Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Facebook Page
For more than 140 years, people have headed to western New York to enjoy the splendor and beauty found in Chautauqua.
Blessed with five lakes, Chautauqua’s unique geography has resulted in a proliferation of vineyards and year-round recreation.
Those lakes—Chautauqua, Findley, Cassadaga, Erie and Bear—are rated as having some of the best bass fishing in the country.
However, Chautauqua is perhaps best known for the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit casual-learning curriculum that offers nine weeks of world-class programs and presentations.
An adult-education movement that became popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Chautauqua Institution in New York is the first location of a tradition that has been in place since 1874, when a Methodist pastor and a publisher opened a summer instruction camp for Sunday school teachers.
President Theodore Roosevelt was a fan, describing Chautauqua meetings as “the most American thing in America.”
Today, more than 100,000 people from across the U.S. and around the world visit the Chautauqua Institution to hear lectures and presentations on history, literature, religion and the arts.
The institution also offers performances in opera, live theater and popular music.
In 1973, the Chautauqua Institute was added to the list of the National Register of Historic Places. It was further designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1989.
The region has more than 40 sites and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including a Victorian Village that offers programs for nine weeks during the summer.
Chautauqua County encompasses Jamestown, New York, the hometown of the late comedian Lucille Ball, who is buried in the city’s Lakeview Cemetery. Jamestown also is home to the National Comedy Center, the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum and the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, which features live performances by some of the nation’s best comedy stars, as well as new talent.
Wine aficionados can find plenty to see and do in the “Grape Belt.” A 50-mile stretch along the Lake Erie shore, the region, formally known as Lake Erie Wine Country, features 30,000 acres of vineyards that span two states.
At the Grape Discovery Center in Westfield guests can tour exhibits, learn about the science and art of growing grapes and shop.
One of the oldest and highest concentrations of Concord grape vineyards in the world, Lake Erie Wine Country offers a number of wine-themed festivals, including America’s Grape Country Wine Festival (agcwinefestival.com), the Silver Creek Festival of Grapes and Harvest Wine Weekends. In February, there’s a Wine and Chocolate Weekend, followed in April by a Wine and Cheese Weekend.
Other attractions include Peek’n Peak, the world-famous ski resort, which also offers year-round accommodations, the Dunkirk Lighthouse, the Martz Observatory, the McClurg Museum, Midway Amusement Park, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History and Panama Rocks Scenic Park.
To learn more, visit tourchautauqua.com and lakeeriewinecountry.org.