Things to Do in Elmira, New York

Elmira is a picturesque city located in Central New York. It is situated on the Chemung River just 15 miles north of the Pennsylvania border. Elmira is perhaps best known as the summer home of Mark Twain, author of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Mr. Twain wrote some of his best works there and is buried with his wife’s family in Woodlawn Cemetery. Clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger was also born in Elmira, as was Eileen Collins the astronaut. The mountains surrounding the area offer beautiful displays of fall foliage and you will find the locals to be friendly and helpful. Elmira is a smaller city but does not lack for things to do and see.

Mark Twain Study

Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens) spent his summers in Elmira with his wife’s family. The family built him his very own study in their home to give him space to work on his now legendary novels. The room is surrounded by windows and has it’s own fireplace. This study was later moved to the campus of Elmira College and is open to the public. You can see the study during the summer months and admission is free for everyone. The address for the study is 1 Park Pl., Elmira College, Elmira, NY 14901 (607-735-1941).

National Soaring Museum

This museum is dedicated to the history of non-powered flight. Here you will find an extensive collection of aircraft that use the wind to soar through the air. Here you can see a piece of material taken from the infamous Wright Brothers Flyer. This piece is one of only three on display in the US today. Also included here is the “Soaring Hall of Fame” which includes inductees that have made contributions to the pastime of soaring. The museum also sells gift certificates for the nearby Harris Hill Soaring Corporation (607-796-2988) where you can take a ride in a sailplane. These rides are available on weekends from April to October and seven days a week June through August. The Soaring Museum is located at 51 Soaring Hill Dr, Harris Hill, Elmira, NY 14903 (607-734-3128).

The Clemens Center

The Clemens Center is named after Samuel Clemens (penname Mark Twain) and features many live performances throughout the year including well-known plays by Broadway touring companies. The Center also offers live dance, orchestra performances, live comedians, seasonal events and touring musical acts. This beautiful theater was first opened in 1921. Since that time it has survived many floods and was targeted for demolition. Once you visit this charming facility you will understand why the community fought so hard to save it. The Clemens Center is located at 116 Gray St, Elmira, NY 14902 (607-733-5639 and 800-724-0159).

The Arnot Art Museum

This museum is located in the 1833 home of John Arnot, Sr. This mansion was named the Arnot Art Museum and opened to the public in 1913. The permanent collection here contains European artworks from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. You will also find Asian, American, Native American and Egyptian artworks here. They also host a variety of traveling exhibits representing artworks from all over the globe. The address for this museum is 235 Lake St, Elmira, NY 14901 (607-734-3697).

Wings of Eagles

This museum is dedicated to the history of military flight and aircraft. They pay tribute to the to the men and women of the military who piloted these planes and sometimes lost their lives doing so. Here you can see a large variety of military aircraft on display. The museum hosts a variety of events each year including an air show. They are open year round with the exception of major holidays. The address for Wings of Eagles is 17 Aviation Dr, Elmira-Corning Regional Airport, Horseheads, NY 14845 (607-739-8200).

Chemung Valley History Museum

Here you will find a collection of exhibits relating to the history of the Southern Tier of New York and Northeastern Pennsylvania. The main exhibit here focuses on events that have shaped the lives of the citizens of this region. This includes the times of Mark Twain, ethnic groups in the area and Elmira during the Civil War. They have three rooms that house temporary exhibits that can range from historic automobiles to the history of local journalism or theater. This museum can be found at 415 E Water St, Elmira, NY 14901-3410 (607-734-4167).

Eldridge Park

Local physician Dr. Edwin Eldridge established this park in the 1860s. The park was 300 acres in size and was known for it’s natural beauty. Dr. Eldridge reshaped the swampland into a beautiful lake and several smaller fishing ponds. After Mr. Eldridge died the city of Elmira purchased the park and added amusement rides in the early years of the 1900s. The park survived as an amusement resort until the mid 1980s. At that time many of the rides were dismantled and the animals from its legendary carousel were sold at auction. Today the park is host to many local events and is a great place to spend a relaxing day. The Eldridge Park Carousel Preservation Society is currently in the process of restoring the carousel to its former state. You can find the park off of Woodlawn Avenue in Elmira.

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