museum and see everything of the collection and display boards there. You can opt for membership for 35$ yearly and get exclusive offers and free entry all year round with a 10% discount on any of the souvenirs from the gift shop.
Get ready for the best experience you will have at the national soaring museum ever. For only 110$ you can enjoy the experience of flying in the air and seeing Elmira’s landmarks from the top.
Sailplane rides at the national soaring museum is an activity offered by the National Soaring Museum and Harris Hill Park, you will ride a glider with only two seats, one for you and the other for the captain.
The ride lasts from 15 to 20 minutes, if the weather is good, you will be able to see many of the best tourist spots in Elmira. It is advised to wear sunglasses because it will be very sunny above.
There are no age limits or any specific requirements for anyone to enjoy this marvelous experience, however, for safety reasons, the maximum weight allowed is 245 LBS.
Don’t forget to take your camera or a mobile phone with a good camera, the view is so attractive that you will want to photograph every moment.
They also offer courses for those who want to learn to fly a glider and become captains to take other passengers in this wonderful experience.
Running out of money but still want to enjoy your visit, no worries. Here is one of the free things to do in Elmira.
Tanglewood nature center is available from Tuesdays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center has many different animal species and wildlife.
Each time you visit the center, you will see different animals as some may be taken to school visits while others are taken to place with more suitable weather conditions. So, according to the time of your visit in the year, you will see particular animals.
The center and museum are very kid-friendly, they offer camps and events for children all year round. You can check their camp schedule here.
Adults can enjoy their time at Tanglewood nature center too, you can experience the beauty of the nature walking or hiking on the 9 or 10 miles of trails.
If you liked the place, consider supporting them with memberships or donations to keep the place free forever.
Mark Twain’s monuments
Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a well-known American writer who wrote many famous books as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Roughing It, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and many others.
Mark Twain’s home, study and grave are still present until today and they are considered some of the best tourist destination in Elmira.
The Quarry Farm
The Quarry Farm is where Mark Twain’s summer house was built. It is located on the east hill overlooking Elmira and the Chemung River Valley.
The farm and the house are active sites where tourists can come and visit and take rounds all over the place to see how the family spent their summers in this house.
An octagonal small building where Mark Twain wrote most of his books. The study was initially built in 1874 not far away from the summer house at Quarry Farm.
Twain’s sister-in-law built him this study as a gift so he could stay most of the time at the summer house.
In 1952, the study was moved to Elmira College. It is about 2.6 miles from the original site.
Now, you can visit the study in summers. The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies is the organization responsible for keeping the study. You will be able to see most of Twain’s books and manuscripts, you can see pictures of him in childhood too. You will be guided through your tour by trained volunteers there.
If you don’t have much time to visit the Quarry farm or any of Twain’s other monuments, the center for Mark Twain’s studies has created a Virtual Tour of Quarry Farm. You will go through the farm and the summer house from the comfort of your home.
They have also other digital resources to help visitors explore Elmira and know more about its history. You can see the Interactive Map of 1901 Elmira and many others on their website.
Mark Twain Exhibit
Inside the Cowles Hall at Elmira College, you will find Mark Twain’s exhibit. The exhibit displays most of Mark Twain’s remaining as photos, clothes, furniture, and other memories that tell his story and how he spent his time with his family at the Quarry Farm and the summer house.
The exhibit is also staffed by the Center for Mark Twain’s studies and you can visit it in summers just like the study. You will need to book an appointment if you would like to visit it in winter or spring.
To book an appointment, visit their website and contact them to see the available times.
Mark Twain statue
Still in Elmira College, Mark Twain statue of 12 feet high and about 376 pounds weight is standing there. The statue was a gift from the students of class 1934, it is made of bronze and it looks great even for those who don’t know Mark Twain.
Mark Twain’s grave
Around a mile and a half on the north away from Elmira’s college, Mark Twain was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery of Elmira
Mark Twain died on April, 1910. His daughter built a 12 feet monument on his grave as a memorial for her father. The grave and the monument are labeled by Mark Twain as she decided this is the name he is most known by.
Most of the family is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery too. Twain’s wife’s grave is there next to Twain’s and his daughter’s husband Ossip Gabrilowitsch is buried there too.
When you enter the Cemetery, you will find many signs that guide you to The Twains’ graves. You will also find a lot of sayings on the graves of all the family.
Other famous people of Elmira are buried in the same Woodland Cemetery, for example, Jacob Sloat Fassett and John Arnot, Jr., well-known Congressmen of Elmira, and Hal Roach a producer of comedy films.
Let’s head to downtown Elmira where you can find one of the top sights in Elmira, NY.
The Arnot Art Museum, which was the home of the Arnot family, houses different magnificent art collections and exhibitions.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., while Sundays and Mondays are vacations.
If you are a college student or a senior of 55+ years old, you will get a ticket for 5$, adults’ tickets are 7$, while children under 18 years are free to enter the museum.
There is a parking lot outside the museum and it is always free.
Inside the Arnot museum, there are about four rooms full of paintings, antiquities, and artifacts. The collections are divided into three collections.
The founding collection is the original one collected by Matthias Arnot coming from the 17th to the 19th centuries of European paintings, artifacts and other artworks.
The American Collection includes paintings from renowned American artists from the 19th century as Burchfield, Thomas Cole, Davies, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Henri, Albert Bierstadt, and George Waters.
And finally the Contemporary collection including artwork and sculptures from famous artists as Odd Nerdrum, Michael Bergt, Steven Assael, and others.
There is a Virtual Tour of some of the museum’s galleries on the website too.
Few miles away from Arnot art museum, in the heart of downtown Elmira is the Chemung Valley history museum.
The museum has two galleries, a research room, and a museum shop.
The working hours of the galleries and the museum shop are the same from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the research room opens also from Monday to Friday but from 1 p.m.
Entrance fees to the museum are 5$ for adults and 1$ for students, for the research room it is 5$ for adults and free for students.
One of the galleries inside the Chemung Valley history museum is dedicated to Mark Twain. The other one is for local historical artifacts and vehicles.
Every week they have 2 or 3 events and sometimes more. Events can include very informative lectures that give you insights about Chemung county’s history and people.
Other events are walking tours through the museum or through downtown Elmira where the staff will share stories and information about the places and people who were living there.
Some of these events are free, but others require admission with very little fees.
At the end of your day, it is nice to give the gift shop a visit to see what they offer. They use the profit coming from this small gift shop for maintaining the museum.
Places to eat in Elmira, NY
Since we just left the Chemung Valley history museum, you should try M & M redhots, it is 1 minute driving from the museum.
Once you try their hotdogs, you will never enjoy the taste of any other hotdogs. They offer hotdogs with different sauces. The meat sauce is the best, you can also order to take away and use it at home with any kind of meat you want.
The place is very casual with counter seating, you can see the cook preparing your hotdogs from the window.
You can order fries with your hotdogs too, they are tasty and crispy.
Still in downtown Elmira with more places to eat and satisfy your hunger. Beijing Garden Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant worth your visit.
You can dine in, take away, or order online. In all cases, you will receive the same quality of delicious food.
If you are asking about only one plate to try here, it is definitely the hot & sour soup.
Hot noodles with sesame sauce and the Pu Pu Platter as an appetizer will complete your irresistible meal.
Prices are reasonable too, the hot & sour soup is 3.25$, the Pu Pu platter is 12.9$, and the noodles cost 5.5$. So, you can have a big filling meal for around 22$.
They have a wide variety of options including vegetarian options, hot, very hot, and extremely hot options too.
One street far away you will find Vincenzo’s Pizzeria.
For garlic food lovers, this is your place. You can order everything there with garlic flavor.
You should try the garlic knots and the garlic French fries. They have the greatest pizza and flatbreads ever.
You have the option to order pizza by slices too, the pizza is thin and crispy full of delicious flavor, so never think you will get enough from one slice.
One of the most famous restaurants in Elmira, it is absolutely a must-go dining place. The restaurant has been there, a few minutes from Elmira College, for more than 50 years.
It is managed by the Spaziani family, it features an Italian Cuisine offering fresh and high-quality food with suitable portions that will fill your stomach.
No wonder you will always find the restaurant busy and full house, it really offers one of the best dining experiences in town so we advise you to make a reservation before going.
The restaurants also offer weeding and banquet packages, it can take up to 450 people inside the place with a private dancing floor for parties.
The menu has a wide variety of options when in doubt go for their famous Shrimp Scampi. A 23$ exquisite plate of mouth-watering tender shrimp pieces seasoned with lemon and garlic. You will never go wrong with this one.
Best hotels in Elmira, NY
Want to stay in downtown where most of the best tourist attractions in Elmira are located? You have Holiday inn Elmira – Horseheads.
The hotel is about 12 miles from Elmira Corning Regional Airport, it offers free airport shuttle buses.
It is also very near to the Arnot museum and the Chemung Valley history museum.
The hotel has many amenities as a gym, a pool, a restaurant, and a nice lounge.
According to the season, you can get a room for 2 people at prices starting from 103$ per night, for a suite the prices can go high as 160$ for a night.
You can enjoy a stay a little far away from downtown but it really worth it.
For the Enchanted Cottage on Glen house, you will enjoy a fully furnished home with 3 bedrooms and a complete kitchen. You have other services as a Wi-Fi, cable TV, and DVD player with a library of classics to choose from.
The price of one night in the house is 225$ for two people, each additional person will pay 20$ per night. You can rent the home for a week or a month too.
To give yourself the feeling of being a king or a queen, stay at Castle on Glen. It has also 3 bedrooms and a kitchen with the same services of the Enchanted Cottage house but with castle-like decoration, a treasure located somewhere in the castle, and costumes to enjoy the feeling of old castles.
Prices are 250$ for two people per night and each extra person is 20$ too.
Arnot mall is 15 minutes away from the house and the castle, so you can buy your needs from the mall and go back to your kingdom to enjoy your stay in Elmira.
If you want cheaper stays you still have Mark Twain motor inn and lindenwald Haus inn with average prices of 50$ per night.
Climate in Elmira
The best time to visit Elmira is definitely summertime. You can enjoy hiking and wandering all around the city on your bike or motorcycle in summer as the weather is nice and the humidity is not very high. While in winter, there is little to do, there is snow and it becomes very cold, most of the open-air amusements and tourist attractions are closed during winters.
Conclusion To “Things To Do In Elmira, NY”
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