Chautauqua County is nestled in the rolling hills of New York State’s beautiful Southern Tier just a few short hours drive from the major metropolitan areas of Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Toronto. The area’s many lakes - Chautauqua Lake, Findley Lake, Bear Lake, Cassadaga Lake and Lake Erie - provide fantastic recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, swimming and nature exploration. The popular Chautauqua Lake and its famed Chautauqua Institution is a destination point for people from all over the world.
The Lake Erie coastline forms the northern border of Chautauqua County. It offers exceptional pleasure boating opportunities, several harbors, beaches and lakefront homes with amazing sunsets, extensive fishing, and diving excursions to the lake’s storied shipwreck sites. The moderate climate offered along the southern Lake Erie shoreline provides the perfect environment for the largest Concord grape-growing region in the nation. Numerous local wineries operate along the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail as well as many family-owned farms and orchards where visitors can buy apples, peaches, plums, and summer garden vegetables from roadside stands.
The summers in Chautauqua County are glorious with an average temperature of 77 degrees. During the summer months, the rural county becomes a hub of activity. Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the beauty, wonderful climate and all the summertime activities that Chautauqua has to offer.
Chautauqua’s winter snowfall creates a beautiful countryside that attracts large numbers of winter sports enthusiasts to its three major ski resorts and miles of trails for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Things To See & Do In Chautauqua County
Chautauqua County is home to the world famed Chautauqua Institution and several other major resort and vacation destinations.
There is a wide variety of activities in every season, including golf, boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, cycling, snowmobiling, Amish country touring, antiquing, concerts, arts and craft shows, fairs and festivals, and wine tastings to name a few!
Chautauqua Lake is 17.3 miles long and boasts some of the best fishing in North America. Record-size bass, muskellunge, walleye, perch, crappie, and many other game fish are caught on a daily basis.
A Wonderful Place to Live
Through the years, people from all over the world have visited the Chautauqua region to marvel at its natural beauty and enjoy the unique combination of history, culture and recreation. As more and more people move out from crowded urban areas, many are choosing Chautauqua as their year-round home because of the beauty, quietude, and serenity found in this rural setting. The Chautauqua region offers some of the most affordable housing in the country, as well as excellent schools and universities, museums, churches and a wholesome lifestyle supported by a mixed economy based on tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, education and international trade.
Chautauqua Institution, located on the western shore of Chautauqua Lake, has played an important role in the history of America’s religious and cultural evolution. The very word Chautauqua is synonymous with a center for learning, art, education, religion and recreation.
Every summer, Chautauqua Institution offers a nine-week calendar filled with lectures, symphony concerts, chamber music, ballets, operas and a wide variety of contemporary entertaining artists – from country western to popular comedians. For the more active, sailing, fishing, water-skiing, golf, tennis, lawn bowling and other activities are available.
Many of the visitors who return to Chautauqua year after year describe it as an experience rather than a vacation – a place for renewal. The Chautauqua Institution was founded on the belief that everyone "has a right to be all that he can be – to know all that he can know. " The experiences come in many forms. A dramatic lakeside setting and the beauty of its National Historic Landmark architecture ( designated in 1989) make the Chautauqua Institution a thriving community where visitors come to find intellectual and spiritual growth and renewal.
On Sundays, admission is free and many people come to Chautauqua for the religious services. Car access is extremely limited during the season, which offers visitors the opportunity to freely stroll the grounds and marvel at the Victorian architecture and beautiful flower gardens. In the heart of the Institution, guests discover the Colonnade building with its antiques and curios; the Refectory, serving sandwiches and ice cream, the Bookstore, with a collection of books, art, and Chautauqua souvenirs, plus a myriad of galleries, restaurants and gift boutiques. The Athenaeum Hotel, opened in 1881, is a great spot for Sunday brunch, with an outdoor terrace and spectacular lake views from the veranda.
There is usually a mid-afternoon concert next to the fountain in front of the Bookstore, or in the historic open-air Amphitheatre. At the Miller Bell Tower, a short stroll down to the public beach, there are changing rooms for those who wish to take a swim in the lake.
Investing in the Chautauqua Region
For years, Chautauqua Lake has been a favorite summer vacation spot for those privileged enough to own a home in the Institution, or a property on the lake.
Today, cottages, condominiums, townhouses and time-shares are being developed all around the Chautauqua region for people who want rental income or want a second home that is also an investment.
Howard Hanna Holt Real Estate manages time-shares, rental cottages, condominiums and homes all around Chautauqua Lake and on Lake Erie, at Bear Lake, Cassadaga Lake and Findley Lake as well. If you are interested in looking for a place to vacation, we can help you. We also provide certified appraisals of residential and commercial properties and building sites should you be interested in making an investment.
Bemus Point is a scenic lakeside village located on the eastern shore of Chautauqua Lake, midway between Mayville and Jamestown. Founded in 1806, Bemus, as the locals call it, has some of the grandest, most stately homes on Chautauqua Lake, as well as a lively downtown area filled with waterfront restaurants, boutiques, and inns. Just a short 15-minute drive from Jamestown and Lakewood where the larger shopping centers are located, Bemus offers its residents the quaintness of village living with the convenience of suburban amenities.
At the northern tip of Chautauqua Lake, the historic village of Mayville is the seat of Chautauqua County government and the gateway to Chautauqua Institution. Here you will find charming lakeside cottages, waterfront restaurants, gift shops, antique shops, roadside vegetable and flower stands and a beautiful lakeside park. During the winter months, Mayville offers snowmobiling and cross-country skiing and the annual Ice Castle celebration. Just two miles south of Mayville, on the east side of Chautauqua Lake, you’ll find Dart Airfield. Here you can take airplane and glider ridesor join the bargain hunters at the open-air flea market held every weekend during the summer season.
Six miles north of Mayville, one mile south of Lake Erie’s Barcelona Habor, is the village of Westfield. Originally named "Crossroads", the village was founded in 1702 at the intersection of an old French and Indian fur-trading route, the Portage Trail, and the major road between Erie and Buffalo, now U.S. Route 20. This picturesque village of 3,500 residents is known for its elegant old homes, beautiful churches, majestic trees and delightful antique shops. Every Saturday from May to December, the Cross Roads Country Craft Market welcomes visitors to its 40-vendor “mall” that offers the region’s finest in arts, crafts, collectibles and specialty food products.
For history buffs, the McClurg Mansion in Moore Park is a must see. A private residence circa 1815, the McClurg was donated to the village and is now a museum that also serves as headquarters for the Chautauqua County Historical Society. It houses an important collection of furnishings, fine art, and local memorabilia including military artifacts, farm and craftsman tools, toys, and Native American artifacts.
Just minutes from Interstate 90, Exit 59, you’ll find the village of Fredonia, and the western-most campus of the State University of New York: SUNY at Fredonia. The University enjoys national acclaim for its music, theatre, dance and communications programs, including its cutting edge curricula in Visual Arts and New Media. It was recently rated as the best public university value in the North, third best in the nation, by U.S. News and World Reports "America’s Best Colleges".
With the University as a cultural hub, village residents enjoy a rich lifestyle filled with music, theatre, and athletic events. Downtown, along Main Street, you’ll find interesting shops and restaurants and the renovated 1891 Opera House which still functions as an entertainment hall and theatre. Festivals Fredonia conducts themed, weekend events throughout the year including the Victorian Dazzle, Red, White & Blues, Harvest Moon and Miracle on Main Street celebrations.
Outdoor Activities in Chautauqua
With an abundance of lakes and streams, acres of rolling fields and woodlands, miles of scenic trails for hiking, snowmobiling, or cross-country skiing, plus downhill skiing, horseback riding, bicycling, boating, tennis -- and some of the finest, and modestly-priced, golf courses in the nation –this is truly a sports paradise. Long Point State Park near Bemus Point, and Lake Erie State Park near Dunkirk offer picnic areas, trails, beaches and campgrounds for RV’s and motorhomes. Many other RV parks and campgrounds are scattered along the Chautauqua and Lake Erie shoreline.