Delight your senses in the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region with driving tours originating from Westfield, NY located in the oldest and largest Concord grape growing region in the world.
Portage Trail Loop
Departure: Barcelona Harbor, Westfield, NY
Destination: Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Center, Jamestown, NY
The Portage Trail was a major portage and trade route connecting the Great Lakes to the Ohio River Valley. It began at Barcelona Harbor on Lake Erie and ended in Mayville on Chautauqua Lake with a vertical climb of over 700 feet. Travelers could then paddle down the 18 miles of Chautauqua Lake to the Chadakoin River and eventually to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh.
Start your journey at Barcelona Harbor, wander along the beach and the pier and imagine early explorers arriving at the site, unloading their gear and starting off to climb the escarpment to the Allegheny Plateau which separates the Great Lakes/St Lawrence Seaway from the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys.
Stop in Jack's Barcelona Drive-in for breakfast and start the day with 100% Concord grape juice locally grown in the Lake Erie Grape Region, America's Grape Country. Be sure to put grape syrup on your pancakes or homemade grape jam on your toast. You might even ask for a piece of freshly made grape pie to go with your morning coffee.
Follow Rte 394 East to the village of Westfield, home of National Grape Cooperative, owner of Welch's. As you drive into town, note the statue tableau to your right depicting Abraham Lincoln greeting a young girl. A visit to the McClurg Museum across the village park will reveal the story of how the young girl, Grace Bedell, wrote to presidential candidate Lincoln, encouraging him to grow whiskers to win the election. You will also find stories of former Westfield resident William Seward who became Secretary of State, Mayville's Albion Tourgee, who was passionately committed to fighting in the Civil War, and Jamestown's Reuben Fenton, who became Governor of New York State.
Continue east on Rte 394 toward Chautauqua Lake. As you climb the escarpment along the Portage Road, stop at the Portage Hill Gallery to see the works of more than 200 regional and national artists. Continue on to Mayville and along the southwestern shores of Chautauqua Lake. About 2 miles down the lake, enter the gates of Chautauqua Institution on the left where the brick walks, rustling trees, gingerbread cottages, and peaceful shoreline road of this National Historic District create a wonderful setting for an autumn stroll. Pick up a Walking Tour Guidebook of Chautauqua Institution in the Chautauqua Bookstore for a description of the gardens and historic buildings you will find along your way.
Say good-bye to Chautauqua Institution and head east on Rte 394. Turn left at the intersection of I-86 and take the eastbound lane to Exit 12 and the City of Jamestown. Stop for a meal at Jones Valhalla Restaurant (306 North Main St), Havana Cuban Café (212 North Main St), while you're exploring in the neighborhood near the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center (on the corner of Third and Main). Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown and raised in nearby Celoron where Chautauqua Lake flows into the Chadakoin River. The center has two facilities. The Lucy Desi Museum is devoted to the lives and accomplishments of Lucille Ball and husband and partner Desi Arnaz, while the Desilu Studios is dedicated to the "I Love Lucy" TV show with authentic reproductions of the television film sets. Both locations feature gift shops with hundreds of Lucy-themed items.
If there is time left in your afternoon, head over to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute for a tour of the building designed by Robert A.M. Stern which houses the works of Peterson, author of 50 guides to birds and wildflowers. Alternatively, stop in the village of Bemus Point at the mid-point of Chautauqua Lake to shop in its quaint boutique stores. Enjoy fine dining with a view of the lake at Webb's Captain's Table in Mayville before heading back to Westfield for the night. Settle in at a bed and breakfast like the Brick House or the Barcelona Lakeside Bed and Breakfast.
Total Mileage: approximately 52 miles
America's Grape Country Loop
Departure: Route 5, Barcelona Harbor, Westfield, NY
Destination: Routes 5 & 20 from Westfield to Silver Creek, NY
Start: Barcelona Harbor is the perfect spot for breakfast. On day 2, stop at the Barcelona Market Café (716/326-4504) on Rte 5, adjacent to theBarcelona Lighthouse, one of the oldest on the Great Lakes and the first light to be fueled by natural gas.
Head northeast on Route 5 to the Sugar Shack for a free tasting of over 20 flavors of farm-made fruit syrups on ice cream and ask owner Gail Black for a tour of her farm. Learn about Purple Martins near the pond before walking out to the shale based cliff edge of Lake Erie to talk about the climate along the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Find out where the water goes after it passes by Chautauqua County and why its journey is unique. Continue along the edge of an old growth hardwood forest where Sugar Maple trees grow and see how sap leaves the tree and makes its way to the sugar house. On the way back to the Sugar Shack gift shop, pass by the vineyards and take in the sweet aroma of Concord grapes at harvest time.
Back in the car, continue east on Rte 5 to the Dunkirk Lighthouse at Point Gratiot where the 61-foot tower has kept watch over the entrance to Chadwick Bay since 1857. On your way into Dunkirk, stop at the Boardwalk Market for a little shopping.
From the Pier in Dunkirk, take Rte 60 to Rte 20 east for a short drive up to the Town of Sheridan. Stop for some wine tasting at Liberty Vineyards orMerritt Estate Winery before turning back west on Rte 20 to the Village of Fredonia. For lunch, visit the restaurant at the historic White Inn, discovered by Duncan Hines in the 1930's and included on his list of the 50 finest establishments.
After lunch, enjoy the drive back to Westfield, passing by mile after mile of vineyards. At Johnson Estate Winery, New York's oldest family-owned estate winery, admire the new tasting room and ask about the sparkling wine that commemorated their 50th anniversary in 2011. Just a few miles west, take a short ride up the hill to Noble Winery and catch a magnificent view of Lake Erie.
Continue west along Rte 20, then south on Rte 89 and Rte 426 to Findley Lake. Enjoy some late afternoon shopping and a stop at the Waterwheel Overlook, a refurbished water wheel where Alexander Findley, the town's namesake, operated a gristmill at the turn of the last century. The Peek'n Peak Resort, just five miles down the road, offers a perfect spot for dinner and overnight accommodations. Plan ahead and book an evening treatment at the spa.
Total mileage: Approximately 68 miles
For more information on visiting Westfield, NY and America's Grape Country and for maps of the Chautauqua-Lake Erie regions, visitwww.tourchautauqua.com or call 866-908-ILNY (4569).