15 Best Things to Do in Chemung County, NY

Chemung County, NY
PQK / shutterstock.com

Known as Mark Twain County, Chemung County was the home of the prolific author for many years, specifically the City of Elmira, the county seat.

For many years, Mark Twain wrote and lived in the area, with the county gaining a reputation as the author's home state.

The county had a total population of 84,148 as of the 2020 census and is part of the Elmira-Corning, NY Combined Statistical Area.

"Chemung" is the name of a Delaware Indian village, meaning "big horn."

Formed in 1836 in the Finger Lakes Region, the county is also known as the "Gateway to the Finger Lakes" and is also part of New York's Southern Tier.

With many activities to do for solo travelers and the whole family, the county offers unique and gorgeous attractions.

Here's a round-up of the best things to do in Chemung County, New York:

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at Chemung Valley History Museum

Exterior of Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira
Doug Kerr from Upstate New York, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn a piece of history at Chemung Valley History Museum where you can discover what life was like in the past.

The museum holds interpretive exhibits about local history, including historic photographs and artifacts that date back to the early days, including the American Civil War.

Founded in 1923, the museum also showcases a Mark Twain section with artifacts and the history of Elmira where he lived and wrote for many years.

Nestled in an 1800s bank, the museum also hosts educational programs and publications.

If you love books, the museum's gift shop features many history books, including Mark Twain's works.

Chemung Valley History Museum is on East Water Street in Elmira.

Befriend the Animals at Farmland Animal Park

Perfect for traveling families with small children, Farmland Animal Park offers fun and engaging outdoor activities.

Ride the zip line wagon, the horses, ponies, or the tractor, paddle in the water, feed the animals, and bring a picnic to share together.

The kids can also have the time of their life at the farm's park-like play equipment.

The 18-acre farm also hosts special occasions like birthday parties, company getaways, school trips, family reunions, and more.

Farmland Animal Park is a great spot for families who want to have fun in an old-fashioned way!

You can find the farm on Wyncoop Creek Road in Chemung.

Buy a Souvenir at Horseheads Mill Street Market

One might think that Horseheads Mill Street Market is just a little gift shop in the Town of Horseheads.

But you'll be surprised as soon as you get inside that the dainty shop offers various items for gifts, souvenirs, collectibles, and more.

Nestled in the refurbished historic mill, this eclectic and dainty shop offers vintage and antique finds, country decor, furniture, and jewelry, among others.

If you're fond of handcrafted items, you'll love this place with its wide variety of handmade products to choose from.

Browse through the items from the first to the third floor and find a souvenir you can take home to your loved ones!

Horseheads Mill Street Market is on East Mill Street in Horseheads.

Try the Famous Buffalo Wings at Elbow Room

The star of Elbow Room is its buffalo wings, but it also offers other delicious dishes.

It's a perfect spot for a quick stop and some cold beers too!

Customers rave about the blue cheese served with the wings.

Besides the wings, there are other delicious dishes you can try, including burgers, chicken sandwiches, and mouthwatering appetizers.

You can find Elbow Room at Walnut Street in Elmira.

Scream Your Way to Tagsylvania

A premier haunted house destination in Big Flats, Tagsylvania offers heart-pounding and thrilling activities for the entire family.

It features four main haunted attractions such as the Orphan House, Motel 666, Jerkus Circus, and Psycho Swamp.

Enjoy an adrenaline rush at the escape room, join the creep carnival games, avail of tarot and psychic readings, and more!

These activities are popular among groups of friends who are seeking adventure and out-of-the-ordinary fun while in the Southern Tier.

If you're up for extra adventure in your travels to Chemung County, get your tickets at Tagsylvania!

It's located on Highway 352 in Big Flats.

Sleep under the Stars at Park Station Campground and Recreation Center

Take your loved ones to Park Station Campground and Recreation Center to spend a few days of camping in the great outdoors.

You can choose to camp at the lakeside or at the other designated campground at the park.

The lake is perfect for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

You can also swim in the beach area.

Campers can stay for a maximum of 14 days between the months of April and October.

There are also scenic walking trails to enjoy nature.

If you have pets, they must be on a leash at all times, and they're only allowed at the campgrounds so as not to disturb others.

Park Station Campground and Recreation Center is a perfect escape from the modern metropolis' hustle and bustle!

It's located at West Beaver Pond Road in Erin.

Book a Tee Time at Mark Twain Golf Course

If you're up for a tee time with challenging greens, head to Mark Twain Golf Course, which was built in 1937 during the Great Depression.

Named after the famous author Mark Twain who lived nearby, the golf course features 18 holes with wide fairways and a panoramic backdrop of the hills.

Donald Ross designed the golf course featuring unparalleled greens.

The City of Elmira operates and owns the Mark Twain Golf Course.

You can find it on Corning Road.

Browse through the Historic Artworks at the Arnot Art Museum

Exterior of Arnot Art Museum in Elmira
Lvklock, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Featuring European and American artworks from the 17th to the 21st centuries, Arnot Art Museum was once the home of banker Matthias Hallenback Arnot.

His art collections, as well as the historic Greek-Revival mansion built in 1833, were donated to the City of Elmira.

The mansion has its own picture gallery with a huge skylight.

If you're an art enthusiast, you'll love browsing through its collections featuring works of world-renowned painters like William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Thomas Cole, and James Carroll Beckwith.

Arnto Art Museum opened in 1913 on Lake Street in Elmira.

Get Locally Made Products at Finger Lakes Soap Company

Known for using natural and gentle ingredients, Finger Lakes Soap Company has been raising the bar in the soap industry in Southern Tier.

Heather Gable started making soaps after joining a soap-making class in 1997.

She would craft time-honored formulas for soaps, lip balms, essential oils, mists, foamers, skincare for men and women, and pet shampoo.

The company also offers seasonal products, which are popular among locals in the region.

If you're into naturally made soap sans the harmful chemicals, visit Finger Lakes Soap Company.

The store is located off Highway 224 in Van Etten.

Soak up Nature at the Tanglewood Nature Center & Museum

Surrounded by gorgeous meadows, rounded hills, wetlands, old farmlands, and amazing views of the Frenchman's Bluff, the Tanglewood Nature Center & Museum is a haven for nature lovers.

You can enjoy scenic hikes at the center's 10 miles of well-kept hiking trails, where you can see nature at its best.

See the birds perched on treetops and other small wildlife, as well as mushrooms and wildflowers.

At the museum, there are many live and taxidermied animals ranging from mammals to amphibians, birds, reptiles, and arthropods.

Established in 1973, the Tanglewood Nature Center is the perfect nature haven tucked away in a beautiful Elmira neighborhood.

You can find it on Coleman Avenue.

Grab a Delicious Asian Meal at Taste of Asia

Craving Asian food?

The Village of Elmira Heights, which is shared by the towns of Elmira and Horseheads, prides itself in the Taste of Asia.

The restaurant serves mouthwatering Asian eats with a focus on Japanese, Thai, and Chinese dishes.

Try its fresh sushi, steak hibachi, drunken noodles, tempura, udon soup, crab rangoon, and more!

If it's your first time trying Asian food, the restaurant does not disappoint with its relaxing atmosphere.

The Taste of Asia is located on College Avenue.

Share a Picnic at Millers Pond Park

Make your trip to Chemung County worthwhile by having a picnic with your loved ones at Millers Pond Park.

Considered the jewel of the Southside, the park offers a picturesque picnic area with a pavilion with tables and grills for barbecue.

While sharing a picnic with your family and friends, you can also enjoy fishing at the pond and let the kids play at the playground.

You can also take scenic and peaceful walks and take advantage of the pond's gorgeous views.

The fall foliage here is a sight to behold!

Millers Pond Park is located at Parkside Drive in Elmira.

Catch a Movie at Elmira Drive-in Theatre

Movie fanatics can catch a movie at Elmira Drive-in Theatre, which is nestled in a 19-acre property with two massive outdoor screens on opposite sides.

Equipped with amazing Dolby Stereo surround sound, the audio is relayed to two radio transmitters, which makes it easier for you to watch and listen from your car.

Open in spring, the theater also features a concession stand, where you can buy delicious snacks while enjoying the movie.

One of its best-selling tickets is the Double Feature, which allows you to watch two movies for the price of one.

Elmira Drive-in Theatre also offers sweeping views of the surrounding hills on Highway 352.

Attend the Elmira Street Painting Festival

Marvel at the lifesize and massive artworks in the streets of downtown Elmir and celebrate the Elmira Street Painting Festival with the locals!

It features live music, pop-up art galleries, regional crafts, and food vendors.

You can also vote for your favorite artwork during the festival.

Stroll through the historic downtown and join the locals in honoring the town's rich history of arts.

The Elmira Street Painting Festival happens on one weekend in July.

Spend a Day at Eldridge Park

Duck on the waters of Eldridge Park
KRNaturalPhoto / Shutterstock.com

If you have little ones traveling with you to Chemung County, one of the best first stops is Eldridge Park.

Its seasonal amusement park, which opens from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend, offers fun activities for families.

The park features a carousel, pony carts, turtle chase, kiddie boats, mini trains, paddle boats, and other rides perfect for a full fun day!

During the off-season, you can still enjoy the park's beautiful grounds and walking trails with plenty of birds, trees, flowers, and plants.

The 15-acre park also features the Victorian-style Mark Twain Miniature Golf Course, which was built in 2010.

Eldridge Park is located along the lake, which, according to local folklore, is bottomless.

Opened in 1926, Dr. Edwin Eldridge originally established the site as a sculpture garden.

Final Thoughts

With a rich history in arts and culture, Chemung County is one of New York's crowning jewels.

It's home to fascinating natural attractions, fun activities, and interesting historical sites.

Experience the Southern Tier hospitality and enjoy the best things to do in Chemung County, New York, on your trip.

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