Get Ready for a Year of Exploration in Western New York
Make plans for every season of the year with dozens of outdoor activities and indoor attractions.
From Peek’n Peak Resort in Clymer to Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville and many waterfront attractions along Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake, Western New York is full of year-round fun.
Calling All to Chautauqua Lake
“The Chautauqua/Lake Erie region is a unique destination because it has a long history of visitors coming to the area for a variety of reasons, such as outdoor adventures, including lakes, waterways, trails, snow sports and cultural attractions,” says Victoria Burch of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau.
Chautauqua Institution’s (chq.org) nine-week summer season brings visitors back year after year for intellectual and spiritual growth and renewal. Bemus Point, Jamestown, Mayville and Lakewood are popular destinations for visitors looking for quaint shops, lakeside restaurants and entertainment, including the National Comedy Center (comedycenter.org), Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum (lucy-desi.com) and Mulligans on Fairmount (mulligansonfairmount.com), a one-stop shop for virtual reality fun and arcade gaming.
When clear skies prevail, book a tour at One Fine Day Boat Charter (onefinedaychq.com) with Captain Paul Johnson, a lifelong Chautauqua Lake boater and knowledgeable guide, aboard a piece of local history — a fully restored 1966 28-foot twin-engine, semi-enclosed Lyman “Islander” day cruiser.
“During the summer, I love to spend time on the lake boating and fishing. After a long day out on the lake, I like to head to local restaurants for dinner, drinks and live music,” Burch says. “During fall and spring, I like enjoying the outdoors on a hike to see the changing leaves. Afterward, I like to grab a glass of wine from Lake Erie Wine Country to pair with a cheeseboard.”
Nearby, Peek’n Peak Resort (pknpk.com) may be known for its winter activities, but, make no mistake, it’s also a haven of summer fun. Check out this year-round destination to discover an aerial adventure course featuring 69 obstacles, dueling ziplines with majestic views of the mountains, an 18-hole miniature golf course, indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub area and chairlift rides.
Everything in Ellicottville
In Ellicottville, four seasons of recreational activities at Holiday Valley Resort (holidayvalley.com) are anchored by more than 15 local shops and 20 cafes and restaurants. Visit West Rose (westrose.restaurant), a local favorite brunch spot, for seasonal inspired cuisine. Or, make your way to The Banq Cocktails and Lounge, which combines a creative, classy atmosphere with exotic cocktails, a generous whiskey selection and small plates. The destination also is home to two breweries, two distilleries, a winery and several annual events, including a Winter Carnival, Summer Music Festival, Fall Festival and more.
“We have outdoor adventures during all seasons, including skiing, snowboarding and tubing in the winter and mountain biking and hiking during the summer,” says Jessica Wallace, business development manager for the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. “When the snow melts, Holiday Valley transforms into an adventure golf resort. It’s perfect for families looking for a summer vacation or couples looking for a fall weekend getaway.”
For Nature Lovers
The Roger Tory Peterson Institute (rtpi.org) in Jamestown, New York, is a place to appreciate nature — and to experience it.
The first half of the equation can be done at two new exhibits running through June 11: Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Contemporary Women Nature Artists includes work by five women whose art explores the powerful and fragile nature of birds and the ecosystems in which they live. Alex Warnick: The Art of Observation features work by Alex Warnick, the institute’s inaugural artist-in-residence. “I’m very excited for our visitor to learn about the important work being made by contemporary nature artists,” says institute curator Maria Ferguson.
For the second half, the institute boasts trails through 27 acres of hemlock forest, woodlands, pollinator meadows and pollinator gardens.
Essence of Erie County
Along the lakeshore, Evangola State Park in Irving is a popular, pet-friendly, 733-acre park that welcomes campers to enjoy a serene waterfront experience complete with hiking, swimming, a beach, playground, fishing pond and disc golf. While you’re there, don’t miss Seneca Gaming & Entertainment (senecagames.com), home to more than 650 video gaming machines, or Aunt Millie’s Family Restaurant and Bakery (auntmilliesrestaurant.com) for a delicious homemade breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.
As you make your way north, plan a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff (franklloydwright.org), the esteemed architect’s summer home featuring unobstructed views of Lake Erie. On your way to Buffalo, a stop in Hamburg is a must. Here, Hamburg Beach, Hamburg Gaming (hamburggaming.com) and waterfront restaurants that include The Public House on the Lake (publichousebuffalo.com), Lucia’s on the Lake (luciasonthelake.com) and Hoak’s Restaurant (hoaksrestaurant.com) provide several ways to enjoy the region during any season.
Bustling Downtown Buffalo
Connect to the natural world regardless of the weather at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens (buffalogardens.com), a living museum that welcomes visitors year-round with indoor greenhouses, outdoor gardens, an art gallery, enchanting winter activities, spring and summer blooms and kids’ workshops.
When it comes to embracing lake life, little compares to Buffalo’s Canalside (buffalowaterfront.com), a haven for hundreds of year-round activities and events, from children’s story time and craft brewery festivals to charity walks and runs, concerts and history tours.
“Canalside brings all of Western New York together and is a symbol of our community’s identity,” says Michael Spong, business development manager for Buffalo Waterfront. “In the midst of a bustling downtown is this oasis for families and friends to take part in various activities year-round. In the summer, guests can access the water with water bikes, kayaking, various themed or historical boat tours, relax at our beer garden and listen to music or play trivia. In the winter, strap on a pair of skates and hit New York state’s largest outdoor ice rink on the historical Erie Canal or take a spin on the ice bikes, ice bumper cars or curling.”