This region's charms have delighted vacationers for over a century. Timeless landscapes-"enchanted" mountains, picturesque waterways and bountiful vineyards-offer simple pleasures like fishing in the Genesee River and Lake Erie, biking along country roads, and swimming in pristine lakes. For wilder fun, ride the new Mountain Coaster at Holiday Valley's adventure park or swirl past rugged cliffs and waterfalls, whitewater rafting in the Zoar Valley. Stroll along tree-lined lanes in a Victorian village at the Chautauqua Institution, featuring a summer season of world-class performances.
Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua
MAJOR CITIES & TOWNS
Alfred, Allegany, Angelica, Bemus Point, Chautauqua, Cuba, Dunkirk, Ellicottville, Fredonia, Jamestown, Olean, Salamanca, Wellsville, Westfield
The diverse climate has four distinct seasons. Summers are comfortable and warm, with daytime temperatures averaging in the mid 70s to mid 80s (degrees F) and cooler evenings. The weather is moderately cool and sunny in springtime and autumn, when spectacular fall foliage attracts thousands of visitors. Cold, snowy winters create a wonderland of magnificent scenery in villages, resorts and ski centers. Each year, lake effect storms drop an average of 200+ inches of snow in the higher elevations along Lake Erie.
THREE SURPRISING FACTS
1. Lucille Ball, America's first lady of television comedy, grew up in Jamestown. Fans from around the world visit the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center to celebrate her life and work.
2. Gooseneck Hill Waterfowl Park & Sanctuary is the World's largest waterfowl sanctuary.
3. The Lincoln-Bedell statue in the village of Westfield depicts a local girl named Grace Bedell meeting President Abraham Lincoln. When he was a presidential candidate, young Grace wrote Lincoln a letter suggesting that if he grew a beard he would be more likely to be elected. An exhibit at the McClurg Museum tells the story.
SPORTS & OUTDOORS
Boating and Watersports: Chautauqua Lake, the largest inland lake in western New York, and the Great Lake Erie offer wide open spaces for boating and sailing. Rafting and kayaking are also among the region's biggest attractions. Popular waterways include the Allegheny River, Conewango Creek and the challenging Cattaraugus Creek. Guided whitewater rafting trips are offered by outfitters such as Zoar Valley Canoe & Rafting Company, in Gowanda. Great swimming beaches and boat launches are found throughout the region, including at state parks such as Allegany and Lake Erie State Park.
Camping: The region offers more than 40 campgrounds-from state-owned and operated, to private campgrounds with family friendly amenities. Allegany State Park features hundreds of cabins and campsites, many on the water. For spectacular views, pitch a tent on the high bluffs at Lake Erie State Park. RV camping is possible throughout the region.
Fishing: The region's diverse landscape and abundance of lakes and streams delight sport fisherman. In 2012, Chautauqua Lake was the host site for Jack Link's Major League Fishing General Tire Summit Cup, a competition between the world's best professional bass anglers. Chautauqua Lake is also a renowned fishery for muskellunge. Nearby, Lake Erie is famous for walleye and bass as well as chinook and coho salmon. The Chadwick Bay/Dunkirk Harbor area, recently named the walleye capital of the Northeast, boasts excellent bass fishing. Cattaraugus Creek has been listed in the top 10 Steelhead fishing sites by several fishing magazines. The Genesee River is also a popular fishing spot. Fishing guides can help you find the best places to catch your prize fish.
Hunting: Private preserves and game farms are found throughout the region. Some state lands are open for hunting during the appropriate seasons. Find license and other information at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7844.html
Golf: Golfers of all levels enjoy award-winning courses throughout the region, from the Holiday Valley Golf & Ski Resort to the picturesque 36-hole courses at Peek'n Peak Resort and Chautauqua Golf Club, on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution.
Hiking/Horseback Riding: Allegany State Park offers miles of paved and natural trails throughout 65,000 aces for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Hike amid towering rock formations at Panama Rocks Scenic Park, or follow meandering trails around 250 monumental sculptures at Griffis Sculpture Park, a 400-acre nature preserve.
Biking: Ski slopes in the region, such as HoliMont and Holiday Valley, become challenging mountain bike trails off-season. Golden Hill State Forest, Allegany State Park and the Art Roscoe XC Ski & Mountain Bike Area, in Salamanca, are also ideal for mountain biking. Visitors bike along tranquil tree-lined lanes in a Victorian village at the Chautauqua Institution.
Winter Sports: Ski areas, including Holiday Valley Resort, HoliMont Resort, Peek'n Peak Resort, and Swain Resort, offer a wide range of downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Holiday Valley, HoliMont, Peek'n Peak, and the Art Roscoe XC Ski and Mountain Bike Area offer great cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. State parks such as Allegany offer ice-skating, ice-fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Local Snowmobile clubs groom hundreds of miles of trails in one of New York's snowiest regions.
Zipline Adventures/Mountain Coaster: In Ellicottville, the Sky High Adventure Park at Holiday Valley Resort is a four-acre aerial park with ziplines and bridges made from logs, obstacles and ladders. Mountain coaster rides zigzag, spiral and whoosh down the mountain.
Nature Centers: The Audubon Nature Center in Jamestown is a 600-acre wildlife sanctuary with hiking trails, nature exhibits, and herb and butterfly gardens. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, also in Jamestown, presents world-class nature exhibits, a butterfly garden, and trails that are ideal for viewing birds and other wildlife. The awe-inspiring beauty of the Zoar Valley State Nature & Historical Preserve, in Gowanda, includes sheer cliffs towering over 400 feet above the canyon floor and dozens of waterfalls, some cascading up to 140 feet. The Hanging Bog Wildlife Management Area, a state preserve in Hudson, offers hiking trails, bird watching, camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hunting and fishing on 4,571 acres.
State Parks: Scenic state parks-popular for camping, hiking, swimming, boating and fishing-include Allegany and Lake Erie State Parks. Long Point State Park on Chautauqua Lake offers swimming, boat launch and hiking trails. For a different kind of outdoor play, Midway State Park on Chautauqua Lake features one of the nation's oldest amusement parks.
ART, ARCHITECTURE & CULTURE
The Chautauqua Institution (Chautauqua). Renowned performances, inspirational speakers, and recreational activities at this lakeside Victorian village have been rejuvenating the human spirit since 1874. Places to stay include the grand and historic Athenaeum Hotel.
Griffis Sculpture Park (East Otto). Ten miles of hiking trails meander around 250 monumental sculptures on this 400-acre nature preserve, which is also popular for bird watching.
Lily Dale Assembly (Lily Dale). One of the world's largest spiritualist communities, Lily Dale hosts entertainment, sacred music and Victorian events, as well as seminars on clairvoyance and healing during a 10-week summer season.
Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center (Jamestown). The multiplex center in Lucy's hometown features two museums and gift shops. The Tropicanna Room, a reproduction of the night club where the Desi Arnaz Orchestra played, presents special events.
Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts (St. Bonaventure). Located on the campus of St. Bonaventure University, the center features a theater and museum and is home to some of The Old Masters paintings. The Center is open to the public and admission is FREE.
Robert H. Jackson Center (Jamestown). Center dedicated to the life and work of the United States Supreme Court Justice from 1941 until 1954. Justice Jackson was also the architect of the international trial process and then chief prosecutor of the surviving Nazi leaders at Nuremberg, Germany following World War II.
Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History (Jamestown). Educational center, gallery, and home of the lifetime body of work of one of America's preeminent naturalists of the twentieth century.
Wellsville Creative Arts Center (Wellsville). The Center presents art exhibits and music performances by top regional and national recording artists.
Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse & Veterans Park Museum (Dunkirk). Stroll the scenic grounds, take a guided museum tour, and explore the working lighthouse, which offers a magnificent view of Lake Erie from the observation deck.
Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center (Jamestown). Step into television history at the museum and recreated film sets from the groundbreaking 1950s comedy, I Love Lucy.
Salamanca Rail Museum (Salamanca). The restored 1912 passenger depot features artifacts and photographs from an era when rail was the primary means of travel from city to city.
Seneca-Iroquois National Museum (Salamanca). Learn about the history and culture of the Seneca Nation. Artifacts and a reconstructed longhouse reflect centuries of Native American heritage.
FOOD & DRINK
Get a taste of the simple life along New York's Amish Trail, where more than 100 farm shops feature traditional crafts, baked goods, cheeses, and homegrown fruits and vegetables. Village restaurants provide hearty Amish-style dining.
The Chautauqua region, with over 20,000 acres of vineyards along Lake Erie, is called America's Grape Country. Wineries are open year-round for tours, tasting and special events. Farm markets and stands dot the countryside. The air is filled with the intoxicating aroma of Concord grapes at harvest time. Other local favorites include juicy apples, sweet corn and fresh cherry juice. Pick-your-own farms offer strawberries, blueberries and peaches. Find fresh meats and cheeses as well as homemade jams, jellies, desserts and fudge at local farmers markets.
Each summer, America's Grape Country Wine Festival at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds features regional wines, specialty foods and music. Visitors who enjoy hand-crafted beers and ales can tour the Southern Tier Brewing Company, in Lakewood, and taste microbrews in the Ellicottville Brewing Company's European-style beer garden.
New York State is one of very few places in the world that produce maple syrup. Each spring, sugar houses in the region welcome visitors with samples, tours and demonstrations of the syrup-making process, from tapping the trees to boiling the sap into syrup. Sprague's Maple Farms & Restaurant in Portville celebrates at their sugarhouse, with tree tapping demonstrations, sugar on snow parties, and old-fashioned fun. Many of the restaurant's specialties use their signature syrup as a key ingredient.
Along New York's Amish Trail, more than 100 farm shops offer traditional crafts, furniture, quilts, baked goods, cheeses and fresh produce. Maps to Amish shops can be found at the I-86 Chautauqua Lake, the Allegheny River Information Centers or by calling 1-800-331-0543.
The charming and historic towns of Angelica, Bemus Point, Ellicottville, Findley Lake, Lakewood, Olean and Wellsville are known for a variety of eclectic, one-of-a-kind shops offering everything from antiques and birding books to maple syrup and wine. The Angelica Country Store in the town of Angelica sells antiques, vintage jewelry, home furnishings, local honey and unique gifts. Salamanca Mall Antiques, one of the largest antique centers in the country, boasts more than 1,000 vendors who offer antiques and collectibles at discount and competitive prices.
Unique places to stay include cabins, cottages and campsites at Allegany State Park in Salamanca, The Athenaeum Hotel at the Chautauqua Institution, and Pollywogg Holler Eco-Resort, in Belmont.
OTHER SELECTED ATTRACTIONS
Allegany State Park (Salamanca). Discover 65,000 acres of lush forests and lakes for four-season fun including swimming, fishing, wildlife walks and some of the nation's finest groomed trails for mountain biking and cross-country skiing. The park has hundreds of campsites, cabins and year-round vacation cottages.
Chautauqua Belle (Mayville). Cruise Chautauqua Lake aboard a historic steamship.
Lake Erie Wine Country (Westfield). The scenic 50-mile route runs along Lake Erie, from North East, PA to Silver Creek, NY passing lush green vineyards and more than 20 wineries open year-round for tours, tasting and events.
Hanging Bog Wildlife Management Area (New Hudson). The 4,571-acre state preserve offers hiking trails, bird watching, camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hunting and fishing.
Holiday Valley Mountain Resort (Ellicottville). The resort is a leader in the ski industry, ranking among the favorites of skiers in the East. Nearby, the one-square-mile Village is filled with 19th-century charm, shops, nightclubs and restaurants.
Holiday Valley's Sky High Adventure Park (Ellicottville). The four-acre aerial park has ziplines and bridges made from logs, obstacles and ladders. Mountain coaster rides zigzag, spiral and whoosh down the mountain.
Jamestown Audubon Nature Center (Jamestown). The 600-acre wildlife sanctuary features hiking trails, nature exhibits, and herb and butterfly gardens.
Midway State Park (Maple Springs). Open since 1898, Midway has 18 amusement rides, mini-golf, go-karts, rock climbing and arcades. Located on Chautauqua Lake, the park also has picnic grounds, fishing, and free docking for day visitors.
New York's Amish Trail (Randolph). From Randolph the trail runs through an area called the Enchanted Mountains. Along the way, more than 100 farm shops offer traditional crafts, baked goods, cheeses and fresh produce.
Panama Rocks Scenic Park (Panama). Hike amid towering rocks. Trails lead through crevices and passageways, over 15 acres of Paleozoic ocean floor covered with massive boulders.
Peek'n Peak Golf & Ski Resort (Findley Lake). Ski and ride in one of New York's heaviest snowfall regions, averaging over 200 inches each season. The four-season resort and historic hotel has old-world charm and great amenities like a spa, two 18-hole golf courses, Segway tours and fine restaurants.
Rock City Park (Olean). Explore a world of stone bridges, crevices and towering, house-size rock formations. Paths lead over, under and even through ancient rocks as high as 80 feet.
Roger Tory Peterson Institute (Jamestown). Along with nature exhibits, wildlife art and photography, find trails amid 27 acres, ideal for wildlife viewing. Don't miss the butterfly garden.
Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel (Salamanca). The casino features more than 1,700 gaming machines, table games, and high-stakes bingo. Entertainment includes concerts and festivals. The hotel features several restaurants and a day spa.
Sprague's Maple Farms (Portville). Tours of old sugarhouse show how syrup is made the old-fashioned way. Fresh syrup and other maple products are available in the restaurant and gift shop. A nature center and trail leads to picturesque views.
Summer Wind Cruises (Celoron). Take a sightseeing trip on Chautauqua Lake aboard a 130-passenger double-decker ship. Breakfast, lunch and dinner cruises are available.
ZOAR VALLEY CANOE & RAFTING COMPANY. In Gowanda, whitewater on the mighty Cattaraugus swirls you past rugged cliffs, waterfalls and old-growth forests. When the water calms in June, you can float the quiet sections, run some rapids, and swim or hike amid the pristine beauty of this ancient valley.
Zoar Valley State Nature & Historical Preserve (Gowanda). The awe-inspiring beauty of this wild area includes sheer cliffs towering over 400 feet above the canyon floor and dozens of waterfalls, some cascading up to 140 feet.
MAJOR ANNUAL EVENTS
- Currier & Ives Sleigh Rally at Chautauqua Institution (January)
- Wine and Chocolate Weekend/Lake Erie Wine Country (February)
- Ellicottville Winter Carnival/Holiday Valley Resort (March)
- Maple Weekend (March)
- Lake Erie Wine Trail Wine & Cheese Weekend (May)
- Routes To Art Open Studio Tour (May)
- Chautauqua in June Learning Festival (May/June)
- Gowanda's Hollywood Happening (June)
- Bach & Beyond Baroque Music Festival (June)
- Bemus Bay Pops Concert Series (June-September)
- Chautauqua Institution Summer Season (June-August)
- Lily Dale Assembly Summer Season (June-August)
- Ellicottville's Summer Music and Arts Festivals (June-July)
- Allegany County Fair (July)
- Ellicottville Championship Rodeo (July)
- July 4th Celebrations: Dunkirk, Findley Lake, Lakewood, Mayville & Midway State Park (July)
- Great Blue Heron Music Festival in Sherman (July)
- Great Wellsville Balloon Rally (July)
- Lavender Festival (July)
- Westfield YWCA Arts & Crafts Festival (July)
- Cattaraugus County Fair (July/August)
- America's Grape Country Wine Festival (August)
- Gerry Rodeo (August)
- Jamestown's Lucy Fest (August)
- Olean's Rally in the Valley (August)
- Busti Apple Festival (September)
- Forestville Septemberfest (September)
- Ellicottville Fall Festival (October)
- Peek'n Peak Fall Festival & Craft Show (October)
- Christmas through the Village at Findley Lake (November)
- Lake Erie Wine Trail Harvest Wine Weekends (November)
7 hours from NYC
2 hours from Niagara
9 hours from Montreal
Accessible from Buffalo Niagara and Erie International Airports, Chautauqua County Airport at Jamestown, NYS Thruway and I-86
For more ideas and information, visit iloveny.com or Chautauqua-Allegheny's regional website: http://www.visitwesternny.com
M. SILVER - A Division of Finn Partners
(212)-754-6500, ext. 243
Empire State Development
Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau