Experience the Best of Lake Life in Chautauqua County
Five amazing lakes, popular local attractions, and unrivaled natural beauty
Whether you’re planning a week-long family vacation or just want to take a day trip with friends, there’s something for everybody to enjoy in Chautauqua County this summer. Experience five amazing lakes including Lake Erie and Chautauqua, popular local attractions, and unrivaled natural beauty–just a few of the treasures this area has to offer.
Experience life on the lake
From kayaking sessions on Chautauqua Lake to standup paddle boarding lessons on Lake Erie, tourists and locals alike can take advantage of the water, water everywhere. In fact, there isn’t a single town in the entire Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region that is more than twenty minutes away from open water, making it easy to canoe, sail, and fish, all summer long.
A great way to experience Chautauqua County’s lake life is by taking a narrated lake cruise. These informative voyages teach visitors about the area’s topography, wildlife, and historical significance. For a timeless steamboat adventure, the Chautauqua Belle offers a ninety-minute tour of Chautauqua Lake’s southern basin, including the Chadakoin River, as well as the northern basin, with the option to come aboard at Chautauqua Institution.
Catch a ride on the Summer Wind, which departs from the Lucille Ball Memorial Park and offers daily sightseeing tours, as well as pizza cruises, moonlight cruises, and themed dinner cruises. Plan a selfie stop in the park where you can find two Lucille Ball statues, one of which looks remarkably like the comedienne. The other, not so much, but we still love her.
Sip something local
In Chautauqua County, the emphasis is on drinking local as more and more craft breweries, wineries, and farm distilleries are popping up across the region.
One of the most popular breweries is Southern Tier Brewing Company, which serves more than thirty varieties of craft beer. It offers brewery tours every Saturday on a first come, first served basis, but the brewpub and beer garden are open to all seven days a week.
Another local favorite, Five & 20 Brewery & Spirits celebrates summer every Thursday evening with Pint Nights, featuring half-off pints and live music. Keep an eye out for special events like Beer Yoga on the gorgeous covered patio.
Big Inlet Brewing is the newest addition to the region. This farm brewery is located in a reclaimed hoop barn and is already known for producing high quality beers with only locally grown ingredients. Grab a pint from the bar, a meal from the food truck, and a board game from the upstairs loft.
Tour Lake Erie Wine Country, where twenty-three wineries span a fifty-mile stretch that is also home to the largest grape-growing region east of the Rockies.
Johnson Estate Winery, the oldest estate winery in New York, plans Sunday morning vineyard walks, garden picnics, and wine- and grape-centric events all summer long.
Liberty Vineyards and Winery offers intimate outdoor wine pairing dinners.
One of the region’s newest additions, 21 Brix Winery has an outdoor tasting area and located next to Old Chautauqua Farms, where visitors can pick fresh fruit.
Panama Rocks Scenic Park
Let nature be your guide
Pack your outdoor adventure gear when heading to Chautauqua County, home to gorgeous parks, scenic overlooks, guided hiking tours, and much more. For unforgettable views, be sure to stop at Panama Rocks Scenic Park, where a half-mile long ridge of sixty-foot-high rock allows for the exploration of crevices, passageways, and caves within an ancient forest. And don’t leave without channeling your inner lumberjack at Axcellent Adventures, an outdoor axe-throwing course at Panama Rocks.
For more adrenaline-pumping fun, Peek’n Peak Resort’s Aerial Adventure Course allows guess to navigate eight courses through tree tops by ziplining, climbing, crawling, and encountering more than 60 obstacles along the way.
Peek’n Peak Resort’s Aerial Adventure Course
Family fun awaits
Kids will love Midway State Park, where lakefront recreation combines with one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the nation and the Lawson Boating and Heritage Center where they can build their own balloon-powered boat.
Chautauqua Institution is home to art galleries, public gardens and parks along the lakeshore, concerts and programs, classes, and community events for all ages. Kids under age twelve get in free, and Sundays are free for all ages.
The National Comedy Center in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown is a must visit. The highly interactive exhibits will keep your family engaged and laughing for hours.
Be sure to save some time to hit the outstanding dining and shopping options offered in Bemus Point. But don’t forget Mayville, where families can take in regular lakeside performances and movie nights at the Chautauqua Lake Pops by the shore.
Short on time? The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau has created a curated list for stops in each town:
• Cassadaga Lakes/Lily Dale: Lily Dale Assembly
• Westfield/Barcelona: Barcelona Lighthouse, Harbor, and Beach
• Dunkirk: Point Gratiot, Dunkirk Pier & Boardwalk Market, and Dunkirk Lighthouse
• Sunset Bay: Sunset Bay Beach and Cabana Sam’s
Cabana Sam’s at Sunset Bay
Plan your summer day trip
A summer road trip to beautiful Chautauqua County creates lasting memories and instills a deeper appreciation for Western New York. For more information on outdoor recreation, shopping, dining, and entertainment, contact the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau by calling 866-908-4569.